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Framing a Bathroom Mirror and Building a Cabinet

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This week I am moving to my master bathroom to get a project done that has been on my list for years. I have a huge one piece mirror in my bathroom, an outdated light fixture, and absolutely no storage space other than the top of the counter. So for this week’s project, I am going to be updating the look and the function of this entire space. I will be doing that by adding a frame to the mirror but instead of keeping the mirror as a single long mirror, I am going to make it look like it is two separate mirrors and also building a storage cabinet in between them. Here is a photo of the before and after so that you can get an idea of what I’m talking about.

1 Framed Mirror

2 Framed Mirror

Here is a video showing an overview of the build process:

I do have a set of plans for this if you’re interested in building one yourself. Keep in mind before tackling this project that I am attaching the frames and the shelving unit directly to the mirror, so if I ever change my mind and want to take them down, the entire mirror will have to be disposed of.

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Now if you look at my mirror, the right side and bottom side are butted up against the wall and the back splash of the counter, this leaves the top and left side exposed. I could put the picture frame on the mirror on both of these edges; however, I am trying to maintain as much mirror space as possible, so the first thing I’m going to do is cut a board for the top and the left side of the mirror. This board will need to be the exact thickness of the mirror so that it sits flush with the surface. I will use these boards later to mount the picture frame to.

So the first thing I did was take measurements of how long and tall my mirror is. Then I went to the shop and grabbed a 2×4 which I then cut in half by resawing it. Now this left my board too thick to use but since I have a thickness planer, I decided to take off a little material at a time so that I can make sure this I got it down exactly flush with the the mirror. If you do not have a thickness planer, then just make sure to resaw your material to the exact thickness of your mirror. You can use cheap material like a 2×4 so in case you mess up, it won’t be expensive material. All of it will be covered up eventually.

3 Framed Mirror

4 Framed Mirror

I determined the width of these boards by going off the left side wall space that I have around my mirror. So if your mirror already goes all the way to the edge of your wall, then you will not need to make a board for the left side and the top will be optional.

I attached the boards by using a combination of Liquid Nails adhesive, and hot glue. The hot glue dries very quickly so it will temporarily keep the board in place while the Liquid Nails has time to dry and cure. I smeared Liquid Nails up and down the board then put about three dabs of hot glue to temporarily hold it in place. Do this with your boards then apply pressure until the hot glue dries.

5 Framed Mirror

Making Picture Frames For The Mirror

To make the picture frames, I went to the big box store and looked through the moulding/trim aisle and I picked out the moulding that I thought would look best; however, I still thought it was a little plain so I also picked out a smaller strip of decorative moulding that I will later glue and attach along the perimeter.

At this point  I measured my wall space and figured out how big to make the frames so that I would still have room left over for a storage unit in the middle. Once I had my dimensions I used the miter saw to cut a 45 degree angle on all the ends of the moulding.

6 Framed Mirror

Once you have all four pieces cut, do the same for the second picture frame. They should be identical. To attach them, I used pocket holes. I used one pocket hole in each corner and positioned the pocket hole so that it was at the thickest part of the moulding. Be sure to use glue on these joints.

7 Framed Mirror

8 Framed Mirror

With the picture frames made, now you can apply any additional decorative trim you want. (or you could leave the frames as is!) To add additional trim, I used glue and brad nails. I would line it up to be flush with the outside edge and then just nail it down.

9 Framed Mirror

Once the picture frames were completely to my liking, I applied a coat of stain, (I used the color dark walnut). After the stain was dry, I applied three coats of spray lacquer.

10 Framed Mirror

Making The Bathroom Storage Cabinet

I have a few 3/4″ cutoffs from previous projects that I was able to use for this portion of the project so I didn’t have to buy any material; however, I do have a cut list and material list in this set of plans if you do need to buy the material to make this.

I first started by making the sides of the storage unit. Instead of cutting it into two pieces at this point, I plan to use dados for the shelves so I left the two sides as one board right now. Note: If you do this method, be sure to include the 1/8″ of your table saw blade for when you cut it down into two pieces later on.

