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ornate mirrors: Our buying guide.
When it comes to ornate mirror frames there are loads to choose from, whether you’re looking for a classic reproduction of a historic style, a hybrid of styles or a modern twist. Because of the wealth of choice on offer, when it comes to a gilt mirror it can be easy think you have found the perfect one online, but find that it’s just slightly different to how you imagined in the flesh, and very often it’s that very slight alteration which makes the difference between an ornate mirror that will work for you and an ornate mirror that won’t. We have found it difficult ourselves in the past to find the right sort of frames when purchasing decorative and rococo mirrors for Out There Interiors.com. We would visit vast warehouses where suppliers’ mirrors were displayed, thinking that we would one day discover a factory or supplier that was making the right sort of gilt mirror (or the ones we think are the right sort anyway)! You would think that you would find suppliers and factories getting ornate mirrors right, and suppliers and factories getting ornate mirrors wrong, but very often you have to wade through a load of mediocre or obviously cheap ornate mirrors to find the one diamond.
When we find that diamond ornate mirror we don’t let it go. That’s why you will find the same style of gilt mirror repeated on our site in various different styles and colours. We are currently supplying only three types of gilt mirror as our primary range. The first is our oval rococo mirror which is available in an array or sizes and vibrant colours. The second is our medium thickness rectangular gilt mirror frame which is showcased on mirrors: Hermia, Esmeralda and the fabulous pink ornate mirror Angelina. The third style we feature is the chunkiest most ornate frame, ideal for a huge gilt mirror like Heidi, and magnificent in classic silver and gold. So what do we mean by the one diamond in the warehouse full of ornate mirrors? What makes us decide that one ornate mirror is better than the other? It is hard to explain without showing you the mirrors side by side but there are certain things we look for in an ornate mirror that do not come as standard.
Carvings and detail on gilt mirrors
The detail on an gilt mirror frame is the most important thing, and the thing that stands out the most on a mediocre ornate mirror. Sometimes carvings and details are difficult to see on the internet, so when shopping for an ornate mirror do not assume that they are all (or even partially) the same. There is so much variation in gilt mirror frames that it’s very hard to know exactly what you’re getting without seeing your gilt mirror in the flesh, unless the website has a particularly great close up of the ornate mirror frame.
Although we aim to provide you with great pictures of our ornate mirrors, we want you to understand the way we have chosen our particular ornate mirror designs, so you can rely on our judgement and feel confident in buying online. Our attention to detail when it comes to carvings and details of ornate and gilt mirrors is second to none, because we believe that this is the primary difference between a good gilt mirror and a bad one.
When it comes to the carvings you want it to be in proportion to the size of the mirror you are buying. There is a reason why Heidi our huge silver ornate mirror is available only with the thickest frame. The reason is that if you put this mirror in a thinner frame the ornate mirror will lose its magnificence. In the same way, that if you put a small mirror in a very thick chunky frame, the look is overpowering and often old fashioned, reminiscent of the way in the past people would totally upstage a beautiful piece of art by putting it in an overly ornate frame. The thickness and depth of the frame is completely tied up with the size of your gilt mirror. The two need to marry up, otherwise (we believe) the ornate mirror will have a less than show-stopping effect.
When it comes to carvings and details themselves there is so much variation on the market, it is simply mind boggling. Once you have the proportions of your gilt mirror right, the next thing you need to get right is the detail within the frame. Carvings and details come down to personal taste but here at Out There we prefer pronounced but generic carvings on our ornate mirrors.
Why pronounced carvings are best on gilt mirrors
Pronounced carvings are important to give your ornate mirror grandeur. The more dept and texture the frame of the ornate mirror has, the more drama it will bring to your living space. There are a lot of ornate mirrors on the market with shallow, or less than defined frames. You want depth and interest in the carvings. You will find that the gilt mirrors we sell here at Out There are all very pronounced. The carvings on the mirrors stand out; they are defined and have depth. It’s a very important factor in getting your gilt mirror right.
