What difference would a wood-frame mirror make?

You don’t see enough wood-frame mirrors today. Here’s why.
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Our restrooms and bathrooms can be pretty cold places, design-wise. That’s not on purpose. It’s a matter of necessity. It’s also, when you think about it, a little odd.

The bathroom is the place where we go for our most intimate moments, such as tending to bodily functions and bathing or showering. In public bathrooms, we expect to find some privacy for those activities, and that requires adding extra, internal vertical surfaces, like privacy stalls and shower doors. Since bathrooms are also where we wash our hands most often, and where we check our appearance before going back out in public, we rely on finding a sink and faucets, a countertop, a mirror.

The fact that bathrooms are primarily used for actions that keep us clean means that the bathrooms themselves must be designed with cleanliness in mind. A public restroom, for example, since it’s being used for cleaning by many people throughout a typical day, needs to have features that make the room itself easy to clean. We would never lay carpet in a public restroom; it would be impossible to keep clean, and every restroom is likely to see leaks sometime in its service. So tile or concrete are the most frequent floor choices.

Sinks manage gallons of water every day. The countertops catch constant drops or more. Toilets and other fixtures need to be slick and scrubbable. Floors need to be mopped. And mirrors above the sinks always get water spots.

Because bathrooms are all about staying clean, we’ve gotten used to the idea that every surface in them has to be metal or tile or granite; that they have to be hard and cleanable … and cold.

But they don’t.

Consider a wood mirror frame

Requirements for water management and easy cleaning also have the ironic result that the rooms where we are our most “organic selves” are the least organic environments we see inside any building, whether it’s in an office tower, a highway rest stop, a mall or even our own homes. That’s why restrooms seem cold. Managing our natural needs requires mostly non-natural surfaces.

So the next time you’re in a bathroom or a public restroom, look at the mirror — at, not in — and imagine what a contrast it would make in that space if there were a simple wood frame around the mirror.

“Organic” means “relating to or derived from living matter.” Before the word became attached to healthy foods, organic most frequently made people think of wood. Wood grows. It changes and matures, reacts to sunlight and the environment. It feeds and drinks. Wood is simply natural, the way all of the other surfaces in our bathrooms are not. So when we introduce something made of wood into a cold, unnatural environment, it doesn’t actually change the temperature. It just makes the space feel warmer.

A wood-frame mirror can be unexpected

One of the tools of good design is contrast. And that contrast doesn’t need to be drastic. In fact, the subtler it is, the more of an effect it can have. Even subliminally, slight differences — in color, in lighting, in surfaces — can change the way a room feels and how it affects us.

Think of the public restroom described above. Now compare it to a bathroom in your home, where you may have rugs or even carpet, wood vanities and cabinets — things that don’t need to be as durable and cleanable as they would be in a public restroom. And now think, which space is more pleasant to use?
Putting a color-coordinated wood frame around a mirror provides an instant, subtle contrast between the mirror, a surface we expect to be hard and cold, and what’s around it. A wood mirror frame doesn’t change the temperature of the mirror, but it still feels warmer. A wood-frame mirror in your bathroom at home, in a custom finish or stain to match the palette of the room, feels … right at home. It belongs. A wood mirror frame around the glass in a public restroom — that’s a welcome little bit of home, too.

Sometimes we expect a wood-frame mirror

The technology that allows us to create large sheets of reflective glass and mount them directly to surfaces is relatively new. Mirrors aren’t as thin and breakable, as dangerous as they used to be. Not so long ago, every mirror was in a frame, whether wood or metal. Now we’re accustomed to seeing mirrors attached directly to any vertical surface; an interior or exterior wall, even forming entire walls inside and covering entire buildings outside.

Think of the large mirrors you’ve seen in movies that take place in old houses. (OK, yes, sometimes the houses are haunted. Sometimes the mirrors are haunted. At S2 Design, we guarantee that, while there are several options with our wood-framed mirrors, including several sizes and custom frame finishes and stains, haunting is not an option.) In those movies, your eye is immediately drawn to those mirrors. We’re fascinated by them; by the blend of organic and glass.

The technology that made mirrors so common, and so big, today causes us to forget how enjoyable that contrast can be between organic and glass; how pleasant it is to see the designer’s extra attention to detail by choosing a wood mirror frame. And not only in our private spaces, but even in hallways and lobbies. A mirror always gets used, so it always gets noticed.

And if the mirror you choose adds an extra element of design, it’s always appreciated.

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2250 W. Broadway Road, Ste. 105,
Mesa, AZ 85202

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