One of the best ways to stretch space is to use mirrors. Mirrors have always been neglected. They are relatively inexpensive, compared to the newer wall coverings such as vinyl, tile and even some wallpaper. They are also so easy to maintain: A bottle of glass spray and a roll of paper towels are all you need to restore your sparkle.
Mirrors can be permanent installations, too, rarely requiring repairs. They can conceal a poorly finished wall, or walls where partitions have been removed.
Mirrors are, of course, magnifiers. A tall mirror at the end of a narrow hallway, going from ceiling to floor, will make the hall seem shorter by bringing the end wall closer to one's eye. In exactly the same way, a narrow band of mirror, placed horizontally along the length of a square room, will serve to lengthen the room visually and adjust the proportions to a rectangle.
In a living room I designed, I decided to use mirrors to enlarge the room.
The space was appropriate: two plain unbroken walls, a third dominated by a picture window, and a fourth by the wide entrance to the room.
This very plainness made the mirrors work better. Mirrors are best where the reflections are serene, doors and windows "match" and furnishings are restrained and orderly.
Following this guideline, I bought a simple, straightforward modular seating system, to create an L-shaped arrangment along the two unbroken walls. A large wood cube makes a handsome coffee table. Objects on it are kept to a minimum, dominated by one perfect orchid plant.
Two wicker-and-chrome armchairs in the classic style complement the modular seating, providing instant seating for eight.
I kept the colors as simple as the furnishings. White walls lighten the look of the mirror, which always darkens a room with its own gray look. To counteract this, I upholstered the modules in velours in a pale warm taupe color. This color is repeated in the wall-to-wall carpet. By keeping the number of colors reflected in the mirror to a minimum, the room is enlarged visually.
A large abstract painting in taupes and white adds to the serenity of this living room. Trees, plants, lighting and furnishings are calmly reflected in a wall of mirror that enriches -- and enlarges -- the proportions of the room.