A gilt mirror with generic carvings is versatile
The carvings themselves are usually a matter of taste, but here at out there we like to keep things simple and generic. By generic we mean that the carvings on almost all of our ornate mirrors do not have a theme, or feature any specific image or design. The one exception to this rule the fabulous gilt mirror Claire, which features a cherub design towards the base. We bought this mirror by accident, unaware that she featured cherubs (see how easy it is to get it wrong!) but we have since grown to love her, and she is now a long standing member of our rococo mirror family. Do watch out for characteristics like this when purchasing an ornate mirror. When browsing the site you will notice that we make it very clear that this gilt mirror features cherubs. After all, not everyone likes cherubs! And it’s annoying when you buy an ornate mirror and have to compromise your taste or go through the hassle of returning it. We can assure you that not one of our other ornate mirrors feature cherubs, grapes, swordsman, shields or angels. We prefer to let you do the interior design!
Ornate mirror carving
It’s important to point out here that although we keep mentioning carving, the majority of the ornate mirrors you see on the internet are actually manufactured using a poly-resin mould. This absolutely essential to keep this type of rococo mirror cheap, and in many cases it is simply not possible to sell 100% solid wood ornate mirrors at similar prices. You will find many, many retailers claiming that their similarly priced gilt mirrors are “carved” from solid wood. This is absolute twoddle. We can tell you straight, that unless the ornate mirror has a big fat price tag (or is obviously not half as attractive) it may have parts that are solid wood (usually the backing), but the detailed ornate frame will be a resin cast. There are no 100% solid wood carved gilt mirrors on the market at these prices no matter what you are told. Take our word for it.
Yes, solid wood ornate mirrors... we promise!
However! The vast majority of our rococo mirror frames are manufactured from solid wood. To prove this we chopped one our most popular gilt mirrors in half (see image below) You will see that the backing, sides and frame are all 100% wood –yes from a tree!! It is only the very top section of the frame (the ‘carving’) which is poly-resin. All our square and rectangular decorative mirrors are manufactured like this. They are heavy, well made and (almost) 100% solid wood
Our ’Hermia’ gilt mirror chopped in half displaying the solid wood frame.Solid wood backs
As mentioned above, each gilt mirror has a strong wooden back, which supports the (often very heavy) mirrored glass. Although a wooden back is pretty standard across gilt mirrors as a whole, it is worth checking if buying an ornate mirror from elsewhere, as we have seen ornate mirrors with plastic backing in the past which is not sufficient when you’re dealing with a heavy piece of glass.Why moulds are ok
Here at Out There we are not pretentious or precious when it comes to our products. We like to tell you honestly how they are manufactured and will quite happily point out the disadvantages and advantages of certain techniques without trying to deceive or be overly sales-y. A solid wood carved ornate mirror is obviously going to be a better quality product that gilt mirror moulded from resin. But although quality is great, is it always the most important aspect when it comes to an ornate mirror? After all, a rococo mirror hangs on your wall. It doesn't have drawers that open and close, nor does it have to store any heavy items. In fact once up on your wall you will hardly ever need to move a rococo mirror, although if you wanted to you could do so without concern. Our particular ornate mirrors are strong enough to withstand the journey all the way from South East China to your living room, so you could probably take it down from the wall to get at a hidden safe everyday without a problem (although it’s doubtful that many of you have safes hidden in walls). The point is that once the ornate mirror is installed on your wall looking truly fabulous we’ll be surprised if you care that the gilt mirror was not painstakingly carved by hand from solid wood. All the ornate mirrors on our site have the appearance of solid wood (we’ve never met anyone who can see a difference), and the weight is substantial due to the solid wood sections of the frame (shown above) and the backing holding the glass in position.
In conclusion to this section of the guide, we have a varying attitude towards the idea of ‘quality’ here at Out There. When it comes to our mirrored furniture and glass furniture in general we are absolutely obsessed with high standards of manufacture, but we let our hair down with our embossed furniture range which is more focused on innovative ethnic design. The ornate mirrors are a case in point.
