I had an old mirror sitting in my basement for years and I really wanted to do something with it, but I didn’t know what. When I found the side table, also made of wood, I thought that perhaps I could do something with both of them together. Creating matching pieces of furniture out of pieces that were never meant to be matched is quite satisfying. You know that matching pieces cost far more in the store, and your workload is actually less, since you’re simply repeating the same technique on two pieces of furniture at the same time.
Create stunning furnishings to add a huge amount of style to any room with these matching pieces, made by this fun DIY project.
I was looking around for a good way to upcycle them, when I came across the DIY vanity mirror with lights project. This style of mirror, it turns out, is super expensive when bought from the store. Prices for vanity mirrors with lights can run into the thousands of dollars, believe it or not! So I was pretty excited when I realised that I could make my own with my old mirror, and only had to obtain a few other basic, inexpensive materials to make it happen.
This is a really fun project, and a great way to upcycle pieces of furniture that most likely would have been sold in a garage sale or sat in your great Aunt Millie’s attic for all of eternity.
I stumbled across the painting technique I used on Pinterest, where it’s called the Bermuda Blending technique, but had to adapt it because I couldn’t get the same kinds of paints (particularly the Unicorn sPiT). So this is essentially the same style of painting, but using basically any paints you have left over from other projects.
Of course, you don’t have to paint your pieces the way I did — you can simply follow the instructions up until the holes are drilled (step 6), do your own style of painting, and then pick the step-by-step instructions back up again at step 19. Up to you!
Materials for your DIY vanity mirror with lights and side table
The materials required for your DIY vanity mirror with lights and side table are pretty basic, and will mostly (hopefully) be things that you already have lying around in your craft closet or garage, or can easily borrow from a friend.
- 2nd-hand wood-framed mirror
- 2nd-hand wooden side table
- String light sockets with bulbs — we like this Britech Pro Waterproof string lights and bulb set
- A drill — we like this Black & Decker 20V Cordless Drill
- Speed bit or hole cutter bit — we like this Neiko Titanium Step Drill Bit made of high-speed steel
- 4 different colors of paint — ideally use paints that you have left over from other projects, to truly make this an upcycle project (but if you don’t like the color combos, pick up new colors from your DIY store) — we like this Apple Barrel Promoabi 18-pack of assorted colored paints
- Metallic spray paint — this should match at least one of the colors you selected for your paints, and should match the palette as a whole — we like this Martha Steward Multi-Surface Metallic craft spray paint in Sterling
- Paint brushes — be sure to have one for every color of paint you use — we like this ProGrade multi-paint brush set
- Tape measurer — we like this Komelon Self-Lock 25-Foot Power Tape
- Sandpaper — 120+ grit — we like this Norton Co. Pack of Aluminum Oxide sandpaper
- Masking tape — the wider, the better, if your mirror frame is big like mine — we like this 3-Pack of Masking Tape for painting
- Clean rag — we like this 24-pack of microfibre cleaning cloths
- Tarp — we like this 9 X 12 All-Purpose Cotton-Canvas Drop-Cloth
- Paint stir stick — just use something you have in your craft kit, or a stick from your yard (more on that later)
- Pencil or chalk — whatever you have lying around. A pen or market will do too.
- Mirror cleaner — we like this Magic Shower Glass and Mirror cleaner
💡Tip: Ensure you measure your light sockets and pick up a bit that’s the same size. Mine was 34 mm or 1¼-inch. I tried both the speed bit and hole cutter and definitely preferred the hole cutter. Read on to find out why in the step-by-step instructions.
💡Tip: Try to get string lights that are rubbery. Having malleable light sockets (or at least light socket holders) will make it easier to get the socket through the hole if it’s a bit too tight. There’s a tip later on for what to do if the hole is slightly too large, too.
Step-by-step guide for making your DIY entryway mirror and side table
I’m not going to lie, this is a pretty involved project, but it’s lots of fun. The first part is a little bit technical, and my husband who’s a carpenter helped me out with measuring the frame and drilling the holes, because he’s really adept at those steps. That’s not to say that I couldn’t have done them myself — I definitely could have, it just would have taken me far longer than it took him!
1. Source a second-hand mirror and side table
Check garage sales and your grandma’s house for great (or free!) deals.
Pick up a second-hand mirror and side table from your local charity shop, second-hand furniture stores, garage sales, and more. Ensure the mirror frame and side table are both made entirely of wood (can be plywood, though it’s not ideal). The mirror can have screws in it, of course.
It doesn’t matter if the pieces don’t match. They will when we’re finished with them!
2. Measure and mark your mirror holes
Use a pencil, pen or chalk to mark your light holes. You’re going to drill through them anyways so it doesn’t really matter.
