I’ve been looking for a tray like this for some time now, but I had begun to despair that I’d have to plan a quick shopping trip to Miami just to find one. Hubby wasn’t thrilled with that idea, naturally. I was beyond surprised to walk into one of my favorite second hand stores right here not long ago and spot this mirrored tray in sort of a whitish beige color. They had it labeled as a wall mirror and while it wasn’t cheap (because anything imported is expensive here even if it’s used) it was certainly cheaper than having to book a flight to Miami. I figured hubs should be grateful. So I bought it.
The painted metal loops had plenty of nicks and scrapes and the natural gunmetal tone underneath had begun to show through so it definitely needed a quick coat of spray paint. It still had the Home Goods label with the original price on the back. That’s what it had cost new. And unfortunately that’s what it cost old too. I paid 40 dollars for it in spite of the nicks and scrapes and peeling paint. But I felt fortunate to have even found it at all.
I had originally planned to remove the mirror and spray paint the loops but it had these metal tabs soldered in place in the back and there was a very strong glue holding the backing to the tabs. The mirror wasn’t budging. So I covered it as best I could with newspaper and after sanding the loops a bit, I spray painted them in gold. And now it’s sitting my coffee table up at the mountain house.
I sent the owner of the store a photo of the tray after I painted it gold and she expressed surprise upon realizing it was not a wall mirror and mentioned something about wishing she had kept it. Oh well.
Mirrored trays add such an elegant touch to any coffee table or vanity. I think just about anything looks better if it’s placed on a tray. They seem to be back in style nowadays and I’ve noticed them popping up in magazines and decorating blogs quite a bit lately. I’ve seen so many beautiful trays in stores and on Ebay but unfortunately they tend to be really pricey. I knew there had to be a way to make my own tray for alot less so I began to search online to see if anyone had ever tried making trays at home. I was surprised to find all sorts of creative ideas and instructions for DIY trays, especially on Youtube. But the one I liked best was the one that used inexpensive metal ribbon from Hobby Lobby. (You can also find metal ribbon on Amazon but it costs more there) It’s a flexible tin strip that comes in 3 yard lengths. That’s enough for a very large tray plus a smaller one. Or two medium and a small.
Metal ribbon comes in different widths and designs so it’s just a matter of choosing the one you like best. I purchased three different kinds because I couldn’t make up my mind.
For the base of the trays I used different sized pieces of plywood. I found them easy to work with and there’s a plywood store right next door to me where they sell scrap sized pieces for just pennies. Some people prefer to use inexpensive wood frame mirrors that you can get at any dollar store, that way the mirror is already cut to size and the ribbon can be attached to the wooden frame. First the the bottom and sides of the base gets a coat of spray. I sprayed some of the pieces silver and others gold because those were the colors that I wanted the trays to be.I wanted to put little feet on the bottom of the tray so that it wouldn’t sit flat on the table. Feet also make it easier to lift up the tray when it needs to be moved. I happened to have a couple of packages of left over plastic mirror holders, the kind that are used to hold unframed mirrors against the wall. These turned out to be perfect to use as feet. They can be attached to the plywood with one small screw and spray painted the same color as the bottom of the tray. I also added tiny cork circles to avoid scratching surfaces.
A box of thumbtacks was basically the only thing I needed to attach the ribbon to the plywood. I pulled it taut as I tacked it in place so that it would go on completely straight and wouldn’t have a wavy look to it. It’s important to tack it on in a perfectly straight even line, otherwise it will start to get wavy. Some metal ribbon designs have little holes spaced evenly apart so that it’s easy to just insert the thumbtack straight into the wood through the little holes.
This is a round one
An oval gold tray holds the perfumes on my dresser
I have the feeling that I’ll be giving people trays this year for Christmas.
When I stopped teaching dance a couple of years ago, I converted the little dance studio behind our house into a guest bedroom. It came in pretty handy because we often have visitors who stay with us when they come down to Costa Rica on vacation. However, I didn’t really know what to do with all the mirrors that still hung on the studio walls. Although they had been a necessity in the dance studio, they now looked odd and out of place in a bedroom. They weren’t even pretty. They were just plain ordinary aluminum framed mirrors quite large in size, the kind you might find in a gym. Last year, after we renovated our kitchen and dining room I ended up with a large empty wall that I couldn’t think of anything to put on. Then I remembered the aluminum mirrors that were still hanging in the guest bedroom and decided to bring one of them into the house and hang it on that bare wall. It was a good fit and it filled most of the space, but it looked just as unattractive there as it had looked in the guest room.
The frame was very narrow so there weren’t alot of options as far as updating it. I wondered if perhaps it would be possible to glue some appliques on it and then paint the whole thing a different color to hide the aluminum. I had a few left over appliques from a previous furniture project as well as an assortment of silicone molds and a huge bottle of resin in the tool shed. So after a couple of months of thinking about it I figured it was worth a try and surely it wouldn’t look any worse.
These scroll like curliecues were just the right width
It took me several days to make enough appliques to cover the entire mirror. I made roses and curlicues and cherubs until I was bleary-eyed. Then I began to glue them on with No more Nails, crossing my fingers that they wouldn’t fall off the slippery narrow frame. I think I used about four tubes of No more nails and thankfully they held fast. That stuff is good! I had given the frame a couple of coats of white paint before putting on the appliques because I knew that it would be very difficult, if not impossible to get into all the nooks and crannies with the paintbrush after the appliques were glued on.
After the appliques were set in place I allowed them to dry completely for a couple of days before applying a final coat of white paint. In the empty space between the top of the mirror and the molding I hung a few blue and white plates that I had stored away which matched the blue and white plate collection on the other wall.
It’s a very tiny dining room, it actually used to be my daughter’s bedroom right off the kitchen. That was a sort of weird Costa Rican floorplan. Or lack of floorplan, I should say. The previous owners of the house had added on rooms wherever they had fancied a new room without giving any thought to the logic of the layout. So there was this fourth bedroom that could only be accessed through the kitchen. How weird is that. When my oldest daughter moved out last year, my youngest daughter moved into her bedroom and I turned her “kitchen bedroom” into a little secondary dining room, which made so much more sense.
I think the mirror helps make the dining room look a little larger than it really is.
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Fretwork in Egypt is about as old as the pharaohs. Several beautiful pieces of furniture decorated with delicate fretwork were among the treasures found in Tutankhamon’s tomb. Moorish fretwork was brought to Spain by the Arabs and greatly influenced spanish architecture. Traditionally, fretwork shutters have been used on windows in Middle Eastern countries to shield the inside of the homes from the curious eyes of outsiders. Today it is often used as a decoration on furniture, jewelry boxes, room dividers and mirrors. Different countries have different styles of fretwork but by far the most beautiful (in my opinion) is the one made in Egypt. It is called Mashrabiya in Arabic. Continue reading
One of my favorite passtimes is reading other people’s decorating and DIY blogs on Show and Tell Friday or on Feathered Nest Friday (or Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday etc.) I try to click on every single one of them and as a result I now have many favorite blogs that I visit regularly. I’ve seen so many beautiful homes as well as quite a few fabulous decorating ideas that have really inspired me. One of those ideas was Cindy’s (from MyRomanticHome) mirrored staircase. When I saw it, I thought it was just the cutest way to brighten up a very difficult to decorate space. Cindy mentioned that she purchased all her mirrors at thrift stores or garage sales and that most of them had cost under five dollars. I would love to have been that lucky with mine. But unfortunately in my area there are no thrift stores and there is only the occasional garage sale where everything tends to be overpriced. Continue reading