I inherited a beautiful mirror from my grandparents. It is stamped on the back with Dec 10 1964, around the time they bought it. It says it is electro copper plated. The mirror measures 36″ x 48″. It is big and heavy. It hangs with four screws directly through the face of the mirror with decorative starburst medallions. For sentimental reasons I have always adored it, but I also love it’s potential to multiply light in a room. I have had it in several homes before (our old dining room above) and wanted to find it the perfect home in our new house.
Huge vintage mirror + huge blank wall in stairwell = LOVE
The stairwell was the perfect choice. There was a big uninterrupted span of wall on the landing that was just begging for something show-stopping. It also never hurts to have a light-multiplying mirror in an otherwise dim stairwell. The mirror could take center stage and show off. It would be visible from the great room below and from the hallway above. It would also be a great place to check myself out before running out the door each morning :) Hung in portrait orientation the mirror shows a full-lenght view.
There was only one
tiny huge problem. The wall was uneven. Not just a little uneven, but completely unusable uneven. We actually tried to hang the mirror, but one corner was popped out almost 1/2″ from the wall. It was all due to this huge bulge in the wall. When the home builder came to patch nail pops, we pointed out there was a depression on this spot in the wall from the drywall joint. Their solution was to add more joint compound. Not just enough to smooth out the depression, but enough to bury all the surrounding nail holes. They sanded it smooth and without touching the wall you would never know it had a big lump in the middle. We did not notice until we first tried to hang the mirror.
I decided to get creative dreaming up ways to hang the mirror and address the bulge problem. My solution was a custom chunky wood frame to allow us to float the mirror off the wall. Our original plan was to frame the mirror with molding after we hung it. This plan was just in a slightly different order. The plan was to: 1) build a custom wood frame 2) secure the frame to the wall by screwing it into the studs 3) screw the mirror directly on top of the wood frame.
I did lots of measuring before building the frame. My mirror was 36″ x 48″ (lime green in photo). The holes to mount it were 3″ in from each side. I purchased 8″ clear pine to make the frame. I wanted several inches of the frame showing to give a nice chunky effect. To get the right mix of chunky frame and secure mounting, I determined the outer dimensions of my frame would be 43″ x 55″ (teal in photo). This would leave 3.5″ all around. I worried that using mitered corners on the frame would not work, because the mounting screws would enter right at the mitered seam. Instead I opted for butt joints.
I was so excited to try out my Kreg jig for the first time. I finally purchased one after reading about it on Young House Love and Ana White. The Kreg jig makes pocket-holes for joining wood. It allows you to screw two pieces of would together without any hardware showing. This was perfect for my oversized frame to provide secure invisible joints.
After cutting my pieces to size, I went to work making pocket-holes. It was super easy. I made them while my 3-year old watched and cheered me on. You simply set the depth of your material on the jig, clamp it on the edge of the board, and then drill through the guide. It makes the perfect pocket hole every time. I made two pocket holes on each end of my shorter side boards. Then I laid out the whole frame. I used wood glue and the Kreg screws to join the boards together through the pocket holes. Since the holes would be invisible on the back of the frame, I did not bother to fill them.
Here is the completed frame (front and back):
I gave the finished frame a couple thin coats of Sherwin Williams Divine White (the trim color throughout our house). To get a perfectly smooth finish I mixed the paint with a little Floetrol. I was introduced to Floetrol by Centsational Girl in her amazing post on Paint Closet Essentials. I will never paint trim or furniture without it again. It is a paint conditioner that evens out paint strokes for a nice smooth finish.
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