The listing on Craigslist appears to be too good to be true. I was in the market for a pair of mirrors to hang above my guest bathroom’s double vanity, which I’m remodeling. Since large mirrors with ornate frames can be pricey, and because remodeling my kitchen tapped into my savings account like a giant tapeworm, I wanted a bargain.
I searched on Craigslist. bubble! There it was: “Two identical silver mirrors $150,” the listing stated. They are the perfect size to fit between a backsplash and a light fixture. (What are the chances?) Their condition was “like new,” and they were only nine miles away. I exchanged some emails and texts with the seller who agreed to accept $125 for the pair. I jumped into my car.
Although going into a stranger’s home can be a little scary, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve put myself in harm’s way for the sake of a home design deal. The two salesmen, a man and a woman, agreed to meet me in their garage. As soon as I arrived, the woman got a call and snuck inside the house.
The mirrors were in two separate boxes with foam corner protectors, which meant they were handled with care. The man, who I believe is in his late 60’s, apologized and said he had not been able to lift the boxes because he had just had hernia surgery.
No problem, I assured him. We slipped part of his trunk. looks good. I asked if there were any inclusions, defects or chips. no. He asked me, almost hesitantly, if I wanted to see the other one. No need, like I said, I don’t want him to pop a stitch or anything. I mean, what do I do? I handed over the cash, loaded the mirrors myself into my car, and drove off.
When I got home, elated at my applause, I pulled out the mirrors to show my husband my economy class. That’s when I saw the fourth side that never came out of the box. While three sides of both mirrors were in good condition, the silver on the fourth side of each mirror, presumably the edges nearest their respective sinks, was riddled with black spots and spots. Did these people wash their faces with hydrochloric acid?
“I was framed!” I cried to DC.
“Didn’t you notice this?” He said.
I said, “But the menu said, ‘Like new!'” Mind you, I’m a trained journalist. I learned that if your mom told you she loved you to check it out, why would you take that guy’s word for it? That was on me.
“Didn’t you look at them?” DC asked.
“Yeah. Well, no. I mean, I trusted him. He just had hernia surgery.”
It’s amazing what we don’t see when we don’t want to see it.
I considered returning it to the seller, who may have fled the country by now. But then my inner DIYer kicked in. I looked closely to see if I could salvage the tires. Unfortunately, they were not made of wood, which makes them easy to repair. Finished with plastic to look like painted wood. How difficult could this be? I asked myself. Will I ever learn?
At the local craft store, I picked up two small bottles of silver-tone acrylic paint to clear up the marks. I quickly made the problem much worse, by adding a whole new set of patches.
Then, I called my animator, who for some reason didn’t block my phone number.
“JW! I need your help!” It was the weekend, and Jerry White, owner of JW Painting in Orlando, was heading to the beach with friends. He must have heard the desperation in my voice, as he patiently talked me through the steps to rehabilitating a speckled tire, starting with “You can do it.”
This is what I did with his training:
- Step 1. Tape the mirror around the edge of the frame with non-aggressive painter’s tape. Cover the rest of the mirror with newspaper. (Not the vertical section.)
- The second step. Using fine steel wool, or very fine (220) sandpaper, go over the surface. Rough or “profile it,” White said, but don’t scratch it.
- Step 3. Wipe the frame down with a damp cloth and mild detergent to remove any debris, dust or dirt.
- Step Four: Lay the mirrors flat in a well-ventilated area, such as a garage with the door open, on top of a protective material like a tarp or more newspaper.
- Step 5. Buy the spray paint the color you want. Check the label of your paint can to make sure it works on the surface you’re painting, plastic in my case.
- Step 6. Shake the can longer than you think you need and spray a very light coat of paint over the tires. Don’t try to get full coverage in one go.
- Step 7. Let it dry completely, for an hour, then apply a second light coat. Repeat until you get the coverage you want.
- Step Eight: If you see spots appearing after double coats (yes), sand that area again and start the process over.
- Step 9. Let it dry overnight. Touch as needed, then hang them up.
Amazingly, the mirrors looked better than new. And they were a bargain!
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, incl What do you do with everything you own to leave the legacy you want?And the Downsizing the family home – what to save and what to leaveAnd the Compact home downsizing – when two families become one. You can access it at www.marnijameson.com.