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Luxury Home Developer Makes a Harvey Shift, Launches a New Mirrors Business

Going Through the Looking Glass With Carol Barden

BY // 11.20.18

Home developer Carol Isaak Barden finished her last luxury spec house just before Harvey hit. Afterwards, it didn’t feel right to take contractors and builders away from residents in need of their services; the time was right for a personal shift.

At dinner one evening, she spotted a mirror on a restaurant wall and had to have it. She procured the name of the manufacturer in Los Angeles, who had also made the mirrors in the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, and hunted him down. Soon Barden fell down a mirror-making rabbit hole, and her new business, Munson Mirrors, was born.

Mirrors have been a life-long infatuation for the design-obsessed Barden — a passion she inherited from her mother, Helen Munson, the company’s namesake. Barden’s career as a contributing editor for Southern Accents, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and PaperCity took her all over the globe. Along the way, she scooped up ornate and delicate mirrors, from Murano and Asia.

In her stately Upper Kirby townhome, Barden utilized them both indoors and out, making the space feel open and airy.

“Mirrors can really open a room and expand it in size,” she says. “They are also very sexy at night — the way the light and reflections bounce sets a certain tone.”

Munson Mirrors in the Upper Kirby townhome of Carol Barden. Photo by Jenny Antill Clifton.
Munson Mirrors in the stately Upper Kirby townhome of Carol Barden. Photo by Jenny Antill Clifton.

As with her development projects, Barden is committed to high-quality details. She uses glass by Tru Vu, which she deems one of the best produced in the United States, with higher-quality reflection and no distortion. Many of her frames are made in Italy, constructed of wood (hard to find these days, as most frames are now resin), utilizing the old-fashioned miter-box method. Some frames are hand-finished with gold or silver leaf. A fine arts framer in Houston then assembles the mirrors.

Barden has worked with medical equipment packers to produce top-of-the-line boxes to shop her mirrors securely to clients around the world via her website.

Munson Mirrors, from $800, at Thompson + Hanson Stone House, 3600 W. Alabama St., Westheimer Plumbing & Hardware, 3600 Kirby Dr., and munsonmirrors.com

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