Next I went through and marked out where all of my shelf locations will be for the shelves and also for the drawers. Then I used my table saw and a dado stack to cut in all the dados. If you do not have a dado stack or do not want to mess with cutting dados, you could also use a butt joint and just screw in the shelves from the outside of the side pieces. Since this is for the bathroom, it will be more than enough strength for you.

11 Framed Mirror

Once I had all of the dados cut then I set my fence to rip the board down the middle and I cut it directly in half so now I have two sides where the dado slots will line up perfectly to one another.

12 Framed Mirror

I grabbed more material and started cutting all of the shelves. While I was cutting, I also cut all of the material I will use later for the drawers.

I would first use my table saw to cut the material to the width I needed then I set up a stop block at the miter saw to cut the boards to length.

13 Framed Mirror

I then glued and nailed the shelves into their dado slots. My side pieces are a little warped, so I used clamps to hold them in place while I used a brad nailer to tack them down. Note: Make sure you are lining these shelves up flush with the end so that the unit will not have a problem butting up to the surface of the mirror later on.

14 Framed Mirror

Making The Drawers

I actually tried a different method on making the drawers this time. I first grabbed all of the pieces that will make up the front, back, and sides of the drawers and I put my dado stack in my table saw and then cut a dado along the bottom of all four pieces.

15 Framed Mirror

When that was done, I grabbed the side pieces and then cut a rabbet on both edges. Note: to do this safely, do not use the fence. I used my miter gauge on my table saw and attached a temporary stop block so that I could butt the side piece into the stop block and make the rabbet then back the piece out, flip it around, and make the other rabbet.

16 Framed Mirror

17 Framed Mirror

18 Framed Mirror

In the above photo the top piece is the front and back of the drawer, and the bottom is the side.

To assemble the drawers, I used glue and brad nails.  You will want to attach the three pieces, the back and the two sides first. Then glue in the bottom and then attach the final four sides. This creates a drawer.

19 Framed Mirror

20 Framed Mirror

21 Framed Mirror

Note: I originally did not plan to put sliders on these drawers but instead decided to put them on a shelf where they will slide in and out on; however, these drawers are too shallow to not be on a slider. They end up being able to pull out far to easily. I plan on remaking these drawers to include sliders but that might be something you want to do from the very beginning.

Finishing The Bathroom Cabinet

Next I cut some more pieces that will be the face frames of the storage unit. These pieces are for aesthetics only, to make the unit look beefier than it is. These I glued and nailed into place making sure the outside edge was flush with the body.

22 Framed Mirror

Now to come back and fill in all the imperfections from the plywood and also the brad nails, I used joint compound. This stuff is really cheap and very easy to put on and it dries very quickly. You can apply it with a putty knife.

While that was drying, I started attaching the faux fronts to the drawers. To do this, I used hot glue to temporarily hold the face into place so that I could move to the inside and attach it with screws permanently. Put two dabs of hot glue on the drawer front, then press it into place making sure that it lines up squarely. Hold it in place while the hot glue has time to dry. Once you have all of the faces in place, you can come back and add screws to the inside of the drawer to permanently attach it.

24 Framed Mirror

23 Framed Mirror

Next, I grabbed some very generic crown moulding from the big box store and used a brad nailer to attach it along the top. I did this to give it some sort of finished look but it’s completely optional. To make sure that these are lined up level, I first used a speed square to draw a line that I used as a gauge when lining these pieces up.

25 Framed Mirror

Now these cuts are mitered and to make the cuts, you can hold it into place vertically, standing up against the fence of the miter saw. It’s the same exact way that you make mitered cuts except your piece is not laying down flat, instead it’s standing up on its edge.

I gave everything three coats of paint. Three coats might not be needed but with this being raw plywood and using a primer and paint in one, I thought it needed three. I did use a semi gloss finish since this is going to be next to the sink.

Installing Everything!

On my counter, I have a slight curve from where my back splash meets the counter surface and since my storage unit has a 90 degree square cut on the back end, this was going to be a problem. So I grabbed a piece of cardboard and held it onto the end of my counter top and used a pen to trace this profile onto the cardboard. I could then take the cardboard and cut it out using some scissors then hold it to the storage unit and trace it out using a pencil. This now gives me a guide to use on how much material I need to take off. Trace this profile on both sides of the unit.

26 Framed Mirror

27 Framed Mirror

I turned the unit on it’s side and used my belt sander to make this slight radius. You could using a palm sander or a sanding block if you don’t have a belt sander or you could use a ROS as well.

28 Framed Mirror

Next I cut a back for the unit and glued and attached it. I’m using 3/4″ material for the back. The way I determined this thickness is I set the unit in place then used a long level to see where it sat plum (plum means completely vertical). It turns out that 3/4″ material would push this unit enough off of the mirror for it to be plum. I would suggest setting your storage unit in place and figuring out how thick or thin you need your back material for your unit to stand perfectly plum. I took the storage unit inside and set it on the counter to make sure it was going to fit. Turns out it did. Yay!

29 Framed Mirror

Alternative Design: Something I thought about doing was to not attach a solid back to the unit, but instead add thin strips along the back (to push it off the mirror the needed amount). This way the mirror would show through each of the top shelving spots. However, I didn’t think about doing this unit it was too late in the project so if you want to do this, you’ll need to add these back strips when building the cabinet and extend the shelves to be flush with them or you’ll have a gap between the back of the shelf and the mirror for things to fall down into.

To start attaching things, I started with my left picture frame since that is the wall that has the exposed edge. Why this is important is almost no wall is going to be square so if these are going to be slightly out of square, I want that to be on the right side of my mirror since that is where no one is going to be looking or seeing since there is another wall over there.

To attach the frame, I used Liquid Nail Mirror. Now it’s important to note that this is a special Liquid Nails adhesive that will not damage the look or function of the mirror. Also something important to note is this is going on a reflective surface so you don’t want to put any of the adhesive close to the inside edge of the picture frame or you will be able to see it whenever you look into the mirror. So if you notice, all of my adhesive is placed along the outside edge of the picture frame. I also used a few dabs of hot glue once again to temporarily hold it in place while the Liquid Nails had time to dry.

30 Framed Mirror

31 Framed Mirror

Once the left picture frame was in place, I turned the storage unit around, applied Liquid Nails and hot glue, and attached it so it was flush against the left frame.

32 Framed Mirror

I repeated the process with the final right picture frame. If you notice in the below photo and look along the top right of the picture frame, you will see the board that I attached to the wall earlier (on top of the mirror). This is because the mirror is slightly out of square by around 1/2″. This isn’t a big deal to me since it’s in the top far right and nobody should really see it; however, I did come back with some dark walnut stain that I used for the picture frames and applied it to this board so that it blends in a little better.

33 Framed Mirror

Now it was just a matter of installing the new light fixtures of our choice. I was exhausted at this point and my husband had just got home so he ended up installing the lights for me so I could just sit there and take a break. 🙂 What a nice guy.

Now you can add your choice of drawer pulls to the drawer fronts and slip them into place. Load down the unit with all of your stuff then stand back and admire how your new space looks!

I cannot tell you how pleased I am with this project. It’s a very simple project that completely changes the look of this small space and it’s relatively easy considering I didn’t have to knock out anything or tear out anything other than that old light fixture. I completely recommend this if you have a single long mirror that you’re wanting to update the look on and add a little function; however, keep in mind that another option would be to keep the mirror as one long mirror and just apply a frame around the entire thing and not add the storage unit, but if you’re lacking on space, adding the storage unit is completely doable.

Total cost was $66 for the moulding, $13 for a thing of paint, and $5 for a container of liquid nails….so $84! Again, I did not have to buy any material for the storage unit since I used scraps laying around but the set of plans I put together includes a shopping list and cut list if you do not have scraps.

If you liked this project and want to stay up to date with what I’m building, then be sure to sign up for my email newsletter and you’ll get an email when I post something new. See you soon!

*Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links meaning, I may get a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support in this way!

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