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.
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.
Aubranee robisonJanuary 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm
Hi Tamara! I’m so inspired by this to redo my night stand. Do you have to sand your night stand before, or is that just to remove any additional paint?
tamarajewelryJanuary 26, 2013 at 8:34 pm
Aubranee — On the surfaces you intend to paint (mirror paint), I do recommend sanding, then priming before painting. But you only need to sand enough to remove any slickness of the original finish and give the surface “teeth” as they say. On the mirrored surfaces, again, if the finish is slick at all, sand to rough up the slickness and give teeth. Thereafter, I recommend asking Your Hardware Professional (I know — they often AREN’T super helpful) if the adhesive you plan to use will work on a surface that has a finish. Generally I found that the mirror adhesive will work on a surface that has some paint. But you don’t want to get it wrong and have your piece fall apart, so prep is a good idea. Do use (and borrow if you don’t have one) a power sander for flat surfaces. It makes the job go MUCH faster, and it’s very rewarding to watch that finish recede! Great good luck to you!! Send pics when you finish!
magsMarch 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm
Where did you buy the mirrors?
tamarajewelryMarch 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm
You can get mirrors cut to size at most glass stores. Google/Bing your zip code and “glass mirror” and something should show up.
AnaHelmertJune 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm
How much does it end up being in the end?
tamarajewelryJune 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm
Hey Ana… at the bottom of the post I mention that all in all, my project cost around $300. But your final cost could end up much lower. I’m in a big city… prices are high here! If you’re using a dresser you already have, that knocks off about 1/3 of your costs. Then, depending on pricing at your mirror shop (the mirrors are the biggest expense), yours could be a lot less. Save more by having your glass shop cut mirrors you already have. Hope that helps. Enjoy!
SaraFebruary 28, 2014 at 8:58 pm
Can you use old mirrored closets for mirrors?
Tamara BergMarch 3, 2014 at 7:53 pm
Yes! great idea. They probably are more sturdy (thicker) than wall mirrors, so would be a great use of ‘old’ mirrors. Excellent thinking!
SuzanneJuly 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm
You can often find free/cheap dressers and mirrors on Craigslist or Kijiji ~ cuts the costs down really low!! Supplies and getting the mirrors cut would be minor in costs.
tamarajewelryAugust 1, 2013 at 11:33 am
Hi Julia! The dresser does not have to be ‘real wood.’You can use composite furniture (like Ikea, etc.) but you’ll have to sand and prime the painted surfaces. Sometimes they have a plastic finish — definitely has to be roughed up with sandpaper before priming/painting. Other times they have a kind of paper coating… same thing. Good luck!!
AshleyAugust 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm
So I’ve done you’re DIY project to a vintage vanity my mother bought in her teens. It means a lot tor knowing the piece was hers.
I’ve done all the steps but am waiting for my mirror order to come in.
My question, my dresser ended up with a few more layers of paint than yours, initially couldn’t find the same chrome paint so I used something else but then I found what you used so I gave it a couple more coats. Anyways, it’s been sitting for over a week drying. What I wanted to ask was, when you touched yours afterward, did you get silver transfer on your finger tips? Unsure if this is typical. I’m worried about wiping it down if this isn’t something you had to do.
Please let me know as soon as possible. Thank you!!
tamarajewelryAugust 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm
Ashley… first off, bravo for starting!
I did not have the transfer problem. I suspect the ‘chrome’ paint didn’t adhere to the paint underneath. Unless of course, you’re in a very humid area, and the chrome paint just hasn’t cured properly (check the paint can’s instructions for drying times and temp/humidity).
I think you have two choices:
1. Trying to seal the paint. A top coat of spray-on clear polyurethane or varathane might seal all your underlying coats and hold it all together. You might want to try this on a small patch on the back or underside of the vanity. Don’t try to use a brush-on method, it will remove the chrome paint.
2. I hate to say it, but sand, prime and re-paint. This is a ‘surer bet,’ but obviously requires starting over.
Let me know how it goes… best of luck and dry paint to you!
BarbaraSeptember 11, 2013 at 8:08 pm
I am so glad I found your DIY! On my gosh I love the Mirror collection. But I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on two pieces. Your tips was so helpful. I couldn’t find the exact paint and primer I got something close. Found some pretty knobs I can’t wait until the paint dry. Then I will place the mirrors on. I had my local glass cutter so that what cost me the most. I spent about 260 on mirror and I used my old dresser and nightstand. Once again thank you.
