How to Make a Cheap Mirror Look Like a Pricey Antique

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Photo: Yury Asotov (Shutterstock)

Mirrors are a timeless piece of home decor, and for good reason. Not only can they make smaller spaces appear larger, and amplify a room’s natural light, they can also blend in seamlessly with almost any design style.

Having said that, mirrors come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and patinas. And while a brand-new mirror from a big box store may work in your mid-century modern guest room, you may want one that looks like it has lived a little for your boho-Victorian living room.

But try as you might, you’re unable to locate a mirror that looks sufficiently aged in your local thrift and second-hand shops. There is, however, an abundance of newer mirrors at very reasonable prices. Rather than continuing your search, grab one of those (or even a picture frame without a mirror) and turn it into the vintage-looking mirror of your dreams. Here’s how to do that.

How to make a new mirror look old

When it comes to making a new mirror look like a pricey antique, there are two components to consider: The mirror itself, and the frame. This all comes down to personal preference. Maybe you want what looks like a very well-kept antique mirror, where the mirrored surface basically looks news, but the frame looks old.

Or perhaps you don’t really care what the frame looks like, but want the mirror to look like it has been sitting in someone’s basement or barn for decades and shows its age. Or maybe you didn’t come across a mirror at all, but did find a picture frame that you think would make a great antique mirror.

Well, regardless of your preference and what you’re working with, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s where to find full step-by-step instructions for each process.

How to make the frame look old

There are plenty of techniques for aging frames. But if you’re looking for that classic antique gold-frame look, Trisha Sprouse at Hunker suggests painting the frame with gold gilding wax. To make it look even older, you can paint a light layer of dark wax polish on top of the gold wax, making sure to get into the corners, cracks, and any crevices.

How to make the mirror look old

Aging the mirror itself is a bit more involved, but this post on The Navage Patch walks you through each step (including helpful photos). Warning: It involves chemicals. They also share a technique for painting the frame, but the end result doesn’t really look old, or match the new (old) patina of the mirror.

How to turn a picture frame into an old-looking mirror

Let’s say you found the perfect antique frame, but it’s a picture frame, not a mirror. That’s not a problem. In the same post on Hunker, Sprouse walks you through the process of turning any picture frame—with either a glass or plastic front—into a mirror that looks like a family heirloom. She demonstrates how to do this using a picture frame from IKEA with a plastic front.

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