If you read the posts on our powder room transformation and the decoupage medicine cabinet, you probably couldn’t help but notice the mirror that we refurbished and brought back to life. This is how it looked after we carefully removed the mirror glass from the frame.
It was something we found amongst the piles of stuff in our own basement; it had belonged to my husband’s great grandmother and somehow he ended up with it.
Our mirror had lost some of the crisp detail of the carving with all the layers of paint and the paint was also chipping. Because of those issues, even though were repainting it, we decided to take it down to bare wood and remove the actrocious green paint.
Although my husband is a ‘Jack of All Trades’, stripping is something he was professionally trained to do (I’m talking about wood here folks!), so he gladly took this project on. I guess that makes him a ‘Jack, the Stripper’ in this case!
To start, he laid a few layers of heavy brown paper over his worktable to protect it:
Here’s one of his professional tips: he propped the frame up on the ‘V’ of some metal L-brackets so the mirror was lifted off the table. This way, he could get the stripper on the front and around the inside and outside edges. He applied masking tape to the metal L-brackets first so that when he was done, he could remove the tape along with the mess. That way, your metal pieces will be ready again for the next job!
Whenever you’re applying stripper, follow the directions on the lable and take safety precautions (use a cheap brush to apply). This stuff is toxic, so cover up all bare skin and wear both a respirator and googles. Be patient and allow it to sit on the surface for the time suggested before trying to remove the paint; let it do it’s thing! Hubs advises to apply Saran wrap over the piece being stripped to keep the stripper from evaporating and drying out while it’s working hard to lift the paint. This will save time and product!
The detail work needed a lot of attention and a few applications of stripper before he was able to get it all cleaned up. One way of getting into the detail work to remove paint is a fine steel wool pad. You can dip it right into the stripper and scrub away to help lift the stubborn bits. Another way is a brass brush; however even though brass is a soft metal, it can still leave marks on your beautiful detail.
For tighter areas that steel wool just can’t reach, Hubs has a better secret weapon: he cuts down a very stiff bristle brush to about half an inch or so. Again, he dips it into extra paint remover then pounces the bristles into the finer details. It’s both a gentle and effective way of removing paint. It also prevents scratching which you have to avoid at all costs because it’s almost impossible to sand carved detals smooth once they are nicked or damaged from harsher tools.
Here’s a look at the before and after.
Look at how beautiful the wood came up!
Hubs applied some wood filler into the cracks and sanded them smooth.
If we were going for a farmhouse look, I would have blended the wood filler into the wood and left it in its natural state, just sealed it with varnish. I love the blond wood!
However, I wanted the frame to recede into our walls so with a blank slate, hubs primed it and then gave it two coats of the same grey paint that we used on the walls of our powder room.
He reinserted the mirror in the frame. The mirror itself was beautifully aged and had a lot of character. Many people now try to recreate that mercury glass look, but we were lucky to have the real deal!
Here’s a reminder of how it started out:
Here’s how it looks painted and hung on the wall of our powder room.
Although it’s understated and blends in with the walls, I think the detail is still front and centre. Also, the pop of colour reflected in it from the decoupaged medicine cabinet really helps the powder room shine like a jewel.
With the shell details on the mirror, ceramic starfish wall decor, handmade glass light fixture and egg dart crown molding looking like scallops, the finished look sports a subtle beachy vibe (without the watery colours that would seem displaced in Canada’s cold climate). You can see the full bathroom makeover here.
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