Trash to Treasure: Poetic Mirror

Welcome to Tanya of Dans Le Townhouse who is adding another great project to this Trash to Treasure Transformation series. She has a special talent for making something special from nothing. Don't believe me? Check out her DIY modern art project I featured a while back or this adorable mod play kitchen from a microwave stand or any of the other great projects she has shared on her blog.

Hello lovely Brooklyn Limestone readers! My name is Tanya and I blog over at Dans le Townhouse, where I chronicle adventures in decorating, renovating, thrifting and DIY project tackling.

No matter how carefully I budget, home improvement and home decor goodies add up so quickly around the townhouse. To ease the sting, I wrack my brain trying to find ways to use what we already have. Sometimes my ideas flop, but sometimes, with a little elbow grease, imagination and help from Handy Hubby, I create something I am smitten with. Today I'm sharing one of the the not-flops, a project I am super excited about.

After my Handy Hubby and I renovated a bathroom in 2009, we were left with a chipped, scratched, builder's basic mirror from 1976. We literally could not give it away, but I didn't have the heart to toss it, so it spent a few years languishing in the basement, where we shuffled it from place to place and daily cursed its existence. It was worth the annoyance though, because I finally turned it into something beautiful:

What did I do?

First, I gave it an "antique" finish by removing the protective backing with chemical paint stripper and then removing a bit of the reflective surface with Muriatic Acid in a spray bottle. It isn't as scary as it sounds, I promise! Then I spray painted the exposed glass with silver spray paint, but you could use gold or even a bright colour. For the full tutorial (and important safety tips, plus the nerdiest photo of a blogger ever, check out this post).

Once the mirror was looking intentionally worn, and much less bathroom-y, I temporarily affixed a custom stencil of a Hungarian poem (from Stencils Online) with spray adhesive and lightly misted with an oil rubbed bronze spray paint. I quickly removed the stencil and gave a sigh of relief that I hadn't smeared the letters!

Handy Hubby helped with the making-sure-the-mirror-doesn't-come-crashing-down process. Using Lepage PL Premium Construction Adhesive, we affixed the mirror to a piece of plywood and then built a frame around it, using molding I spray painted brushed nickel. For all of the nitty-gritty steps, check out this post.

And, voila! Something to fill up the space above the mantle, and bounce a little light around our window-devoid townhouse.

Stenciling a mirror like this has so many options for personalization. I spray painted a feminist message onto another mirror and you could easily use a beautiful pattern instead of text, or skip the antiquing if your mirror is in better condition. Warning: I already have plans for a third stenciled mirror makeover, so this might be addictive!

P.S. Here's the translation of the poem:

I'll Be a Tree

I'll be a tree, if you are its flower,
Or a flower, if you are the dew-
I'll be the dew, if you are the sunbeam,
Only to be united with you.

My lovely girl, if you are the Heaven,

I shall be a star above on high;
My darling, if you are hell-fire,
To unite us, damned I shall die.


  1. That poem kind of sounds like something Edward would say to Bella. This would be the perfect project for a Twilight fan. I might skip that particular poem, but I would definitely do the mirror ageing technique. Very creative.

    1. Oh gosh, that's such a BURN! Lol.

      The poem is by Sándor Petőfi, a 19th century Hungarian poet and liberal revolutionary. Hugely important to Hungarian history and culture (he has been dubbed the national poet - his work can bring people to tears), his poetry is mandatory knowledge in the Hungarian educational system. Much the way we all learn Shakespeare in Canada and the USA.

      I'm not advocating everyone slap on a Hungarian poem (it only means something if you can actually read it!), because this project is meant to be personal. But I think Hungarians might come after you with pitchforks because of the Twilight comparison :D

    2. Anonymous11:43 PM

      I agree, it is a beautiful poem and to compare to twilight... Distasteful and disrespectful

  2. I think everyone can relate to the open some how and in some way. Great job Tanya, this is such a creative project. Can't wait to try this one when we get our own place!

  3. Fabulous poem Tanya! Love the personal touch....nothing like bringing in a bit of your heritage into your home. I love decorating with things my Czech grandmothers have given me or things that were theirs. Just gives a home that real homey feel!

    OH and I LOVE this new layout, Brittany did a fabulous job Ms.Limestone. Glad you used her, I know she was excited to be working on your blog!

  4. I really love this, it looks lovely. I've done the same to mirrors. Paint stripper (I used Citri Strip) and bleach will do the same thing.

    Great project, and it would be fun to make for gifts too.

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  6. Tanya - I so love what you have done. Simply beautiful (just like your home). And the poem, so lovely as well. Thanks for sharing its translation and background of the poet. I will definitely want to read more about him and his work. Now you have me pondering what mirrors in my home I can transform..... :) Thanks!!

    PS - the Kevin above was me. Didn't realize my hubs was signed in to Google.

  7. Oh, I love it. I have two of these builder mirrors stored and I am going to try this. Just want to clarify: Stripping, Muriatic Acid & then painti is all done on the SAME side (the back of the mirror), correct?

    1. Hi Jerri,

      That's right! Use the paint stripper to remove the protective backing, then apply the acid to remove the foil backing, and once it dries spray paint any exposed areas (it will become see through). There are longer instructions (too long, I'm chatty) on my blog if you follow the link. Feel free to ask me any other Q's and good luck!!

  8. This is so pretty! I love the way the mirror looks after the muratic acid. This is a great idea, and can easily be personalized with whatever saying meets your fancy!

  9. That's a very cool recycling of your bathroom mirror. Fantastic job!! xx

  10. Anonymous5:21 AM

    Hey, I'm very surprised when I realized some Hungarian words on your photos. I didn't believe my eyes :), because I follow you from Hungary. What/why do you love these strange Hungarian letters and words?

  11. LOVE THIS!! It truly looks like a one-of-a-kind piece one would pay $$$ for in a boutique home store.

  12. Love the look of old, aged mirrors. I must try this process sometime! Beautiful poem...thanks for sharing!

  13. Viharstreet3:43 PM

    Oh! Micsoda meglepetés!
    Oh What a surprise! I' m Hungarian. Very nice and thank you!

    Andrea from Budapest


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