Stencilling a Subfloor: a budget friendly makeover

Ah, this was a project I planned to tackle before we even moved into our house just over two years ago.  How time flies!

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Perhaps you’ve already read about my first stencilling project?  Well, I knew that the solution to the stained (and in my opinion very unappealing) master suite carpeting was to rip it out and stencil just like I’d done to the apartment kitchen.  I even decided to stick with the same colours  and pattern!  According to the mix information I purchased the paint for this before we even moved… and here I am finally done with it.

I began tearing up the carpet on Monday the 13th thinking that with luck I could be done for the weekend.  Ha!  I just completed it on Thursday and only did so by opting not to clear coat.  (I’d wanted to do everything properly and thus apply several coats and let it dry for days as directed, but that meant not stepping into the room until next week, doing things in stages thanks to furniture issues, plus a lot of work… nah.  It’s good.)

Here is a before picture showing the carpeting.  It seems I did not take many photos of the room before we moved in, and you do not see the brown mystery stains here.  Any shades of tan, beige, and brown have never been my thing, and by the time I finally began tearing it out the carpet had additional pulls and damage.  It was beyond time to go.

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It was easiest to start inside the closets, and oh look!  A mystery stain!

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The padding underneath was actually really nice, but it had to go since I wasn’t about to put in another dust collecting carpet.  Annoyingly, previous workers had been rather careless with spackle and paint which left the floor a bit lumpy.  I didn’t want to try sanding anything though, because with the plywood it seemed weird to.

This was a lot of work, and I didn’t quite finish removing the carpet on day one.  I’d begun thinking it was perfect timing to bring the trash out for collection the next morning, and it ended up being 12 contractor bags full at the kerb not counting what was still on the floor when I quit for the evening.  At this point I may have been having a second thought or two.  The were about two million staples to find and pull up!

Last time when I stencilled the apartment kitchen floor I neglected to prime first.  That was not to be skipped now!  When I was nearly done brushing it on I noticed that the can said it wasn’t meant to be used on flooring.  Oops.  Perhaps it would have been better to stick with only the floor paint after all and no primer?

It looked a lot cleaner after priming anyway.  The next day I brushed on a few coats of the base colour.  In the apartment I’d regretted having the edges dark since it showed dust bunnies too well, but I ended up doing the same thing here with the navy blue exposed at the edges.  Actually, I was very close to switching to the grey except that I’d already completed the cutting in and taping for the navy.  In the end I suppose it works out better in this case to have the darker one at the edges to disappear better under the heaters and disguise imperfections?

I filled in most gaps which included rough cuts around doors and a lot of gaps in the landing area.  I’m unsure why they never installed any trim there and had to add some myself.  I really don’t like quarter round and always opt for cove moulding instead.  Rather than wood I used the foam stuff thinking it would curve with the “tower” wall, but the piece I had ended up snapping around a nail, so I filled the wide gap instead.  Eh, it works?

Previously I had made a painted border, and I wanted to again, because I think it looks more complete with one, but I was intimidated by the idea of taping a curve.  Whether this room would end up with a border or not was up in the air until I actually attempted to tape.  It wasn’t bad at all with just a bit of care and finessing.  I was rather proud of myself!  😀

The navy had an entire holiday weekend to cure before taping and stencilling.  I only eyeballed the distance from walls and tried to account for projecting bits of trim to balance with the baseboard heating units.  No portion is perfect, but I am entirely pleased with the results.

It was at this point that I considered switching to grey for the outside border, but I’d not trimmed the tape or planned for that.  The navy matches very well with the bits of carpet on the stairs too, and that helped me decide to keep it as the main colour.  So, another line of tape was added within the perimeter of this.  Just look at this!  So proud!  😀

Before quitting for the day I wanted to complete the border by brushing on the navy to seal the edges and then two coats of the grey.  I peeled up the inner tape before anything dried too much in hopes that it wouldn’t lift any layers that weren’t supposed to.  Success.

In the kitchen I’d measured and begun the pattern symmetrically, because the room was narrow.  Here I decided that the most important focal point was the space between the entry door as one walks up to the landing, so I began there.

