Mirror tiles from the 1970s — 12 designs

mirror tile from the 1970sReally, I am such a contrarian, anti-authoritarian, pain-in-it, yes I am. If I have any sense whatsoever that the design powers-that-be believe something is *hideous*, I will go out of my way to find a way to say that it is fantastic. Sometimes I think I can cloud my own vision. But not in the case of: Mirror tiles from the 1970s. My vision is not clouded, it is clear: These are so much fun. Life is short. Have A LOT of fun. And if you Go Too Far with Decorating — Heck, It’s Only Decorating. I recently went on the hunt for vintage mirror tile, and here is what I found, along lots of artsy fartsy photos of two boxes of New Old Stock diamond coppertone mirror tiles that are now mine all mine *buwaha* or however you spell it evil laugh…

mirror tile girlI got the idea to use mirror tiles when I began thinking about decorating ideas for my office/studio remodel. As regular readers know, I have become a bit obsessed with the 1970s. My office/studio will be My Hippy Place.

mirror tileI don’t know exactly how mirror tiles entered my consciousness. For sure, I’ve seen quite a few of them, for example, in time capsule houses. Usually, they are discussed with derision.  Definition of derision, from The Free Dictionary:


However, I thing that they are pretty darn cool. You can use as many or few as you like. They are DIY. They reflect light back into a room. They have texture. Why the heck not.

mirror tileI originally went looking for gold vein mirror tile. The classique.  However, I could not find any new. Well, correction: My glass guy here in Lenox, Carl at Lenox Glass, did find me some new. It was just what I was looking for, but OMG, it was $80 per tile. Yes: $80 per tile.

mirror tile reflectionI also found some on craigslist — gold vein tiles, vintage, 44 pieces for $88 dollars, or something like that, in Cranston, Rhode Island. That’s a three-hour drive for me. I thought about it. But my tusch hurt just thinking about it. Update: They are still there, price is down to $1 a tile. That’s a great deal!

vintage mirror tileI searched ebay and etsy. Etsy – Bingo! – I found the little motherlode that I was looking for: Several styles of New Old Stock mirror tiles from seller cosasraras. There was a big stash uncovered that is now being unloaded.

faux bois Cosasraras has faux bois woodgrain mirror tiles (above). These were very tempting.

Cosasraras has black vein mirror tile.

mirror tile coppertone diamondsShe has mirror tiles with little diamonds outlined in white. There are two “colors” of mirror in this design: plain mirror inside white-painted diamonds, and coppertone mirror inside the white diamonds. I took a chance and ordered the coppertone. It’s kind of pinkish copper — the photos up higher and thumbnailed on the right are pretty true. I like my tiles a lot. They are weird.

Oh, cosasraras has scenics, too — like the sailing ship, above. Note how it is framed with the faux bois.

There are even Miro-esque scenes. Miro Mirro mirror tiles, hahaha. The come-hither poses on these boxes: priceless. Mirror tiles must have been 70s codes for … swingers? Cover your eyes, under-18s!

Airplane tiles. Ukelele. You gotta love the 70s. You gotta.

Repita: New Old Stock 1976 Mirror tile from cosasraras on etsy, still some left.

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Comments

  1. JKaye says

    In the mid-90s, I bought an early 70s ranch that had a short wall of gold vein mirror tiles in the living room. I decided they just had to go, and off they went. Looking back, I think I was way too hasty. But I was too worried about what other people would think — adult people, who might have laughed at them. But I bet my kids would have found them to be great fun. Moral of the story is to take time making changes to a house, so you can find out if you just might like some feature or other. (But I never have regretted removing the dark green and burgundy wallpaper and Victorian-style light fixture from the bathroom of that house!)

  2. George K. says

    I bought a 1966 ranch two years ago. I have recessed shelves in the basement, and the backs of them are lined in gold veined mirrors. They are easily falling off, so I’ve been taking them down. I think that they are not original to the house but were added when the second family moved in after 1973. (I’m the third owner). My mom designed and my dad built a mirrored tile wall section (in our 1941 tudor entry way) about 1970 or ’71. It was 4 squares x 6 squares all gold veined tiles with smoked gold veined tiles in the four corners. A few years later, my mom found small elongated diamond mirror shapes with adhesive on the back and applied them to the intersections of the mirrored tiles in the center of the overall display. (We also had Christmas ornaments that looked exactly like the diamond shapes as well as elongated ovals circa ’76). Eventually, at my mom’s request, I took the whole thing down in the mid-’80s. (My dad had mounted it on plywood).

