Garden Shelf & Mirror

2 Materials
4 Hours

On one of my Goodwill ventures about 20 years ago, I bought an elaborate (aka gaudy) mirror in a dated brown stain. Not having an immediate purpose for it, I added it to my other ‘priceless’ junk finds in the basement.

I forgot about the mirror until many years later when I came across an equally gaudy gold plastic wall mounted shelf in my sister’s garage (the identical one below was spotted at our favourite flea market). I remember it hanging in her mother-in-law’s hallway topped with a piece of white marble. Suddenly the light bulb went on: if I paired it with the mirror and treated both pieces to the same faux finish, I’d have a great little vignette in our garden. My sister was only too happy to part with the shelf.

I first sprayed everything with a primer. Then I picked up some $1 paints at the dollar store (in rust, brown and cream tones) plus some glaze at the paint store and set to work. I started with a base coat of the rust colour and let it dry. Then I mixed up the remaining two paints with some glaze (to make them transluscent) and applied them randomly with a crumpled rag.

To highlight some of the detail, I dug through my crafting stash and found some silver leaf foil to glam it up (ironically found at the same thrift store the mirror was from). After applying the special glue and letting it dry until just tacky, I rubbed on the silver leaf on a few of the high spots. It brought all the detail to life!

To seal it for the outdoors, I used a water based spray varnish and sprayed on about 5 thin coats (letting it dry between coats). For the mirror, if possible, it’s best to lift the glass right out and seal every inch of the frame! If you can't do that, cover the glass (as I did 2 pics above) to prevent overspray from getting on the mirror). Don’t forget to seal the back of the shelf and mirror too.

Attaching to the Fence

When mounting heavy pieces like these to a fence, make sure they’re secure and can’t go anywhere. Especially with the mirror: you don’t want it blowing off in the wind and smashing to smithereens amongst the flowers. That would just bring you seven years of bad luck — and a poor substitute for mulch!

We recommend using a heavy-duty interlocking ‘French cleat’ hanger made of either wood or metal (like the one pictured below). One side is attached onto the fence and the connecting piece goes on the back of the mirror. If you’re going to purchase a french cleat made of metal (vs. making your own from wood), buy aluminum like the set shown here. It won’t rust over time like ours did.

Before and After

Before we added the two updated pieces near the corner of the fence, the backyard looked like this:

With the mirror and shelf mounted, there was already a big improvement!

Pairing up the mirror and shelf did just the trick for our little garden! Looking at the two pieces, you wouldn’t know that they weren’t meant to be together. However, the empty corner still needed more embellishment.

To round out the vignette, the following year we upcycled discarded pieces of metal found in the garbage. We gave them a fresh coat of white rust paint. After they were dry, we connected them forming a right angle garden trellis and attached them to the corner of the fence.

Once the plant material matured, the combination of the mirror and trellis provided the clematis plenty of structure to cling onto. With a beautiful burst of colour, now the corner of the garden is a focal point we can enjoy all season.

The ‘laciness’ of the mirror provides the perfect foundation for the clematis grow through.

Silver leaf and flowers add 'bling'

It’s fun to switch up what gets placed on the shelf year-to-year! The marble shelf is impervious to the weather and can be accessorized with a plant…..

….. or even a meditating frog for a zen effect.


And along the lines of peace and tranquility, the mirror has one added bonus: it’s positioned exactly were we can see uninvited visitors reflected in it as they open up the gate—giving us just enough time to hide 

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Suggested materials:

  • Mirror  (Thrift store)
  • Shelf  (Upcycled)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Carol Cole
    on Jul 3, 2019

    Beautiful piece but why not have it in the house? You did a wonderful job of it.

    • Beth
      on Jul 4, 2019

      I'm with Carole. It is really nicely done, but such a piece looks odd to me outside. Perhaps putting a different finish on it would make it more casual for your indoor space.

  • Paula
    on Jul 4, 2019

    Love this! And wherever did you get the frog!?

  • MJ
    on Jul 4, 2019

    Love it! Where did u get that bird bath?🤤

Join the conversation

4 of 62 comments
  • Sharon Gehrke Wolf
    on Jul 19, 2019

    I love it! The clematis is the perfect addition. And I want that frog!

  • Nina Li
    on Jul 23, 2019

    That looks beautiful ! With those flowers. The whole arrangement is awesome. But that mirror is too beautiful for outside! Lol. You really did a great job on it.

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