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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Mirror Updates to French Country

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Homes change over the years due to routine maintenance, upgrading appliances, freshening paint, changing tastes, and finding what you have been wanting for years. The mirror in my half-bath powder room started as American Country style that eventually was replaced with a new French Country style mirror. 

After years of searching and intermediate changes along the way, the half-bath has a French Country mirror I love. This post is for all of you who still long for changes in your home. Don't give up. The journey may take turns and twists, but little-by-little you can achieve the home you dream.  

Take a look at my journey from American Country mirror to the French Country mirror shown above. I've tried to include photos with the same views into the half-bath so you can see how the mirror changes over the years looked in the bathroom from the same perspectives. 

Mirror Updates
merican Country to French Country

Here's where the guest half-bath started when we built our dream home in the countryside decades ago. 

An antique pine mirror once was part of an antique pine wash stand, but when I found the mirror in Forney, Texas at an antique store, the wash stand was no where to be seen. I liked the mirror with its curved top and carved designs. So, I bought it without a wash stand base trusting I could find a compatible wash stand or chest to use with the mirror. 

After a little more searching that day, I found this antique pine chest with hand-carved doors. Its marble top was broken which convinced me I would not be damaging an antique by putting a sink in the chest. It would be okay to use the chest as a vanity in the guest half-bath and to cut a hole in the back for the water lines to attach to a sink. And, the broken marble made the price of the chest an even better buy! 

We bought an inexpensive cultured marble countertop in which to insert a blue ceramic sink with plans in the future to replace the top with marble. Here we are decades later with the same cultured marble countertop. There was always something else with a more pressing need to repair, to replace, or to add to the house. 

I may have learned to love the vanity's fake marble top, but when French country style captured my heart while visiting France multiple times chaperoning high school students, I dreamed of a beautiful wood carved French Country mirror for the guest bathroom. 

Seven years ago, I updated the guest bathroom by painting the wood trim and pine wainscoting white. I found almost my dream French country mirror at the same time. The mirror was a dark metal mirror, but has a beautifully carved top in French country style. I painted it white and hung it above the pine vanity.

I sold the antique pine mirror to a friend who had just moved into a new home. It was the perfect size to fit into a niche above her fireplace. 

We had to add a new towel bar since the old wooden mirror held the towel bar above the sink. The new bar on the side wall allows for beautiful Christmas towels to be seen while passing by the open door. 

I loved having the new mirror to decorate for Christmas! Eucalyptus stems with sparkly crystal stems added a definite French je ne sais quoi  to greet all our guests during Christmas that year.

Je ne sais quoi literally means "I don't know what." A better translation would be "a quality that cannot be described or easily named." 

A peek into the guest bath with the new French country mirror is similar to a photo of the antique pine mirror so you can compare the photos to see how the new French country mirror made a difference in the guest bath.

I kept searching haphazardly for a wooden carved French country mirror for the half-bath. One fall, we made a special trip to the Round Top Antique Fair in central Texas for the express purpose to buy a wood carved French mirror. We found several beautiful mirrors, but none in my price range exactly like I envisioned. We came home without a mirror, but not empty handed. 

Then while not really looking for a mirror, I found this mirror at Park Hill Collections, a wholesale company, while ordering items for my annual French Country Christmas Event. I ordered a mirror to sell in the pop-up Christmas event, and one of the first customers that year bought it. 

The mirror from the wholesaler was a reproduction, heavily distressed with light gray compound to add layers to the finish. To me, there is a fine line between just enough distress and too much. The mirror had too much distress for me, but was the perfect size, style, wood, and detailed carvings. 

After seeing it in the shop, I decided I could refinish it to become the totally perfect mirror for me.    


After sanding off most of the gray compound, painting the mirror with white paint, and distressing lightly with Rub 'n Buff gold wax, the details of the wood carved mirror were what I was looking for in a French Country mirror. 

The new French Country mirror fills the space better than the previous mirror and adds beautiful se ne sais quoi style even more than the previous mirror. A golden ribbon with fleur de lis hung a small wreath for more French Country style the Christmas after the mirror was added to the guest bath. 

I moved the first French Country style mirror to above the small vanity in my bathroom. The mirror fits that space much better than the mirror it replaced. 

Compare the view into the guest bathroom from outside in the hallway to the similar view of the original pine American Country style mirror to see the difference the updated French Country mirror makes.  

The hunt is over after decades with intermediate updates along the way. The journey was fun, offering mirrors I liked and enjoyed at the time, but now the guest bathroom has a mirror of my dreams.