 

This is how far I made it the first day:

And finally I was done late on day two and just barely with enough paint in the tray for the last bit:

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Working on a much wider room was a challenge, and I had a difficult time keeping the pattern on track.  It isn’t perfect, but I’m still quite pleased with everything.  Here is the tour starting with the landing:

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Standing in the corner is one of the steamer trunks that my paternal great-grandfather used when he left Slovakia in 1900.  Each of my uncles has one or two, I’m told, and my parents had two but kept this “uglier” one in the damp basement (and mum painted the “nice” one, sigh.)  I rescued it a couple of years ago, washing and waxing away rust and mildew and treating the leather, but the bottom (back here) is falling apart.  😦  It is a fairly awkward item to keep around, but I don’t want to lose a rare bit of family history, and so here it lives.

Last fall I scored an older one, with at curved top, free from a neighbour after it didn’t sell at their yard sale and about to be tossed!  It is also in less than excellent condition but has a nice look with neat metal reinforcements at the edges and lovely bare wood. I’m going to let it dry out this summer then preserve it.  I’ll be sure to write about it here.

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For the photos I decided to set up the cradle that I refinished to match the bed (which I also stained and waxed to have a greyed Restoration Hardware look.)

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L and I are much happier now with the room and feel like it finally has our style.  I’m also glad to be rid of the dust-trapping aspect of carpet and look forward to a much easier time when vacuuming.  The only thing that I might do something about are the closet doors and trim colour.  It would be a pain, but it could be worth gel-staining the wood to a darker tone?  I’d really like to paint it but think that would be a shame to do and will not, but a deeper shade could make a big difference.  The trim already looks significantly better here than it used to having been touched up to hide strange fading and wear.  As for the doors, they are loud and feel flimsy.  Depending on measurements I could rig up some Ikea PAX sliding doors or something one day?

Next I’ll have to finish painting the bathroom.  Colour goes a long way, and paint disguised the nasty formica-like vanity, but one day we hope to renovate it.  I’m sure that will be many years from now if ever, but it doesn’t stop me from envisioning marble tile and some sort of wonderful tub.

 

Here and There

Hello again!

I really should have written about the tiling that I was working on in December while I was at it.  Why did I convince myself that projects must be complete before I could post?  All that leads to are delays, and it is silly considering that all the blogs that I’ve most enjoyed reading all seemed to be progress posts rather than complete and perfect before & afters.  Speaking of, I recently found a really enjoyable blog, written by a talented and impressively productive lady, while researching for a future project.  It took me forever to click through to begin reading at the first post, so you’re welcome for the link to it.  😛  (I don’t know about you, but I have to start at the beginning when I find a great blog.)

Just after my last post I did grout and finish the hearth and entryway.  (Although I didn’t seal it yet, now that I think.  Whoops.)  Photos were taken, and there will certainly be a post about those coming up.  Aside from that we enjoyed the holidays, and I was focused on frenzied sorting and organising of all the things before succumbing to 1st trimester exhaustion.  I’m still fighting it, to be honest, and I don’t think that the dreary winter weather is helping much.  Sporadic project-ing does happen, but I could use some energy.

Yesterday I caulked crown moulding in the guest  baby’s room and edged the ceiling.  Rolling on the paint was too much, however, although I re-coated the hallway where water had leaked months ago.  At some point before Christmas I pulled all the furniture to the middle of the room and brushed one coat of Coconut Ice trim paint onto the wainscoting.  Slowly I’ll get there.  Now the dilemma is whether to paint the walls with the colour-matched dark blue (that I already purchased) or go light and bright, perhaps with the Polished Limestone that I have on hand?

This is a difficult choice!  First of all, I already bought the blue.  It is a lovely shade that matches a bedspread and picks up the blue in some heavy linen curtains that were finally put to use after being found at a thrift store some years ago.  It has character and cohesion.  …But it is soooooo dark!  Our entire first floor is done with rather extremely dark shades of paint, and the light does get sucked right into the walls.  It would be lovely to have and airy room on cloudy days.  …But the pale grey is so neutral and boring comparatively!  Sure, it is a lot more “nursery,” but it feels like giving up.  Heh.  Yesterday I asked DH about the situation, and he surprised me by not jumping at keeping the blue.  I thought he’d be all for it since it is his favourite, but he even suggested choosing something entirely different.  Perhaps?  Such a shame to lose that blue though!

