A Thing Like That
Written by Jacqueline Maya
As the old saying goes, it’s the little things in life that can bring us the most joy. From the ornate decorative objects we display in our abodes to express our individuality, to the mirrors we strategically hang to reflect the world around us, it’s items such as these that can tie an entire room together, and turn a house into a home.
A Glass Act
The crafting of coloured glass can be traced back to ancient times, with the Egyptians said to have discovered the art form accidentally. Soon after, the Romans adopted the practice, however it wasn’t until the Medieval period that stained-glass windows came into fashion, reaching peak popularity in the Gothic era. These breathtaking works of art predominantly featured in cathedrals and churches, with one of the oldest fragments to date found at St. Paul’s Monastery in Jarrow, England in 686 AD, exemplifying the longevity of this beautiful adornment.
The basic method for manufacturing coloured glass hasn’t significantly changed over the years, however it’s still a highly respected process among artisans today; firstly, a mix of potash and sand is heated to 1648.889°C, and various metallic-oxide powders are then added to the glass to achieve the desired colouring. The glass is then flattened into sheets while it’s still pliable, laid on top of a blue print or cartoon, cut into the approximate sizes required, and finished using a grozing iron.
While the popularity of stained glass windows slowly declined after the Renaissance period, ornamental glass items have made a big comeback in modern home design, and with our love of honouring history continuing to grow, it’s easy to see why. Whether it’s a special carnival-glass vase passed down from a beloved family member, or the perfect set of Art Deco glassware found after hours of searching every nook and cranny of a vintage store, decorative glass items can provide spaces with unique visual appeal, while nodding to the past at the same time. If you’re looking to add character to your home, consider installing a glass tub in your bathroom, or a personalised glass splashback in your kitchen. Regardless of your preferred style, incorporating a few glass accents into your home will achieve a result that is timeless yet individual.
As suggested in the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale Snow White, a mirror has all the answers. The origins of the mirror can be dated as far back as 6000 BC, when the Turkish are believed to have fashioned a reflective object out of obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic glass. The silvered-glass mirror that we know and love was invented in 1835, and is commonly credited to German chemist Justus Von Liebig, who developed a process for applying a thin layer of metallic silver to one side of a pane of clear glass. This technique was soon adapted and improved upon, leading to the mass production of mirrors for commercial trade.
Considered essential to personal grooming, the mirror is now a staple in most households. While its physical structure hasn’t evolved much over time, the customisation options available to today’s homeowners are endless. From beautifully scalloped edging and detailed chinoiserie-style frames, to grand geometric or organic shapes, the mirror’s adaptability has made it a deserving centrepiece in homes around the world. Serving a functional and aesthetic purpose throughout the home, mirrors can add character and charm in equal measure.
As smart-home technologies continue to advance, the mirror, as with most items in our abodes, is facing a technological transformation, bringing the bathroom into the future as a result. With automation capabilities such as sensor-activated LED lights with adjustable colour temperature, and fully integrated Android capabilities, the latest mirrors are becoming more than just a tool with which we can stare into our souls. Available in a wide range of styles and sizes, the mirror is a prime example of how our homes are now being built as extensions of ourselves, where our surrounds reflect our unique tastes.
No room in the modern home is built for purely utilitarian purposes; instead our abodes have come to comprise multiple places in which to indulge, revamp and experiment. When it comes to building a house from scratch or renovating an existing one, small fixtures or knick knacks may seem insignificant, however in reality, it’s the finishing touches like these that often help us to create a home that is functional, stylish and inimitably us.