Make your dining room -- or any room -- feel larger and brighter by decorating entire walls with framed mirrors and inexpensive mouldings.
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Measure the width and height of the walls to be covered. Note the positions of any light switches, wall outlets, air vents, or objects such as thermostats that you'll need to work around.
Using graph paper, map out the positions of the mirrors and moulding. We divided this wall to accommodate two rows of three mirrors each plus moulding frames beneath the chair rail. If the mirrors shown don't work for your grid, visit Lowes.com and search for "frameless mirror" to discover other sizes. Choose mirrors that:
Repair and prime the walls. Then use a straightedge and level to pencil in the mirror and moulding locations.
To make the vertical floor-to-ceiling trim, cut 1-in x 2-in x 8-ft boards and pine mullions about 2-in longer than the wall height. Glue and clamp the moulding centered on one face of the 1-in x 2-in strip. (If you don't have that many clamps, glue and nail the pieces together.) If the mullion hangs over the sides of the 1-in x 2-in board, sand it flush after the glue dries.
Sand and prime each moulding, then lightly sand the primed wood before applying two coats of semigloss paint. Working from your layout, nail the vertical mouldings in place. Countersink the nails and fill the holes before touching up the paint.
Not many walls are as flat as moulding is straight. If you notice a gap after nailing a vertical moulding in place, fill it with a paintable silicone caulk and wipe away any excess. Use this trick later with applying mullion trim and frames around the mirrors.
Cut sections of horizontal pine mullion about 2 inches longer than the spaces between the vertical mouldings. Sand, prime, and paint these mouldings. Trim them to fit snug between the vertical mouldings and nail them in place. Putty the countersunk nails and touch up the paint as needed.
If there's no pneumatic nailer in your budget, avoid splitting mouldings while hand-nailing by first drilling 1/16" pilot holes in the wood.
Use the same technique to cut, finish, and install any new or reused chair rail moulding between the vertical mouldings. Continue the chair rail around the rest of the room if you wish.
Miter-cut the pine ply cap you'll use to the frame the mirrors, making both the sides and the tops/bottoms about 1/8 inch longer than the edges of the mirrors. Sand, prime, and paint the individual pieces, leaving bare wood on the miter cuts and where it touches the wall (not the mirrors). We matched the frame color to the wall but used a semigloss paint for the mouldings and flat paint for the wall. Let dry.
Because all of the mirrors are the same size, save time by using stop blocks on your miter saw to first cut all of the pairs of frame tops/bottoms to the same length. Then reset the stop blocks to cut all the sides the same length.
Using a level and pencil, mark the locations of the mirrors within each square bounded by mouldings. Temporarily nail a 1-in x 2-in scrap mirror rest to the wall with the top edge even with the bottom of the mirror position mark. Following the manufacturer's instructions, apply mirror mastic to the back of a mirror. Rest it on the scrap, press it against the wall and hold it in place with painter's tape. After the adhesive sets, remove the mirror rest and repeat for the remaining mirrors. Then patch the nail holes where you nailed the rest.
Apply two coats of flat paint to the walls, taking special care to cover any caulk around the mouldings without brushing any on the semigloss mouldings.
Use an electronic stud finder so you can nail into studs where possible. Center a ply cap moulding under one mirror, nail it in place, and set the nail heads beneath the surface. Add glue to the mitered edges and nail the sides and top place. Fill the nail holes with putty and touch up the paint over the nails and mitered ends.
You're unlikely to nail the vertical frame pieces into a stud, so drill 1/16" pilot holes through the miters in the vertical frame pieces and nail them to the horizontal frame pieces.
For the spaces beneath the chair rail, miter-cut mullion to the size of the mirror frames. Sand, prime, and paint the moulding pieces. Nail the frames centered in the spaces beneath the chair rail. Then fill and touch up the nail holes and any exposed caulk between the mouldings and the wall.