Please find below answers to our most commonly asked questions as well as some extra information about us and how we craft mirrors that perhaps you never thought to ask!
Who are Overmantels?
Overmantels has a reputation as Britain’s foremost mirror specialist. We have been designing and handcrafting ornamental and gilded mirror frames for almost 30 years. Overmantels’ reputation rests on exceptional craftsmanship and quality. We also pride ourselves on having an innate understanding of what works both for our clients and for any location or room.
A team of highly trained and exceptional craftsman creates unique timeless designs while also offering a bespoke made-to-measure service and antique restoration.
Founded by Seth Taylor in 1985, Overmantels was born from his love of antiques. He began buying and selling antiques in 1973 and quickly saw that there was a demand for antique overmantel mirrors, which were difficult to find. To meet demand he started his own collection of reproduction mirrors employing traditional techniques and using specialist joiners and guilders. The business began in 1985 in Battersea, London, where it remains to this day. Designs continue to be handcrafted in Overmantels’ London and Cotswold workshops.
Overmantels’ core philosophy is to keep old traditions alive. At its heart is a team of artisans, who are masters of joinery and glazing. Ornamental composition finishing and gilding techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation are expertly deployed. Overmantels has gradually collected an extensive archive of original and authentic composition moulds - some of which are over 200 years old. The team of specialists includes a master gilder who has perfected his craft over 50 years.
How did the business begin and what prompted its formation?
Overmantels was the brainchild of Seth Taylor. After a couple of years in corporate life, he decided he wanted to pursue his love of antiques.
During the antique dealing days the business had a long list of customers looking for large Overmantel mirrors. Open fires were banned in London in the 60’s. Home owners blocked up their fireplaces, threw away their marble fire surrounds and removed the Overmantel mirrors above them. Then, by the 1980’s many people wanted them back again, incorporating original features. At this time Overmantels had a steady trade in antiques but they were hard to find and even harder to find in good condition. So in 1985 Ovemantels launched its first designer collection of new Overmantel mirrors, using the traditional Arch shape.
Do you only make mirrors to go above fireplaces?
Our mirrors can be hang in many different places, above sofas, used as decorative bed heads, over console tables in hallways or ‘sitting’ on dado rails, over sideboards in dining rooms, at the top of stairs the list is endless. We can also change the base of a mirror to make it more suitable for ‘free hanging’ by giving it a continuous base.
Visiting our showroom
For infomation on our location, opening hours, parking and public transport links please see our Location page.
Mirror Choices Available:
What kind of mirrors do you make?
The majority of our frames are elegantly classical and we also create contemporary products. We have also simplified traditional designs to fit in with contemporary situations.
We sell all kinds of mirrors but we specialise in traditionally made wooden framed and gilded mirrors. Our traditional mirrors are based on Georgian, Regency and Victorian originals and these are mainly English designs, although we do have a few French styles as well. We also make some more contemporary mirrors in Art Deco style and using Eglomise glass.
Can you give some advice on what styles are best suited for certain rooms / looks?
More than just a functional furniture item well selected pieces can help lift and transform a room. Mirrors serve many roles in interior design from bringing light and a sense of space to narrow areas to being a central piece of artwork in a reception room. We pride ourselves in having an innate understanding of what works both for our clients and for any location or room.
Selection is frequently dictated by the space available and where it is to be hung – to help you with your deliberation we make some categorised suggestions in the Overmantels Recommends page.
I’m not sure what finish to go for – how do I decide?
Your choice starts with our standard gilt finish, this is included in the mirror prices, and is a subtle soft gold colour. We have a range of other finishes which are charged as an extra on the mirror price (and cost varies according to frame size and decorative detail) . All our finishes can be compared on our finishes page.
Can you advise me on how to choose the size of my mirror?
Yes please see our Measuring Up page.
Can I customise the decoration and/or size of my mirror?
Yes. On the majority of our Traditional range it is possible to alter and change the ornamentation you have. However on our carved range the decoration is intrinsically part of the frame itself.
It is also possible to make your mirror to any size. For more information See our Bespoke Service.
For full details on our besoke and tailoring service please see our Bespoke & Tailoring Service page.
Please note that it is often possible to tailor the frame without needing to go to a more expensive, fully made-to-measure option. A number of our standard sizes can be cut-down in height; similarly protruding feet can be tailored in length. You can also customise many of the ornamental details of a standard mirror – such as swapping the shell top for one seen on another frame or adding/removing beading or balls. All these modifications can be made at only a small tailoring charge.
I am interested in a TV mirror and need advice:
For comprehensive answers on any TV mirrors question please go to the TV Mirrors Essential Information page (or just give us a ring!)
Delivery & Fitting
How long from purchase until I get my mirror?
Our standard frames take 4 – 6 weeks from purchase to delivery. This is because each frame is finished according to the customer’s specifications.
Bespoke orders take 8 – 10 weeks to complete, though up to 12 weeks if very complex.
TV mirrors take 4 – 8 weeks and up to 10 for more complex projects
Can you fit mirrors?
Yes, if your location is within the M25 - prices vary according to exact location and size and number of mirrors but is typically around £125.
How is the mirror fixed to the wall?
- The first, and most common, uses mirror plates: 2 small lugs which protrude from the frame and are fixed to the wall. Not load-bearing, these lugs are best used on overmantel mirror where the mirror is totally supported by the mantelpiece.
- Secondly for free hanging mirrors, we recommend two screws drilled into the wall, we will provide the hanging straps. No chains or picture wire must be used in hanging our mirrors unless specifically directed.
- Finally for customers who don’t want to have visible lugs we can install hidden fixings which leave your mirror flush to the wall. This provides a fantastic fit but we must warn this is not easy to fit yourself without experience – it’s really tricky!