CarolineNovember 10, 2013 at 9:34 am
Hi I love this idea but I’m on a tight budget, I want to do this on some art deco night wood night stands that I have. My question to you is will silver leaf or mirror paint give me a similar look or is there a cheaper alternative for the mirrors? Thanks.
tamarajewelryNovember 10, 2013 at 9:59 am
Silver leaf and mirror paint are both great choices, but definitely will be different looking than mirrors. Mirrors give the ‘perfect’ sparkle that only glass can provide. But for a warmer, less shiny but still lovely choice, give the leaf or paint (Rustoleum Spray) a try. You can always cover with mirrors when/if time and budget allow! Best of luck… send pics when you’re finished!
HeatherMarch 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm
Hi. How did you adhere the knobs? Were holes drilled in the mirrors or just glued on? Thanks!
Tamara BergMarch 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm
Hi Heather! The knobs were screwed through the drawer face (both the wood and the mirror). I changed the placement of the knobs, so gave that measurement to the glass-cutters when ordering my mirrors. Then drilled holes in the wooden drawer fronts myself. (See this pic: http://tamarajewelry.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/p1020905.jpg )
Hope this helps!
Anastasia CastrovilloMarch 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm
hi I find this very interesting when you say to paint stones with a marker a sharpie that is what kind of stone are you talking about? And I want to make a dresser with mirror on it and I also wanted to have animal print on the drawers. They are small drawers I saw a chest like it it’s over thousand dollars can I make this myself I do not know how to do the animal print with different color in the background can you help me?
Tamara BergMarch 14, 2014 at 10:07 pm
Hi Anastasia! I mentioned the rhinestones… if you want to add embellishment to the dresser, adhesive rhinestones can be found in craft stores. And if you want them to be colored rather than clear, they can be colored with permanent sharpie markers. See this picture: http://tamarajewelry.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/p1020991.jpg
As far as your animal print drawer idea, I’d recommend getting fabric or paper and decoupaging it on the drawer fronts.
Have fun, hope this helps! Tamara
HannahApril 23, 2014 at 10:15 am
hi, this is such a great tutorial, thank you! One question i can’t figure out — your mirrors looks so nicely in line on each drawer…did they jut out from the original drawers since the mirror is 1/4″ thick? So, they’re adhered onto the front of the drawers, does it look like the mirror is sticking out from the side? (hope that question makes sense?) Thanks!
Tamara BergApril 23, 2014 at 9:14 pm
Hi Hannah! Okay, I think you’re asking about whether or not the mirrored drawer fronts stick out past the front of the dresser, or in carpentry terms, are they ‘proud’ of the face of the dresser. Since this was a vintage dresser, there was a little ‘play’ in how far the drawers could sit inside the carcass of the dresser. So the mirrored drawer faces pretty much sat just where you see them in the finished pics.
Sometimes there are ‘stops’ (little wooden blocks) inside the rails at the inside back of the dresser that keep the drawers from going in too far. If your dresser has those, you could remove them and move the stops a little farther into the dresser so that the drawers stop just where you want them.
If you’re working on a new dresser, you might not have as much versatility with respect to adjustment of where the drawers stop. My advice: Look inside the dresser carcass, and at the rails or stops that are there. See if they can be moved or adjusted (sanded or chiseled down) to make the front look perfect from any angle.
I hope this helps! Great good luck to you with your project! Let me know if you have any more questions. Thanks for the comment! T
KalienaJuly 19, 2014 at 4:12 pm
TERRIFIC!!!! Thank you!
Tamara BergJuly 19, 2014 at 4:24 pm
Nadia SilberNovember 23, 2014 at 11:50 am
I love your entire diy tutorial!!! Amazing!!! I initially attempted to redo my large dresser with small adhesive mirrors; however, I quickly realized it would take 15 packets of small mirrors to cover my dresser & there would be gaps in between the mirrors (after the mirrors were placed on the dresser in my pattern of choice), this I found would not work since my 200 lbs tv was sitting on top of the dresser-so my idea was scraped-I’m so happy I came across your step by step tutorial!! I’ve wanted to make mirrored furniture for years now-I love redoing my bedroom every few years & mirrored furniture goes with EVERYTHING!! It’s the prettiest “neutral” color that I have ever found!! Thanks again!!-Nadia
Tamara BergNovember 23, 2014 at 7:24 pm
Thank YOU Nadia, I’m so glad this helped! I’m itching to do more mirrored pieces too myself. They really do go with everything. Shine On!! xo
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MollyMarch 30, 2015 at 5:11 pm
Hi, great job! Did you put anything over the rustoleum paint? I painted a dresser with that and it seems to be losing its shine onto whatever I set on the dresser
Tamara BergMarch 30, 2015 at 7:26 pm
Hi Molly! I didn’t use anything but the Rustoleum metallic paint. I only used it on the sides, though, so nothing ever sat upon the painted parts. Sorry!
