before & after: ruler wall mirror

Old-school wooden rulers like these really take me back. I remember grabbing one from the big jar on my art teacher’s desk in fourth grade; it was always fun to get a new one and see how people had customized it with pen doodles, pencil etchings and various other markings. This is the largest design yet in Karen’s series of mirrors made from rulers, pencils and other everyday objects. I love the grid pattern and the brass hardware detailing, and I’m definitely of the mind that bigger is better! This is a wonderful adaptation of a simple material and a great way to admire these rulers as an adult. Thanks for sharing, Karen! — Kate

Time: One day

Cost: $350: mirror was recycled; the rulers, $85; nuts and screws, $95; and frame, $170

Basic Steps: I started with the actual mirror, which I had sitting in my basement  — a mirror that we took down when renovating our bathroom. It was a big, plain mirror that had those “Hollywood lights” above it (big box builder stuff). It was a big mirror, so whatever I made with it I knew was going to be big.

The Frame: The width of the frame was determined by the size of the 12″ rulers. The inside edge of the frame was routered so that the mirror could be dropped in. The frame was the most expensive part of the project. It was built with a “built-in wedge” (that later screwed into the 2 x 4s in the wall) for easy hanging. In the end, the piece weighed 110 lbs., so easy hanging was important. After the rulers were laid out, I decided where the screws and nuts would go.
My advice would be to always have a plan. Lay everything out before gluing and screwing anything down. I make a sample board before starting any project. They save hours and hours of time! — Karen

  1. Sandra says:

    This looks amazing!

  2. Jessica Lamb says:

    that is just stunning!

  3. Stephanie says:

    This is insane! Love it.

  4. Sing says:

    Super cool and clever.

  5. Sue o'brien says:

    That is so awesome. I will be borrowing this idea! :)

  6. Meg says:

    I love this!

  7. Kate says:

    I adore this! It measures up to even the highest of standards! heh heh…

  8. marni says:

    this is SO fabulous!!! …as well as the other mirrors in her school house series.

  9. Ruby L says:

    Great idea. I absolutely love it!

  10. shelley says:

    Too awesome for words.

  11. Gorgeous. So in love with this idea! Fabulous.

  12. Teresa says:

    Am speechless! Karen, you are made of awesome!

  13. Karen J says:

    Thanks for sharing it Kate!

  14. I can honestly say that this is the most incredible DIY decor item I have EVER seen! Ever. Incredible. Did I say that already?

  15. Margaret Pereira says:

    Very very cool!!

  16. Kristan says:

    I absolutely adore this! What an unconventional, stunning piece.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Totally Style Crush!

  18. this is amazing! I don’t know how you came up with this- such a unique framing solution :D

  19. Susan says:

    $350 is kind of a lot for a mirror but this looks like a thousand dollar one! Awesome and so creative. Great way to recycle. I love the sleek white table under it, too.

    (and thanks, Grace, for the tip on comments…I missed that change!)

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      no worries, if you missed anything else you might want to run through the “welcome to the new d*s video”- it explains any and all structural changes to the site in easy video form :)


  20. Connie says:

    Wow! Being an art teacher with gobs of those things I should integrated them into a fun activity like that. Love the idea. I love the power of a single object repeated or used in abundance to create a whole new effect. Love it!

  21. Courtney said “that RULES” and I couldn’t agree more! tOOk the words right out of my mouth! :-) Nice work.

  22. Peggy Rodriguez says:

    I love this..

  23. magda says:

    nice design

  24. Such a creative idea and a really great design.

  25. Deanne T says:

    I. LOVE. IT. But I totally disagree with the person that likes the table in front of it. You need an awesome oversize, tall, skinny vase with something in it to be sitting on the floor in front of it. i think the table is in the way of such an awesome piece. Put the table somewhere else…

  26. Alesia says:

    This is amazing

  27. Sarah W says:

    Wow! That’s all I can say.

  28. Hong says:

    Um… this is mind blowing. The most unique, inexpensive mirror ever. Thank you! I’ll do this when I have my first apartment!

  29. kristine monroe says:


  30. theresa connolly says:

    This id fabulous


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