Throughout the planning stages for Harefield Barn, I was making a bit of a collection of mirrors. Finally one day, Robert said - "you CANNOT need any more mirrors" - so I hid the others! As we reached the end of the actual construction, it was such fun to start putting in those finishing details which I had been mentally planning for months, if not years! Mind you, ‘mental’ would have been one of the more polite terms used about me at that stage by most of the men on site, when I started saying things like “can you put half a ladder up there using these old fixings from a telephone pole” and “can you hang three of these old olive buckets upside down with lights inside”?
So when I told Paul, our long suffering son-in-law and project manager, that I had at least 10 mirrors that need hanging, he just looked at me with a certain desperation in his eyes, grabbed his tools and asked me which ones where!
An admiring comment made recently about our vintage frameless mirrors in the ladies loos got me thinking about what other mirrors we have in the Barn, and why I use them so much. It’s simple really … I just love the way they bounce light as well as reflection around a room! They can brighten a dark corner, add character where there was none, and also, of course, serve a very useful purpose So here’s a mini tour showing you some of my favourites…
The vintage frameless mirrors started with a pile of three on the pavement outside an antique shop in Crediton which I simply couldn’t resist. These fabulous old mirrors come in so many different shapes and sizes and even occasionally ones with tinted glass, so needless to say, a few more were added in time as I found others that I loved. They usually come complete with scratches, marks and other imperfections, but that’s just part of their individuality and history in my book.
On the opposite wall in the ladies loo, is a rather more modern metal creation. It does have a certain charm, but that’s not the word Paul used to describe it when he fixed it - it’s very heavy! However, it’s pretty essential to have a full length mirror somewhere in the ladies, as if you’re just about to hit the dance floor and be spotted by the person of your dreams, then best not do it with your party frock tucked into your knickers!
Having chatted about the fun ideas for the ladies loos, our son Sam announced that we mustn’t make the ladies really lovely and the gents really boring "it's always like that”. My first question to him, was ‘how on earth do you know what the ladies loos are like’? - but I think it was more from hearsay than experience! Well that set me on a mission - how to give the gents a bit of interest and character, but keep them sufficiently ‘manly’? The answer came in the form of a pair of mirrors made from re-conditioned portholes and some ships bulkhead lights. These were fixed over a fabulous double basin unit, and at the ‘business end’ there’s some pretty cool wallpaper with large fish swimming by. Sort of nautical meets industrial in a rather weird but fun combination!
Having sorted the loos, I wanted to get some reflection into the Bar. The original idea was to put one large piece of mirror on the back bar wall, but budget and practical considerations made that a non starter. Instead, I came up with this …
Still a large mirror but divided into sections, and painted the same colour as the alcove behind the woodburner on the opposite wall. At least this way when you’re starting to see double, you can blame it on the mirror and not your alcohol consumption!
At the top of the stairs, due to a change in design to allow us to add our upstairs ceremony room (The Tallet), we ended up with a little entrance lobby which was the perfect spot for one of my favourite mirrors. This one I found in Corner House Antiques in Tiverton - a regular lunchtime haunt when I was working just around the corner in the Registration Office. It’s almost heart shape just had ‘wedding venue’ written all over it, and I couldn’t resist. Funnily enough, my original idea of using it over a piece of furniture to create a ‘dressing table’ didn’t work at all, but I knew it would find a happy home somewhere, and it did.
Finally we come to the room where my love of mirrors (or should that be that slight obsession) could really run riot - The Leveret Suite. I knew there would be a high demand for mirror space with the bride and her tribe getting ready together (quite critical with 8 bridesmaids last week!), so I certainly went to town in here.
A great favourite of mine is another vintage frameless one. This time it was large enough to find a perfect home above the sleek oversize basin, but however beautiful it looked, it was going to be difficult to choose lighting that would work above it. So I came up with a plan, which not only raised eyebrows even higher on site, but ended up being pretty complicated and entailed moving electrics and a lot of work (oops!). I simply asked it we could light it from behind - well in my fantasy mind it was simple! Sam set to work and made a metal lined frame on the back, and the electricians used LED strips to complete the effect … well I think it was worth it!
With a great deal of hair and make-up to be sorted, there are two ‘dressing table’ areas in the room, both boasting pretty cheval mirrors. The beautiful antique one shown here was acquired at an auction in Sidmouth.
Full length mirrors were also a must - so I found two! The first was again found from Corner House Antiques in Tiverton. It’s actually a rather lovely Edwardian one which had been painted by a previous owner. I had intended to strip or repaint it, but it’s slightly battered look fitted rather well with our extremely eclectic mix of furnishings so I left well alone.
It also has its own castors so can be moved to wherever works best for the photographers to create a bit of extra light or some clever reflections.
And finally, the ‘piece de resistance’ - the big daddy of mirrors! Believe it or not, this enormous mirror was an amazing internet find, and although second hand, it was still in its wrapping, the purchaser having moved house and been unable to get it up the stairs! Their loss was our gain, and for very little money and a slightly hairy drive with it wrapped in duvets and sleeping bags, and wedged in the back of the farm pick-up, we acquired the perfect mirror to bring the room to life and allow our brides to see their finished look in style. It’s already seen many a beautiful bride in her wedding gown, and will see many more as time goes by.
So that’s a summary of our rather quirky mirror collection … to date! Never fear, all you sellers out there; (I’ll say it quietly so that the men in my life can’t hear!) but a girl can never have too many mirrors, and even in this little wander around the Barn, I have already spotted another couple of places that would be greatly enhanced by .. you guessed it, a mirror!