The entrance halls of Victorian-era houses were often decorated with large pier mirrors in front of which homeowners could primp on their way out for the day. My mom—a serial renovator—had a beautiful gilded version that she carted from one old-house project to the next, always propping it proudly against a foyer wall. For my DIY pier mirror, I used the entablature of an old door casing for the top and preprimed pilasters from a lumberyard for the sides and bottom. White paint unifies the old wood with the new. Here's the step-by-step:
Test the fit
Lay a pre-cut mirror on a plywood backer board, and test-fit the frame around it. Use plinth blocks for the bottom joints and a 2x4 at the top on which to steady the entablature.
Build the frame
Next, set the mirror and backer board aside, and join the pilasters to the plinths by driving in 1 ½-inch self-tapping washer head screws on the diagonal along the backs of the wood members. (Use a pocket hole jig—sold at woodworker supply shops—to bore the holes.) Attach the 2x4 top directly to the pilaster's ends in the same manner.
Attach the plywood back
Apply construction adhesive to the back of the frame and attach the plywood backer board.
Secure with screws and nails
Reinforce the glue's bond by driving in 1-inch finish screws at the four corners. Then, tap in a steel tack every five inches or so along the top, sides and bottom.
Affix the entablature
Flip the frame faceup, and use the construction adhesive to affix the decorative entablature to the 2x4 top. Secure the entablature with clamps.
Flip the frame facedown again, and drive 1-inch finish screws through the back of the 2x4 to reinforce the bond between the lumber and entablature.
Paint the frame
Paint the frame with an oil-based enamel to give the piece a lacquerlike finish.
Adhere the mirror to the backer board using a special glue called mirror mastic (sold at hardware stores). Cover mirror edges with bead molding affixed to the inner edges of the frame with construction adhesive.
Stand the mirror
Cover mirror edges with bead molding affixed to the inner edges of the frame with construction adhesive. Stand the mirror in a place of pride and primp away.