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DebNovember 23, 2015 at 12:14 pm
beautiful mirrored chest!! Question: do you sand the edges of the mirror pieces before or after glueing since they’re essentially cut glass? ( to keep from slicing your fingers off when you open a drawer )
Tamara BergNovember 23, 2015 at 6:34 pm
Hi Deb, no… you don’t sand them at all, they come already finished when they’re cut by the glass company.
If you’ve cut your own glass, well frankly I’m not sure. But professionally cut mirrors will have a honed, safe edge.
AimeeJanuary 22, 2016 at 10:14 pm
Hello, I just came across your blog and I think it is fabulous – and the mirrored dresser is beautiful indeed. I just wanted to mention to anyone else that may not have known this, but to make things much easier on the wallet you can actually cut your own mirror, drill the holes and finish the edges all at home without spending exhorbitant prices for a glass shop to do it for you! I did it myself on a dresser and am completely in L.O.V.E. with it! All you really need is a glass scorer, lubricating oil (such as a 3-in-1 oil, or kerosene), sandpaper, and of course a pair of gloves and goggles. Just a thought in case someone can’t afford the alternative. Oh, I almost forgot…its really easy – look it up! 🙂
Tamara BergJanuary 23, 2016 at 7:20 am
Thanks for the comment, Aimee. I applaud your courage! Yes, the mirrors are pricey, and if you can, I do recommend trying to cut and finish them yourself. If you have pics of yours, please send them along! Bravo you!
Cheryle BoutilierMay 23, 2016 at 3:12 pm
I realize this is a 3 year old post but I found it recently when searching for DIY instructions. I purchased a 3 drawer chest/night table today with the plan to mirror the drawer fronts and sides. The top has bumped out curved corners so I will leave it unmirrored. I have a lot of experience cutting glass (stained glass is another hobby) so got out the cutter and practiced. I purchased a piece of mirror off our Canadian version of Craigslist for $5 and have a 4′ x 4′ piece that I asked the builder not to install in a bathroom. I am going to paint using Modern Masters metallic paint. It has a really nice finish and since I am not mirorring the top, it needs to look nice.
Thanks for the instructions. They helped me decide to go ahead.
Tamara BergMay 23, 2016 at 3:44 pm
Cheryle, that’s fantastic! It is an older post, but I update it and read comments often. I’m so glad The blog helped you get started. Can you send a picture?
Oh, and I’m impressed you cut your own mirrors!! 😊
Lisa Honaker JeffriesOctober 14, 2016 at 9:34 am
Awesome! I’m obsessed with mirrored furniture also. Gotta try this!
DebbieDecember 14, 2016 at 12:36 pm
Awesome ! You gave me great inspiration for this diy project. I am going to do this with the furniture they currently have . I am going to downsize some mirror to save money .( being a single mom ) . But I’m going to makes beautiful piece for my daughters to cherish .!! Thankyou
TamaraJanuary 9, 2017 at 9:03 pm
I love it! PS my name is Tamara too!
Meghan MirandaJune 21, 2017 at 6:51 am
I was inspired to add mirrored pieces to my dressers but within the first few days 3 of my 6 draw fronts had cracked! The cracks started at the draw pulls and some spanned the entire piece, top to bottom. Any thoughts on preventing this when I replace the cracked pieces?
Tamara BergJune 21, 2017 at 8:15 am
What a bummer! There could be a few reasons and remedies. 1. You might need to get thicker mirror. Thicker is definitely more durable. Also, acrylic mirrors bend, so are less likely to crack. So, you might consider acrylic mirror. 2. Perhaps the holes in the mirror for the knobs are too small. If so, the metal from the knobs could be rubbing on the mirror and creating tension when you pull on them, hence a crack could form. So, maybe ask that the holes be drilled a bit bigger. 3. Use silicone washers between your knobs and the mirror, to create a cushion. That way tension from the pulling action could be absorbed by the washers, and not the mirror. Finally, ask your glass cutter. Because they know the exact materials you’re working with, they might have suggestions too.
I’m sad you had this problem, but hope it gets resolved. Good luck, and please let me know how it goes! xo, Tamara
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