DIY Shell Mirror for Coastal Decor

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It’s June, it’s hot, and the skies are gorgeous today! I’ve got the beach on my mind, so let’s make a DIY shell mirror for coastal decor.

Keep the memories from your beach family vacations alive by creating your own seashell mirror using shells you collected on your beach visits.

The mirror will be perfect for decorating your home in the summertime for a coastal beachy feel.

For this seashell mirror project, you can use beach finds from your shoreline walks, such as, small shells, pieces of sea shells, sea glass, or pieces of driftwood.

You can even use oyster shells, sand dollars or starfish to adorn a mirror that has a larger width frame size.

Follow my step-by-step instructions, along with lots of photos, and get started on your coastal style mirror!

DIY SHELL MIRROR FOR COASTAL DECOR

completed diy shell mirror makeover for coastal decor

DIY projects like this one proves you can take an tired, outdated, cheap mirror from a thrift store and make “trash to treasure.” That’s the theme for this month’s Sustainable Craft Hop that I’m participating in. You can view more “treasures” from my blogging friends at the end of my post. Don’t miss out!

"before" the shell mirror makeover

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SUPPLIES NEEDED:

  • thrift store framed mirror
    • needs to have a flat surface
  • shells
  • stone granules
  • acrylic craft paints
  • chalk paint
  • Mod Podge
  • artist paint brushes – variety of sizes
  • sponge paint brush
  • E-6000 glue
  • painter’s tape
  • ruler
  • sandpaper

I purchased my bag of shells and stone granules at Walmart.

supplies needed to make the diy shell mirror project

Even though I had a vision for my beach-themed mirror, I like to do a quick sketch on paper for my DIY projects just to see if my vision will work out or what I may want to change.

In the end, I extended the painted design to the outer edges instead of making the outside and inset solid brown. I also left off the flying seagull.

HOW TO MAKE A SHELL MIRROR

STEP 1 – PREP THE MIRROR FRAME

Sand the mirror frame to make the surface a little rougher for the paint to adhere better.

I used chalk paint which adheres to many surfaces without sanding or priming. Even so, I did have to sand the hand painted flowers off the frame.

Use painter’s tape to cover the mirror edge to prevent a big clean up job of dried paint.

glass mirror taped off with painter's tape

STEP 2 – PAINT A BASE COAT

I always paint a base coat on my thrifted items that I give a makeover. Chalk paint is a good option since it sticks well. I used Cashew by Waverly.

STEP 3 – MEASURE FOR THE DESIGN SECTIONS

Determine where you want your sky, sea, and shell areas to be. I used painter’s tape to get a visual on the spaces between the three sections.

Find the center of the framed mirror. Use a ruler to evenly align the tape on each side.

framed mirror taped off for painting

STEP 4 – BASE COAT SKY AREA / ADD HIGHLIGHTS

Give the top section a base coat and let dry. I used Caribbean by Apple Barrel. Next, dry brush the lighter color(s) to give highlights.

Dry brushing is lightly loading your paint brush with paint, off loading the paint on your palette or a paper towel, and then paint with random back and forth sweeping strokes to create subtle highlights as seen in photo below.

a close-up of the painted sky for the diy shell mirror project

STEP 5 – PAINT THE CLOUDS

As you can see in the photo below, painting clouds does not have to look perfect. In fact, it looks like a hot mess until the highlights are added.

Dry brush the cloud color in a swirling and smudging manner. I used Cloudless by Apple Barrel.

first step for painting a cloud on the sky section

Add the cloud highlights by dry brushing white paint in random half swirls in a quick sweeping manner.

painted highlights added to the cloud for the coastal decor mirror makeover

STEP 6 – PAINT THE SEA SECTION

Once the cloud is totally dry, switch the painter’s tape to above the sea section / on top of the sky section. Make sure the the tape is tightly sealed down at the bottom to prevent paint bleed.

Just like the instructions for the sky, you’ll be painting a base coat and then dry brushing with two lighter colors and blending to add highlights. I used Laguna, Sea Green by Apple Barrel, and a mixture of White and Sea Green.

This doesn’t need to look perfect just keep blending until you like what you see.

