By now you know that mirrors are more than utilitarian pieces—they make a room appear larger and double as artwork, especially when you implement a DIY mirror frame. These decor pieces invoke personality in a space, particularly when you flex your creative muscles. “Mirrors have been a favorite design element throughout history for good reason,” says Noel Gatts of Beam & Bloom in New York City. “They provide an air of opulence and indulgence in capturing the attention and the image of their observers. Their frames can be embellished or understated with an endless variety of finishes to suit the space. As they age, the glass of the mirror itself patinas in a mysterious way, enhancing their already magical quality.”
Take the DIY mirror frame approach to complete the setup of your interiors. These six projects appeal to a range of skill sets, and are bound to add visual interest.
Add antique flair
Vancouver-based home design blogger Jamie Lundstrom of So Much Better With Age has always had a penchant for using vintage-looking mirrors as decor. “When old antique mirrors have lost their shine, they make for great art,” she says. However, because it can be difficult to source these types of pieces, Lundstrom took matters into her own hands and was able to fake the antique look in just a few steps. She advises using paint remover to take off a mirror’s painted backing, and then you’ll need to remove some of the reflective material too. “A mirror is basically just glass, a reflective material, and a painted back,” Lundstrom explains. “You can create many unique patterns in the glass by taking off a little or a lot of the reflective material.” To alter the reflective surface, you will need muriatic acid—be sure to use protective chemical gloves and eye protection, Lundstrom advises. “Adding the muriatic acid to a spray bottle and spritzing the back of the glass gives it more of a natural effect,” she explains.
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Once you’ve removed the desired amount of reflective material, allow the surface to dry. Then, coat the back of the glass portion with paint. “I love painting it with gold paint so you can see some of the gold come through the mirror,” Lundstrom says.
Make an all-mirror gallery wall
If you’re looking to try a new spin on the ever-popular gallery wall, consider swapping art pieces for mirrors, which Los Angeles designer Breegan Jane did in a contemporary-style dining room. “I wanted this space to have an effortless opulence, and I have long been a fan of golden metallics,” she says of this project. “Darker tones like deep black or navy really help to make gold pop in a luxurious way, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do here.” The mirrors in this space are all antique pieces that Jane collected over time, and they add a vintage touch to this otherwise modern looking space. “When your goal is a mix of various styles that work together in this way, gathering them almost becomes its own design project,” Jane says of the process of curating the mirror collection. “You can do this both online and in-person. Simply be sure to select the mirrors from various stores.”
Create a paper-mache mirror
Hopie Stockman, the Los Angeles-based founder of Block Shop Textiles, was inspired to create a paper-mache mirror after struggling to source a scalloped-edged round mirror that appealed to her. All she needed for the project was a circular mirror and paper-mache supplies. “I combined the scalloped idea with an owl shape inspired by Picasso’s ceramic owls, which I absolutely adore,” Stockman says of her mirror design. She appreciates that paper-mache is a low-risk, inexpensive activity, “which makes the stakes incredibly low.” After all, Stockman explains, “You can add and take away until the final shape feels wonderful to you.” After settling on her desired shape, Stockman painted the mirror a plain white and sprayed a protective coat of shellac on top.
Paint a mural around the mirror
In her rental bathroom, Stockman chose to surround the mirror with a vibrant mural. “The design world is embracing ornamentation and flourish right now, which I’m thrilled about because it’s my natural inclination,” she explains. Stockman is particularly inspired by Jean Cocteau’s French Riviera home. “He painted majestic, ancient-looking figures and patterns onto his walls to frame his bookshelves or doorways,” she explains. “Cocteau brought the real life, lived-in elements of a room into the context of his whimsical artwork, and the resulting effect is that the home itself became a work of art.” Seeking to replicate this “room-as-art” effect in her own space, Stockman painted a mural featuring her favorite hues, drawing inspiration from the Mughal paintings covering walls in Jaipur, India, as well as classic Audubon prints of Spoonbill birds. “There’s something extremely liberating about rolling up your sleeves and painting right onto your wall,” she says. “It satisfies a primal childhood impulse to treat your walls as blank canvases.”
Revive a pier mirror with paint
Content creator Mallory Fletchall of Reserve Home was overjoyed when she finally tracked down an antique pier mirror that would fit perfectly between the living room windows in her Brooklyn apartment. However, she wasn’t exactly thrilled about the fact that it had been painted white at some point. “I noticed some of the original gilding coming through in a few spots, so we set out to uncover as much of it as possible,” she says. Using a combination of three Rub-N-Buff colors, Fletchall was able to restore the mirror to its gold glory. “As soon as we did so, the mirror looked like an original piece that came with the apartment,” she adds.
Elevate with a resin mold
St. Louis–based blogger Arin Jura added major oomph to a plain mirror, proving that even the most basic pieces can be transformed into elegant decorative items. The first step was framing the mirror. Jura mounted a frameless mirror onto some scrap wood for stability. She also added the hardware to the back, then cut another piece of wood into an arch shape, which she attached to the top of the mirror. “We made sure to leave additional space over the mirror on the wood so we could add decorative elements to the mirror top, and it was an inexpensive way to add height,” she says. Jura then used decorative trim to build a frame for the mirror, added two ornate pieces to the top, and created additional small, fancy-looking pieces using resin molds, which she then attached with hot glue. Jura suggests painting the mirror gold but then finishing off the piece with Rub-N-Buff for an antiqued look.