Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

How many perfectly pretty rooms have you seen?   Every design website, every lifestyle magazine, TV show, and store window display shows us how “pretty” a room can be.  But out of all of those pretty rooms you’ve seen, how many do you “remember”?

That’s because “pretty” is pretty forgettable.

One of the most difficult parts of designing a room is editing.  This is hard to do when the world is so full of beautiful things that you’d like to use.

But the result of having too much “pretty” in a room is that the room loses its focal point and the eye has a hard time trying to find somewhere to rest.   Without a focal point around which to build a lasting memory, the mind just forgets the entire experience.

Recently, a neighbor was downsizing to a smaller home and gifted us with a very ornate gilded mirror.  We placed it above the fireplace.  But in a setting as formal as the Beekman’s living room, a gilded mirror was just a little too—expected.

We had long-admired the Poldo Como chest (pictured left) that we first glimpsed at the Conran Shop.   The tongue-in-cheek color scheme seemed to both poke-fun-at and revere the Rococo curves of the furniture.

Wit, wisdom, form and function are what make truly great design.

The memory of this piece of furniture was so vivid that it could still serve as inspiration for the project at hand over four years after we first laid eyes on it.

We first gently cleaned the mirror’s frame with soap and water to remove the years’ worth of dusty build-up from the crevices.  Then a genius product called QuickWood (which Brent’s grandmother discovered) was used to re-create any part of the plasterwork that had not survived the century.

Armed with two cans of semi-gloss paint, a quart of polyurethane, and a paint sprayer, we dutifully created layer upon layer of lacquered drama.

The mirror now picks up the “orange peel” fabric of the alcove chairs and the coloration of the bricks of the fireplace to create a focal point to the room that guests will not soon forget.

by Josh and Brent

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I agree with Brent. Love the calm that they symmetry gives, especially when we have such chaotic lives… On another note, I too have a farmhouse and I am battling with my urge to put curtains up when I have such gorgeous views.

Erik Ellis

Love all things Beekman! The mirror looks amazing, duh! Orange, however is not a primary color….just sayin' Have a super great weekend guys. p.s. how do you like the Aga stove? I have heard mixed reviews. Can you fit a large turkey in there?


Love it. The horizontal oval of mirror glass is so beautiful against the fireplace lines and above the sofas. The mirror frame really pops … I would have only thought of painting it black, which would have been so wrong–this orange shade is SO right !

sue t.

I have gone from being a minimalist to changing it up with French and English country but for color I have used my Blinko glass collection for surprise and color. I guess my favorite designers R. Lauren and D.Bromstad took over my mind. Is that your parlor or livingroom? Looks thought out and inviting. sue t.


Great minds think alike! When I bought my home 4 years ago I "inherited" a couple gawdy gilt-framed mirrors too. Very quickly one went into the attic to wait while I contemplate its future. The other was promptly painted a high-gloss turquoise blue and was moved into the home office where it adds just the right punch of color amidst the black & putty color scheme.


Thinking my comments, upon reflection, appear a little harsh. Afterall who am I to take issue with my Gods? Hope not to be banished from Eden. Am in the middle of your Beekman book and laughed out loud at the tiller antics. Been there, done that. After that, I took to removing sod first..not a pleasant chore for a hunchback either. That lead to double-digging which has served me well since. It's all about growing soil. Love the French intensive buzz, but I digress.

Dr. Brent

Hi, Clara

All rooms are always subject to change. At the moment with all the chaos in our lives, our feng shui is feeling the symmetry


That's what I call "a perfect touch of elegance" for the room.

Great color guys! I couldn't expect less from you……..



What great light and bare windows. I have to agree with Gabby, she must be a designer (me,too), that the symmetry is a little too ho hum. Could you move one sofa back a tad to off-set the coffee table and give extra passing room and more zing in the space? ……..and one urn perhaps? Altho' lovely, they seem to be crying out for funeral sprays. Sorry guys, but the room, sofas, chairs and mirror are stunning. FYI, I worship at your feet………and no, you can't see my living room.


I love what you did with the mirror. I think the vibrant color highlights the sculptural details of the frame mutch better the gilding ever does. I truly appreciate your application of traditional/nontraditional style. Thank you. Can't wait for March 22nd. It'll be a great birthday treat!

Delia DD

I love the minimalist tone but at the same time, it's warm and inviting. The large black vases/urns – they are so pretty. What a gorgeous fireplace! The whole room makes me want to grab a book and relax. The splash of yellow- I LOVE that, too! Will you come decorate my place?


Wow! If only… I think the room is beautiful. I wish I had the knack for design/decorating. We don't even have a picture on the walls. Your house is a home and still comfortable. Only one more month to wait! You two gentlemen are awesome (and Polka and Farmer John). Thanks for sharing with us!


Gorgeous! I hope this doesn't sound critical… just an observation and musing… Everything in the room is beautiful but there's a lot of symmetry in the room, having two of everything. Would you consider replacing one of the (stunning) sofas with the 2 upholstered chairs, with something like an Asian garden stool-cum-side-table or some such in between the chairs? The chairs' lines make a lovely contrast with the tailored curves of the sofa. Of course then a discussion about what to put in front of the windows in place of the chairs. 😉

traci sabia

its a scary thing to pick a piece for a room that is "out there" color wise. People are so afraid of color. it seems to be safer to be as basic as possible. …. Just take a chance. perfect idea you have and a beautiful room


That is brilliant! Just the inspiration I needed to finally use an old picture frame that I rescued from a family member. Gilded frames have always been the antithesis of my personal style, but this is a perfect idea!

teri tighe

that's just gorgeous.

I watch a lot of HGTV and am learning about contrast with I love above all else. I've never liked "matching" anything because it seems so cheesy.

The mirror fits right in without overwhelming the decor and room design. Great job.

Dr. Brent

A key thing to remember is to choose a color that compliments but does not "match" other items in the room. Using a primary color is often the best way to go

Andre Jones

Brent, thanks for sharing that inspiration. I have a very open house and must keep it so simple or it will look like mess. This information is helpful. And you did a wonderful job!


LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Right now orange is our go to accent color and we have a couple of unexpected things painted much the same. Thanks for the inspiration!


wow! What a great idea! I also salvaged a very ornate frame from the garbage errr recycling place. I cut it down to fit another mirror I found. The challenge is to match the color where in places it had lost its original varnish. I will use quickwood and see what I can do.

I love the simplistic view of your living room…stately, yet cozy.

Happy Spring!!!