Decorating with Photoshop


I don’t use the word hate casually. I reserve it for things deserving of the harshness it implies. Things like war and inequality and ingrown hairs.

So it means a lot when I say that I *hate* my dining room mirror.  I hate it.  It’s gross.  I bought it at Costco years ago and as far as I can remember I’ve hated it.  I’m  not sure why I bought it other than it was probably cheap and it’s big.  Big has impact.  But so does hate.




Every time I walk through the dining room I’m faced with this big, stupid mirror, and my reflection in it. Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the stupidest Costco shopper of them all?  Me.  That’d be me.

Damn the adrenaline rush of big, cheap things.

I don’t mind an ornate frame, in fact I really like them, especially in contrast to other white, sleek lines, or the rustic charm of the brick wall,  but if a frame is going to be ornate I want it to be an authentic antique frame like the frame that surrounds Margaret, my lifesized portrait in the dining room.  Just look at me gazing adoringly at her/it.



The problem is, it’s not an easy thing to just pull off the wall to start experimenting.  As mentioned earlier.  It’s big.  Big and stupid.

Enter  Adobe Photoshop.



I have all kinds of frames and mirrors in my basement. I collected them all during my fanatical garage sale days. I was good at garage sales. Very good.

So a while ago I went into the basement, armed with my camera and some centipede spray and started pulling out all of my framed mirrors. I laid them up against the basement wall and took a picture of each one of them individually.

I then transferred the pictures to Photoshop on my computer and erased the background so all I had in the pictures now was each individual mirror.

Now, using Photoshop,  I could take each mirror and transfer them into a picture of my dining room wall to see how I liked them. I could rearrange them, move them, stack them … anything I wanted to without actually breaking a sweat. Or any laws.

I could also add in the 2 new lamps I got on my first trip to Target.  They were also a bit of an impulse purchase.  Like the mirror.  Ahem.  I’ve kept the wrapping on the shades, so they can still go back.  At least I’m smart in some ways.

I don’t hate the arrangement of different mirrors, but I kind of knew that in real life I’d find it too busy and jumbled.  I might have the thrill of a change we’re all so familiar with, but in a week, or maybe a month I’d realize I didn’t actually like this change at all.   And then I’d be back to hating the wall I had to face every time I walked to the kitchen or bathroom.  And this time there’d be 6 or 7 reflections of stupid me, instead of just one.

So thanks to Photoshop, I eliminated what could have been a whole day’s work.  Poof.  Just like that.

Next up, everyone’s sure fire fix for anything ugly … white paint.   White Photoshop paint.


This I think I’d have an easier time living with. At least until I can find a genuine antique mirror, or collection of shrunken heads to put over the buffet.

Best of all, if I’m careful, I can do the painting without even taking the mirror down. I’ll probably go matte, maybe even a Chalk Paint, to contrast the shine of the white lacquer buffet.

If worse comes to worse and I hate it, I can always put the whole big, dumb thing out on my sidewalk where I’m sure some other adrenaline junkie will squeal at the sheer size and cost ($0) of it. Then … it’ll be their problem.

I give them a week before they’re out buying their own copy of Photoshop.


  1. Amanda W. says:

    I, too, am guilty of buying some things that were cheap, but big & dumb.
    I like the white paint!

  2. Toronto Boy says:

    Haha! I thought I was the only one who used Photoshop for home design applications! The program was really handy in helping me visualize the best color, design and height of the retaining walls in my backyard. It also came in handy when it came time to doing a mock up of the flowerbed design. Now that everything is finished, I look forward to opening up the blinds and walking into my backyard each morning and looking at what I accomplished. And all thanks to Photoshop! Admittedly even though I found Photoshop quite useful, the program is not very intuitive for the novice user. I often find myself scratching my head as to how to perform the necessary adjustments or utilize certain tools and functions. Through trial and error I’ve managed to resolve some of the questions I had. And thanks to the internetzzzzzz I found a number of instructional videos on Youtube! Come to think of it … rather than thanking Photoshop maybe I should be thanking Youtube? =P

  3. Rachel says:

    I like the idea of painting the frame but I think you should consider a bold, unexpected color!

    And the photoshop idea is fab – thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Rachel – I love the idea of a bold colour … in someone else’s house, LOL. It’d be great, but wouldn’t work in my room I don’t think. I’ve had my life with a colourful house … now I just want it clean and calm. As calm as it can be with 4 chickens screaming outside the dining room window. ~ karen!

  4. Natika33 says:

    ha! I used a combination of paint and photoshop once to convince my parents that redoing their bathroom in dark navy blue would not be a bad thing. (Although, I think I was maybe aided by the fact that they’d already tried two other colours first which were total disasters).

    I actually like the mirror as it is though. Maybe it looks better in photos than real life?

  5. ulli says:

    I really like the mirror *shame on me?*
    Have tot admit that the white frame is a better fit in your room. I’m surprised you didn’t tear the whole thing apart in order to make a brand new frame with some – let’s say – thrift wood or other more natural looking stuff…
    enjoy the painting job! ;o)

  6. Kat says:

    The white in a chalk paint would be good in my opinion. I grabbed your photo and did some editing on my own and tried to pull a creamy almost buttery color out of Magaret’s dress and it didn’t look bad but looking at the 2 side by side the white definitely looked better because of the contemporary look of the buffet. I used gimp it is a free editing program and just a bit more simple to use than photoshop.

  7. mia pratt says:

    Im a big fan of paint. I paint everything. Cuz for 10 years I owned an artist guild in Scottsdale and that’s what we did every day. Faux, gild, gloss, plaster, wash, glaze, marble…but NEVER sponge! The coolest stuff in the world is Minwax stain-and-clearcoat in one. You can pour it like maple syrup or molasses (depending on the color) over something metallic or raw wood like a mirror frame you hate, and then brush off the excess and it becomes this new, antiqued-and-deeply-lustrous thing. I used it on my old Costco Mirror (mass hallucination or temporary insanity resulting in mass bad taste?) to darken and obscure the gold until it almost looked like tortoise shell, and then I brushed a mixture of ivory artist’s oils and minwax clear polyurethane over it and rubbed off the peaks leaving a bit of creamy ivory in the cracks. And after all that, it didn’t hold a candle-in-a-globe to your white one, which looks fand-tabulotrious. Non-mass good taste, with still a hint of hysteria lingering around the edges<:} Beautiful job!

  8. Elsie Harrington says:

    Great post!Love the “hate the ingrown hairs,” or is it heirs, to go with “war and inequality?” Chalk white will freshen that behemoth and (any visiting reflections) right up!

  9. RosieW says:

    Think that if painting it you’ll want to remove the mirror from frame so you can also paint the inner surface (backside). Otherwise you’ll get a reflected gold edge. Whatcha think?

    • Emily says:

      It might not, she could test an area and see… I just painted my gold ornate framed bathroom cabinet mirrors and there is no gold reflection.

  10. Carol says:

    Did you try black….would balance the black in the portrait and bits of black in the brick. ~ C

    • Karen says:

      I did not try black Carol. I’ll give it a Photoshop go. I normally try to have something black on the buffet for that very reason. Thx. ~ karen!

    • christine says:

      I see a red door and I want to paint it….

    • stephbo93 says:

      I was thinking black too. Or maybe silver. But looking at the brick again, I think the black would be very nice. The photoshop idea is brilliant!!

  11. Suanne says:

    Kar-en 🙂 You are such a clever little photo-bug…
    coordinating your shoes with Margaret’s frame in your “Gazing at Margaret” pic….lovely!
    Hey….aren’t we ready for another Dollarama week? That was soooo fun!

    • Karen says:

      Suanne – I have a rather HUGE Dollarama project lined up actually. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Toronto Boy says:

        I just spotted this post! Huge Dollarama project? HURRAY! I’m sorry everyone but I cannot hide my enthusiasm!

        Hey look my feet are 30 feet off the ground and I can see the birds sitting on top of the roof of my house! :))

  12. Langela says:

    While reading your entire post, I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t she just paint it white?” I didn’t even need photoshop. 🙂

  13. michaele says:

    I think you should paint it in a fun color and then place it in the chicken coop. You definitely have some feathered divas who deserve to see themselves in the process of their primping and fluffing!

  14. LOVE this idea. why didn’t i think of that. great way for testing a gallery wall. i don’t think the mirror is that bad. though I do think it needs some ‘aging’ on the gold be it dark wax or what have you. and i kind of like the small mirrors but the wrapped shades have to go. entirely. black shades might do the trick.

