I love giving new life to old, abused furniture. I came across this vanity mirror (minus the vanity) at an estate sale that was selling off items from an old carpet store and the owner's apartment above it. It hadn't been lived in for over 60 years, and everything in it was crusty, dusty and dirty. But, what a goldmine for someone like me who enjoys bringing vintage things back to their former glory (or better!). The excellent condition beveled-edge mirror alone was worth the $25 I paid for it, and the hidden bonus was the hardwood concealed under many layers of paint and grime. I knew exactly what I was going to do with it, drawing inspiration from an entryway organizer I saw at Pottery Barn. Mine didn't cost anywhere near the non-sale price of $399 to make, and I prefer the look and features of mine much better! I only had to buy 4 things (the mini shelf - which I got for a discount through Amazon Warehouse Deals because the packaging was damaged, wood applique, small L-brackets and hanging hardware). I already had the other materials I used on hand, like wood filler, glue, scrap wood pieces, paint, old hooks, etc. The total cost for this project ended up being around $45-$50.
Here's what you'll need:
Mirror with large, wooden framing
Mini shelf + hooks
Picture hanger + small L-brackets
Chisel or flat screwdriver + scraper or spatula
Wood glue or all purpose glue + super glue
Exacto blade + cutting board
Stain and paint
Optional (if distressing mirror glass):
Paint stripper + appropriate gloves
Rags and paper towels
Oven/grill cleaner spray
Black spray paint
Step 1: Evaluate Condition
The main design problem was what to do about the holes and cut-outs on both sides of the mirror (where it used to be attached with brackets to the vanity in its former life). I could either cut them off or fill them in. I chose to attach a long, wood applique on the sides and fill in the remaining holes with wood filler.The damaged wood corner could also be rebuilt with wood filler. It was also important to clean off all the grime to see exactly what was underneath it and so the filler would adhere better.
Step 2: Remove Mirror
I used a small chisel to lift up the old wood backing and remove the splints that were holding the mirror in place. This made working on the wood frame much easier and also was necessary for the distressing I planned to do to the mirror later on.
Step 3: Glue & Fill
To cover up the afore-mentioned holes and cut-outs on the outer edges of the frame, I first attached the wood appliques with glue and clamped them in place until completely dry. Once dry and stable, I filled the holes with wood filler, being sure to over-fill on top so it could be sanded level with the wood surface later. To fix the broken off corner, I used a new (un-set!) mouse trap to create a straight edge. You could use any type of object that has a flat, straight surface, but the mousetrap was handy so I just went with it. Whatever you use, leave it in place until the filler has completely dried. Sand all filled holes and adjacent surfaces until smooth and level.TIP If you have a thick spot to sand down, start with coarser grit sandpaper to make it go more quickly, then switch to a finer grit for a smooth texture.
Step 4: Sand, Cut & Embellish
I had some leftover pieces from the cut appliques that I decided to play around with to complement the mirror's original design. These appliques are flexible (not made from wood, but stiffen up once glued on) and very easy to cut with an Exacto blade. They also sand like wood, so can be shaped and smoothed after they've been glued down. I created 3 beveled-looking squares to glue up at the top of the frame in the blank space. That left me with some thin, rounded strips which I glued to the bottoms of the existing long, flat rectangular pieces . TIP You should first sand the spot where the appliques are going to ensure adhesion. It also helps to sand the backs of this type of applique and use super glue instead of other glue on these smaller pieces. I also filled in the seams on top of the squares with wood filler and sanded them smooth after I attached them to the frame. To finish off the tops of the frame's end pieces, I glued on small squares of wood. I also added a long piece of the same thickness wood at the very bottom of the frame to create a more finished look. Finally, I attached the mini shelf with glue and filled in any gaps with wood filler.
Step 5: Adjust, Stain, Paint & Distress
During the course of this project, I discovered the very top piece of decorative molding was crooked (from the furniture factory), causing me much OCD distress. I had no idea how it was attached so securely, so I thought I needed some brawn to remedy the situation. (Enter the husband) He simply popped it off with a chisel and I glued it back on straight. Next came a final sanding of the whole thing, then some staining that would show through as distressing after painting. I chose white chalk paint for the finish, then sanded the corners and edges after the paint dried to bring out the details.
Step 6: Optional Mirror Distressing
I decided to do this to give the mirror more of a vintage look. I had never done this before, so I looked up the process and discovered many sites that give a detailed account of how to do it. I'm just going to give a brief description of what I did since it's an optional step. First, remove the paint on the back of the mirror with paint stripper. After paint is completely gone, remove the exposed silver paint with oven/grill cleaner. Once desired amount of clear glass has been exposed, wipe off cleaner and rinse with water. Dry thoroughly, then spray over remaining silver with whatever color you like. I chose black since it goes with the frame's distressed look. You can see the subtle black spotting in the upper left corner of the mirror. I kept the distressing mostly in the four corners and some of the sides. TIP I highly suggest looking up a more detailed tutorial so you'll know what to expect when doing this process. There are other techniques of how to accomplish this look, so it's best to do some research to see which one suits your needs.
Step 7: Secure Mirror & Add Hanger
Since the wood backing was old and splitting in some places, we added L-brackets in the corners for more support. TIP It was helpful at this point to have someone exert pressure on the board while the other person screwed things down. We placed the mirror back into its old spot and added a new board and brackets to hold it in. A heavy duty hanger was in order since this ended up weighing about 40 pounds.
Step 8: Done!
The very last finishing touch was screwing in the 3 hooks beneath the shelf. We ended up hanging our new organizer in a spot where organization was needed the most, which is a room that doubles as both an office and guest room. It adds a touch of vintage charm to the modern design of the room and its white color contrasts nicely with the mostly grey, beige and black color scheme.