Porthole Mirror

Many people prefer a nautical theme when it comes to the design of their space. Yet they often become stuck when trying to decide on what type of mirror will work best with one. Luckily for them there is a fun solution, a porthole mirror.

What’s A Porthole?

A porthole is the round window on the hull (body) of a ship. Its function is to let sunlight into the dim spaces of the boat and give those inside a view of what is going on outside. When opened it also lets in fresh air. Of course these windows are designed to keep water out when they are locked and therefore are extra strong with reliable hinges and latches.

You can enjoy the look of your very own porthole with a porthole mirror. With one of these, a piece of mirrored glass is used instead of a transparent window. And the surrounding metal, hinges and bolts that normally would function as a water-tight seal act as a convenient, attractive, and unique looking frame.

Porthole Mirror


Where To Use One

These are wall mirrors so they can be used on any wall surface but they look particularly stunning when they are used in rooms with a nautical theme. When shopping for one you will actually often see them advertised as a nautical porthole mirror.

Nautical themed bedrooms, bathrooms, home offices, and bars are particularly great places to use one. But since they are so eye-catching they can also be used to create a focal point or conversation piece in non-nautical themed rooms as well.

Porthole mirrors are a favorite for children with pirate or ocean themed bedrooms too. And they would be ideal for any wall space in a beach house, cottage, or condo. As a matter of fact many boat owners actually like to use them in the cabin of their boats and they are also quite popular with RV owners.

Since they are quite inexpensive they are one of the only types of mirrors that are frequently purchased as gifts for friends who may have a serious interest in boating or just love nautical themed furnishings.

Porthole Mirror


Because the majority of real portholes are circular, you’ll see that when it comes to shape a round porthole mirror is the most commonly available option. Some may even stick out from the wall in a three dimensional manner, for those who are looking for something more convex.

Even though you may not see them as often, there are also oval and rectangular shaped mirrors. However if you are planning to use one in the bathroom as many people do, you’ll want to keep in mind that unlike with other types you are not as likely to find a rectangular porthole mirror with an attached medicine cabinet for storage.

Porthole Mirror



The size of round mirrors is described as a single number. This is the diameter or how wide across it is. So for example if you were looking at a model that was being sold as a 30 inch porthole mirror, that would mean it has a diameter of 30 inches.

You’ll want to read the description of the model you are considering to find out if this is the diameter of the mirror overall including the frame, or just the glass of the mirror. Something that is around 30 inches in diameter or more would be considered a large porthole mirror and could definitely be used as a vanity mirror.

Generally they run from around 9″- 24″ including the frame. The sizes of rectangular and oval shaped mirrors on the other hand are described by two numbers: the length and the width. If you do want something that is more substantial in size you might want to consider one that is rectangular in shape.


Porthole Mirror



Frame Materials And Finishes

Most frames are made from metal to help them look like a real porthole. Aluminum frames are normally the least expensive and can be made with a finish that makes them look like a more expensive metal. For example you could go for a faux bronze porthole mirror that would look very realistic but not cost as much as authentic bronze.

Brass, nickel, silver, copper, and chrome plated finishes are also usually options for models made from aluminum. But you may also want to consider an aluminum frame that is simply painted a solid color to match the space you will be using it.

Porthole Mirror

Solid metal frames from materials like brass will cost more. However of course you do get what you pay for and a solid brass porthole mirror can be stunning. There are also plastic and fiberglass frames although you will want to make sure you choose something that looks sturdy and authentic in appearance in order for it to be convincing.

Wooden frames are another choice and can be made to look so much like real metal that it can be hard to tell the difference.

Porthole Mirror


New Or Vintage?

Even though the design of many mirrors looks like it is straight off a ship from the nineteenth century, which is what they are often modeled after, you may want something that looks like it has actually been around and in use since that time. Luckily you don’t need to spend the money and time searching for an real antique porthole mirror.

Instead a much less expensive and just as realistic looking choice is one that has been made to look much older than it is. Fortunately these are easy to find because they are so popular.

They usually will have a hand painted finish to make them look like they have an aged patina just like weathered bronze or copper would. Wooden mirrors too can be painted in a “distressed,” style to make them look like they have been at sea for years with peeling paint, scratches, and scuff marks.

Porthole Mirror


The Ability To Open Or Not?

You may want to think about whether or not you want a mirror that can actually swing open like a real porthole window. While most look like they can because they have hinges, in reality not all of them do. For many people this feature is not important, but it depends on your preferences.

A mirror that can open can be used as a good looking way to cover up something on your wall that might be unsightly but that you need access to such as plumbing. You could even get creative with what you place behind your mirror by installing something like a hidden wall safe.

Porthole Mirror


Keep Going With The Nautical Theme

If you are just getting started with a nautical or beach theme there are many other furnishings and accessories that you can use to work well with your porthole mirror. Nautical bedding, wall anchors, nets and ship wheels, along with artwork depicting ocean life are just the beginning.

It’s also one of the easiest styles to get creative with. You may even want to install multiple mirrors in a room so that they are evenly spaced and in line with each other to make it seem as if you are actually standing on a boat. There are a few other nautical mirror types that you can use with your porthole too, such as a ship wheel or driftwood mirror.

Another Window Choice

For those who like the idea of a mirror that looks like a window but don’t want something nautical themed there is also what’s simply known as a window mirror. This type can look just like standard window with multiple panes. But they can also copy the look of a window you’d find on a French country cottage or even one from a church.

Porthole Mirror

A porthole mirror will definitely add a unique look to your home and surely go a long way towards completing any nautical themed room or space. So keep this option in mind when the usual choices don’t quite cut it and you want something truly different!

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