Introduction: Adding Depth (and Swagger) to IKEA's Otherwise Flat Hexagonal Hönefoss Mirrors

IKEA makes some nice and decidedly not plain square mirrors named "Hönefoss." They're hexagonal in shape and come in a box of 10 for $15 (5 each of two different hues of brown). You can read all about them on IKEA's site:

The mirrors look pretty great on their own, but simply sticking a bunch of mirrors on the wall felt a little bit more appropriate to a dorm room than a home -- so I devised a plan to add a little 'punch' and 'pop' to the mirrors by raising them off the flat wall in two levels of depth.

Here's a quick overview of the project:

  1. Buy mirrors.
  2. Buy two thicknesses of MDF.
  3. Cut down to hexagonal shapes.
  4. Paint & sand.
  5. Affix to wall.
  6. Apply mirrors.

Tools & Materials used:

  • One 1/2" Ultralight MDF Panel
  • One 1" Ultralight MDF Panel
  • Miter Saw
  • Nail gun with 1" and 2.5" finishing nails
  • Palm Sander with 160-200 grit sandpaper
  • Spray Paint/Primer
  • Standard Paint + paintbrush

Let's get started...

Step 1: Acquire MDF Panels and Cut to Size

For this project, I determined that I wanted two varying depths of wood: 1/2" and 1". Naturally, MDF is a great option for this use and panels are available in those depths. Specifically, I chose "Ultralight" MDF since it is about 1/2 the weight of regular MDF (which can be quite heavy). If you're not familiar with MDF, you can learn more about it on Wikipedia.

  • I measured the mirrors at 7 1/8" and had my wood supplier mill the panels down to several strips of 7 1/8" each. One of the benefits of MDF is that it remains quite smooth after cutting. Depending on how much you wish to sand/prep the cut pieces, you may wish to have the MDF cut to strips slightly larger than the final mirrors (and then sand down to the exact size).
  • Then, it was just a matter of using one of the mirrors as a template and drawing out hexagons across the cut strips of MDF -- leaving an inch or two between each hexagon to ensure that I had room to make the cuts. (Of course, depending on how handy you are with a miter saw, you could definitely align the drawn out hexagons for more efficient use of the wood -- but keep in mind that you may wish to first cut between each hexagon on the miter saw to make it easier to handle during the cutting of angles).
  • One important note here (that I learned later in the process): the IKEA mirrors are NOT perfect hexagons. The sides have some slight variations to them that can cause some issues when attempting to align the mirrors with the cut MDF hexagons.
    • To combat this issue: be sure to mark each hexagon in some way to designate what should be the top edge so that you can maintain alignment of the pieces as you move them about). I put a little "up arrow" in pencil at what I was considering the top of each piece.
  • To saw the hexagons on the miter saw, I first cut between each drawn out shape; essentially "squaring" the MDF around the shape so that it would be easier to work with on the miter saw.
  • For the angles, I set the miter saw to a 30 degree cut (following the drawn lines, too, of course). If you want to double-check the reason for the 30 degree cut, this is the process for determining a miter:
    • Starting with 360 degrees (the degrees of a complete circle), then divide by the number of sides in your object. From that, you'll get the degree of the object's angles. Divide by 2 to get the miter. you'll get your angles, divide by 2 to get the miter.

    • Thus: 360 divided by 6 (the number of sides in a hexagon) = 60. Divide 60 by 2 (to get the miter) = 30.

Step 2: Experiment With Layouts

Once all of the pieces are cut; you can play with various layouts.

Since I was arranging these on the floor, I cut & taped paper to match the area of the space on the wall for which I was designing -- that way I could better envision the final layout without battling the effects of gravity.

After you finalize your layout, be sure to mark all of the pieces so that you can recreate the layout after painting & sanding. In my case, I went with a "number & letter" combination (marking groups with "8A," "8B," "8C," etc. to ensure that the groups & order was maintained. The orientation of your marks will also help ensure that you are keeping the hexagons aligned after painting.

  • It's best to make your marks in the center of each piece, since you'll be painting around the edges.

Step 3: Sand & Paint & Sand & Paint

Keeping the groupings of hexagons together, I moved them to a space that I could apply paint.

  • I started with a spray primer in a dark hue; then sanded down the edges (there's not really a "grain" with MDF; but the surface texture did seem to increase after initial painting).
  • I then used standard wall paint and a simple foam disposable brush to paint all of the exposed edges.
    • NOTE: you only have to paint & sand the edges that will be seen -- edges that completely cover one-another do not need painting or sanding since they'll be hidden once the hexagons are hung.
  • In my case, I decided on a last minute color change, so the final layers of paint were applied with spray paint (in the event that you were wondering why there is so much overspray when I stated that I used standard wall paint... but I feel like I'm supplying too many details now).

Step 4: Hang the Hexagons & Install the Mirrors

After painting/sanding, the final steps of hanging the hexagons and mirrors went pretty quickly -- thanks entirely to the NAIL GUN.

Depending on your wall material, you'll have to sort out the best method for hanging the hexagons. But, for me, the nail gun was my everything. I used finishing nails that were 1"-1.5" longer than the depth of the MDF (switching nail lengths for the two thicknesses of MDF) and it resulted in what seems like a nicely secure application on the wall.

Some enterprising types might wish to affix the hexagon groups together and then hang them as single pieces; but my experiments with that approach did not result in what I felt were secure bonds between the hexagons, so I went with the individual approach.

As I hung each hexagon, I'd affix the accompanying mirror (using the foam tape squares included with the mirrors). As I noted earlier, the hexagons are not perfect so it takes a little manual adjustment and spacing while you're hanging the mirrors. Unless you have immense patience and/or OCD, you shouldn't be going for perfect alignment here -- but aligning each MDF/mirror pair as you hang will help you get close.

That's it. Project done. I've probably written far too many words on this matter now. But, for anyone interested, I hope that it's been helpful.

Happy hexagoning!