  3. says

    We have a 1968 ranch. The master bedroom has a chair rail and the area below the chair rail is painted baby blue. Above the chair rail is a light blue and yellow floral wall paper. The “feature wall” was covered with 12″x12″ gold veined mirrors above the chair rail… the entire wall. They were mounted right on the drywall with the wallpaper put up around them, which makes me think they were put in when the house was built.

    I took them down when our first child was born and was sleeping in the room. I wish I knew what I did with them, there were so many! We’ve never been able to completely remove the adhesive from the wall, it’s these puffy double sided stick squares.

  4. says

    Our living room wall is decked out with mirrored tiles! Two panels (I guess that would be the term). 3 tiles wide by 7 tiles tall, with the outer tiles on the top curved to make an arch. They are clear with gold veins.

    The previous owners even left an almost full box in the basement (5 out of 6 tiles), they are Hoyne Mirro-Tiles. I looked them up recently and found them in newspaper ads in the late 70s through to the early 80s. Our box is much more plain (no groovy gals) so it could be one from the early 80s I suppose. We think they’re a kitschy addition in our 50s ranch so we’ll be keeping them up, at least for a good long while (and saving the extra box in case of accidents). :)

  5. Kim Harayda says

    Oooh THANK you! I have been looking for these! When I was little my parents had a 10 x 10 wall of these (gold veined) in their bedroom and I loved them ! Unfortunately they took them down for drywall & texture (greige too- mom is a big fan of greige)- I’ve been looking for these off and on for our 1964 ranch….now…where to put them… :)

  6. ChrisH says

    I know we’re not supposed to be negative, so I’ll just say “To Each, His Own”.

    I do wonder if it’s possible to decorate in a ’70s theme w/o having to be “ironic” about it.

    • pam kueber says

      You know, ChrisH, I have been thinking about your question all morning. I think it’s not *ironic* if you really love it and are using it for what it is. Ironic implies an opposite. That is: Ugly but you use it to make some kind of point. I don’t think the mirror tiles are ugly. I think they are fabulous. Which is what they thought in the 70s when originally installed. I need to make a whole blog post about this! Maybe Friday noon and I’ll let people opine all weekend! Thanks for the provocative question!

      • Jon Hunt says

        We have a rather 70s house — more late 60s, really, but our basement is FULLY in the full-on 1970s — and I can tell you there ain’t a hint of irony about it. We just full-on love it. It’s COLORFUL AND FUN. What the heck is wrong about colorful and fun, I ask? Nothing.

      • ChrisH says

        Pam,

        Thanks for taking the question seriously. It wasn’t meant to be completely dismissive of ’70s decor, and it seems you recognize that.

        I’m not saying mirror tile is ugly, I’m saying it falls under the heading of a guilty pleasure. Even if you genuinely like it you can’t really help thinking it’s a bit over the top. I mean is this your home or a stately pleasure dome? It seems to me that much of the decor (and fashion, and cars, and….) of the ’70s is like that. But maybe it’s just me.

        Perhaps a few more examples would help. Suppose someone puts orange shag carpet in their ’70s RetroReno. It’s possible to genuinely like shag, and at the same time chuckle a bit – I mean, it’s hairy carpet, who could fail to see the humor?

        One of my brothers has a couple leisure suits that he’s had since the ’70s. He still puts them on once in a while, and we all laugh – with him. He genuinely likes the leisure suits, and they have a lot of good memories for him. But he can’t help laughing too. There is a certain silliness to a leisure suit that can’t be denied, and that’s true even for those who appreciate them.

        I genuinely like the Levi Gremlin. (I like any AMC car for that matter). But it’s a Hornet chopped off at the trunk and upholstered in denim. How can I not laugh at that ?

        ’70s stuff -decor, fashion, cars, electronics, etc., were not meant to be timeless. They were not meant to be the epitome of good taste. They were meant to be groovy, happening, now, with it, etc. It’s great to have fun, and enjoy things. I’m all for that. But it seems that one needs a sense of humor to do ’70s decor. By contrast Arts and Crafts, Deco, MCM can all be done without humor, and often are.

        • mimi says

          Are you sure you aren’t thinking that because 70’s are still not antique yet? I personally think mirror tiles DO serve a purpose. Yeah, maybe ship tiles are over the top, but a nice veined mirror tile is neither tacky nor ironic. Mirrors serve to enlarge a room and reflect light-without using electricity nor costly renovation to enlarge a room-there is a purpose to them.

    • mimi says

      I forgot to add, a lit Christmas tree looks absolutely beautiful next to a wall of mirrors-unironically, of course.

  7. BrianD says

    Much to the dismay of most readers here, my question is how to safely remove the mirror tiles OFF a wall.

