Mirror, mirror, off the wall, looking like a mess and ready for a makeover -- it is time to become the fairest of them all. A dated, worn or cheap plastic frame doesn't have to consign that great mirror from the flea market -- or your attic -- to the recycle bin. Refurbish it instead, with a new paint job, a glitzy facade, or a touch of classy aging that will turn shabby into something chic enough to adorn your walls.
Super Simple Transformation
Paint a dark wood frame to create a mirror that matches your decor. Just take the frame off the glass, or cut a piece of heavy paper to cover the mirror and tape around the edge of the frame with low-adhesive painter's tape. Tuck the tape under the edges of the frame to prevent any leaks or smears. Accidental drips can be removed later with a razor's edge, but it's easier to avoid them. Clean and lightly sand the frame so the new paint will grip it. Spray or brush two or more coats of the new color over the entire frame, letting the paint dry between each coat. Remove the tape carefully after the final coat of paint. Chalk paint adds an interesting matte finish to the frame if your "new" mirror is slated to enhance rustic or traditional decor.
Shiny Sparkly Things
Silver an old frame into faux-antique opulence with a can of spray paint and some brushed-on glaze. Remove the frame from the mirror and clean it thoroughly; this is a messy job so don't torture yourself by working around the mirror. If the frame is very damaged, give it a coat of light primer -- anything latex; you won't see the primer. Once the frame is clean and dry, spray on several light coats of metallic silver paint. Spray metallics work on metal, wood, wicker and some plastics; check the label and be sure to work in a well-ventilated space. When the frame is all shiny and coated silver, dry-brush it with antiquing glaze. Let the glaze dry and finish the gleaming new-old frame with paste furniture wax, buffed to a shine.
Wooden It Be Nice
Paint a mishmash collection of mirror frames the same color, mount all of them on a single piece of Masonite slightly smaller than the outline of the joined frames so it is invisible, and then hang the collage on the wall. If you don't want the extra weight of a single backing, connect the backs of the frames with flat metal braces. Lagoon-blue frames against a mint wall, white or cream frames against a pale blush wall, or glossy ebony frames against metallic silver wallpaper make an art accent with room for reflection. Paint the frames of three narrow door mirrors the same color. Then glue thin molding, painted to match the frames, in a panel pattern right on the mirror glass. Hang all three decorative mirrors side-by-side on an entry wall.
Big Bold Harlequin
Create a powerful accent piece from a distressed wood frame around a large mirror. If the mirror has dark age or tarnish spots marring its reflection, lucky you. But even a pristine mirror will look age-softened once you wave your magic paintbrush over it. Paint the frame with a flat, dark color; the base coat color will show through the final finish in places. Allow the paint to dry and then apply the first color -- white or cream is a good choice -- over the entire frame.
Once that dries, start in the middle of the frame to measure and lightly pencil-mark diamond shapes on the wood. Connect the dots with low-adhesive painter's tape to isolate alternating diamonds. Paint those diamonds to contrast with the base coat. Charcoal, pastels, barn red, terra-cotta, acid green or teal might work with your decor.
Remove the tape and allow the harlequin design to dry for a day or so before lightly sanding the edges of the frame and areas within the different color diamonds to "wear-away" the top coats, revealing the older paint beneath.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .