some gold leaf and glue

when we moved into our current house 2 years ago, i was so excited about the judge's paneling on the family room walls. that is to say until i started to decorate the room. they are much harder to work around than you might think. the room was really dark and the natural wood paneling was even darker. step 1 was a coat of glidden antique white paint (my go to color for everything!). step 2, paint the insets. the top is a light tan as you can see through the mirror and the bottom, which you can't see is a medium tan. step 3 was to create this frame. above the fireplace was an inset the exact width of the mantel. i had a piece of mirror cut to the width of the panel, minus 4 inches on all sides. then i bought some trim pieces from the hardware store and nailed them to the wall. this "trim frame" is what holds the mirror in place.
then on to the fun part. i took a hot glue gun and free handed a rough leaf/branch motif onto the middle part. then i painted the entire faux frame a dark red, then gold leafed it all. as one final touch, i took some leftover wood stain and rubbed it into all the crevices to dial back the shine of the gold lead.
the result looks like it is a custom made frame hung into place. i get asked a lot how i came up with this idea. and the truth is i went through about 10 different layers of trying things out. nothing is right from the start, you just have to work with something until you get what you like.

i especially love how the wall frame matches a piece of artwork my brother painted for me as a college graduation present. this was a total coincidence!