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decorating,  DIY

Refinished Wood Mirror With a Sentimental Twist

I love a DIY project with a sentimental twist. Don’t you? Today’s refinished wood mirror project fits that description to a T.

We have owned this wood mirror our entire marriage, so over 20 years but the mirror is much older than that. It was made in the mid-1960s.

I had never seen the frame unpainted.

It was painted when Handy Husband carted it over from his dive of a bachelor pad (Hello, gross shag carpet!) to the place we rented together.

It was painted several times by yours truly as my style evolved over the years. The most recent iteration was a chippy, distressed look.

Since that’s no longer my thing, I decided it was time to see what was under all those layers of paint on the mirror’s frame.

I used CitriStrip to remove all of the paint.

Paint stripping is one of those tedious, messy tasks we all love to hate. It’s worth it in the end, but during the middle of the project your only thought is, “What have I done?”

Removing all the paint exposed the beautiful wood frame. I then stained it and sealed it with Minwax Antique Oil Finish.

Neither Handy Husband nor I have ever made a wood frame with beveled edges for an oval mirror, but I can take a stab at saying it looks like a tricky bit of woodworking.

Now’s the point in the story where I tell you that Handy Husband’s dad made this wood mirror when he was in junior high, so he was 12 or 13 years old at the time.

TWELVE! Can you believe it?

It was a gift for his mother. I’ll bet her heart must have burst with joy to receive such a thoughtful gift that he clearly spent a ton of time creating. I know I would melt into a puddle of maternal goo if one of my kids made me a mirror.

refinished wood mirror oval wood mirror

Handy Husband and I are both of an age where we took a woodshop class in junior high. We’re also of an age where it was called junior high, not middle school, but let’s not digress.

I guarantee you we were not skilled enough to make a wood mirror frame in an oval shape when we were 12 or 13.

I could barely make a wood letter holder. Or was it a napkin holder? It was supposed to hold something. That’s all I know.

I was the firstborn child, so my poor mother had to pretend to enjoy using it. I can only imagine how delighted she was when she realized my younger brothers would also be taking woodshop and the curriculum hadn’t changed.

You can never have enough letter or napkin holders said no one ever.

refinished wood mirror oval wood mirror

What Handy Husband says are obvious goofs in the frame are what I call character. And I love something old that has lots of character. Plus, a KID made this oval frame and I think he did a spectacular job.

Perfect wood frames are a dime a dozen these days.

Give me an imperfect frame made by a relative’s own two hands over a perfect frame sold at Target any day of the week.

I’m so happy with how this refinished wood mirror turned out. I’ll say it again, I love a DIY project with a sentimental twist.

P.S. I have written in the past about the importance of establishing sentimental provenance for your family keepsakes. Provenance is a term used to describe the records proving ownership of valuable items. Sentimental provenance is a term I used to describe detailing the historical record of items of sentimental value to you.

This wood mirror is a perfect example of that. Handy Husband remembers his dad talking about making this mirror, but Handy Husband’s dad’s memory is a little fuzzy on the topic. If we don’t record who made this wood mirror, when it was made, how we came to have it, etc. then those details will be lost forever when family members die.

I want my kids to know that this wood mirror is special because their grandpa made it for their great-grandma.

On the back of the mirror, I have now recorded this information.

P.P.S. This refinished wood mirror does not normally sit on this ledge. Its permanent home is under construction right now and there’s no way I could have taken a picture amidst that chaos.

Also, I need it to be known that I cleaned the mirror for these pictures. The glass is just old and scratched, so it looks a little wonky in photos. However, it will make you look FANTASTIC because you are. Trust me.

refinished wood mirror oval wood mirror

Have you ever tackled a refinished wood mirror project? Or do you enjoy DIY projects with a sentimental twist as much as I do? I’d love to hear about it. You can always email me here. You can also reach out via Instagram or Facebook.

It makes me smile that you are here today. Thank you! Here are some other blog posts you might enjoy.

Restored Arched Mirror for a Bathroom Vanity

DIY Geometric Mirror Using Children’s Blocks

DIY Wood Blocks for Kids


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