The best way to do this is to decide how you want your DIY vanity mirror to look — do you want it to be absolutely brilliant and blazing with tons of lights? Or do you want to keep it simple with just a few? You could even do one per corner, or a few per corner, for a different effect! Have a look on Pinterest for inspiration.
I chose to use nine lights, with three on each side, and none on the bottom. I then measured the mirror and spacing of the lights, and marked the holes evenly and accordingly.
4. Prep your drill
If you’ve never used a drill before, practice on a few spare pieces of wood first!
I learned a lot about drill bits with this project. For this project, you can choose from one of two drill bits: either a speed bit (which I far preferred) or a hole cutter bit.
The problem with the hole cutter bit is that it’s much more difficult to use. It wears down fast, too. After only four holes, mine was smoking and looked like it was going to set the mirror on fire. Apparently that’s because the edges were already worn down (and I’d purchased this bit new from the store that morning). After using it to drill four holes, it wouldn’t go through the wood anymore, and I had to go get a new one (that’s when I decided to try the speed bit instead, which ended up working far better for this project).
Not only did the hole cutter bit not last long, but it was super challenging (and dangerous because the bit is piping hot after making its way through the wood frame at hyperspeed) to get the wood hole out afterwards from inside the hole cutter bit.
Once we changed bits and got a speed bit, the whole process went so much faster!
5. Drill your mirror holes
Be sure to do this in a place where the hole has room to fall through — we like ours by the beach!
Now go ahead and drill your holes on the marked out areas. Do your best to make the holes as clean as possible, but if you screw up, you can get some wood filler and fix it later, so don’t worry too much.
This is a good example of a nice, clean hole for your light to eventually go through.
This is one side with all the holes drilled.
The process was so much easier once we switched to a speed drill bit!
Here is the semi-finished product, with all the holes drilled — now ready to be painted and polished.
- Clean your mirror
Now it’s time to clean up the mess from the drill and any dust, to prep your pieces for painting.
There’ll be sawdust all over your mirror now, so give it a good clean — I suggest using a soft cloth so that you don’t scratch the mirror. Pull off any spikey bits of wood that the drill created, too.
- Clean and sand your table
Sanding your table before painting will help the paint adhere to it better.
Now you’re finally ready to give your side table some love. Clean it off from top to bottom, and then sand it lightly with some high-grit sandpaper (120-grit or above).
💡Tip: Sand with the grain for the best effect.
8. Tape your mirror
I forgot to take a photo of the tape before I started painting, but you get the idea.
Before you start painting, tape the edges of your mirror where it meets the frame with some good painter’s tape. Ensure it lines up all the way to the edges, but no further (you don’t want tape on your frame or it will make the paint look weird).
Really take your time with this step as a good tape job makes a huge difference to the final outcome here.
9. Select and stir your paint
If you don’t have a paint stir stick, just use a relatively clean stick you find on the ground!
Choose your paint colors so that you incorporate your chosen color scheme, with a bright contrast color too. Use the color wheel for reference on contrast colors.
I just used paints that I had left over from other projects — and against my husband’s advice, I used both acrylic and oil-based paints. The contrast colors were the oil-based ones, and it actually worked out pretty well, because they were extra shiny on the finish, which really brought out the contrast more. So in other words, don’t fret too much about the types of paint you use — just make sure you’re happy with the color combinations.
Give all your paints a good stir before using them.
10. Paint your first coat
Your first coat may look a bit weird…but it’s all in the name of art!
Slap on your first coat sparingly. It can be tempting to paint the whole thing. Don’t! This is an exercise in moderation. A little paint for each coat — applied in just the right places — goes a long way.
💡Tip: If you accidentally get paint on your mirror, the best thing to do is to act fast. Paint bonds very quickly and firmly to glass surfaces. Of course, some types of paint-removing techniques, like scraping, won’t work on a mirror without damaging its surface. If it’s only paint spatter that you get on your mirror’s surface, simple nail polish remover should be enough to get it off with some padded paper towel. If, however, it’s more than that, or the paint has dried on, you’ll need to get yourself some a tub of N-methyl pyrrolidone-based paint-stripping paste. Apply a thin layer of the paste to the mirror with a disposable brush and leave for two hours. After two hours, you can remove it with a plastic putty knife. Repeat process until all the paint is removed.
Now repeat this step on your mirror, remembering the moderation rule.
11. Blend your paints
I blended my yellow and dark green to create this lovely turquoise-ish color.
Now blend your second chosen color into your first. This will allow you to blend the colors on the wood so that it looks more like art, and less like a child had a hissy fit with some paint buckets!
💡Tip: Definitely do not blend paints that are different types (water-based/ oil-based).
12. Apply your blended color
Once again, apply the coat sparingly.
Now you can go ahead and paint your blended color onto your mirror and table. You don’t need — or indeed, want — to wait until the first coat is dry, because you want the paints to blend in to one another.
Get creative with your strokes and apply them in places where the first coat isn’t, as well as on top of the first coat in parts.
