Up-Cycled Antique Mirror: ‘Lessons from my Twenties’

The process of making the ‘lessons from my twenties’ stand began when I found an old broken mirror on the side of the road. The stand was splintered and separated from the mirror ‑ and in my state of constantly searching for cheap decoration ideas I instantly saw potential in the antique mirror.

I decided to use the mirror and mirror stand separately, the mirror would be used traditionally as a decorative element, and the stand would become a display of ‘lessons from my twenties’ written on neon post it notes. That said, it could be used just as easily to display printed photographs.


  • Antique mirror stand (found object, free)  

  • Battery operated 3m Copper wire lights in white ($3-$10 on eBay) and AA batteries (<$5 at the supermarket)

  • Small metal screw-in hooks (According to google these are officially called ‘curtain wire screw eyes’ and I bought them for $2 for 10 at Bunnings)

  • Neon pink and white acrylic paint (These are $4.15 at Eckersley’s and I used a couple of tubes of each)

  • Miniature pegs ($5.15 at Eckersley’s)

  • Post-it Notes ($3 at Kmart)

Total budget = < $30


Time frame:

This took a couple of hours in total, but the process needed to be spaced over a couple of days because each coat of paint needed to dry before I applied the next, and I was drying it on the back verandah in the middle of winter.


I started by sanding the varnish away from both the mirror and the frame. I also needed to sand down several big splinters from where the frame had split from the mirror (you can still see splintering on the final product, but I don’t think it matters).

I then applied a coat of white paint to disguise the dark wood, followed by two coats of pink neon paint. I used cheap acrylic paint and the finish was quite raw – you could use higher quality paint or apply a clear varnish to achieve a more polished look.

I was able to screw the hooks into the inside of the stand with my hands, and I strung the wire fairy lights from these, creating a zig-zag pattern across the empty space. I used miniature pegs to hang post-it notes from the lights, and that was my final product!

As for the lettering on the post-its, this is my own handwriting. There are plenty of lettering tutorials online if you’re looking to practice a cursive style, but honestly I think this kind of project is more personal if it reflects your own personality and shows off your own handwriting. This is about sharing a piece of yourself with the people you love most.


These were some of the biggest lessons from my twenties, what are the most significant (or funniest) things you’ve learnt?

  • It is more important to run water over a burn than to preserve a fake tan

  • No friend is ever expendible (no friendship is too small)

  • If you're not writing, you're not a writer

  • Alcohol should always be followed by hydralyte

  • When someone tells you who they are, believe them.

  • When someone tells you who you are, don't.

  • It's the things you don't want to do that will most inspire your work.

  • There's no problem that can't be solved by running

  • Be of service to others

  • Never use a credit card to pay rent

  • Never use a credit card to pay for an entire international trip

  • Most of your time will be spent vacuuming and doing dishes.

  • Lead by example, focus on keeping your side of the street clean

  • Be open, honest and clear about how you feel. Even when it's embarrassing (even when it sucks).

  • There's no job too small (there's no job you're too good for)

  • Always have a back-up plan.