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Giving modern mirrors a softer, aged look

A craftsman who re-creates the soft, silvery look of antique glass

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Giving modern mirrors a softer, aged look

November 03 2011
Nicole Swengley

As a seasoned furniture restorer, Dominic Schuster has always been fascinated by decorative finishes. So when a client brought in a gilt-framed Georgian mirror with broken glass, he gave it new life by developing a technique that re-creates the soft, silvery look of antique mirror glass. As a result, his work has taken a completely new direction.

Unlike harsh, modern reflective glass, Schuster’s antiqued mirror glass is peppered with speckles and softened by foxing – just like old, silver- or mercury-backed mirrors. Interior designers and homeowners now beat a path to his studio (by appointment) to see the magical effects and respond with imaginative commissions.

“People are being quite adventurous,” says Schuster. One client wanted every inch of kitchen wall-space in a Kensington property covered with heavily antiqued mirror glass – even behind the hob, sink and above the door . “It works well with the brushed-steel worktops because it looks like beaten metal.”

Another client wanted an antiqued mirror glass bath panel and a tall wall panel installed behind the shower. “Water-splashes just look like additional blotches,” jokes Schuster, who also turned a downstairs cloakroom in a Hampstead house into a glittering jewel box in which the ceiling and walls are covered with verre églomisé (glass backed by silver-leaf). Further commissions have included mirror-cladding an entire living-room wall, creating a mirror-panelled wall for the dining room at Coworth Park hotel in Berkshire (first picture), and creating art-deco-style antiqued mirror panels above mantelpieces and within chimney-breast alcoves. Prices range from £285 to £375 per square metre, plus installation.

Schuster also fits his silvery-grey glass into tabletops (either a client’s table or his own design) and artistically blends architectural photographic prints within antiqued mirrors (framed or unframed, second picture, from £595). “The possibilities are limitless,” he reflects.