    We have 1976 ranch (there is a bicentennial beer can in the crawlspace left by the original builders). Our master bath has a raised tub, shag carpet and three walls of mirror tiles with gold veining. No shower, no storage whatsoever. Just a tub surrounded by all those self-conscious tiles.
    We are planning a more useable remodel with the storage we need and an ergonomic shower/tub for my arthritic self, so the tiles need to go. How would we go about it? Smash & grab? Or is there a way to safely soften the mastic that holds them up and pry them off whole?

    • pam kueber says

      Hey BrianD, I don’t let people give safety advice like this. Consult with a proper professional on this, okay?

      • BrianD says

        Oopsie.

        We’ve got one of those “local handyman” services in our neighborhood, but for some reason he’s reluctant to even touch the wall. I guess I’ll head for the big city to find someone with more know-how.

  8. Brian T says

    Last year I sold my 100-year-old house. In the foyer is an area where there once was a potbelly stove. There’s still a round metal plate covering where the stovepipe hooked into the wall; underneath is a vertical area (three feet wide, nine feet tall) that’s kinda lumpy. Some previous owners had covered the lumpy area with gold-vein mirror tile — the veining was supposed to look like marble. I eventually pried the tiles off and covered the area with texturized wallpaper painted to match the rest of the room.

    Pam, there were at least four, maybe eight of the gold-vein mirror tiles left over, never applied, on a shelf in the basement. If you’re that hungry for them, I could see whether the new owners have thrown them out.

  9. says

    My grandparent’s 1950s ranch had the mirrored tiles with gold veins running through as well. My husband helped them take down the wall they were on to open up the dining and living room, but we kept them. We’ve been thinking of a great project to use them on. On the other side of the wall there was wood paneling and once it was removed an awesome flocked wallpaper in green and yellow was revealed. How they lived without that wallpaper showing, I don’t know. We managed to remove some larger pieces that I was able to frame. My husband has some photos of both on his blog (hope it’s ok to add the link)

    http://jsworkbench.blogspot.com/2011/04/diningliving-room-remodel-part-1.html

  10. Dulcie says

    I remember my mom installing the gold-veined tiles on a wall in the bathroom. The condensation from the bath got in the cracks between tiles and ruined the mirroring on the edges. So, warning, if you install these in a bathroom, or any place where condensation builds up, maybe you should look into some kind of crack sealer or something to prevent your marvelous finds from being ruined.

  11. hannah50 says

    Oh geez Pam – I’ve been looking for gold vein mirror tiles for years here in Maine. At least 8. They’re always on eBay and they always cost a fortune, and then just thinking about shipping fees….*yikes*

    I’m not giving up though – I’m guessing they’ll come my way one day. I’ve never seen the ones like you purchased, but I like those VERY much – maybe more than the gold vein!

  12. BlueJay says

    I love mirror tile. My wife, however, does not share this love. If it were up to me, our house would be covered in groovy mirror. :D

  13. nina462 says

    So – not my cup of tea. My dining room wall in my 70’s townhouse in Minneapolis, had 3 ceiling to floor mirrors – which at least were clean looking. Other neighbors had the gold veined smaller tiles. Little note: – if you have those and don’t like them – you can cover with wallpaper & then paint, as some of my neighbors did.

  14. jay says

    When I was growing up in 60/70s, there used to be lots of advertising on TV and in the papers for companies that installed walls of mirrors in Philadelphia area homes. I would imagine there is still lots of it surviving to this day. Not quite mirror tile but i have the gigantic plate glass mirror over my couch that my parents had over theirs when they bought their house in 1951.

  15. Michael says

    A post on dotted Swiss curtains immediately followed by one about mirrored wall tiles? You know, “Sybil” came out in the 1970s too… ;)

    • pam kueber says

      I love a lot of stuff from the 70s, but also, Michael, I’m just continuing to roll out things from all era that I haven’t covered before. In terms of designs, ideas, products — I think I have the immediate postwar era through the early 60s pretty well covered — in terms of what folks back in the day did, and how readers might replicate various looks today. Now, I’m continuing to move forward into the 60s and 70s. I also am scanning for earlier — 20s, 30s, early 40s — but I also have featured a variety of items from that period (which is less complex, from a home design standpoint, I think). Make sense?

  16. Kim says

    Oh gracious. My father designed and built our 1972 split-level (sort of a “Mediterranean” ranch), and installed a wall of gold-vein, smoked-mirror tile on the wall behind the bed in the master bedroom. I still long for that house, though perhaps not that particular element. Sadly, it didn’t save my parents’ marriage! ;-)

  17. tammyCA says

    Back in the 70s we had some gold-veined mirror tiles on the wall. It wasn’t a “happenin” house, must’ve just been an easy way to put a mirror up…peel & stick just like the peel & stick “carpet” squares in the bathroom.
    I never thought I would like anything again from the 70s era, but I can’t help but feel “happy” when I see flower power decor and fun bright color combos like orange, pink and yellow…just did a retro 60s-70s birthday party for my daughter – very easy since peace signs & boho is so IN right now.