  15. Pate says:

    Wow, the allergy meds have finally kicked in….check out the cute green chicken in the mirror gazing back over her tail ….who knew chickens were so pensive?
    Sometimes I see the funniest things…….. I sure miss the 60s.
    :-). P

  16. Mary Werner says:

    I like the white.

  17. Thera says:

    I have been thinking of doing some stuff with Chalk paint, what brand do you use and where do you get it? (I am also in Ontario)

    • Karen says:

      HI Thera – I haven’t used chalk paint before actually! I had planned to use it on an occasional chair but haven’t around to it. I’ll use the original … Annie Sloan if I can find it. I imagine some independent paint stores carry it. ~ karen!

    • Emily says:

      I made my own with Paster of Paris and water. There are several recipes online, Google or Pinterest.

  18. DFW says:

    I first thought you had some cool kind of chicken on the table in front of the mirror. I then realized it was a reflection of your head in the background & a plant of some sort on the table that is positioned so it looks like a chicken.

    Good luck on the mirror.

  19. Angela says:

    Call me weird but I like the mirror just as it is.

  20. says:

    I know exactly what you mean about having lived the colorful life and wanting clean and calm. The older I get the fewer “things” I need surrounding me. It just feels good to be spare.
    What did you decide about the Target lamps? Not that you asked, but my vote is “eh”.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah the Target lamps are going back. 🙁 I like them but they just aren’t working anywhere. ~ karen!

  21. Sandy says:

    Brilliant idea. Thanks.

  22. Laura Bee says:

    Big, cheap & stupid. Awww, you made me think of one of my old boyfriends.

  23. Cindy@ DesignLove says:

    When I shop and like an object but not the color, I always ask myself, if it would look better painted white. If yes, then I buy it, if not, stays there!


  24. My daughter uses Photoshop for shopping – when shopping for her class ring, we took pictures of different rings, then a picture of her hand, and then plopped the different rings on her hand to see how they’d look…don’t you just love technology – sometimes 🙂

  25. Cathy says:

    Opinions are like fannies: everyone’s got one.
    Here’s mine; the white isn’t trippin’ my trigger. Chalk paint sounds promising. Have you tried turning the mirror to portrait mode, adding some basement finds on the side? I have a behemoth un framed, a la 1940s, over my FP that needs to go or be dealt with. First, I think I’ll look at some YT vids to figure out photoshop.
    Shout “hey!” to chickens for me.

  26. Pat says:

    I like the white option. The mirror already has lots of interest with the texture.

  27. Dagmar says:

    No opinion on the mirror, as everyone’s taste is so different. But thank you so much for introducing me to chalk paint by Annie Sloan. I was so curious as to what all of you we’re discussing, that I checked it out…amazing…and so much more.

  28. Marianne P. says:

    Your writing cracks me up!

  29. Julie H says:

    I like the mirror MUCH better white.

  30. Thera says:

    Hmmm did some research, Annie Sloan is only available in Bath (near Kingston) and Bracebridge.
    Next research, how to make your own chalk paint!

  31. cc says:

    I love the white, but I too think you should try something bold just on that and a few accent pieces….
    I am voting for a pop of TANGERINE FOR YOU, my dear I see it I do..

  32. Chris says:

    Hi Karen, I keep meaning to send you this link because I think of you when I see their stuff…it changes all the time and gives great inspiration for projects around the house. Like your hated mirror.

    You are right of course about the flat white but I remember this thing I saw on someone’s blog about spraying the back of a mirror with oven cleaner. Just a little in spots where the backing may have worn off and then do a light mist all over. The blogger was spoofing on a Anthropology piece. After washing off the oven cleaner, you can spray paint black, gold, silver – whatever colour or as in this case the blogger applied a floral fabric to the exposed back of the mirror and frame and the over-all effect was very interesting. I mention this because the effect could be very interesting in your case…like it would soften the overall um “shine-shness” of the um, (clearing of throat) cheap effect of your big mirror. Then you could have an antiqued quality to the mirror itself. In your case a mist of silver, brass and black to evoke a faded mercury effect? Or instead of obscuring the entire view with paint, go lightly and apply some beautiful scrap paper pages that show an old map, writing, etc oooh maybe something french?

