They don’t make ’em like they used to and this mirror makeover DIY can attest to that!
Today, we have not one, but two vintage mirror ideas because we’re collaborating with our friend Rachel from Tea and Forget-Me-Nots, I’ve seen this style of mirror called tilt mirrors, swivel mirrors and pivot mirrors. No matter what you call them, I think they’re pretty cool!
This is Rachel’s pine mirror. From what I’ve read, hers probably would have stored shaving supplies.
And this vintage mahogany swivel mirror is ours. It doesn’t have storage and is a bit fancier with the scroll like mirror harp. By the way, if you’re curious about the term ‘the mullet mirror’ in the title, read to the very end!
If you have a similar table top mirror, you’ll have two great sources of inspiration on how to update them!
Before we get into the tutorial, don’t forget to get your craft mojo on at Birdz of a Feather and subscribe to our newsletter:
Mirror Makeover DIY Supplies
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- Fluff Chalk Mineral Paint
- The Gulf Chalk Mineral Paint
- Moonshine Metallics – Gold Digger
- Mister Bottle
- Mini Angle Brush
- Magnolia Garden Transfer
- Gloss Clear Coat (for transfer)
- Artists Brushes
- FrogTape Delicate Surface
Watch the Video
Watch the step-by step video of our mirror transformation. It is full of information like how to get perfect stripes with no bleed and how to apply a transfer. Click the end card and you’ll also be able to pop over to Rachel’s video!
Table Top Mirror Stand
Luckily the mirror is removable from the base just by unscrewing the wooden knobs!
Set aside the knobs and washers in a safe place so you don’t lose them.
Before starting to paint, do all your prep work first, such as cleaning, applying wood filler and scuff sanding. Be sure to remove all dust before you start to prime.
Tip: if you use a tack clock to remove sanding dust be sure to buy one without any silicone. Silicone will affect any finish’s ability to adhere.
Prime Table Top Mirror
To start, tape off the edges of the mirror against the frame.
Then cover the mirror with paint resistant paper.
Because the wood is mahogany, we’re using Dixie Belle’s BOSS primer to prevent tannin bleed through on our light colour paint.
If paining by hand, use a lazy Susan so you can easily rotate your work. This mirror may be small, but man, it’s heavy! The lazy Susan is a must have for me!
When applying paint to the sides, I start in the middle then brush up and down toward the edges. If you offload paint in the centre and feather outward, the paint is less likely to pool causing paint to seep under the edge. We’ll be painting the back too, so you don’t want paint migrated to the back. Finish off with long strokes along the length.
The Dixie Belle Mini Angle brush is my favourite all purpose brush. The tip of the angle gets right into the edge of the frame against the mirror.
Since it’s such a gorgeous day outside, we spray the base with our HVLP sprayer. See this post on how to paint using a spray gun.
Regardless of whether you brush or spray on BOSS, you can re-coat after one hour. But then let it dry for a full 24 hours before applying paint.
When spraying small items, such as these knobs, we poke a hole into a carboard box and set them right in.
Dixie Belle’s Colour Lab
Did you know that Dixie Belle has an online Colour Lab that allows you to mix paint and see the result before doing any mixing? I use it to get a good idea of the colour I’ll end up with.
As you can see, the onscreen colour is pretty close to my actual mix in the jar. However, it’s always best to test the paint first. So I always paint primer onto a paint stick in order to test it out. That way, I can also see how all the colours (including Moonshine Metallics) will look before painting the piece. That gives you the flexibility to adjust.
Once I’m happy, I can go ahead and apply two coats to the mirror frame and base. Chalk mineral paint dries in 15 – 20 minutes so re-coat time is fast!
Paint Mirror Frame with Moonshine Metallics
If you want to apply the Moonshine Metallics same day, you’ll need to use a low tack tape like this Frogtape on the fresh paint.
To ensure perfect rectangles without paint bleed under the tape, apply a thin coat of the same blue used on the frame. As you’ll see on the video, I water it down. No need to build it up the paint; you just want the moisture in the paint to activate the adhesive on the tape.
As a matter of fact, FrogTape has an adhesive backing that activates with moisture. According to Hubs, he just uses plain ‘ol water when he’s sealing the edges of FrogTape on wall applications. I don’t know whether straight water will work on furniture but I do want to test a sample one day and let you know!
When you paint on the Moonshine Metallic, apply and finish in the same direction or you will end up with a crosshatching effect. After one coat below, you can see that the blue still shows through. Moonshine metallic tends to be very translucent.
Allow Moonshine metallics to dry two hours between coats. Because it’s so translucent, it took three coats to get the coverage you see below. After removing the tape, you’ll be left with a flawless look with no paint seeping under the edge of the tape!
When the two ends of the mirror are complete, move on to taping and painting the sides of the mirror frame.
Back of the Mirror
I’m nicknaming this mirror the ‘mullet mirror’. That’s because it’s business in the front and party in the back!
