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If you're looking for a shabby chic mirror for your home, you might be wondering whether to buy a new reproduction mirror in shabby chic style, or a genuine vintage piece. Both have their merits! You'll notice that the glass on older mirrors isn't as bright as modern reproductions. Some older mirrors are also tinted which means that colour has been added to the glass. Rather than silver, you'll find tinted mirrors have a bronze, copper or peach tone. Modern reproduction mirrors on the other hand can have aged frames to give a vintage appearance but the glass will be new and free from scratches. You can in fact age the glass yourself if you'd like a more authentic appearance - see below.
If you come across a genuine vintage mirror that is beautiful but has scratches on the glass, it may still be worth buying provided that it is quite small, as you can have it resilvered. This means that the shiny surface of the mirror is either repaired or replaced altogether. This can be done either yourself or through a specialist. If you decide to do it yourself, you can buy a kit that helps you remove the silver backing from the glass (this is done using nitric acid) and respray the glass with mirror paint. It's really important that this is done in a well ventilated room using the right safety equipment. However, the results of resilvering kits are rather unpredictable - you could actually make the mirror look a lot worse. If you take the mirror to a specialist for resilvering, you're more likely to get a professional finish and less likely to break the glass while removing it. In the UK, Orion Optics offer a reasonable mirror resilvering service and the website explains a lot more about the process.
Another possibility is to have the glass itself replaced entirely, if the mirror frame allows you to remove it without causing damage. This is a better option for larger mirrors as resilvering would be too expensive and only worth doing if the mirror frame was valuable. It's a good idea to take the mirror frame with you to the glass shop so they can measure and cut a piece that is the perfect size. Some shops will even put the glass in for you and seal the back. Note that a lot of old mirrors and modern reproduction shabby chic mirrors have bevelled glass. This means that the edges of the mirror have a slanted angle, rather than being flat. Bevelling gives the mirror an older, more expensive appearance, and is also a safety measure. If you want bevelled glass this will of course cost extra.
Rather than restoring an old mirror, it's possible you might want to age a modern mirror to give it more of an authentic appearance. The frames of shabby chic mirrors are often aged anyway through distressing, but the glass always looks shiny and new. Kara Paslay has put together a great tutorial on aging the glass in mirrors which she does using liquid stripper and oven cleaner. You might want to try the technique out on an unwanted piece of mirrored glass first so you're happy with how 'aged' your mirror will be.
The shabby chic look is distressed, worn and 'loved' but with strong injection of elegance - hence it is 'shabby chic' and not just 'shabby'. There are many mirrors described as ‘baroque’ or ‘rococo’ on the market that have a distressed finish. These are often in whites, creams or silvers and feature heavily ornamental designs. You'll find people use the terms interchangeably even though they do mean something different. True baroque is in fact a period of grand, opulent artistic style that began around 1600 in Italy. Baroque pieces are noted for their excessive ornamentation or complexity of line. Rococo is a later type of Baroque, which is lighter, more graceful, but also even more elaborate. If something is truly ‘Rococo’ it will tend to be asymmetrical in contrast with Baroque which errs towards symmetry. Rococo pieces are very curvy, highly decorated and often use pale colours.
Hello, I'm Jen and I'm the creator of The Shabby Chic Guru. I'm a 38 year old consultant and mummy of 4. I live in a Victorian house full of quirky furniture, large ornate mirrors and small children with sticky little fingers. I love all things shabby chic and vintage, cute babies, dinosaurs and wine.