Designing Mirrors – A Case Study

Roma mouldings

In the course of redesigning and renovating a five-bedroom house, the time has come to consider mirrors. I’ll reincorporate a fine quality gilded period French mirror, 8 feet high, in the stark double-height foyer, standing on the subtly veined marble slab floor. For the rest, I’m imagining new mirrors with a unified theme along the line of clean-with-a-slip-of-glamour. I’ll source this project from Roma Moulding so I’m taking a deep dive into their current line of picture frame mouldings, studying every single frame in turn.
double frame Bamboo on wood
I have relied on Roma for two decades for all my framing. A Canadian company, with a remarkable internal culture, their products are made in Italy of the finest materials. I select the frames and they make up the mirrors to my measurements, glass and frame, and deliver them. Thus, dreaming into the design mood of the moment, holding my client’s home in my imagination, I note the frames that stand out from their collection and immediately see that they have to be doubled-up to work for me.
With the double frame theme, the individual rooms and bathrooms are considered and worked through. A simple broad flat frame combined with a textured gold- or silver-gilt frame, comes out of the selection process as the look. The gilt frame can either cap the outer edge like the backband around a door frame, or form a gleaming inner rim to the simple box frame.

Now come many hours of comparing the height of the rabbet (the inner rim that overlaps the edge of mirror, glass or the other frame) with the height of the frame, for all selections that would slip inside, cap outside or form the broad base. The physical reality of fitting things together whittles down the options. The oversized square frames work remarkably well.
massive white frame, molten bronze cap
Then there’s the task of comparing the colour and grain of the marble in the bathrooms with the frames. Also relating the furnishings planned for the bedrooms and living spaces to the styles of the frames. I have to evaluate wood tones, the gloss or matt of the finish, the shade of the gold and silver, the nature of the carving.
hammered silver rim
This is pure design work and it is hard to say why two qualities are harmonious. You have to give it time, move things around and eventually the stronger pairings are clear and a few stand out. I’m showing a breadth of styles to interest a range of readers as well as the range of rooms in the project.
rim moulding
I ordered a selection of frame corner samples for the presentation (the photos were taken in Roma’s showroom). The client will be able to hold samples up to the bathroom stones and tiles and compare the frames to fabric and wallpaper samples.
hammered gold cap on silver leaf
My client may not appreciate this approach. Fair enough. There are thousands of ready-made mirrors to choose from.  I rather enjoy creating deep dive design solutions, precisely tuned to the project. It’s a happy side-effect that they can’t be found anywhere else.

Cross fingers!

All photos by Lois Macaulay in the Roma Moulding showroom.

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  • Such a vast array of frames and mouldings! It is hard to imagine why anyone would not choose to have custom mirrors for their home. Each would be personalized and unique! I am certain with your incredible eye and high skill level when it comes to custom furnishings, you will create some exceptionally beautiful mirrors, Lois

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