  18. TroySF says

    Hi Pam! Groovy post, lovin’ mirror tiles. I looked for gold-vein mirror tiles when I bought the house (for behind the shelves of the built-in liquor cabinet) but couldn’t find them. Last year I found about 50 tiles at a reuse shop – have tiles, need project! ;-)

  19. nina462 says

    Pam – a couple years ago there was a goofy tv show called “That 70’s house” on MTV. You can wikipedia it – good for a laugh.

  20. says

    Pam,
    I truly Love your website and I thank you very much for adding the mirrors in your page!!!
    My friend Renee -76yrs- kept the boxes in the basement of her business’s building for decades. She used to make beautiful chandeliers, lamps, etc, and used to sell other decoration items at her place since the 70’s… She retired few years ago and by chance, I found them and offered to help selling them at my etsy shop after her business was burglarized last year. She is moving to Brussels to be close to her children and need to clean up her building right away. You are helping her a lot by adding these mirrors in your site and both of us are so Grateful to you for it!
    I am going to visit her later on today along with my notebook so she can see her mirrors and your whole website and I can’t wait to see her face.
    My hand is well now and I am using gloves when I go to dig at her basement. LOL
    We thank you very much, Pam!!!
    Alicia

  21. Matt says

    Beat these: http://www.mattcintosh.com/ebay/1121/sas.jpg

    I had gotten a box of 120 new of the less lively ones new from ACE hardware about 10 years ago, but never did anything with them. (I seen some pictures above with the same kind). But these, I got them on freecycle a couple years ago, maybe about 30…a few more broken…and I use them as a backdrop for my ebay stuff…since I doubt anyone else can match that.

  22. Paula says

    Dear Pam,
    I am so thankful that you are bringing the Hoyne mirror tiles back to life! In the 70’s, my parents had a horse stable that housed our show horses. On the huge wall in the kitchen, my father installed Hoyne tiles. The center was a Hoyne mirror tiles scene of running mustangs and the outer framing was the gold veined mirror tiles, there were many boxes of the gold veined tiles used to surround the running mustangs mirror tiles. Also downstairs in the bar area was more Hoyne gold veined mirror tiles behind the bar.
    I have an extra set of the Hoyne mirror tile running mustangs still in the original box never used. I have searched the web to see if anyone else has the running mustangs and have not seen any at all. Is there any way to upload photos here so that I can post some photos here on your blog? They are truly beautiful and I would like ones who read your blog here to see that there is another scene of tiles done by the Hoyne that is rare.
    Respectfully,
    Paula

  23. Martha says

    I have six 12″ X 12″ panels with a red vein-y design that are really awesome. I am thinking of putting them in a ceiling corner with at least one on the ceiling and four of them directly below. And I have a disco ball to hang in front!

  24. hannah says

    Hi Pam and all –

    I have purchased 3 packages of the diamond design mirrors off the seller on Etsy that you hipped us to last year. Just got the last package this week.

    The seller said to be sure and use “Liquid Nails”. Went to the hardware store today and all the Liquid Nails products said not to use on mirrors. I got home, went to their web page and they have one product specific for mirrors.

    I’m writing to ask what you used to put your mirror tiles up, or any of the other readers – what did they use. I want the wall to look as original (to the times) as possible but Mr. Wonderful keeps coming up with *ideas* of alternative ways to do it – which would NOT be authentic to the times (mounting on a thin piece of plywood, mounting with thin rails of wood in-between each row….).

    Any thoughts on the best adhesive to use are welcome! These will be going on a painted wall in the living room.

    hannah

  25. Bill says

    Hope this helps. I am selling 45 new/unused “antique gold vein” mirror tiles. The tiles are different from the “gold vein” mirror tiles they have a smoke or dark finish that is different from the silver finish. I posted several pictures of the tiles and one picture had a standard plain mirror tile next to the antique gold vein mirror. If you are looking for antique gold vein mirror tiles there is a chance that a seller will post that they are selling antique gold vein when it should read vintage 70s gold vein mirror tiles. Someone drove 2.5 hours to my house to buy the tiles I have only to find that they were the wrong ones. When taking pictures of mirrors they often pick up back ground colors.
    In 60 years they will be antique antique gold vein mirror tiles. LOL
    Bill

    • pam kueber says

      diana, you need to look in the story for the etsy seller listed – she’s the one with the tiles for sale. if she still has them. otherwise, search on ebay or etsy, good luck …

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