Delivery – what does it cost & who by?
We at Overmantels deliver our mirrors within the M25 and we have a tested and respected courier network of for outside of the London area.
i) London Area: We offer a delivery only or fit & delivery service. Price varies according to distance and size of mirror but typically delivery only is c.£60 and fitting with delivery c.£125.
ii) UK – south & central. Typical charge is £95.
iii) UK – North (above Birmingham) & Scotland: Typical charge is £110.
iv) UK – extreme remote fringes: No typical charge, customised quote.
v) Isle of Wight: Typical charge is c.£90.
vi) Outside of UK: No typical charge, customised quote. We will liaise with your chosen shippers or we can recommended shippers to you.
- Prices are inclusive of VAT.
- For additional mirrors within the UK there is only a small surcharge (c.£10/mirror) for carriage of additional mirrors at the same time.
- Customers are of course welcome to collect for free from our Battersea showroom or Wandsworth workshop.
- At customer’s request and own risk we can send wrapped mirrors by taxi to your address.
- You are very welcome to choose alternative couriers to take delivery of your mirror if you find better quotes elsewhere.
Delivery – when does risk pass to the customer/ what happens if damaged in transit?
Our workshop signs off that the mirror is in perfect shape when wrapped. With your delivery slip you will receive notice requesting you to carefully unwrap, inspect and sign for your mirror(s). If there is any damage, you must notify the courier and they will return the mirror to us for repair at no cost to you. If you find any damage or shortage or other problem with your delivery you must contact us within 24 hours.
MAKING YOUR MIRROR - Materials, crafting, environment etc:
What are Overmantels’ mirrors made from?
The timber frames are made from Tulip wood, which is a type of Poplar wood, and this is harvested from renewable wood sources. We do offer a plain No 5 Archtop in Mahogany. We can use other woods to specification.
The decorative ornamentation is made of composition, which is an eighteenth century technique for creating decorations that was faster than hand carving the wood. The recipes for this are handed down through the generations and are closely guarded as they all differ slightly. Finally the frames are gessoed (this is the ‘white’ layer) and then boule is applied (this is a coloured clay in either yellow or red) and then the gold or silver is applied.
Where are Overmantel's Mirrors made?
All our mirrors are made in the UK (apart from any foreign Antiques we have in stock). The majority of our mirrors are made by our own workshops, which are based in Gloucestershire and London.
What is involved in finishing/ guilding a frame?
First the frame mouldings are pressed or carved out of composition made to our 18th Century recipe. Then the frames are painted with gesso – a base providing a solid foundation on which to apply the metal leaf or gold. Next layers of bole (upto 6 layers) of bole are applied. Traditionally gold frames have a red Bole underneath to complement the gold and bring out depth. We typically use a redder English bole (than the blue/red French boule).
The guiding process is next; the metal leaf is delicately applied, leaf by leaf. Then a layer of polish and layers of wax and powder pigments are applied, these can be chosen from a range of earth pigments such as rottenstone and umber to brighter, synthetic pigments. The pigments add to the depth of the overall finish giving lustre and tinting the highlights and mouldings.
What is Overmantels' Sustainability policy?
Our business is about heritage and for us this is both a question of looking back and preserving old traditions, crafts and heirlooms and looking forward to creating sustainable heirlooms of the future. Our wood all comes from sustainable sources. In our business practices we try to minimise our energy footprints from using LED light bulbs to the entire team cycles to work and mirrors have combined deliveries wherever possible.
What kind of glass do you use?
We use the finest quality 6mm silvered glass, we can also do safety glass and we can also do a ‘verre Eglomise’ glass, which is a technique using individual silver leaf on the back of clear glass.
TV mirrors are different - where we use the highest quality glass available that has an optimal effect both as a reflective mirror and for transmitting through the TV screen for viewing as if there was no glass cover.
Can you 'antique' the glass in your mirrors?
Yes, we have found an ‘antique‘ style glass which has a mottled effect and is not as bright as modern glass but still offering a perfectly good reflection. As a specially processed product it is considerably more expensive than standard mirrored glass. Please ask us for a quote if you are interested.
Can the glass be bevelled?
Glass can be bevelled on almost all frames at additional cost. Any shaped bevelling such as round corners and arches is an additional cost. We select the bevel width most appropriate for the size and type of frame.
Do you sell antiques as well as reproductions?
Yes, we always have a selection of original antique English and French mirrors. See our Antiques range.
Do you have a brochure detailing your antiques?
Our antique stock is constantly changing as we source and sell them, so we don’t have a brochure. However we do keep updating our website pages.
Restorations & Repair
My mirror frame (not one of yours) broke – can you fix it?
Yes – please contact us especially with images of your mirror. But we should warn that restoration can be very expensive and is not always possible - we give frank advice. We first have to strip back the existing finish, a delicate and timely process. This may also reveal damage which might not have been initially apparent and so we may need to re-quote at this point. The time and cost depends on the quality of the frame.
My Overmantels mirror frame broke – can you fix it?
Yes, 99% of the time – please contact us especially with images of your mirror. The cost of repair is on a case by case basis.
My mirror glass broke – can you fix it?
Yes, we can replace it with our standard 6mm glass or a specialist Antiqued effect glass.
Do you buy mirrors? (antiques/ other / or buy back Overmantel mirrors)
We buy Antiques only and are highly selective – please contact us with images.
We do not buy any reproductions (unless exceptionally those of the highest quality), nor do we buy our own mirrors for re-sale.
Which forms of payment do you accept?
You can pay by either cash, cheque, bank transfer or payment by card over the phone.
We accept all standard credit and debit cards (except Diners Club).