quick mirror makeovers.

A common question facing most of us who rehab furniture is whether or not to keep an attached mirror with a piece.  I’ve written about this a few times.  A dresser can be so much more versatile without a mirror.  It can become a TV stand, a buffet, a kitchen island, etc.  Once you put the mirror back on, it becomes a piece that is really just suited for a bedroom.  A vanity without its mirror can become a desk.  If you have a large room, you can place it back to back with a sofa that floats in the room.

Sometimes the mirror is what gives a piece its personality, as was the case with the Prize Winner dresser I posted on Monday.  But I often remove mirrors and separate them from their furniture when they aren’t very special.  Last summer I removed the mirror from this vanity, turning it into a desk.

seriously studious desk

The mirror just didn’t work with the vanity.  It felt too narrow to me.  Also, it was not securely attached and I didn’t want to mess with it.  And honestly, I thought the mirror was kind of unattractive.

blue mirror before

The mirror sat out in the carriage house for a few months.  Then last week one of the shops I sell in, Reclaiming Beautiful in Stillwater, sent out a request for mirrors.  I pulled this one out of storage, as well as another mirror I purchased at a garage sale last summer.

grey mirror before

I have to laugh looking at these pictures.  It looks as though I took these at the height of summer, but in reality I took them early last week.  It was a bright sunny day, our grass was still green, and I happen to have a pear tree in the front yard.  Pear trees are notorious for losing their leaves very late in the season, sometimes not until a heavy snow storm knocks them off.  It no longer looks like this outside my windows since we got several inches of snow on Monday!

Anyway, back to the mirrors.

The former vanity mirror got a quick sanding and a wipe down with TSP substitute followed by two coats of Miss Mustard Seed’s Flow Blue.  I expected a lot of chipping because the former finish was fairly shiny.  But as per usual, milk paint surprised me and I got no chipping at all.  Dang!  I shouldn’t have sanded.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

blue mirror topiary

I ended up distressing the paint and finishing with a coat of hemp oil.

blue mirror closeup

For my photo shoot I just placed it on top of a farmhouse style table and pulled my grandma’s chair up to it.  This chair is the first thing I painted in Flow Blue, if you check back to that earlier post you’ll see that I didn’t much care for the color then.  I have since changed my tune and I now absolutely love this color.  I even used it on the hutch in my Q Branch.

farmhouse table as desk

A vast improvement for the mirror I think.  I love the richness of this vibrant color.  This would add a gorgeous pop of color to your foyer, or perhaps help reflect light in your hallway.  Hang it over the sink in your bathroom, or above the dresser in your bedroom.

I just couldn’t pass up this next mirror at a garage sale last summer.  It had such beautiful details.  Unfortunately, part of the trim was broken off at the top.    I also didn’t really love that cherry colored wood mixed with the gold.  So this mirror was destined to be painted from the start.

grey mirror damage

First I removed the remainder of the damaged trim.  That was easy to accomplish with my handy scraper.  I just gently pried it off.

grey mirror damage repair

I followed my normal prep steps of a light sanding followed by some TSP substitute, then painted two coats of Miss Mustard Seed’s Schloss on this one.  I always think the Schloss is going to be darker than it is based on the little color sticker on the package, but no, it is a fairly pale warm grey.

grey mirror

I used my tape trick to encourage chipping on this one (I did try that on the Flow Blue mirror, by the way, and it didn’t take any paint off), but the chipping is hard to see in these photos.  You’ll just have to trust me that it’s there.

I added a simple stencil to the decorative oval at the top of the mirror.

grey mirror stencil

You can see that I let some of the gold peek back through after painting it.

I love this detail at the bottom of the mirror.

grey mirror detail bottom

I had some fun switching up the accessories to go along with the mirror change.

grey mirror with farmhouse table

I moved the lemon cyprus topiary into a silver ice bucket, I switched out the chair, I swapped the cage over the baby tears plant for a glass cloche over some old letters and I switched from blue vintage books to a stack of Jeanne d’ Arc magazines.  Did you notice?

mirror collage

So which look is your favorite?

26 thoughts on “quick mirror makeovers.

  1. Love them both – can’t choose one over the other. Would love to see you stage a mirror with a christmas wreath – so popular this year.


  2. Both looks are great, wish I had a spot for a large mirror. Totally off subject, but were did you find that gorgeous topiary?


    1. I should have written more about that topiary! It is a lemon cyprus and I purchased it at the French Vintage Marketplace that is held at the Green Valley Garden Center in Ramsey, MN. I gotta tell you, it was a little pricey at $39. I really wanted two of them, but $80 was beyond my budget. So I splurged on just one and am really working hard to keep it healthy. Although I consider myself to have a pretty good green thumb, I always struggle with topiaries. Not sure why I can’t seem to keep them alive. I’ve never tried a lemon cyprus before though, so fingers crossed that I can keep it going 😉


      1. Home Depot in Maplewood has carried small lemon cyprus trees in the past for much less $$$. I had a couple of them and they lasted for a few years. I think they are somewhat particular about the light and humidity. Good luck!


      2. Oh! Good to know, and that is just a couple of miles from me. So much closer than Ramsey! Plus my sister works at the Home Depot in Eagan. I should just have her keep an eye out for me (did you hear that Debbie?, keep an eye out)


  3. I would take both of these stunning beauties for clients if you were here! You vastly improved their time worn appearance. Love them both just perfect the cottage I am currently working on. The color of the schloss is the perfect grey – I prefer my greys on the warm side. Your staging is top notch as usual. Great post!


      1. I have not. I have used the Fusion beeswax for that purpose though, and it actually contains some hemp oil. It adds a little more sheen, and maybe darkens the paint a little, but not much. Definitely not as much as wax changes the look of milk and chalk paint. Hmmmmm. Somehow it seems to me that the hemp oil would just sort of sit on the surface of the paint and make it seem oily, but I could be totally wrong about that. You might just have to experiment on a test board.


  4. Both mirrors have improved vastly after painting and I like them both, but, my favourite would be the blue one because I can never resist something painted blue… 😉
    And it was fun seeing how you changed the decor for both mirrors. Such a difference…


  5. The grey is my favorite not only because of the color but the period lines are very appealing. I love how you took care of the damage by removing it and then using a great stencil. Sure wish somewhere local sold stencils! I like how the more delicate grey mirror is paired with a chair which has more delicate lines. It’s easy to learn a lot just observing your excellent staging. Off to Home Depot, thanks for the tip, Mary!


    1. Let me know if you find a topiary at Home Depot Kim! You should check the stencil supply at Micheals and Hobby Lobby. I’ve noticed that both of them have stepped up their stencil selection of late.


    1. I hadn’t even noticed that Cynthia. I’m wondering if the color looks different because of the chair, of if one of the photos is just lightened more than the other. That’s the tricky thing about colors, photos and computers. The same color can look wildly different depending on so many factors.


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