Making a Mirror from a Vintage Frame #DIY

We’ve had this frame in our family for as long as I can remember. In my teens, I hauled it out of storage (in the furnace room) and painted the once black and white frame a bright pink and white…adding a poster that matched my room decor.

Thinking back, it was probably my first encounter with DIY projects that would lead to many, many more through the years!

A number of years ago, I stripped the bright pink paint with plans to refinish the frame and add a family photo…but the project never quite got finished and I ended up hanging the empty frame the way it was.

I loved that frame. To me it was a work of art despite the fact that just about everyone asked why I had an empty frame hanging on my wall!

With my home in makeover-mode,  I decided it was time to re-visit the antique frame project and in the end, turned my beaten, old and decaying frame into a beautiful mirror for my new dining room! BUT, not without hesitation!

Prepare the Project:

The piece was in bad shape! It’s warped, the plaster is chipping and there were huge gaps in the joints. I hammered it back together a little tighter but could only do so much as I really was worried the entire thing would crumble and fall apart!

There wasn’t much I could do about the chipped and missing plaster so I decided to go ahead with the project and if I didn’t like it, I’d retire the piece permanently.

Paint the Frame:

With wood on the outer part of the frame and plaster covered wood on the inside, I decided to paint the piece in two different colours. For the wooden outside, I chose to paint it the same colour as the china cabinet I’d just made over but one coat of the warm white in, and I quickly switched gears…opting for a light blue to match a few accessories in the new dining and living room. For the inside, to cover the plaster, I thought I’d give the “silver leaf” another go!

Silver Leaf:

With the silver leaf, I did things a little bit differently than I had with the chair legs I’d applied silver to a few weeks before. Mainly, with the plaster being so fragile, I was rather worried that “rubbing” the silver would further chip away the plaster on the already fragile frame. So, I applied a coat of silver cream paint first…allowing me to get into each and every one of the grooves while also allowing me to be a bit careful of the fragility of the plaster.

Once the cream paint was almost dry but still a bit tacky, I added the silver and it adhered absolutely perfectly. The silver cream itself gave a nice look…but the leafing in spots (I didn’t apply it everywhere) gave it the extra shimmer I was looking for!

I was rather pleased with the finished look of the silver leaf with the blue painted wood.

Add a Mirror:

Once painted, I inspected the “ledge” that typically a photo would sit on, and sanded a few of the rough edges so a mirror would lay perfectly in place. The area measured 16×20″ so a quick phone call to a glass and mirror shop, and within a few hours, I had a lovely piece of mirror exactly sized to my specifications…and it fit perfectly.

To secure it in place, I added a clear silicon along the entire edge of the mirror and wood…and left it 24 hours to dry completely.

Then flipped it over and VOILA…absolutely perfect!


So, another quick trip to the paint store for a new paint colour and before long, the mirror was a lovely shade of dark grey and FINALLY, exactly the look I was going for!

Hanging the Mirror:

With the piece painted, I added the hooks and wire…and hung it in my dining room.

The piece was EASY to make once I decided on colours. As well, the silver leaf kind of sort of masks all of the imperfections in the plaster.

And, I managed to make something old and loved, very much new and wonderful again.

So, next time you’re at a yard sale or market and you see an absolutely fabulous frame…or if you have one kicking around the house…have a piece of mirror cut and re-purpose it into a fabulous statement piece!

With the china cabinet and the mirror DIY projects complete…next up on the blog will be the dining room reveal!

Have you been following along on my Makeover Journey? Check out these posts:

How to Paint a China Cabinet
From Drab to Fab – My Living Room Makeover
How to Recover an Ottoman
How to Apply Silver Leaf to Chair Legs

2 Replies to “Making a Mirror from a Vintage Frame #DIY”

  1. I have a big beautiful mirror at the cottage… you’ve inspired me! I’ll def do it this summer! Where did you buy the silver leaf?