Photo: Pottery Barn
I’ve been infatuated with these mirrored furniture pieces since they started popping up a few years ago. Fabulous in an art deco boudoir, and equally welcome in a glitzy dining room, mirrored furniture expands and brightens a room. I’m not one to succumb to trends, and perhaps this could be a tad trendy, but oooh… it’s so pretty! The price tag to purchase, however, is prohibitive. The really beautiful ones start at $800 and go up into the thousands. Tack on shipping (usually $130 and up), and that’s one pricey piece.
My dresser on set at Home + Family.
I wanted to see if I could come up with something cheaper and more pride-worthy on my own. Truth be told, it’s a VERY easy project.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Used or new dresser
Sander (belt sander, oscillating sander, etc.)
Sand paper (for hand-sanding nooks)
Spray Primer – I used Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer
Spray Paint – I used Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish in #7718 Chrome
Mirrors cut to size
1” round mirrors
¾” acrylic gems
I started with a furniture search. I began at Ikea, and if you’re looking to make something that has a more modern feel, you can find great dressers there.
I wanted a piece that had a little bit of character – moldings, turned legs, edge work – something that would make my dresser look a bit more interesting. Craig’s List was my destination. I found several candidates, and one winner within a day. Here’s the before.
It was advertised as a “shabby” piece, was covered in several layers of paint, and some of the veneer was chipping off. I chose not to fix this, because I wanted it to still look a bit worn. If you want your piece to be closer to perfect, fill any chips with wood putty before painting.
As with most paint projects, the keys are preparation and patience.
Sand any surfaces that will be painted. An oscillating sander makes quick work of this. I sanded my entire piece in less than an hour. I sanded in two passes, the first with 150 grit (coarse) and the second time with 220 grit (medium) sandpaper. I also took just a bit of paint off of the surfaces that would be covered in mirrors, just to be thorough.
Next, prime. Since I wanted to use a metallic finish spray paint, the manufacturer recommended a “stops rust” primer. Even though I was painting wood, I paid the extra 2 bucks for the heavier primer paint – designed for metal surfaces – because that was what was suggested by the paint experts at my hardware store.
Follow the directions on the can of primer, and give your wood surfaces a primer coat. After it dries the recommended amount of time, move on to the paint.
This metallic paint is so cool! It’s nothing like the silver and gold spray paints of days of yore. It takes a bit of practice to get right, but really looks amazing. Test on a piece of scrap to figure out how thickly and how close to spray to your piece. The can recommends 10” to 16” distance from your subject. I found that this application gave my finish a ‘mottled’ look, not the shiny appearance I wanted. Start further away on your test surface, and then move closer to figure the best coverage for your surface.
In the end, I put 3 coats of paint on my piece. My dresser took about 24 hours to cure completely, and looks really beautiful.
There were the problems. A few times, my paint went on too thickly and I got drips. Best not to touch them while wet, but wait for the drips to dry, rough up with 000 steel wool, and repaint.
Mirrors. You can use acrylic mirror. It’s not as ‘sparkly’ as glass, but it’s cheaper, lighter-weight and easier to work with. But because acrylic is not as hard as glass, it scratches easily.
Glass mirrors are simply prettier, so that’s what I wanted. Measure your dresser, head to the glass store, and place your order. I recommend getting your glass pieces cut slightly smaller than actual dimensions (subtract 1/8” from the width and height,) so that the edges don’t scrape.
I used ¼” thick mirrored glass, with a standard polished edge, and ¼” holes drilled for my knobs. (Note: Apparently drilling holes on glass is very tricky, so be prepared for your glass company to charge you anywhere between $2 and $10 per hole drilled.)
I changed the placement of the holes on my dresser drawers, so I used the mirrors as templates to drill the holes in my drawer fronts.
Once the paint is completely dry on your surfaces, you can attach mirrors. Gunther mastic was the adhesive recommended by my glass store. Whatever you use, be sure that it is formulated for use on mirror – some adhesives can actually strip the mirroring off the back of glass. Apply dollops about the diameter of a quarter (or in stripes), making sure that you are at least 3” away from the mirror edges. Press the mirrors in place, add spacers at the bottom if necessary, and brace or weight while the mastic cures. Follow manufacturers instructions for curing time, but definitely wait at least overnight.
Once the mirrors are in place, add knobs. Pretty glass knobs retail anywhere from $6 to $20 each, which busts my budget. I opted for a DIY version.
These knobs cost .98 at my hardware store. Add 1” mirrors ($1 for 12), and acrylic gems ($2.25 for 20) and I had these pretty knobs for $1.18 each!
Another embellishment option was these adhesive rhinestones. They come in 3-packs for around $3 or $4 a package. Just stick and you’re done.
Quick tip: Don’t buy colored crystals! Use a sharpie marker to hand-color the stones whatever color you like in custom hues!
Here’s my finished dresser. It’s perfectly suited for a 1940s glamour-décor bedroom, or as a sparkly complement to modern clean-line designs.
All in all, my project cost around $300. Not cheap, but FAR better than paying retail. It’s beautiful, up-cycled, and I made it myself. Definitely a pride-worthy project.