Todays post is all about restoring an antique mirror.
I am obsessed with tall stately mirrors covered in details and carvings and with a whole lot of antique history and charm. Old chippy paint, gilded gorgeousness and even simplicity in a wood finish. Ones with gesso and paintings, and with delicate leaves and carved crown details. Ok- I guess ‘obsessed’ might not cover the total crazy obsession I have. Is there a stronger word for an obsession than that? Then that is more like it.
You might remember that gorgeous old mirror that I found on FB Marketplace. The one with the gorgeous old cupboard and sideboard. That were covered in details and carvings… and beetles. Oh yes. I mean, should I have run the other way when I realized these antiques were infested with wood boring beetles? Possibly. That would have probably been the smarter thing to do. But you see, aside from the amazing price of these (ahem- FREE) I also fall in love with things that have potential. And though there was a lot of damage and things to fix- these pieces were absolutely also covered in Potential. And I could see just what they would look like after a little bit of love even just from the photos. But restoring antique pieces like this mirror is not always an easy job.
But let’s start with that and clarify. They required more than a little bit of love. When we got these home I was instantly obsessed with them. And we noticed all.those.holes. covering them. Okay- we thought they might have old beetle wood. We treated them just to be safe. Which required stripping the finish and treating with an insecticide. Cleaning with ammonia and repeating. Surely they were good to go now, right? Well if you have been following along- you know that a beetle popped right out as I was looking to see if there was any more ‘dust’ and activity. SO, back to square one.
This is the mirror Before. Not bad, right? It really wasn’t terrible. When I tell you the color of the finish was ok- it was. It had a ‘French provincial’ type feeling to that dark wood.
But two things. In order to get rid of any potential beetles- you had to strip Everything off down to bare wood. And these pieces had Already been redone (and probably treated for beetles too) at some point before we got them. Before anyone yells at me…. I don’t usually mess with an antique original finish. I covet that original finish. But will admit that I was dreaming of bleached wood- and when I saw it wasn’t original finish and that removing it was justified since we had to remove the finish to get rid of the beetles.
In between- it was looking good. But messy, messy, messy. We used a citrus based stripper to remove the finish, and scrubbed. And scraped. And chipped away at the carvings. You can see the leftover gunk in the carvings in this close up- that all had to be picked out with nails, motorized toothbrushes and a handy scrub brush we attached the the drill ( linking below) Know that if you do a similar piece- the most time will be spent on scraping the grunge and finish out of all those amazing details. After we scrubbed, cleaned and got ready to clean again- we took the compressor and blew air through all those holes- oy vey. We had NO IDEA how much beetle dust would come out. Suffice it to say- they enjoyed feasting on this mirror for awhile. And that comes back to an important point- make sure that the pieces are usable and sturdy structurally. Beetles can do a lot of damage and you don’t want a piece like this (or the cupboard or anything else) to be in the house if they are not safe.
The Antique Mirror AFTER Restoring
Did I mention that I am OBSESSED? SO obsessed. SO much obsessed that I cannot stand it. I literally stare and love it all over again every time I look at it. Note- It shows a tad more brown in some of the photos than in person- but you can get the idea.
The bleached natural raw finish the mirror has now lets all.those.carvings and details shine like a bright beacon.
Yes the wood worm holes are there. We did not fill them and don’t plan to. I think they are like patina and also are a nod to where this mirror was when we found it.
The carvings are beyond. From the fluted columns on the sides to the bows and ribbons to the dentil moulding. There are some old damaged areas that were filled as you can see- so those spots are a different color than the wood.
Again- I am OBSESSED with how this has turned out. I love the raw finish and the feeling of this mirror. Note: We did not finish or seal the wood yet. We are waiting to make sure there are not surprise creatures that pop out again that would require us to strip the finish again. And I do love the raw finish.
Where will this land
I haven’t decided just where this mirror will land yet. Currently it is in my workroom which is a fairly small room- and hard to photograph to show the full wall even with my wide angle lens- so a few iPhone photos here. I do like it here but have a few ideas so it just might go to another spot too. Of course- you will be seeing it pop up again- so stay tuned. I will also delve into more detail on these pieces as they all make their way to their new homes in our house.
You can see more of the antique cupboard and the Before & After HERE
The question we keep getting is- would we tackle these again knowing how much work went in just to get rid of the beetles. I would. I am a sucker for something with potential and these pieces were just waiting to be rediscovered. OF course, the Free price tag really wasn’t accurate when you think of the elbow grease and hours that went into revamping these pieces. But they were so worth it – I am in love with how they turned out.
And shop (affiliates) what we used to treat for beetles and strip the finish off below. And the scrubbers that attach to the drill- these are AMAZING. I also used them to clean the grout and tile and they did an incredible job.
Random update: It was one thing after the other this past few days with random weird things not working and things popping up that were just odd. Seems it was happening on quite a few blogs and YT channels- but thankfully the tech folks were right on it and got it fixed. Apologies if you couldn’t access the blog or ran into other issues the past couple of days.
We are off to celebrate our oldest sons birthday happening this week- and that means a whole lot of baby Juliette snuggles too. She is such a doll!! I will share some updated photos of how big she is getting soon.
Happy Wednesday all!