Mirror Mirror


You may remember about a year ago, I publicly declared my love for sunburst mirrors (read more on that here).  After that post, I picked up this beauty at Garden Ridge for $49.99.

A few months later, I shockingly discovered that my mom had purchased the exact same mirror after reading that post and similarly thought her life was missing a sunburst mirror.  Good taste runs in the family, I suppose.

The mirror sat on our bedroom floor for a few weeks as I waited for us to buy the dresser it would hang above.  Well, I got tired of walking around a mirror and the constant paw tracks from our cat walking across it and gazing at herself (she’s the vainest cat I know), so I decided to just pick a spot, hang the mirror, and if I had to move it after the dresser was in, so be it.  P.S. we still have yet to find a dresser, nine months later, so we’re still good.

A new dilemma has arisen, however.

At first, I was convinced I wanted to introduce antique bronze into our room through the bay window’s chandelier and the mirror.  I was convinced that different finishes would help make the room feel cozier and have the “collected over time” look.  Yes, yes, I had been watching a lot of Dear Genevieve on HGTV when this idea popped in my head.  And while I adore Genevieve and want her to make over everything in my life, I just couldn’t buy in on the non-matching finishes.

Everything else in the room was either iron/oil rubbed bronze or brushed nickel.  I just couldn’t bring myself to accept a third finish.  The final verdict came in last week when I decided to spray paint the bay window chandelier from antique bronze to oil rubbed bronze (see that transformation here).

It looked great and further convinced me that the mirror had to change too.  I could either spray it oil rubbed bronze or go the silver route.  I decided to go with silver as that side of the room needed more of the color.  But not just any silver, I wanted something more antique-looking rather than contemporary.

Hm, now for the big question.  Could an antique silver look be achieved via spray paint?

The only guide I could find online was on eHow (read here) and it was for painting frames antique silver and it was a text-only guide, no pictures.  Frames were a close enough subject to my mirror but the no picture thing had me a little nervous.  How would this turn out??

Well, there was only one way to find out.  If I didn’t like it, I could always spray it back to a different solid color.  So, here are the steps I took to achieve the final look:

Supplies Needed:

  • Paintbrush (that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Rag (that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Cup of water filled halfway (that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish in Silver
  • Flat black spray paint.  The eHow guide recommended gray spray paint for for a more natural aged look and black paint for a more intentional/stylized antique look but the flat black paint I used turned out pretty light once applied and took a few coats to really show so I recommend using black.  I just don’t see gray paint showing up at all.

  1. Dust mirror to ensure surface is clean.
  2. Tape up the mirror part to ensure no paint hits it.                       
  3. Spray paint the mirror with the metallic silver spray paint.                                                                     We sprayed ours two coats with an hour of drying time between coats.  After the second coat, wait for the mirror (or whatever you’re spraying) to completely dry before the next step.  We waited an hour.                                                                                Look at all that fabulous silver grass!  Chris- watch out, you may wake up with a backyard of silver-coated grass one day.  Maybe not the greenest move but, man, what a look that would be!
  4. Fill a cup halfway with water then spray flat black spray paint into the cup for 10 seconds (this could get a little messy so I recommend wearing gloves).  Stir paint/water to mix it.  The liquid shouldn’t be too thick.   
  5. Dip paintbrush in paint/water mixture and apply to surface.  Paint evenly on surface.  I recommend splitting the total area you’re painting into sections as you will need to move quickly with the next step.  For example, I painted two rays on the sunburst mirror at a time then completed the next step before painting again.  
  6. Wait for the paint to dry for one minute then blot dry with a rag.  
  7. If the painted section still looks a little light, go back with paint then re-blot.  The first few sections I painted I had to go over two or three times to get the look I was going for.                                                      
  8. When you’re done painting/blotting, let the mirror dry.  I let mine dry for 4 hours before hanging it up.  The eHow guide recommended finishing with a gloss coat but I think the matte look I achieved after blotting was more authentic looking so I didn’t apply a final gloss coat.  If you want a shinier finish, however, I recommend the gloss coat step.                                                      

And there you have it!  From manufactured-looking bronze to unique, antique silver.  The mirror looks great and fits nicely into the overall look of our room.  The technique didn’t take that long and looks pretty genuine.  Look out house, I could be going on an antique-silver rampage soon!


