Wednesday, June 26, 2013

End Table Makeover

(Otherwise known as the project that took me FOUR MONTHS to finish.)

What happens when you buy a house, decide all furniture you currently have you don't like anymore, but have a shoestring budget and $400 for a coffee table and $250 for EACH side table makes you want to cry a little?

You troll for other people's unwanted used stuff and fancy it up to make it your own.

It's all the rage, friends, all the rage.

You might remember when I mentioned my thrift store shopping spree, in which I picked up this coffee table

and two end tables. Well, they'd probably make better nightstands and I'm sure that's what they were, but I took some design liberties here and threw these bad boys (errrr...girls. They're definitely female furniture pieces) in our living room:

The ladies. Stella and Sandy.

Aren't they pretty? Sure, they were covered in super thick paint layers that didn't cut it in the new house, but the solid bones (dovetail joints, NICE) and faaaaancy delicate hardware made them ideal candidates for the new house. Plus, those legs...I die. So I sent Denny a photo and upon his approval (so trusting, he is) I crammed both pieces into my Chevy Malibu and off we went. Me, Stella, and Sandy. And my mom (thanks, mom!)

The next step was figuring out how I was going to re-do these pieces. Obviously, the paint needed to come off. It was thick and chipped and really not that nice to look at at all.

I have zero experience with removing paint from anything, so I was a little apprehensive. I used this step by step process on how to remove paint (love this blog), hit up Home Depot, and was ready to plan my attack.

My arsenal:

Some heavy duty gloves, Kilz spray primer, Citristrip, sanding pads,
cheap paint brushes, wood putty (which I didn't use), and a couple different types of putty knives
(not pictured: my electric sander and six cans of Rustoleum Heirloom White..
I had two and half cans left when I was done)

And so I removed their hardware got to work. Here they are unsuspecting of their fate:

Fronts of drawers facing the wrong way, GO ME.

I brushed on some Citristrip (with my cheap brushes so I didn't feel guilty about just tossing them in the trash) to each piece and after about 25 minutes I had some bubble-age:

I waited another 40 minutes or so (this stuff says you can leave it on for up to 24 hours, but naptime is only so long and I had to put all of this stuff back into a storage shed). So I grabbed by plastic scraper doodad and gave it a try:

And I continued on my merry way, scraping and scraping and scraping:

See those fabulously beveled edges? Maybe you can't because these photos are awful? Can you say major pain to get paint out of? At this point, my plastic scraper doodad was getting tired, so I whipped out the metal putty knife and finished the job (taking care not to gouge the wood). Kind of.

As you can see, I didn't get it all off on the first try, but I did get most of it off! At this point, Peyton was awake and I had to put everything away, so these tables did get a second coating of Citristrip and another good scraping the next day. 

A few things to note about stripping paint:
  • Test your furniture to make sure that it does not contain lead paint. Lead is no good and causes a TON of problems and shouldn't be sanded or stripped due to releasing gases and other toxic yuck into the air that will MESS YOU UP. You can buy tester kits at Home Depot.
  • It is messy. Be sure to cover your work area, because you will totally have peely, mushy paint everywhere.
  • Wear clothes that you don't mind getting ruined. This seems like a no-brainer, I know. I never learn and think I can do projects in a nice blouse and a pair of jeans and I'll just be extra careful. I got a drip of the Citristrip on my perfectly good, non-project jeans and I swear it was like it was trying to eat a hole right through them. Now my non-project jeans are project jeans because of the big old looks-like-bleach spot on them.
  • Which leads me to my next note: gloves are good. If the Citristrip did a number on my jeans, imagine what it would do to skin? No thanks.
  • And then my next note: Citristrip claims that it can be used indoors. It doesn't smell too bad, pretty nice actually, but I worked on this part of the project outside anyway. I did not wear a mask, HOWEVER, I have read that there are other paint thinners/strippers that are downright potent so PLEASE remember to wear a mask :)
  • Make a day of it. I really thought that maybe, just maybe, I'd have both tables, stripped, sanded, and primed in a few hours time. But when you have a feisty toddler, it's not really likely to happen. Ideally, I could have left the stripper on even longer and saved myself the unnecessary task of applying another coat the next day. This is why this project took me four months; between the time it took to complete each step, mixed with moving, our wedding, and Peyton's birthday, this was a slooooow moving process for me.
Next up was sanding and priming:

I had the best of intentions of protecting my father in law's yard from overspray.
As you can see, that was a BIG FAT FAIL.
I used Kilz spray primer and gave it two coats. And then I gave it a quick sanding because the primer dried and left a gritty finish. After wiping it down to remove all the dust and dirt, it was time to paint!