We love the fact that the majority of our ornate mirror frames are manufactured from solid wood, because we can pass this on to customers who are sceptical about resin. But to tell you the truth, we would still be raving about them regardless. Resin does not deserve its bad press. It has made stunning gilt mirrors affordable to the masses and is a strong enough, material to manufacture a long lasting, high quality gilt mirror. Resin ornate mirrors receive a bad press from companies manufacturing top price ornate mirrors from highly skilled craftsmen (understandable), but resin gilt mirrors also ironically get bad-mouthed by retailers who are selling them! These companies are so confident you won’t tell the difference that they advertise solid wood and criticize the resin. Outrageous!
Getting the colour right on your rococo mirror
The colour of your ornate mirror is very important, and a factor we take much time and effort getting right. Often sections of the rococo mirror frame are sent back and forth between manufactures and supplier in an effort to get the colour of the ornate mirror spot on. Never underestimate the variations of colour when it comes to ornate mirrors. We have seen gold gilt mirrors looking yellow, silver looking grey and every possible variation on white that you can imagine. The colour of your ornate mirror is perhaps the most important aspect of it. A less than perfect ornate frame is one thing, but if the colour is wrong then your gilt mirror loses all its magnificence, primarily because it doesn’t work in the room you’ve planned. The images on the website are a true and accurate reflection of the colour of each gilt mirror. Each mirror has a close up shot on its individual product page, and we have done our best to accurately describe the colour in the descriptions. There is nothing worse than ordering a white ornate mirror to find that it looks cream, or a lime green ornate mirror to discover it’s the colour of the Incredible Hulk. This happens all the time so do be careful. If you have any doubts about the colour of the ornate mirror you are interested in simply pick up the phone to us to discuss with us, we’ll be happy to help.
Depth and commitment of colour on your rococo mirror
Another aspect of ornate mirror colour is the depth and commitment of the colour. It you take a look at the two images of gilt mirrors below you should see an example of what we mean by this. Our gilt mirror on the left has depth to its colour. The special textured paint has been brushed into the contours of the carvings and is layered in several coats to give it an authentic aged appearance. The colour is deep: naturally darker in the nooks and crannies and lighter on the surface. It gives the ornate mirror texture, authenticity and a superior, quality look. The gilt mirror on the right looks one dimensional. The colour is applied without any attention to the depth and ornate detail of the frame. The result is a cheap looking gilt mirror which lacks magnificence.
Make sure you have a bevel on your gilt mirror
The most obviously cheap ornate mirrors are those minus bevelled glass. Never underestimate the bevel when considering an ornate mirror. Bevelled glass makes the difference between a good quality ornate mirror and a cheap one. A nice chunky bevel is featured on each rococo mirror, and some of our largest mirrors feature a double bevel, which gives the glass an even more spectacular appearance.
All of our gilt mirrors have a look of quality
As mentioned above, not all of our ornate mirrors are manufactured from 100% solid wood, but we can guarantee that they look fantastic. We have seen plenty of very cheap ornate mirrors in certain high street shops recently as the gilt mirror trend drifts slowly into the mainstream, but if you were to put a high street rococo mirror next to ours you will see the difference immediately. The frames on these cheap ornate mirrors are often made of plastic, or have a shiny look of plastic, and when you tap the frame it sounds hollow. These imitation gilt mirrors are very light (great selling point I suppose) but really cheap and nasty. Please do not think that this is the sign of a resin mirror. Our solid wood and resin ornate mirrors are both as spectacular as each other and both look exactly the same at face value. Yes the solid wood ornate mirror would probably come out on top if you were to drop them both from a great height, but as mentioned above, when do you ever transport or put excess pressure/weight on an gilt mirror? Maybe once in a few years during a house move, but your ornate mirror has travelled all the way from the south east corner of China without a hitch, so there is no reason why it won’t survive a UK road trip sensibly packaged. The bottom line is, that we are extremely fussy about the way our ornate mirrors look and feel. We will not advertise a cheap looking gilt mirror, and you can rest assured that every rococo mirror on our site looks and feels top quality.