This is not the most helpful photo, but I was laying on the bed tired and just wanted to get a shot of the two colours.  The colour-match may read a little differently than this, I believe, and Polished Limestone can be seen in the hallway beyond the door.  Disregard the need for at least one more coat of the trim paint.  😀

Anyway, this will be a long series of progress posts for the nursery, I am sure.  I already plan to move the bed to fit a crib, and the dresser will be stored indefinitely.  I love it, and it was a Salvation Army bargain which I felt lucky to find, but it doesn’t store very much and is delicate.  I used to have one handed down from my mother that is much more suitable, but it has been stored in my father’s basement for a few years.  The condition is questionable.  Once I refinished it and would love to again, but I’m afraid paint may be the best case scenario now.  At worst I have to find one on Craigslist and figure out how to get it home or resort to  Ikea.  (I realllllly don’t want to do Ikea.)   Due to the placement of windows, closet, entry and bathroom doors I don’t know whether I can fit a recliner/glider into the space too.  Gliders are wonderfully comfortable but mostly ugly and always expensive, but I have a thrift store recliner in storage (and pieces.)  It needs refinishing and  reupholstering, again, because the cats shredded the fabric the first time I did it.  Also a nicer fabric would be ideal, but the one I planned to use isn’t in stock (now that I waited a couple of years before buying it.  Unfortunately upholstery fabric isn’t cheap, so…)  I can only hope it will be available again and soon  or else the recliner is doomed to sit in pieces for years.  😦  Planning a real makeover for the nursery could be fun, but I’m not sure I’ll go for a full leap.  The kid is sure to love navy blue and Jacobean floral curtains, right?  Right?  What I do have so far is a lot of linen crib bedding that I scored at the Restoration Hardware Outlet during big sales.  It is all shades of grey and white.  The crib is iron, but I don’t know yet how I want it finished/painted.  Perhaps just clear coat over bare metal?  Boringly safe white?  Decisions!

Lately I’ve been dreaming of spring and have been making garden plans.  Today I placed an order with RareSeeds, and I bought a montmorencey cherry tree too.  We moved to this house two years ago this week, and that first spring I planted a tiny cherry tree thinking the sooner the better if I ever wanted to eat any fruit, but the poor thing died right away.  Last year I told myself not to bother and be glad not to attract more critters, but now I’d really like some tart cherries to look forward to.  I have fond memories of eating them straight off the tree once at a relative’s house (she had an amazing garden) and this pushed me to go for it so that our child can pick cherries in our back yard.  (If I can get the thing to live and grow!  I opted for the more expensive one instead of bare-root hoping to improve my chances.)

The RareSeeds order is basically for decorative stuff that was in the goth garden already, but I added some beans too.  A few of them are gorgeously purple and will be part of the decorative garden.  This year I’ve decided to make use of the somewhat sunnier front of the house more ambitiously.  There is no water source, however, so I’m thinking of ways to extend soaker hoses knowing anything out there is otherwise doomed.  Some of the beans should be pretty there, and perhaps I’ll try a few tomatoes and watermelon?  Last year the tomatoes were a dismal failure since we are so shaded by neighbouring trees, but I desperately want home grown tomatoes if nothing more!  I was working too much and think they were not watered enough either, so my hope it that more attention will make a difference.

Xmas Decor 2016 & List of Upcoming Projects

Yesterday I brought the tree down from the attic, put it together, and decorated.  We were away around Thanksgiving, and I haven’t been terribly productive recently, but at least the house feels nice and Christmas-y.

Actually, I’ve been working on things here and there, like massive organisation bursts, but in the last week and this one not much else could be done.  L worked from home, took this entire week off, we were away, and I’m about to flip out for lack of alone time, so… I’m looking forward to more productive times.  Also, I’m now in the midst of the IVF cycle (number II,) and it is rather inconvenient.  For example, we left for Manhattan well before 7 on Monday and weren’t home until noon.  Thankfully on week days I can mostly go to a nearer location for monitoring, but city trips make for an exhausting day without much hope for large projects.  However, I do have a long list in mind to complete before family visits for Christmas.

Definitely:

-Purchase quartz tile and supplies to re-tile the entry area and hearth.  (Likely to be done this Friday when I go for local-ish monitoring.)

-Tile the hearth and entry.  This would have been ideally done before putting the tree up, but alas.  I am antsy to do this in particular, because it is a small enough project that I’ll get a lot of satisfaction quickly, and it will make a huge change to the look of our place.  Of course I’d like that done before we have the rare occasion of house guests.  (It already irks me that my tree photos now showcase the old tile!)

-Finish sanding the dining chairs before staining and waxing them to match the Restoration Hardware style dining table that I completed at least two years ago.  (!!!)  While I’m at it I ought to touch up the coffee table.

-Brush trim paint (coconut ice) on the remaining 40% of the kitchen beadboard that is sadly still only primed after about two years.  (Also !!!)

-(Semi-temporary) repairs to the front steps.  I began this and ran out of Quickcrete.  L would like this to be completed, so if I get warm enough weather and a chance to then I’d better get to it.

-Brush edges of masonry that I painted earlier in the fall.

-Finish the sofa reupholstering.  Specifically to staple the back properly, stitch the upper back as needed, and staple black cambric stuff to finish underneath.  (Why haven’t I done this yet?   This is why I should never let myself stop at “good enough for now.”)  To truly complete it I’ll have to sew four-six throw pillow covers of the same linen as the sofa.  I have them all cut and ready to go, but I suspect this will be a long term sort of thing, because the jewel toned silk dupioni covers that I make long ago are “good enough for now.”

-Paint ceilings of guest room, hall, and main bath; guest and main bath walls; guest paneling, doors, and re-coat other doors; and re-paint main bath headboard with gloss.

-Pattern and make a winter coat.  I’ve planned this for two years and have all the fabric and notions required.  I actually started work on this last week but felt a bit overwhelmed and stopped, because nothing but wasted work ever comes from pushing through when I’m not in the right creative mode.

-Change out all remaining switch plates and outlet covers after painting.

Hopefully, but maybe:

-Change all door hinges to brushed nickel, adjust, and touch up paint.

-Fix the drop ceiling droop, add cross bars for 2×2′ tiles, and install fancier new tiles to replace the institutional styled 2×4′ kind.  (I may have to cut this from the allowed budget thanks to a fancy Butchers&Bicycles bakfiets we bought.  This change would make such a huge difference in the appearance of the media room part of the basement, but it is one of the most sensible to cut from this year’s list and save for later.  I anticipate it being a very messy, fussy, and time consuming hassle of a project.)

-Replace the sewing room and probably dressing room/master suite doors with some that have a frosted glass panel to let in light.  (I’m dying to do this too, but it is the other sensible thing to cut from the budget as it costs a lot for likely a less dramatic change.  It makes less of an impact than the drop ceiling, I guess, but it is a far easier task without all the hassle and mess of the ceiling project.  We’ll see.)

-The exterior staining project.  Soon I’ll write an update post about this, but due to ladder circumstances I haven’t finished the two sides of the house.  I began the west side and wanted it done this fall, but the ladder thing complicated the matter.  Not only do I need good enough weather and L’s availability and willingness to help, but the hillside is a severe obstacle.  While I purchased legs for the ladder I’m still nervous.  The other side would have been easy, but first we needed to have a nastily rotten old pile of firewood removed, and that happened way too late.  It makes sense to leave that until spring now.  I sure wish the warm and dry weather lasted longer here!  A part of me still holds out hope of finishing the west side before winter.

-Paint dining/living window trim with coconut ice.

Future projects that I won’t even think of trying before Christmas but do intend to do within 6-9 months:

-Rip up the carpeting of the master bedroom.  Prime, paint, and stencil the sub flooring.

-Sort and organise the remaining boxes and stuff in the storage room and basement.

-Tear out the laminate and carpet in the media room and storage room.  Level whatever I find beneath, and install vinyl planks.  This is huge.  I’ll need to remove or move around L’s workstation and big entertainment thing, furniture, and a tonne of stored crap (see previous item.)  Then I have to deal with the demolition and rubbish, but I’m most concerned about what I’ll find beneath the laminate.  I can only fear what has caused bouncing dips and unlevelled spans as drastic as we have down there…  I hope that some levelling concrete is all that is required, but all sorts of nightmares plague my plans with this especially after we had a massive swarm of carpenter ants to eliminate this spring.  It’ll be a gorgeous change though.

-Paint the dressing room and curved stairwell.  Maybe re-do the master bedroom too now that I have selected the proper pale grey?

-Continue to replace torn and ugly aluminium screens of storm windows and re-glase windows.

-Refinish a crib, maybe???

-Lots of sewing.

-Reupholster a recliner and a cute little tufted round chair.

-Restore or basically do something to make an antique travel trunk useable as furniture.

 

Anyway… On to the holiday decorations:img_7982Above is the sofa featured in my reupholstering instructional posts (that I have yet to finish.)  Actually, I did that round chair/loveseat twice too!  You might also see that the crown moulding has been finished but the window is only white primer?

 

The tree.img_7992

 

This year’s additions.  I found a few more of the Egyptian glass, liked the random matte white with black ornaments, and finally added a pickle!  img_7930

 

A closeup of the centre-piece on the coffee table:img_8009

 

I have these allllllll organised when stored!  Each year some ornaments are put into rotation or maybe not.  Believe it or not, I’d like even more options to select from!  Since I do add a dozen or so each year that is becoming more of a reality.img_7940

 

Roasted Pork Encrusted with Green & Long Black Peppercorn

The other day I found a ridiculously large cut of pork loin at an equally low price, so I bought it and left it in the fridge until I was ready to do something creative with it.  Creativity did not strike before it was the last thing around to make for supper, but as I was seasoning it something came to mind: long black peppercorns.

green and long black peppercorns

I’d bought some of these a long time ago at Whole Paycheque Foods, but it has been months or more since I remembered to make use of them.  (The last time was in a ham based stew, yum!)  They taste very different from black pepper in my opinion, and I think it can be distracting in some dishes, which is probably why I forgot to try using it again for so long.  Pork is one of my least favourite meats, however, so I didn’t mind the idea of a strong and possibly distracting flavour.  I hadn’t given myself enough time to marinate the loin as I normally do, so I’d planned on making a herb or spice crust.

First I lined my pan with foil and doused the pork with white wine before giving it a generous coating of garlic salt.  I sprinkled it with hot paprika, MSG, whole mustard, and coriander seeds before thinking of the long peppercorns.  It turned out that I didn’t have much in the way of herbs, and the pepper occurred to me, so I ground the long and green peppercorns in a mortar and pestle then rubbed them into the pork.  It went into the oven at 350F for… an hour or two?  I uncovered the meat towards the end to let the fat at the top get crispy.  For a side I made a salad with whatever I had, which was rocket, tomato, dill, red pepper, and scallions dressed with salt, lemon, and olive oil.

It was tasty!

 

Dark Gardening: Even More Goth Plant Suggestions

Since last night I have poked around the internet, and I found far too many interesting dark plants not to post again.  The first beauty, which I absolutely must order, is “black cat” petunia.

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I’d love to have some of these strange “cummins” and “rococo” tulips too.  They are fantastic!  The look of hoarfrost on the cummins is spectacular!

rococo rulip cummins tulip

Lunaria might be fun if I could find the white flowering variety rather than bright purples, because the silvery pods are really neat, but “silver lace” dusty miller may be a better addition anyway.

silver lace dusty miller lunaria

Lastly, “moulin rouge” astrantia and “black star” calla lilies are a nice deep red and also have interesting shapes.

black star calla lily moulin rouge astrantia

I’ll recap with yesterday’s images so that everything can be seen in one place:

eyeliner lilyhello darknessred giant castorperuvian daffodil  white christmas caladiumblack charm lilyblack is blackqueen of night and maureen tulips    black swan poppypaper moon scabiosadelft blue love in a mistmother of pearl poppyoriginal sweet peadangerous mood irisdonard sea hollychocolate vineonyx odyssey hellebores*Links to the photo sources are in the previous post.

Thrifty DIY Windowpane Picture Frame (for a Group Display of Nine 8×10″ Photos)

I grew up on a dairy farm.  I miss it terribly.  2014 marked my tenth year of living in NYC, which I didn’t particularly like, and my parents sold the farm in 2013.  Moving away from the city and into a house has made me very happy, and I feel a lot more like myself now.  For a long time I have wanted to hang up photos from the farm, but wasn’t able to settle on a method of displaying them.  Eventually I waited not wanting to add more holes to our apartment walls knowing we would move.  Now that we have, and are hosting a little party this weekend, I rushed to create a display.