Something has really been bugging me lately. It’s kept me up at night and is all I can think about during the day. I can’t live this lie anymore: I must disclose something and I want it to be known so there is no confusion, so no intentions are misconstrued, so that truth may prevail: when Julie says she or we spray painted something, what she really means is I spray painted it. I admit, she helps a lot when brushes are involved, but she’s never painted anything via propellant.

With that said, I was growing tired of faux oil-rubbed bronze finishes- the $7 cans of spray paint are easy to use and ergonomic, but unless you’re going for a nice splattered look they’re strictly a one-time-use can. So when Julie told me she wanted to try antique silver using a brush, I was intrigued- I’ve become something of a rattle-can expert, but I’ve yet to experiment with alternative finishes.

The first order of business was to spray the frame a basic silver. I chose Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish in silver because it was cheap, and I had used it in the past with great results- I repainted a handrail at work with it and apart from the fumes, my coworkers were none-the-wiser. Anyway, it laid a nice, even first coat (short bursts were key) and I decided a second coat would be necessary, even if we weren’t “antiquing” it. I strongly recommend wearing gloves, though; my fingers looked like the Tin Man’s after only a few seconds.

We let the paint dry overnight and then went back to attempt the antique look. Julie had found some tutorial online, but we found we had to make a few modifications. For starters, don’t spray the black paint into the water at full blast (just a tip). Second, use cheap flat black paint; the sprayed finish quality and sheen are irrelevant when you’re diluting it in water, so we bought the 99 cent variety- waste not! Finally, the tutorial said to wipe the surface after applying the black paint/water solution, but we found dabbing it gave it a more authentic look, while wiping made it look… well, wiped.

Generally, I’m not big on these kind of projects (and couldn’t care less about decorative mirrors) but this one turned out to be pretty interesting. There’s a certain art to hand-made faux finishes that interests me, and the results for this one drastically exceeded my expectations, as I fully expected Julie to give up and ask me to paint it bronze.

So, what do you think of the transformation?  Have we inspired you to go on an antique silver crusade as well?



Filed under Before & After, Master Bedroom

9 responses to “Mirror Mirror

  1. Dad

    Looks great. I didn’t know Mom bought a sunburst mirror? I’m glad to read your blog to find out what’s going on at home!

    • DO or DIY

      Always so observant, Dad! Although, if I hadn’t made such a big deal of ours, Chris probably wouldn’t have noticed either. Men…


  2. Pingback: We’ve Been Framed! | DO or DIY

  3. Great job and a very inspirational project for the DIYer who would like something different. (From the pics I would almost describe the look as being Pewter.) Thanks for the tutorial as have bookmarked it for future reference. -Brenda-

    • DO or DIY

      Hi Brenda,
      Glad you found this useful! Pewter would also be a great descriptor. I just can’t believe how easy this was to do and no fancy products needed!


  4. Mel

    I’ve been driving myself bonkers trying to figure out what the heck to do with a sad bamboo framed mirror. I thought of hammered bronze paint, rainbow effect, wrapping the darn thing in ribbons… Thank you! You’ve saved my hair from further tearing out and hubby says he can live with it!

  5. Krista

    I am so glad I found this helpful tutorial! I was hoping to get the antique silver finish look on some frames that I already have spray painted silver. This sounds like something I could try and only have to spend 99 cents! I like the look of the darker black on the edges. Did you intentionally try to not wipe as much black off on the edges? Or did it just come out that way?


    • DO or DIY

      It’s pretty easy to wipe off (just do it quickly before it dries!) so you can customize the look to exactly how you wanted it. I liked keeping a bit of a shadow effect around the edges. It seemed to look more natural that way. This is a great idea for frames! Let me know how it turns out!


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