NTS Tips and Tricks

How to Use Mirrors to Expand Your Small Home

When used strategically, mirrors are a great tool to transform compact interiors into larger, brighter, and more inviting spaces. They increase a room’s perceived size and depth, enhance natural light, or even double as a decorative element.

Even though mirrors are commonly found in small homes, we’ve rounded up some particularly memorable ways architects and designers featured on NTS have integrated them into their designs.

1. Use mirrors to create the illusion of a window

If your small home has a picturesque view of the scenery or lush greenery, position mirrors to reflect that serene view and create an illusion of a second window.

In Elizabeth Bay Studio, Sydney, architect Brad Swartz used a mirror for the kitchen splashback, extending all the way to the ceiling. The combination of the full-height windows and mirror allowed gorgeous Elizabeth Bay vistas to be visible from every corner of the apartment, expanding the space and strengthening the connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

2. Hide awkward pillars/protrusions

There may be instances where renovations might leave your small home with an awkward pillar or column, much like the one in DB Apartment, São Paulo. An ingenious idea the architects of Studio Papaya had was to clad the pillar in mirrors on all sides to make it disappear in the space. The mirrors also allowed the area to feel larger and brighter, while visually elongating height.

Architect Jean-Malo Le Clerc also used floor-to-ceiling mirrors to cover two sides of his storage cabinet in VM36, Paris. This technique both enlarged the sense of space in the room while reflecting light.

3. Cleverly conceal pieces of furniture

It’s becoming more and more common in modern design to integrate mirrors into furniture pieces, allowing function to merge with style. One of the most noticeable features of Small Grand Apartment, Melbourne, is a large arched nook adorned in timber serving as the dressing room and bedroom.

A large mirror placed at the end of the room by Tsai Design creates a tunnel-like effect by reflecting and lengthening both the surrounding wardrobe walls and the opposite living area. The mirror also cleverly conceals a Murphy bed, turning the multifunctional space from a dressing room into a bedroom with one tug.

4. Cover a large joinery piece or skirting

Architect Jack Chen of Tsai Design wanted to ensure his home, Type Street Apartment in Melbourne, felt like a large, bright, and airy space. One of the ways he achieved that was to use mirrors for his cabinet doors and skirting, giving the illusion of a bigger, extended space. The mirrors are adjacent to several hanging lights and surround a large window, bouncing light all over and further illuminating the small apartment.

5. Use as a hidden entrance

Mirrored doors hide an entrance in plain sight, offering practical utility while expanding visual space. Gon Architects, the creative team behind the film-inspired Sola House in Madrid, used a full-length mirrored door next to the entrance to effectively conceal the bedroom. This not only reflected natural light off the living room’s window opposite but also added a cinematic touch of surprise.

With strategic placement and the right choice, mirrors can magically transform confined spaces into expansive spaces. As with any design element, moderation is key—overdoing it can create a disjointed feeling. However, when used wisely, mirrors can be the unsung heroes of small home design.

For more tips and tricks, check out our Book + Essential Guide to Your Living Room bundle.