One of my spring projects this year was to debrassify my house (pretty sure that isn’t even a word). Considering my house was built over 20 years ago, it had more than it’s share of brass fixtures, one of which was this brass medicine cabinet in our powder room. Upon closer inspection, it really wasn’t brass, but some kind of brass colored plastic. My first thought was not, I’m going to rip this down, tear it apart and recover it. It was actually, I’m going shopping. Since the space between my lights was only 17 inches, I was somewhat limited in my shopping options. I also definitely, wanted a medicine cabinet not just a mirror, not to store medicine, but to store the extra toilet paper. After a few days of shopping, the only mirror to catch my eye was this mirror from Pier 1 Imports.
- it was $149
- it measured 28.5 inches
- it wasn’t a medicine cabinet
Other than that, it was perfect! So I came home without a mirror, but I looked at my current medicine cabinet in a whole new way.
- I already owned it, it was free
- it already fit in the existing hole in the wall
- it was a medicine cabinet
What could it hurt to try and update it. I unscrewed it from the wall. Then unscrewed all the little screws on the door that were holding the mirror and frame on. It actually came apart very easily. What was the worst thing that could happen? I’d have to buy a new cabinet..well if I was going to do that anyway, might as well go for it. I took a closer look at my Pier 1 picture and figured I could break it down into pieces. The main body was a flat piece of wood with just about everything else stuck to it. Using my old frame as a guide for three sides, I simply traced around my old plastic brass frame onto 1/2 inch wide plywood.
I said three sides because this mirror is a bit taller (OK a lot taller) because of the added wood detail and moldings at the top and bottom. In total, I added 13 extra inches to the length of the mirror, 11 at the top and 2 at the bottom. Because of the limited amount of space I had for my mirror, I had to overlap my mirror with my frame by 2 inches on all sides. So, for the sides I made a pencil line 2 inches from the sides and that was my cut line. For the bottom, on top of the 2 inch overlap, I had to add an additional 2 inches for the bottom molding (total of 4) So I made a pencil line 4 inches from the bottom edge. The top line was a little more difficult to figure out, or at least to explain, was 2 inches in from the top of the frame but given the bottom was 2 inches longer for the moldings…..Never mind, instead of trying to explain where the last interior cut line was, I placed the frame on the wood, this time up 2 inches from the bottom and made a line 2 inches down from the top of the frame. I don’t know if I explained it correctly but what I had was markings for a piece of wood as wide as my old frame and 13 inches taller. Inside cuts would be 2 inches in from the sides, 4 inches from the bottom and in my case 13 inches from the top. Using a circular saw and handheld jigsaw, I cut out my frame. The frame now overlapped the mirror on all sides by 2 inches. It really wasn’t difficult, just difficult to explain. Now is the fun part. Adding moldings until my mirror looked like the picture. The first molding I used was this tiny little molding about 1/2 inch wide, available at Home Depot, cut to size and glued in place on the interior of the frame. This covers up all the layers of visible plywood. I was ready to go onto the bottom molding. The lighter pine wood was 1 inch piece of pine cut 17 inches long (1 inch longer than the width of my plywood) by 1 1/2 inches wide. That piece went flat on the bottom sticking out 1/2 inch on the sides and front. On that ledge is where the first layer of quarter round was placed. On my mirror I put 2 layers of quarter round molding, the kind used around the edges of floors cut to size and with edges mitered. These were all nailed and glued in place with finishing nails. This is where a nail gun comes in really handy and if you don’t have one, you buy it for your spouse for their birthday and then you can use it all the time (not to say that is what I did) To better explain the molding, below is a picture of the different levels of wood. I used these moldings for the simple reason, they were in my scrap pile. I would have used just one level of crown molding on top if I had some on hand.
Using the same molding I used for the inside of the frame I boxed around the mirror opening and on top to make a box around where the decorative molding piece would go. As you can see from the picture, the molding box was equal to the width of the mirror box. I didn’t cut my pieces until I was ready for them, this way I could ensure that they fit my mirror and I glued and nailed as I went. I made my upper box 4 3/4 inches in height. My decorative piece was found at Home Depot here. The decorative piece was now glued into place. I also used that same skinny molding once again to cover the sides of the frame butting up against the upper and lower moldings. If you’re following along with me, we’re almost finished. Using a dark wood stain, I stained the edges and corners which I thought I might like to shine through my paint job. Could have stained the entire piece, but there was no need.
Now I did a strange painting technique with vaseline. On the stained edges that I wanted to show through I wiped a smear of vaseline. Kind of fun technique which allows the paint to be easily sanded off wherever the vaseline is. The more vaseline there is, the less the paint will stick, so don’t get too carried away. You can find another blogger using the vaseline trick here.
I then painted the entire mirror frame with leftover white, flat, latex paint. After the paint was dry , I used fine sand paper to sand the edges. I could tell where the the vaseline was applied, the paint didn’t look quite as thick and it was easy to sand, so easy, I could have probably rubbed it off with a rag. Time to reattach the frame to the mirror. I used the same screws that I had taken off of my brass frame and screwed them into the back. For extra stick I added a small bead of Liquid Nails between the mirror and frame not too close to the edge or it would have been reflected in the mirror.
And, VOILA, a new medicine cabinet.
I was featured at Revisionary Life #39