Standing mirrors: Elegant embellishments

As the name would suggest, standing mirrors are an entirely different class from the regular hanging mirrors, though there may be some design similarities. Standing mirrors were probably popular way before fixtures were designed to hang them on walls or, in the case of smaller mirrors, stand them on table tops. Hanging mirrors are graceful additions to any room and, depending on the make and design, can either bring luxury and opulence, or style and panache to your quarters. Magnificently ornate frames can be combined with high quality reflective surfaces to create works of standing art that any home would be proud to host.

Different types of standing mirrors

Standing mirrors are usually of the rectangular or oval shapes, but are not limited to these two. Full-length standing mirrors are usually 5 to 7 feet high and about 2 feet or more wide. When kept leaning against the wall at a gentle tilt, you should be able to see your face while looking slightly downwards. This position puts less of a strain on your neck and shoulder muscles, and is the ideal angle for placement. Mirrors of the standing variety may either be free-standing, of an easel-like design, or on a swivel stand like the cheval mirrors of 18th century France.

Free-standing mirrors are typically rectangular in shape - the ovals would fail miserably in the stability test for this category. Generally, the frames are of the hardwood variety, but metal designs are also popular, as are composites like metal inlays on wood. They can also be quite heavy, which is not only a result of the materials used, but also a part of the functionality - to make sure that they don't get knocked over easily.

Mirrors with easel stands are very convenient, as their placement is not restricted by proximity to a support wall or other structure. Because of this, they can be placed anywhere you like - even in the middle of the room near a support beam, for a non-traditional look. Some innovative designs such as those that create shelf space at the back are also available.

Arguably the most famous of the standing mirrors are the cheval mirrors, made popular in the 18th century, and truly global in the 19th, with the entry of such masters of furniture design as Thomas Sheraton. Simple cheval mirrors are now available for as little as $85, and ornate ones for as much as several hundred. Cheval mirrors have the advantage of a swivel design, which lets the angle be adjusted for convenience. They may also come with a chest of drawers or a dressing table attached; this was one of Sheraton's specialties back in the day.

The proper use of standing mirrors

Practical considerations with standing mirrors include placement and angle. If you want to brighten up the room then place it where the light will strike it directly and be reflected to other darker parts of the room. On the other hand, if you want to keep the room dim, make sure it doesn't face the light; away from the window or harsh bright light from a bathroom would be a good idea. You can use it to accent low-light lamps, or maybe a romantic row of aromatic candles. If you are interested in playing with the room's dimensions, you can stand it at a place where the room's size will be enhanced the most. For example, a standing mirror at the end of a short corridor will effectively make it a long corridor. Placing one in the corner of a room will usually use up space rather than create it, but angled up at the right tilt, it can make a tiny room look immense.