How best to use ornate mirrors
There’s so many ways to use an ornate mirror to great effect, but we here are some of our favourites:Prop a gilt mirror against a bare brick or plain painted wall.
All of our rectangular ornate mirrors look fantastic propped against walls. There is no need to hang an ornate mirror. Simply prop it against a wall at a sensible angle and it will look awesome. There isn’t a rococo mirror on our site you can’t do this with. We have seen our smaller Melissa silver gilt mirror propped up in a dressing room for inspecting shoes (as you do in a shoe shop), and it looked unexpected and brilliant! We think a bare wall is best, but we have seen some of our ornate mirrors used surprisingly well on fashionable large print wallpaper. We imagine this look is just that little bit harder to get right.
Unexpected areas for rococo mirror
One interior design style we stick to here at Out There Interiors is to inist on extravagance no matter what your space is like. Never think that your space is not large enough or grand enough for some fabulous pieces of furniture. In fact the impact a huge ornate mirror will make in a small flat is so much more spectacular that in a huge, grand space. Placing an ornate mirror at the end of a narrow hallway makes the space look twice as long and maximises the width of the room. Placing a really OTT gilt mirror in an unexpected place like back bedroom, kitchen or utility room makes the mundane space special. And don’t be shy, go all out and get the largest gilt mirror you can for the space available. Its impact will be amazing.
Using ornate mirrors as alternative blackboards
One thing we love using gilt mirrors for is notice boards. We got this idea from a cafe in Islington which used our gold gilt mirrors as specials boards. Black boards are great but dark and chalky. An ornate mirror is the perfect alternative, maximising light and space and creating a fresh, glamorous atmosphere. You can write all over them with marker pens and the chunky ornate frames are great shelves for your pens.
Double up your ornate mirrors
Never underestimate the impact that symetry has in your living space. If you’re lucky enough to have twin sinks then placing a pair of identical ornate mirrors above them is faint-worthy You can use double ornate mirrors elsewhere in the home however. Try two rococo mirrors in the alcoves of a fireplace, the same ornate mirror above each bedside table, or simply two rectangular gilt mirrors side by side on a large wall. You don’t have to have one big one; trust us, double mirrors look great!
Alterations to your ornate mirror
Our ornate mirrors are easily customisable should you fancy a change or update in years to come. Spray painting is an easy and low cost way of updating your gilt mirror. Colours are unlimited so there is no end to the fun you can have. There is nothing more spectacular than an ornate mirror in a funky colour (plenty more colourful ornate mirrors on the way soon we promise) and it’s good to know that you can do this relatively easily. Gloss paint also works a treat too. Just fancy the frame? You can pop the mirror out if you’ve fallen in love with one of our gilt mirror frames but don’t want the mirror. Simply use a pair of pliers to remove or bend the nails holding on the wooden backing, then slowly ease the glass out.
Ornate mirrors as status symbols
Although we all say we don’t care what people think not many of us actually do, and it’s nice to know what an ornate mirror says about you. Obviously in the past, the poor lived in small dark houses and the rich lived in grand stately homes. One of the features of these stately homes is long elegant windows which was a way of maximising light and displaying wealth. The poor were more concerned with maintaining heat, but if you were rich you had the opportunity to indulge in space and light and one way to increase space, light and a feeling of affluence was to install in each room a huge rococo mirror. Ornate mirrors like the ones we sell have therefore become a sort of status symbol, and although we are not all concerned with looking rich and powerful to our friends and family, a large gilt mirror will drop subliminal messages of luxury and opulence that will pull on some green-eyed strings! Ornate mirrors are still largely unexpected in small modern homes and it’s great to see the reaction of someone who would never dream of buying one when they see how fantastic it looks. Our ornate mirrors will always look a more expensive than they are. You don’t have to be honest about the price