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An Old/New Trend That Has Us Thinking We Might Be Ok With “Faux-Aging”…

When I brought up the idea of this trend to the team there were mixed responses. Some were like “I LOVE this” while others didn’t deny its budding resurgence but weren’t necessarily sure about it. I had been seeing it pop up, feeling like we had a trend on our hands when last week on Elle Decor had it in a trend roundup article. Even as I was prepping this post AD did a piece on how mirrored walls are back! Needless to say, it was time to do a bit of a deep dive.

To start off, real antique mirrors age because for a long time “a thin layer of mercury was spread over a piece of tin then glass was placed on top which caused a reaction between mercury and tin causing the mirror-like substance to adhere to the glass” (Thanks, SF Gate for the info). So that’s why over time the mercury will tarnish or oxidize creating that aged look. A good one can look sooo special. I have an old family mirror that has some age on it and I LOVE it so much. It’s history staring at you while you stare at your face:)

design by nate berkus and jeremiah brent | styled by colin king | photo by nicole franzen | via architectural digest

Now, I don’t know of any current designers that love an antique mirror or an antique mirror wall than Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent. I’ve been bingeing their shows (highly recommend if you were also wildly behind like me. Discoery+, baby!) and there is almost always some kind of aged mirror in every reveal. However, this love is proven most in their own homes. Take the first photo and this one above. These mirror tiles are A. real antiques and B. add both a ton of character and light to the space. A quiet, rich statement if you will.

design by chris and julia marcum

Here is an example of using a faux-aged mirror in tile form. Julia and Chris did a great job making this tile look chic and natural in their colonial-style home. I think the key to successfully adding faux-aged decor into a home is to do it sparingly (and make sure it’s the good version:)). So with this backsplash, it totally works because there’s very little that’s also faux-aged in the room and naturally, they picked a good version of this kind of tile. If you like this look but want a larger statement, Pottery Barn is usually a good place to go. Take this wall mirror for example. You also can do a faux-aged DIY if you are feeling ambitious. Here is a video I found after a quick search.

design by frances merrill | photo by laure joliet | via elle decor

I truly just can’t get over this room by Frances Merrill. Every time I look at it I see something new. So it wasn’t until the second or third time I stared at this photo that I noticed the bar nook had what looks like aged glass (faux I’m sure)! It’s a pretty fun and sophisticated accent. It’s warm but also makes the space feel a bit grander.

These photos are from a reel I saw the other week which only continued my opinion that this trend is absolutely happening.

design by gracinha viterbo | photo by francisco nogueira | via house & garden

Look to your left! A mirrored wall! What I love about this wall is that the light “age” complements the vintage feel of all of the other pieces in the room. It also, of course, bounces the light around the room but isn’t overwhelming because of that incredible piece of art that’s been put right in front of it. It just adds more texture to the space!

design by jeremiah brent | photo by brittany ambridge

After looking at these photos, I think my personal favorite way to incorporate a faux-aged mirror is as a background piece like in the bar in Francis’ home and here in the back of these shelves designed by Jeremiah Brent. That way you get the visual texture and don’t immediately think, “Woah that’s a big faux-aged mirror.” It’s more of a fun surprise.

design by kate marker interiors | photo by stoffer photography interiors

To further prove my point, I think having this entry table and its decor partially blocking this faux-aged mirror breaks up the intensity of its size and detail. It feels more welcoming. Also, look at how modern a faux-aged mirror can look?? It’s for all styles:)

Now, I think we’ve talked enough faux and should get into the real deal antiques…

design by jake arnold

I mean…STOP! It’s mirrors like these that make me never want to look at a new mirror again. This baby has almost too much soul. Save some for the other mirrors, K? It should also be stated that the one and only Jake Arnold designed this room which puts another official stamp of approval and makes this “trend” cool. And look, antique mirrors literally aren’t new to the design world and Jake isn’t the first (duh) to use them. BUT it is a good reminder of how goooood they are and how you won’t regret adding one to your home. It’s science.

Remember that there are leveling degrees of “age”. If you like the idea but don’t want your mirror to look like it came straight out of the Haunted Mansion, then go for one with light aging. Make it work for you and your style. You want balance within your vintage too. If everything looks 300 years old and is falling apart, it might feel heavy and lack any sort of freshness. But…

design by marie flanigan | styled by jessica brinkert holtam | photo by julie soefer | via architectural digest

…on the flip side, this pretty room needed some pieces with age because everything is so new. A new modern mirror would have still looked nice but these add depth and dimension.

design by athena calderone | photo by sarah elliott | via eyeswoon

They also can just be a little accent like in Athena Calderone’s kitchen. There are a ton of beautiful little aged mirrors on the internet, at vintage shops, and in flea markets. It’s an easy and affordable way to hop on board!

Emily is of course a fan of the real deal and has used lightly aged mirrors a ton. Above are two examples of them in her last LA house. I remember when she bought the oval one on the left and how enthralled she was with it. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t even 100% where it was going but she knew it was so special (and simple) that there were a ton of spots. She wasn’t worried:)

And that’s the beautiful thing about most old things, they never truly go out of “fashion”. So again a word of advice. Be very picky if you are going faux to make sure you love the added patina. Faux of anything can be a great affordable alternative because not all of us have that Berkus and Brent budget… maybe someday though, right? RIGHT??