Apply the blended paint to your side table, too. Don’t forget the backs of the legs.
13. Paint on your second color
You will start to see how your pieces will look with this step — exciting!
Apply your second color now. Use your imagination and take your time — you’ll want to be even more sparing with this one, at least at first. Remember, you can always apply more later!
14. Apply your contrast color
Your contrast color will really bring the whole thing together.
For the next step, you’ll paint on your contrast color. Try to concentrate on areas with character — like moulding or corners and edges (or all of the above!). Don’t overdo it — but you already know that!
If your table is round, you can think of it like a planet for inspiration. Doesn’t the above look a bit like one?
Do the same on your table, sparingly applying your contrast color to the top and legs, concentrating on the edges and places the legs come together.
I focused on the edge of the table top and quickly dragged my brush from the bottom of the side to the top, letting it brush onto a bit of the table top surface itself, and I really liked the effect of this. Give it a try!
15. Keep blending until you’re happy
This is the fun part, and where you really get to show your personality through your creations!
Now comes the best part — keep applying and reapplying your various colors (again: sparingly!) until you’re happy.
Remember, you don’t want to let any of the paints dry during this process, because keeping them wet allows them to blend, giving the effect we’re after here.
16. Let your pieces dry overnight
You’re done for the day! Now let the air do its work.
Store your furniture overnight in a place where the pieces will be dry and free of dirt and dust (as much as possible, anyway). I was not happy when I found a piece of grass basically glued to the top of my table because it had dried to the oil paint. I had to leave it or it would have totally ruined the table top and the blended effect if I’d peeled it off, because it would have taken a slice of the oil paint with it!
17. Prepare for spraying
Find a way to cover your mirror completely. Spray paint doesn’t belong on your mirror — just the frame!
The next day, your pieces will be relatively dry — though if you used any oil-based paints, like me, they’ll still be a bit tacky, so be careful.
💡Tip: If any dirt or dust (this won’t work with anything bigger, like grass) does happen to dry overnight in your oil-based paint, you can try this technique to attempt to get it out: get a dry, soft paintbrush, and — this may sound gross but apparently it works — your own saliva and a cotton swab. Run the brush, together with your spit, over your piece a few inches at a time, until you’ve gone over its entirety.
Now you’re going to spray, so you’ll need to prepare the area and your pieces for spray painting. For the mirror, you’ll need to cover the entire mirror, so use a piece of cloth, or the lid of a container like I did. Tape any exposed areas.
Of course, if you don’t want to get any spray paint on your floor, put down newspaper or a tarp.
18. Spray away!
Remember when I said to apply sparingly? I really, really mean it this time!
Today we have another fun part — spraying your metallic color onto your pieces. This gives it the final finished look, and this step feels really satisfying because it’s like the final polish.
You have to be super duper careful here not to over-spray. It’s soooo easy and once you do, you can’t really undo it (without having to do the whole painting process from yesterday over again…).
Also remember to hold the spray can at least an arm’s length from your pieces, and apply in smooth strokes. Too close and you’ll get ugly drips, and short bursts will look clumpy. Practice on some cardboard first if you’re not used to spray painting, to ensure you get the technique right.
Spray the metallic color onto your table, too, to really finish it off.
When you spray your table, try keeping your nozzle horizontal, and spraying from the table edges inwards to get a cool effect on the table top. The legs are a bit more difficult — it’s very tempting to overspray, so resist, and remember to keep that bottle a good distance away from the table to prevent drips.
19. Insert your light sockets
Push your light sockets through the holes you’ve made for them.
Give the spray paint a good 20 or 30 minutes to dry before taking this next step.
Once the spray paint is dry, it’s time to install your light sockets. Remember that you want the cord and plug to be coming off the bottom of one of the sides, and string accordingly.
💡Tip: If your holes are too big for the light sockets, and they go right through, try padding them out with electrical tape, until they fit snugly in the holes.
You won’t need tack to hold up the cable between the bulb sockets if your bulbs are larger than the hole — as once they’re screwed in, this will hold them in.
💡Tip: Once you’ve done this step, step back and look at your mirror. Can you see any exposed string from your light socket string lights? If so, get some electrical tape or tack, and secure the loose bits to the back of your frame.
Be sure not to push your light socket so far through the hole that it comes out the front face. It should be as flush with the front of the wood frame as possible.
20. Screw in your bulbs
Once your light bulbs are installed, your DIY vanity mirror with lights is finally ready to go!
For the final step, you’ll screw your bulbs to the front of the mirror frame, into the light sockets you just installed. Be careful not to over-screw, which can shatter the bulb.
20. Admire your work
Look at those works of art you created from junk!
After screwing in your bulbs, your DIY vanity mirror and matching side table project is complete, and ready to be showcased in a loving home.
The only question is, who will have the lucky home to house them?!