Loving an Old Mirror

Do you love old mirrors as I do?

There’s something about them that always draws me in.

Especially the more ornate ones, the ones that my mama would refer to as a “fancy” mirror.

Usually flea markets, antique stores, and sometimes even thrift stores, will produce a wide variety of vintage mirrors in a myriad of styles.

I seem to always be attracted to the old gilded, gesso framed mirrors.

And if they have some silvering missing from the mirror, even better!

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

The mirrors with scars, imperfections, and rough edges…..you know the ones….they always call my name. There’s something about timeworn imperfections that gets me every time….hubby says that’s a good thing, or I wouldn’t love him!

I have a large antique gilded mirror in our kitchen/breakfast room that I love. It’s very ornate with a thick frame, and the mirror has a gorgeous bevel to it.

Some of the old gesso is missing here and there, showing the raw wood beneath the gilding.

I found this several years ago at an estate sale and grabbed it, not even knowing what I was going to do with it.

The great thing is these old beauties can work in just about any room for an added touch of glam and character.

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

The antique gesso mirrors often have so much detail to them, and they are usually gilded, so they are perfect for a punch of gilt in your decor.

Many are Victorian era, and the gesso or ornamental detail, was made by mixing glue and chalk {calcium carbonate or plaster}, and pressing it into reverse carved molds, and then applying them to the wood frame.

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

The gilding turns into an amazing mellowed gold over time, creating a patina which just can’t be duplicated by new pieces.

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

The vintage mirror that is hung in our dining room is only 40-50 years old, and though not a gesso mirror, it does have beautiful gilding.

It is Italian in origin, with very soft, green paint and gilding around the edges, with a gorgeous design.

It originally belonged to Ms. Irene {the original, and only owner, of our home}, and her family was kind enough to leave it with the house when we purchased it.

It makes a beautiful focal point in the dining room.

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

We also have a trio of antique gesso mirrors above the bed, in the master bedroom.

They were purchased at different times over the years from various antique shops and flea markets.

The silvering is in pretty bad condition on two of them, and the rectangular one in the middle has a very foggy look to the mirror, giving all of it’s reflections a soft and muted look, which I love.

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

They all have a very french feel…….

……especially this one, with it’s garland of laurel leaves at the top and bottom. 

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

And this one is very “frenchy” as well, with it’s winding leaves, and basket crown at the top.

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

You can see the cracks in the old gesso that have appeared over time.

Adding an antique mirror to your decor can add an instant sense of history and a “gathered over time” look.

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

Loving an Old Mirror | Edith & Evelyn | www.edithandevelynvintage.com

Next time you’re out thrifting or antiquing, keep an eye out for these old mirrors.

Many times, they can be bought for very little, especially if the mirrors are foggy or scratched, or the gesso is damaged, which is just adds character to these old beauties.

I always wonder at the stories they could tell, the homes they have adorned, and the faces they have reflected.

If only they could talk!



39 thoughts on “Loving an Old Mirror

  1. Cindy, I am also attracted to mirrors, especially the old gesso ones! I buy them for as little as $5.00! They are so beautiful and add so much beauty to your living space. They make me smile every time I walk by one. Thank you for a great post.

    • Thank you, Anne! The pillow came from Ballard Designs several years ago. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available. However, I believe there may be something similar on Etsy.

  2. ~Cindy~
    All beautiful , I too am loving the one that came with your home. This post made me think of the big mirror my grandmother had in her home, wish I had that now!!
    How can you tell an old mirror from a made to look old in some of these second had shops?


    • Hi Paula! The old mirrors will be made of wood and you’ll be able to tell that it’s old…try looking at the back of the mirror where it’s age will be very obvious.

  3. Cindy what a great post for lovers of all old and nearly old but full of character. I unashamedly have 14 old gilt mirrors inside and outside my home, I love the reflection of light, the widened vistas they offer, and yet I am always on the search for more.
    Suzana from Australia

  4. This is more a critique than a comment on your lovely blog. I love the pictures and the how-tos, and I know the ads make it all possible, but have you looked at your blog once posted? When I first looked at today’s submission, I counted 12 ads, 8 of which were repeated. Later when I looked it was down to 8 ads with no repeats. I know that is what makes this all possible, but the number is proving quite a distraction, as least for me. It doesn’t seem as bad on my desktop, but the iPad seems to show even more. Will I quit reading and looking, no, but I am not enjoying it as much as I have in the past.

