From Builder Basic to Bold and Balanced

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  April 26, 2012 — 3 Comments

My friend Sarah recently bought her very first place, a condo in an awesome Houston neighborhood. She and I have been talking a lot lately about her efforts to make it her own. I even wrote a post a few weeks ago about her dilemmas and my suggestions. One of the biggest things bugging Sarah from the get-go was this builder-basic bathroom. She’s not quite ready to pull the trigger on a new countertop or any other big, expensive changes, but she had the genius idea to add character on the cheap by framing out the mirror. Here’s what it looked like when she first got the place:

Sarah’s parents came from Ohio to help her get settled and this project is only one of many they tackled during their stay. Step 1: pick up four pieces of seven-foot moulding and two dowel rods.

Their plan had the moulding sitting on top of the mirror. On the three sides facing the wall, ceiling, and counter this was no problem, but on the left side there was nothing to hide the edge of the mirror from being visible beneath the molding. Sarah’s dad responded by glueing the dowel rods to one piece of molding, making a little lip that would cover the edge of the mirror. Problem solved! Side note: be careful not to let the glue seep out onto areas that will be stained. If you’re planning to paint go forth with reckless abandon.

Sarah used an old rag to apply the stain (Minwax’s English Chestnut). She went back and forth over whether to paint it white to match the other trim in the room or to use stain, but eventually decided to stain it a deep, rich brown to create some nice symmetry with the cabinets below. Besides, she can always slap some white paint on it down the line if she changes her mind. They finished up with a coat of poly to seal it from water damage in this humidity-ridden room.

Sarah’s dad cut the corners to matching 45 degree angles using a miter box and a hand saw. I was totally inspired by this because the lack of a fancy miter saw has held me back from tackling many a moulding project. Then they taped all the pieces up with painter’s tape to test the fit. Oh, and did I mention that they painted the room Ben Moore’s Van Courtland Blue? They had it color matched to Behr semi-gloss, which Sarah’s dad swears by.

Once they were sure they liked the way everything looked all they had to do was glue it into place. They didn’t realize until they got started that their glue was expired. It seemed to be sticking just fine but it was a real pain to get out of the tube, so they just cut it open and used a stick to spread it on.

They used scrap wood and spare pieces of molding to wedge the moulding into place while the glue cured. What a smart idea!

And finally, ta-da! Mirror=framed.

Doesn’t it look awesome? I’m usually all about the white paint, but in this case I love the way the stain balances out the dark cabinets below. And for only the cost of some moulding, stain, and glue, Sarah now has a very expensive looking mirror. This is a way better solution than ripping the mirror out and replacing it altogether. I can’t wait to see what Sarah tackles next, especially as my own ability to take on big projects (or small projects) dwindles. It’s like I’m living vicariously through her while I lie on the couch!

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap


3 responses to From Builder Basic to Bold and Balanced

  1. I think it looks great! I like the dark stain too.It is hard to believe how the frame improves the mirror.

    A little hint, if you get a miter box, don’t go too cheap. What you save buying the cheap box, you will lose in wood that you mess up. We learned that the hard way. You might ask Sarah’s Dad what kind he uses. It

    • Janet,
      I agree. The one I bought is cheap! My dad requested I borrow a power miter saw, but I didn’t have any friends with one. He of course has one, but couldn’t bring it on the plane for his visit :)

      The one I have made it through the project, and may make it through a few more. But we were super careful to line it up, measuring both sides of the angle, putting blue tape on top and bottom, and lining the saw up with the tape. A power saw would’ve allowed us more error room. I should have taken a picture of that step! Good tip!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap April 27, 2012 at 10:32 am

      Thanks for the tip, Janet!

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