When we moved into our house, it came with a variety of wall décor carefully chosen by the previous owner at some point during the closing chimes of the last century. While I love antiques, I’m not yet ready to embrace the ‘90s as historic, and the faux antique mirror and frame in the guest bathroom had to go (especially after we had remodeled the bathroom and installed chrome fixtures that clashed superbly with the mirror’s fake gold frame).
However, it was the perfect-sized mirror for the space. Once we determined that the main problem was the color, we came up with the idea of giving it a makeover—upcycling it from an “antique” mirror into a modern one. All we needed was a can of spray paint. This turned out to be an incredibly easy project with a maximum amount of bang-for-the-buck.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to how we updated our old mirror:
Here’s the original mirror, in the original bathroom, before we remodeled. As you can see, the gold tones do go with the green walls, if you like that sort of thing. However, a lick of French Grey paint and some new shiny chrome lighting and bathroom fixtures later, the room had a fresh modern feel, but the mirror didn’t—time to get out the spray paint.
We placed the mirror carefully on two stands in an outside area we didn’t mind getting red spray paint on. You can also lay down plastic or an old sheet under your work area.
Then we covered the glass with newspaper and taped it down with blue painters’ tape.
We sprayed the paint evenly across the frame in long, sweeping movements. Then we waited five minutes and gave it a second coat.
We let it dry—which took about an hour, and then hung it in the bathroom. That was it—transformation complete! No sanding or pre-coating—the spray paint took easily to the frame and within two coats, had banished all traces of the gold paint.
Here is the finished mirror hanging in the remodeled bathroom. The mirror I was once so desperate to get rid of has now become the centerpiece of the bathroom. And, if we get bored with the red, we now know how easy it is to update the look. This was a really valuable lesson for us, helping us to realize how easy it can be to change the style of a piece of furniture rather than investing in new items.
Spray Painting Tips
If you’ve never used spray paint before, it is easy to be a bit daunted by the process. But it is surprisingly simple—much easier than paint and a paintbrush. Keep these tips in mind when starting on your project and it should all be smooth painting.
1. Read the Instructions on the Can (and Follow Them!)
Make sure to pay attention to how far you need to hold the can from the object, how long to shake the can and how long you need to allow the paint to cure before applying a second coat.
2. Sweep; Don’t Paint
Use large sweeping motions, horizontally or vertically depending on your object, to get an optimal even distribution of paint.
3. Use a Large Dropcloth
When you paint with a brush you don’t need much overlap space, but when you are spray painting you need to spray past the object to ensure even coverage. Make sure you have a large piece of plastic or cloth that is twice the size of the object you are painting. (You can even use that old shower curtain liner you’ve been meaning to replace).
4. Set It Up High
Put the item you want to paint on sawhorses or a workbench rather than the floor, to give you easier access to the object.
5. Use a Handle
An aftermarket spray can handle will give you more control over the can than using just your bare hands.
6. Work Outdoors
Spray paint outdoors to limit exposure to fumes. Always wear a mask!
7. Paint Anything!
Check out this fun article from Sassy Style, which rounds up some more ingenious ways you can use spray paint to “upcycle” everyday objects, from plastic chairs to your front door!
Jennifer Tuohy is a DIY crafter in Charleston, S.C., who writes about her projects for The Home Depot. Jennifer’s mirror upcycling was one of many she undertook after moving into her current home. For a wide selection of mirrors available at Home Depot, you can click here.