(Note: I don't have many pictures of the remainder of the process because Denny was Peyton-wrangling while I finished the next steps, so I had no one to help with the photo taking...whomp whomp).

I used Rustoleum Heirloom White in a gloss finish. A few light and even coats later, painting was done. If you want some tips on spray painting furniture, I suggest you check out All Things Thrifty for some excellent pointers. An important thing to remember...light and even coats. If you're too heavy handed you will wind up with a drippy mess that you'll have to sand AGAIN. If you're like me, sanding is not my favorite thing to do.

I let the paint cure for a few days, and then I decided I really wanted to bring out some of the detail that I loved so much about these beauties: the beveled edges on the tops of the tables and the carved insets on each side of the drawers.

So I picked up some Martha Stewart Faux Finishing Glaze at Home Depot, mixed a little bit of that with a little bit of black acrylic craft paint (from Michaels or your favorite craft store), and started glazing. No joke, I had read that it was impossible to mess up, and it is indeed impossible to mess up. Paint can be a scary thing, but you have to just remind yourself that it can be fixed. Just go with it!

A tip on glazing: a little goes a long way. I mixed way too much and was left with a ton of black-tinted glaze and no way to store it, so I wasted a LOT of glaze. You live and you learn.

Glazing is pretty easy: just slather it with a brush onto your piece in the spots you want to add some more detail, making sure to get in the nooks and crannies (English Muffins, anyone? I'm hungry.), and then wipe it off with a damp cloth. Easy peasy!

Once that was done and dried, I added two coats of Minwax Polycrylic to the tops of the tables (remember to sand lightly with a high-grit sandpaper after each coat dries!) and let that cure for three days in our garage (yes, at this point we were in the new house).

And then I was left with this:

Hello, gorgeous. Nice to meet you.
Stella and Sandy are currently flanking each side of our brand spanking new sofa, four months after I first laid eyes on them, and I think they look fab. Sassy and classy at the same time, if you will.

The total cost of this project:
End tables: $65.00 for the pair
Electric sander: already owned
Sanding pads: $10.00
Citristrip: $12.00
Kilz primer: $18.00
Rustoleum Spray Paint in Heirloom White: $23.22 (remember, I bought six cans, but I had almost two and half left for other projects after I finished these two tables and the coffee table)
Two cheap paint brushes: $3.00
Putty knife: $3.50
Wood putty: $3.00 (I didn't need it, but at least now I have it!)
Gloves: $5.00

Total for this project: $142.72
Per table cost: $71.36
Savings (vs. if I had purchased end tables at $250 a pop, YEAH RIGHT): $357.28

What do you think? Ever had a project that felt like it took FOREVER, but totally paid off in the end?

UPDATE: Psssst...feel free to check out my Buffet Makeover once you've seen the end tables :)

Linking up at:
Sugar and DotsCity FarmhouseThe Shady PorchThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of HepworthsThe Crafty Blog StalkerIt Happens in a BlinkKreative CreationzFinding FabulousFrench Country CottageThe Shabby NestMiss Mustard SeedThe Pin JunkieBlissful and DomesticBeneath My Heart


  1. Cute makeover! Lots of work but worth it...great savings! I shared this on G+ today too -
    Glad you shared it at the Rock 'N Share hope to see you again soon. Blessings, D@TheShadyPorch

    1. Thanks for sharing! When I think about how much money we saved by making over old furniture all the time spent TOTALLY seems worth it!! Thanks for hosting a great link-up and I'll be back soon! -Britt

  2. Love it! You did a great job! The curves on those tables are just gorgeous! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

    1. Thank you for your kind words! The legs are what sold me on these pieces :)

  3. They look fantastic! I love to re-do old furniture. I'm one of those who likes a piece to have a story behind it. I just blogged about my first chalk-paint experience and I loved using it! Great post!

    1. These tables were my first re-dos ever and now I'm hooked! My husband thinks I'm crazy because every week I'm gabbing about some Craigslist, thrift store, or yard sale find to make over. I'll have to check out your post on chalk paint...I haven't used it yet, but I can't wait to!

  4. Those tables are lovely... such pretty lines.


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