FYI – The bottom piece of tape at the beginning of the sand area is just to be a reference point of where the sand will start. By mistake, I ended up painting a crisp line there. Don’t do that. You can still see the crisp line through the paint even though I sanded.

the sea section is taped off to begin painting

You can look at my paint palette to get a visual on how I mix my colors when I need lighter color shades. Add white to lighten up darker shades of any color.

paint palette example for the diy shell mirror project

STEP 7 – PAINT THE SAND AREA

Paint a base coat for the sand section. I didn’t make a heavy coat or a second coat so that the the chalk paint color would show through a bit. I used Warm Caramel by Apple Barrel.

Randomly dry brush in back and forth sweeping motions with the lighter shade to make highlights. I used Warm Buff and Snow White by Apple Barrel.

close-up of the sand section painted with highlights

STEP 8 – PAINT THE WAVES

There is no perfection needed to make the waves. Even the depth perception and scale of the sea and waves are way off so there’s definitely no perfection in this section!

You’re basically just making a “suggestion” of waves rolling in over the sand.

Let a bit of the sand color peep through the waves. Smudge and swoop some light turquoise half swirls at the top of the waves, working down to just some random, less heavy, smudged swirls.

To “suggest” some sea foam, add in some white half swirls along with just a tad of the lighter turquoise on your brush as well.

I used Laguna, Sea Green, and Snow White by Apple Barrel.

rolling waves painted for the diy coastal mirror

STEP 9 – APPLY THE SAND

Randomly blob on Mod Podge where you want the stone granules (sand) to be seen.

example of adding mod podge to the mirror frame

Sprinkle the stone granules (sand) on top and press it down with your fingers. Let dry completely and then tap and shake the loose sand off.

Using a paint or sponge brush, apply Mod Podge on top of those sand areas completely covering them.

Below, you can see the left side portion where I have added the glue. Mod Podge goes on white and dries clear.

FYI – The stone granules and Mod Podge steps are very, very messy. Plan accordingly!

adding stone granules and mod podge on the sand section

STEP 10 – ADD THE SHELLS

Place all the shells before glueing so you can play around with where they look best. Then you can pick up each one and glue it down.

The best glue to use is a sturdy one like E-6000 to add your seashells, preferably with a precision tip. Follow the package instructions for the cure time.

FYI – Using a hot glue gun won’t cut it as the shells will more than likely pop off eventually.

Once the glue has completely cured, you’re ready to remove the tape, clean the glass, and proudly hang your coastal decor.

I hope my coastal decor project inspired you to make your own seashell mirror! What kind of shells do you plan to use?

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THESE BEACH SEASHELL CRAFTS:

HOW TO PAINT A WOOD BEACH SIGN

DIY SEASHELL BASKET CRAFT

"Pin for Later" graphic
pinterest graphic for a DIY coastal mirror

VISIT THE LINKS BELOW TO SEE FOR MORE “TRASH TO TREASURES” FROM 7 CREATIVE BLOGGERS!

graphic for the craft challenge blog hop group

Sum of their Stories — Upcycled Strawberry Vase

Purple Hues and Me — Plastic Soda Bottle Floral Candleholder

Our Good Life — Recycled Altoid Tin for the Perfect Fathers Day GIft

Decor Craft Design — DIY Raised Pot for Summer Decor

Christine’s Crafts — Create a Cute Basket from an Aerosol Lid

Mimi – A Great Name for Grandma — DIY Upcycled Yard Skeleton

A Rose Tinted World — How To Make A Crumb Quilt / Scrappy Quilt Block

Sharing my DIY shell mirror for coastal decor at these fabulous blogs!

author of the southern sunflowers blog
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allyson

Allyson is the founder and content creator of Southern Sunflowers, which shares tutorials for DIY crafts and decor on a budget.

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7 thoughts on “DIY Shell Mirror for Coastal Decor”

  1. I love collecting seashells and I have so many I was trying to think of something to do with them all. I do love this idea! Your painting is so good, it really makes the whole mirror popl

  2. Your DIY shell mirror for coastal decor turned out fantastic! The detailed tips are so helpful in creating this work of art! What a great way to transform a cheap mirror into something much more beautiful!

  3. Your shell mirror is gorgeous, Allyson! It looks just like a pretty coastal scene! You did a fabulous job in painting the mirror frame adding all the highlights of a sea coast, like the clouds, sea and sand! Great project!

  4. This is so pretty and summery! Here in the UK we are having awful, cold weather for June so this is just perfect to lift those grey skies. So achievable too!

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