    Anyways here’s the link!

  33. Rose says:

    Hi, I like the mirror, the size is great, but tortoise shell or black would look cool.

  34. Suzanne says:

    Wait. What? Centipede spray???? I need deets.

  35. Patti says:

    Okay, Karen. First off – love it in white. I really do. I think it’s groovy.

    Secondly – if you really hate it, you could always do what I did in my kitchen – pop the mirror out and insert a chalkboard. Then you could always be fancy. For the rest of your life.

    If, for some reason, you DO decide to curb it – please let me know – perhaps you could curb it at a gas station or something so I could come pick it up without being a stalker! I need another chalkboard to use at people’s weddings 🙂

  36. Call Me Patty says:

    I vote for black. You need something to ground all the light colours. Otherwise everything will appear to “float”. Yep, I vote for black.

  37. Stephanie says:

    Thanks also to those 3M removable hooks, you could put your mirrors up “in real life” to see what you think for a few days without creating 10 new holes in your wall. But, as I did with my stairway, what about mixing in some old photo frames and taking some of your favourite pics to black and white and mixing them in and taking a couple of the mirrors away … I also added in some framed art my kids did (older kids = nicer art) along with an old large brass key hanging on a red satin ribbon. That red ribbon is the only pop of colour and I get compliments on the wall all the time (mainly I think because it’s not just a bunch of pics of my kids). Sorry girls.

  38. Jebberjay says:

    I too made the leap to black. Oui? Non? I think it has potential as a potential change.

  39. kate-v says:

    well, I actually like the mirror. But how about your change the frame color to something similar to the frame around “Margaret” and your shoes in that photo (BTW – do you pick your shoes to make your home decor?) you could even take your shoes to the paint store to match: don’t know what that color is called – maybe a mat brass? anyway, like Cathy (above) said, turn the mirror to portrait mode and then…hang another frame (frame, only) on the mirror – just to break up the ‘biggness’. or maybe hang a few frames, or glue or paint on a grid of sorts. Maybe even a Mondrian-type grid that would compliment the bricks it reflects. I don’t have photo-shop so I can only imagine what is would be like. Have fun – we all know you will. I am now not only waiting to see your new floors, but your new dining room wall treatment

  40. Nancy Blue Moon says:


  41. Stephanie says:

    I am guilty of ugly, cheap table lamps from Walmart when they were needed in a hurry, budget was squeaking, and Target had not yet come to town. They are horrible and I hate them. Someday I will get/make new shades. In the meantime, spray paint was acquired months ago, although not yet applied. Your virtual mirror makeover has inspired me to move lamp-base-painting to a higher position on the summer projects list.

  42. Debbie says:

    The lights in the picture you don’t like? I will check our Target, but if they don’t have, want to sell to me? Thank you …………….

  43. Barbie says:

    It definitely looks better in white. I’d do that until you could figure out something else.

  44. Margaret says:

    If you chalk paint, why not try making your own? That seems like a Karen thing to do.

    Also, I want to look like Margaret when I grow up.


  45. Laura says:

    Love the original mirror, hate the new lamps. When I compare the frame with Margaret’s I wonder if it is just a bit narrow for you. Wild idea: paint or put something around the frame to give it some more weight?

  46. Elizabeth says:

    Like, you need yet another opinion, right?
    First of all, I’m grateful to be in the company of others who buy cheap, big, ugly things. I also have sworn off ugly neutral, no-personality things because they would ‘go with everything and anything’.. WRONG!!!! Anything that makes you say that should stay at the store, because you will hate it within the hour.
    Anyway–yes, mirror looks better in white, but it’s still a big, huge, rectangle sitting on top of another white rectangle. Repurposing it (like the chicken coop idea, how cool!) or possibly having it cut into a different shape….Something to make it not a big, rectangular, improved, white-framed mirror.

  47. Janet says:

    My vote? The white chalk paint idea.

  48. Jenn says:

    Chalk paint! It’ll be awesome.

  49. Marti says:


  50. Charlotte says:

    Or you could use the mirror as a frame. Take a nice photo to s decal shop, get them to print it on vinyl. Carefully apply it to the mirror and viola a new large picture!

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