But first, I actually forget to fill some holes on the back. For deep holes, place a piece of thin dowelling into each one. Cut, leaving about an 1/8″ shy of the top (to leave room for wood filler).
Add glue and pop the dowels into the holes.
Then Hubs adds some regular painters tape around the holes.
I fill the holes with wood filler. But I don’t bother to use a putty knife. Instead, I work it in with my finger.
The tape fulfills two purposes: it gives you just enough height so you don’t under fill. And it keeps the rest of your paint job clean.
After the wood filler is dry, sand it flush. Touch it up with primer, then paint a few coats of blue on top of that to match the surrounding chalk paint. An artists brush is perfect for this forgotten task.
How to Apply a Transfer
It’s party time. After realizing that the back of the mirror is prime real estate, we’re applying this beautiful Magnolia transfer to a piece of MDF so the back looks great too.I’ve seen other creators peel the backing off and plonk it down. I find that awkward to handle on large pieces such as this, and prone to getting air bubbles between the transfer and the substrate. Instead I place the transfer where I want it. Then peel back just one corner and stick it down, as you see below. Watch the video to see how I remove the backing while securing the transfer onto the board.
Unfortunately the transfer is just a tiny bit too short to fill the space on the back of the mirror. To cover the white borders along the top and bottom, I go back to Moonshine Metallics! Again, I’m using low tack FrogTape. Then I use yellow as a base colour (Dixie Belle’s Daisy) and paint 3 coats of the Moonshine Metallic right over that.
I thought a base coat of Daisy would save me some coats, but it’s just as translucent as the Moonshine Metallics. Next time, I think I’ll try ‘Lemonade’ underneath (a pale yellow with a white base).
Finish with a coat of gloss clear coat (or your preferred sheen).
Mirror Makeover DIY Base
Set the mirror aside and apply Moonshine Metallic to the inside of the mirror harp. Again, like the mirror, I do three coats.
However for the details, I only do two coats. I start with it upright.
Then I lay it on its back to get a better angle to paint the recesses near the base. Gravity is your friend here!
Let everything dry overnight and then you can reassemble. It’s reveal time!
Mirror Makeover DIY Before and After
Here’s a reminder of the old mirror to start:
Here’s how the back looks to start.
After attaching the board with the Magnolia transfer, here’s how it looks now! See what I mean when I say it’s a mullet mirror? When you flip the mirror around, it becomes a decor piece!
The MDF board is a tight fit so I didn’t even have to fasten it. However, I did put a finger pull on top with a piece of gold ribbon to match the Moonshine Metallic. Just in case, in another 100 years, someone else has another upcycle idea for this vintage swing mirror!
Wooden Mirror Update
Don’t forget to head on over to Rachel at Tea and Forget Me Knots to see how to update a wooden mirror with a pretty furniture transfer!
There’s nothing like a vintage mirror update. But we love upcycling mirrors outdoors too, like this unexpected repurpose your bathroom fixtures garden mirror, or this more traditional outdoor mirror for the garden.
Before and After
If you’re ready for another dramatic before and after, you HAVE to check out our latest diy china cabinet makeover. Here’s the before:
Pin Mirror Makeover DIY
* This post is sponsored by Dixie Belle Paint. All opinions are our own. Rest assured that we have used these products and would not share them with you if we weren’t absolutely thrilled with them!
Mirror Makeover DIY FAQs
Here are the answers to frequently asked questions when upcycling an old mirror.
How do you modernize an old mirror?
Chalk paint and modern finishes, such as metallic paint, do wonders to modernizing an old vintage mirror.
How do you chalk paint a mirror frame?
Steps to updating a wooden mirror:
1. Scuff sand the wood and remove sanding dust.
2. Apply two coats of problem solving primer if the wood is a ‘bleeder’, such as mahogany.
3. If using a light colour, paint at least two coats of chalk paint. Some darker colours only require one coat. Allow to dry 15 – 20 minutes between coats.
4. To embellish further, tape off a pattern (such as rectangles around the mirror frame). Use a delicate surface tape, such as FrogTape, if the paint is still fresh.
5. Apply a thin coat of the base colour chalk paint to the taped rectangles. This will activate the adhesive in the FrogTape to seal the edges and prevent paint seepage under the tape. Anything that does bleed on this thin coat will be the same base colour.
6. Paint a different colour, or metallic paint, between the taped areas
7. If applying a transfer over chalk paint, allow to dry for 24 hours. The transfer will not adhere unless the chalk paint is totally dry.
How do you repurpose a mirror?
With a swing mirror, you have the ability to pivot the back of the mirror to the front. Take advantage of that prime piece of real estate and apply a pretty transfer to the back. Now your mirror is not only functional, but is repurposed as decor!
How can I spice up my mirror?
Instead of working with a stain finish, pick a fun paint colour. Then apply some gold metallic paint (I did rectangles around the mirror frame). Lastly, embellish with a transfer if there is enough flat surface area around your particular style of mirror.