Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ship's Wheel Mirror Makeover

When it comes to antiques, I'm usually cautious about altering their appearance in fear of destroying their value (file this under: everything I know I learned from Pawn Stars). We were faced with a lot of these decisions when we moved into our house – we had to decide what needed to be kept and what was okay to touch. For example, our living room is full of original cherry wood trim...and even though it wasn't my thing at first, it's an element that adds real value to our home, and we'd be crazy to paint it. Now I'm happy it's there – the wood is beautiful, and makes our living room feel like a modern cabin.

On the flip side, just because something is an antique doesn't make it valuable (though it could be emotionally valuable) and a little coat of paint isn't going to hurt anyone, if it makes you happy. 

Jim and I decided to check out the Lakewood city-wide garage sale a few weekends ago and after heading down a ton of driveways, we found this antique mirror with a $5 sticker on it. I'm sorry – what? $5. This is why I love garage sales.

The bones of it were there, but we knew the paint job and the metal stars wouldn't really fit our decor. Thankfully the mirror was made of wood and not metal, so we knew we could give it a quick makeover and find a great home for it on our walls.

I actually can't take any credit for this makeover, because Jim did it all himself, but hey...I art directed?

He removed the metal stars, which were just pinned into the frame with small nails, and then stripped off the paint with Strypeeze. This causes the paint to bubble and peel like tar, so be sure to wear gloves when trying this at home. He used a shim to scrape the paint off once it became loose. Once the paint was removed, he used wood filler to fill the cracks where some of the pieces were separating, and gave the piece a final sanding.

We actually liked the distressed look that the stripping/sanding process gave, so we left the mirror as is. I debated about white-washing it, or putting the stars back on, but decided against it. You can always add, but you can't always take away.

It turned out to be the perfect piece we were missing in our second floor stairway. I love it more than I expected – for $5 I figured it was a risk-free project, so it was great that it came out so nicely. I can't really say no to something nautical for a few bucks, anyway. 

Do you shop garage sales? Are they worth it for you, or too hit-or-miss?