Ideally I would love to buy a few really large prints on aluminium, because I love how a small one from our wedding turned out.  It is an awesome look and requires no frame.  Those prints are extremely durable, but they come at a steep cost.  For now I wanted a three by three display of 8×10″ photos.  It sounds simple, but as it turns out it is not easy to find a frame for this arrangement.  I didn’t even find one, actually.  The best I could do would be to purchase three oblong triple display frames, like this, but the cost was not tolerable.  (Totalling at 150$ on discount or 390$ when not on sale?!!)  Next best was to buy a bunch of really cheap frames.  They would work out alright, but when I realised how many holes would be made in my freshly painted walls… ugh.  Not only that but it would be tough to align them perfectly when hanging due to their design.  Finally I settled on a solution.  I would make my own frame.

One way to do this would be to glue the cheap frames to a board in order to hang more easily.  This was my plan, but at the store I saw a really nice 24×36″ frame on sale for 14$ and decided that adding moulding trim panes would be much better.  I gathered supplies and almost checked out before realising my maths didn’t work.  D’oh!  I left the queue and found the only 24×30″ frame available.  It was half off but still close to 30$.  Wow, frames are costly!

Here are the materials used and the frame before modifying it:

materials

First I used the back of the display sheet to mark guidelines and put it back in the frame.  Then I measured out the trim and cut it.  A single edge razor blade worked perfectly.  (I love those useful little things and have dozens floating around the house!)

marking where to cut test run

Then I painted the trim, even the back, before gluing the pieces to the glass.  I used glue dots that said they work on glass.  I stuck one each where the guidelines cross, and I stretched some to secure the trim along the end of the lines.  It worked out just fine.  I suggest stretching dots at the intersections too, because it was a bit fiddly to cut away the excess with the razor blade.  After gluing I gave it all another coat of paint then scraped the mess off of the glass.

2nd coat of paint after scraping away paint

All that was left was to position the photos, re-assemble, and hang it!  I began with the middle print and worked out from there using reposition-able, acid free, photo/scrapbooking adhesive squares.  It is much better than struggling with scotch tape.  😉

positioning photos

Done and done!

done!done and hanging

I am very pleased with how the DIY frame turned out and with the collage.  I definitely wouldn’t know it was DIY if I saw it at someone else’s home.  It was hard to choose which photos to use, but I think it looks great and is perfect for sharing my memories.  If you are curious, the barn was built in 1888, but we built the silos, additions, (and other buildings.)  That is my father in the bottom row with a Farmall H tractor (made in the ’40s,) a sickle bar mower, and a cultipacker.  Most of our machinery was 50+ years old, and I always thought it was fascinating how it all worked.  The silhouette in the upper right is a rake to spread out cut hay to dry before baling.

Project idea: antiqued mercury glass mirror (Part I)

This post actually began as a comment on another blog, but it was getting too long.  I also really want to begin writing about it while the idea is fresh as Part I of an eventual project.  I’m really excited about it!

The blog post that inspired me was at Happy Day Andi, and I began to comment: “This gives me a great idea to recreate a mirror I really liked but couldn’t afford!  It was made of a bunch of 12×12″ squares with little pressed glass bits at the meeting of the corners…”  At which point I realised that I had too much to say.  Time to make it a two post day.

A few months ago I saw a huge Belle Epoque mirror at the Restoration Hardware outlet, and I wished to win the lottery.  Even damaged and discounted it was hundreds of dollars, and I had a glimmer of an idea to copy it somehow.  I mean, it was all just glued together, and the tiles of the mirror reminded me of fairly cheap ones gracing the wall of a flat I once considered renting.  Surely I could glue them to a board and stick similar glass bits over the corners?  However, when I Googled in search of something to use as the key accent pieces nothing really stood out as an option.  I abandoned the idea.

Then I read about DIY mercury glass, and suddenly making a similar mirror seemed like a good notion.  Perhaps I’m just feeling more creative today, but I’ve even come up with faint ideas for the accent bits.  Pressed glass buttons, perhaps?  I’ll figure something out, so stay tuned for Part II eventually.