    • Hi Beth! Thanks for your comment, I really do appreciate it. Yes, I actually do look at the blog after each post goes live to confirm that everything is functioning properly. Unfortunately, the ads are a necessary evil, as they are on almost all internet sites, to help offset the costs of the blog. You really can’t view very many sites at all today that doesn’t have some kind of ad on it to help defray costs. I’ve made sure that there are no irritating pop up ads covering content, because I know how irritating they can be. I just checked the blog on the iPad and only see one ad at the bottom of the page. I’m sure the amounts vary depending on the time of day.

  5. I have that exact gessoed mirror you have….the one with the boxwood wreath. Don’t know if your readers are aware, but a new mirror can be aged by removing the paint on the back using paint remover and a silicone scraper. Muriatic acid can then be sprayed on the back and rubbed or scraped to remove as much slivering as you like. Repaint the back with black paint and re-hang. Works like a charm! Just be sure to wear protective clothing.

  6. You have a beautiful collection of mirrors! They look perfect in your decor. I have an old mirror that is missing a portion of the main piece at the top of the mirror. I happened to find molds at a salvage yard. Thought I could create a center piece with air dry clay and glue it in somehow and paint it to match. The molds I found didn’t fit well…ugh! I have done faux painting so I thought perhaps I could make it work. I think this mirror is one of those you see over dining room buffets. It is 48″ x 18″.

  7. Hi Cindy! Beautiful mirrors. I especially love that green and gold Italian mirror. I collect old mirrors too. It started because my house is dark and the mirrors reflect a lot of light into my rooms. It wasn’t long before I was addicted and now have them everywhere. My favorite is my “Versailles” wall of vintage mirrors in the dining room. Always on the hunt for more. I wonder what a collector of mirrors would be called? A mirror miser? Hugs, Pat

  8. You have such a beautiful collection of mirrors. I love ornate mirrors too. They add such style and grace to a room.

  9. I’m always a sucker for an old mirror. Especially the more ornate ones! I’ve made myself curb my buying of them. I don’t want to seem so vain!

  10. Cindy, your mirrors are just beautiful. I too am always drawn to things which show wear and could tell stories. I refer to them as, perfectly imperfect. But, you have such a fabulous talent of turning things which need love, into beautiful treasures. And, it truly is a talent.

    • Thank you, Sandra, you are too kind. I love the perfectly imperfect as well. They tell a story and add instant history to your home!

  11. I was lovingly gifted an old gilt mirror from a family friend that is missing some big “chunks” on one side. I wish you would suggest some ideas on how to ” hide” the missing sections as they stand out next to the gold ( it’s a circular mirror) or possibly how to recreate the missing sections…I love the piece and it hangs regardless, but I was just curious as to the learning curve for such an endeavor. Thank you♥

    • Hi Catherine! Many times these old gesso mirrors will have some gesso pieces missing, rarely do they survive a century without losing some of it. I usually just embrace the missing pieces if it isn’t too bad. However, if there is quite a bit missing and it detracts from the mirror itself, I have used Rub n Buff in color Gold Leaf to gild the sections where the gesso is missing, making it less noticeable. You can find Rub n Buff at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. I would try that first. If you decide you want to make some mouldings to replace the ones missing, there are molds and clay you can purchase from Amazon. I recently purchased these to try and make some mouldings for furniture, but I haven’t tried them yet, so I don’t have much information on them. I would definitely try the Rub n Buff first though, because I know it has worked with some of my old mirrors! I hope this helps! Good luck!

  12. Your mirrors are so yummy, love the imperfections too. Inherited a gold framed mirror from mother in law and it is still so gold. Do you have a recommendaton on how to soften the patina to look like yours?

    • Hi Heather! I think I would try using some of my homemade glaze to the gold mirror frame. It’s very simple. It’s acrylic artist’s paint in color Burnt Umber. You can find it at any craft store. I think it just a tiny bit and paint the gold, and then immediately wipe back with a slightly damp cloth. You can remove as much of it as you want. It will soften the gold a bit and give it a little bit of an aged look. I hope that helps!

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