YOU GUYS! This was one of those happy accidents. One of those projects where you’re just like, eh, maybe I’ll give this a try and it turns out perfect! I finished this distressed charcoal mirror with white wax and it’s exactly what I had hoped it’d be without even knowing it.
A rare glimpse into my room of Unfinished Projects…
I’ve had this wood mirror for years. I have no idea where it came from originally, but it used to be in my bedroom at my mom’s house, and when I moved out I took it with me. Since then it’s moved with me six times. And that’s just the number of times I’ve moved AFTER college – this mirror came with me after I moved out for good post-college. (As you can see, I’ve moved a lot in my day.)
Now that we’re getting settled into our house (almost two years later) I’m finally starting to feel ready (gulp. kinda.) to decorate the walls. I HAVE COMMITMENT ISSUES, OKAY?! It’s so hard for me to hang anything on the walls because it feels so permanent and I’m just not ready for that yet, okay? Stop pressuring me.
But now that I’ve got our giant blank living room wall situated with the gray sideboard that I refinished this winter, I was finally ready to commit to putting something on the wall there. Cue the mirror!
Recognize that lamp?
When deciding what to do with this mirror, I kinda wanted to step away from my gray/neutral/white/light colors addiction and do something a little different. I wanted something that would stand out against our greige walls, and I was totally inspired by this project by Lauren from Bless’er House. I just love how she made that mirror look so refined yet rustic. With my mirror, I painted it with the charcoal color and distressed it, but it still felt like it was missing something.
So I finished it off with white wax and I’m all gaga over how it turned out. Doesn’t it look like something expensive you would glance at in the store and then swiftly walk away from because it’s way out of your budget and why even do that to yourself?
I looked around online because I thought this looked like something you might find at Pottery Barn or a place like that, and found this distressed wood mirror in a different color, but similar idea/style for $699.
Side note… Now I kind of wish I would have painted it this color. If this isn’t vintage/French/a little piratey, I don’t know what is.
Ready to tackle your first furniture makeover?
Sign up to download my free 5-Step Furniture Painting Cheat Sheet!
As soon as I could see how it was going to look, I got all giddy, grabbed my camera, and did something I’ve never done before… I recorded a video! It’s not quite ready yet, but soon I’ll share a video tutorial on how to get this finish. For now, I’ve included a step-by-step below.
I also picked up six matching picture frames from the thrift store (for $2 each!) that I redid in the same finish to hang up around the sides. I feel ridiculous for saying this, but after nearly two years, our space is finally starting to feel like home. Take this as a lesson, people. It just takes time. If you try to decorate your home overnight, you’ll end up with a bunch of weird or trendy items that you end up hating. Instead, just take your time, and be okay with bare walls.
DIY Distressed Charcoal Mirror with White Wax
- A wood framed mirror
- Black and white chalk paint (I used Folk Art Home Decor Chalk Paint in Rich Black and White Adirondack)
- Two-inch angled paint brush
- 150 grit sandpaper
- Wax (I used Valspar Sealing Wax from their chalk paint line)
- Wax brush or a chip brush
- Clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel
Start by prepping the mirror/frame. I like to clean it using a vinegar water solution. Then let it dry completely.
Paint the whole thing black. For this project, I actually mixed the black with a tiny amount of white to lighten it a bit, but you could easily use a straight black color and get the same effect. As usual, I used my Folk Art Home Decor Chalk Paint (<–Afiliate link. If you click it and buy a product I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy for details. Just keepin’ it real!) Brush your paint on using a two-inch angled brush.
I only applied one coat for this project, since black is such a dark color and goes on pretty opaque.
Once completely dry, you’re ready to distress. Use sandpaper to scuff up the edges, corners, and any areas around the middle of the frame that you want to look a little worn. I actually distressed this a lot more than I typically do, and it turned out so deliciously.
After distressing, remove the dust you just created. I like to take my vacuum’s brush extension and vacuum the whole thing, then take a paper towel to it just for good measure. Now it’s time to wax.
To get this finish, you’re going to need a white wax. I created one myself by mixing my wax with a small amount of white chalk paint in a plastic container. I don’t know the exact ratio (I’m sorry), but I’d say I used about a 3:1 ratio of wax to white paint. So three parts wax, one part paint. Only add a tiny bit to begin with, and you can always add more afterwards.
Instead of using a wax brush, I came across this genius idea by Refunk My Junk, to take a cheap chip brush, cut the tips of the bristles, and use that as a wax brush!
To wax, take a small amount of wax on the tip of your brush and brush it onto your frame. Like I’ve said before, you really want to push it into the paint, as opposed to painting it over the top. Don’t be afraid to beat it up. Cover the piece completely with the white wax. The Valspar wax I used goes on white and dries clear, so applying that mixed with the white chalk paint, it’s going to look like you’re painting it white. But not to worry, because…
After letting the wax sit for about two minutes (enough time for me to wax the rest of the mirror, walk around the room, contemplate my work, take a drink of water, and then come back), take a clean paper towel and wipe it off. As you wipe away the excess wax you’ll probably want to jump up and down and do a happy dance. This is normal.
Remove all the excess wax (it will leave behind a cool streaky, sort of “milky” aged finish). You’ll notice that it’s pooled up in the corners and all the little nooks and ridges of the piece, which adds to its rustic sort of look.
Wait for the wax to dry completely, and ta-da! it’s done!