Thoughts? Experiences? Any fun finds? Let’s talk!

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Design by Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent | Styled by Dorcia Kelley | Photo by Kelly Marshall | via Architectural Digest

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1 year ago

I put one behind the bar are in my kitchen reno six years ago. The glass guys brought samples of various aged mirrors, and I went medium with the aging, more of an all-over look, no blotching. It looks perfect with my soapstone and quartersawn oak cabinets. It’s still one of my favorite parts of the design!

1 year ago

I love an antiqued mirror. Jessica Helgerson also does this really well. Check out the mirrored room in this project!

Colleen S
1 year ago
Reply to  Alexandra Rose

Thanks so much for sharing that project–I love it, especially the lighting choices, vivid colors, and balance of history and contemporary elements.

1 year ago

LOL We just redid a very small guest bath, removing THREE walls of old-not-in-good-way mirror (to say nothing of the brass faucet with swan wing handles) and then put up on old-in-good-way naturally aged brass framed mirror passed down through the family somehow. I guess this makes us both off- and on-trend. And seriously, if I’d known that you can “age” mirrors, I’d have considered that because this small bath is seriously lacking light and I’m unwilling to give up the beautiful old brass sconces. I enjoy your posts!

Paula Anderson
1 year ago

Check out the amazing DIY vintage mirror wall the Emma from @emmacourtneyhome did she has a YouTube and it’s amazing,her hack for the welded joints is genius

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago

I generally don’t like much faux, because most of it is done so poorly, but these mirrors are good.
They are not try-hard like shabby chic faux usually is.
My preference is these kind of mirrors in industrial spaces or with a few real antiques sprinkled in the mix (like the old table in the lead photo).

1 year ago

Love the aged mirror. The issue with faux aging is that it is often overdone and too uniform. The legit aged antiques show uneven wear and tear because they have years of wear. I have a beautiful 18th Century French mirror above my fireplace with some nice aging in spots. It’s character. Not that faux aging is bad, it’s just that you have to watch out for bad faux aging. 🙂

1 year ago

I love real antique framed mirrors. They are so readily available at antique stores and can be so beautiful.

I do not, however, love mirrored walls. As someone who lived in a tiny apartment which had one in the main kitchen/living room in an effort to make it look larger, just no. Try being half asleep and catching out of the corner of your eye someone walking in your apartment next to your kitchen table, only to realize it’s you! Ha! Pass. Never again lol

1 year ago

I would love to know where to find real antique mirror panels like the ones in Nate and Jeremiah’s dining room…ideas anyone?

1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

Just answered my own question! Apparently Nate and Jeremiah’s aren’t real antiques

1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

Oops! Spoke to soon! Walter’s stocks real antique mirror panels, too!

Gabrielle Muir
1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

Hi, I don’t think you spoke too soon. Nate and Jeremiah’s mirrors are 100% definitely fake, they are too contrived and don’t give off the soulful feel

Gabrielle Muir
1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

Hi, I don’t think you spoke too soon. Nate and Jeremiah’s mirrors are 100% definitely fake, they are too contrived and don’t give off the soulful feel of original aging.

1 year ago
Reply to  Gabrielle Muir

Gabrielle, I am sure your mercury mirrors are beautiful but I personally wouldn’t want to have unstable mercury in my home. Please do your research before purchasing and consider leaving them to the museums and trained conservators.

Gabrielle Muir
1 year ago

Real mercury mirrors are so gut wrenchingly beautiful in life and you can tell at first glance you will be moved like the Jake Arnold one above. Firstly they where made on thicker glass plates back then, so when the different aging happens to the tin and mercury behind you will see a vast language of different aging, blurring, dramatic areas of loss, scratching etc (not just the splatter technique with concentrate aging around the edges, like the Nate Berkshire ones above). The thickness of glass also adds to the “distortion” which makes it more mysterious. If you are lucky enough to get a mirror that “sparkles” in places it is where the tin and mercury have interacted/exploded together. From experience if you look on Live auctioneer etc you can see smaller ones like the one on Athena’s shelf for $100-$200. If is only the medium and larger ones that get pricey, as not that many big ones got made and since they where banned early 1800’s a long time for a fragile material to last. Hence if you see any frame made after that you also know likely not original. The most well known ones are in Versailles hall… Read more »

1 year ago

It’s giving “welcome to Olive Garden. When you’re here, your family”

1 year ago

That room designed by Jake Arnold is really breathtaking. That mirror should have no business being there but everything in that room from the table to the wall design are brought together by it. Stunning!

1 year ago

Isn’t the CLJ example technically a Jean Stoffer design? (I dunno; maybe they designed the mirror themselves but Stoffer designed the kitchen.)

1 year ago
Reply to  Molly

I believe it was Julia’s idea to do the mirror tiles and they had Jean’s team sign off on it. Also, they DIYed the project themselves.

1 year ago

Mirrors are portals, mirrors create magic and are masters at fooling the eye. On a psychological level of course mirrors are garnering attention even though basic ones are everywhere. Magical mirrors help take us to different dimensions and that need is of our times currently.