5 Affordable Ways to Make Your Plain, Boring Mirror Look Like a Pricey Splurge

published Feb 9, 2021
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round mirror with frosted edges in a delicate lacy pattern

You might not pay much attention to the mirrors in your home, beyond using them to check your hair or teeth. But if you’re looking at your mirror and thinking it looks a little, well, basic — there’s a fix for that.

Big, stylish mirrors can be wallet-crushers, but the good news is that there are plenty of cheap, easy DIYs you can do to your existing mirrors that make them look like a million bucks. For inspiration, check out these five quick, cheap, and easy DIY options for a mirror transformation.

Add a chunky wood frame.

A mirror without a frame can make a room look unfinished. And yet frameless mirrors are what most builders install in just about every bathroom. Framing a mirror starts with deciding which materials and look you are going for: You can choose stained or painted wood, raw wood for a more natural look, or metal for an industrial vibe. These three options are the most popular looks, and Diana Lovshe, Brand Director at Glass Doctor, says homeowners often opt for this DIY upgrade after a few years of living with that builder-grade mirror “to create a more cohesive look that reflects your personal décor.” 

Melissa Welsh, a California-based interior designer and DIY enthusiast, made the white-painted wood frame shown above.

Make a tile mosaic border.

A tile mosaic can give your mirror a more colorful look and can make it look like an expensive art piece rather than a formerly builder-grade generic mirror. Sarabeth Asaff South, Home Design Expert at Fixr.com, says this should only take around 30 minutes. She says all you need is: a few sheets of glass mosaic tile in a blend that complements your space, a tub of premixed adhesive-and-grout, and a putty knife.

You can see a full step-by-step at Centsational Style, where DIYer Kate shows how she made this pretty blue-and-white tile frame for her mirror.

Give it a sunburst-style frame.

For a twist on the traditional wood frame, use small craft matchsticks to create a border, like A Beautiful Mess did here. Once painted, the craft sticks have a cool boho style that almost mimics the look of rattan.

Use quick and easy sticker decals or etching.

If you want something more subtle, reach for an etching cream, Welsh says. It’ll give the look of frosted glass anywhere you paint it. Tape off the edges of your mirror and use it to create a simple border, or — for a more complicated project — use a stencil to create an intricate pattern. You can also use frosted glass spray for the job, like Brittni Mehlhoff of Paper & Stitch did here; it has a similar look but is quicker, cheaper, and more user-friendly, essentially like using spray paint.

Want the effect, but in something a little less permanent? Welsh recommends checking out mirror etch vinyl decals. This shimmery option can add a little glitz and glam to a mirror and is also removable if you change your mind in the future.

Light it up.

New York City interior designer Chelsey Brown is the author of “Rental Style” and blogger behind City Chic Decor, which works with mirror upgrades often. She recommends adding some cheap LED lights behind a mirror’s frame to give it a modern feel. Not only will you all of a sudden become a much-improved makeup artist due to the amazing lighting, but your bathroom will also have a more sophisticated, elevated look. 

Make a simple dowel frame.

This Scandi-style frame from The Merrythought requires some power tools to pull off, but you can get a similar look by gluing half-round molding to the frame of a plain mirror. This cheap and easy DIY is a favorite of Brown’s.