Coffee Table Makeover

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to find a cheap coffee table on craigslist and fix it up to look exactly like the coffee table I saw a few years back on Grace’s blog. We had a decent coffee table than we paid $100 for on sale at Ikea, so I couldn’t really justify spending much money to buy another one. Our coffee table was just fine–functional at the very least– but I didn’t really love it.

Our old Ikea coffee table.

Our old Ikea coffee table.

So I sold it for $45.

After a few months of intermittently checking craigslist, I finally found the winner. And the price was right, $50. Here’s what the coffee table looked like when I bought it:

{Coffee Table: Before}

{Coffee Table: Before}

The lady who sold it to me said that it had been an oak stain previously and that she had refinished it with an espresso stain. It looks nice in the picture but the stain job on the legs and drawer was really poor. So I thought about just painting the legs/base white and keeping the top unchanged except for one small problem. Trapped water.

Trapped water.

Trapped water. See that white hazy-looking area?

After asking a few questions and reading up on it, I discovered that there really wasn’t any way to get rid of that white spot (actually, there were three spots). According to my research I may have been able to deal with it if it had recently been stained, but the lady who sold it to me told me that it had been in her storage unit for a while (and that’s probably where that trapped water came from since it had been a little damp in there).

I had my heart set on using Minwax’s Dark Walnut stain for the top anyhow. So I headed off to the hardware store and happily bought my sandpaper, Minwax stain, a new paintbrush, another $3 sample of Behr paint and two small cans of Minwax polycrylic which happened to be 75% off and only $2.20 a piece. Altogether, I spent $26, but it would have only been $17 if I had left out the paintbrush and the extra can of polycrylic (which I didn’t need for this project but wanted to buy because it was marked down).

I applied my dust mask, loaded the sandpaper in the orbital sander, and got to work.

Let the sanding begin!

Let the sanding begin!

At this point I was feeling quite a bit less enthusiastic about the whole sanding process (translation: my arms turned into jelly) and thankfully my hubby mostly finished the sanding by himself. (The guy could sand for about 20x longer than me. Never mind that I lug around a 20 pound baby all day every day!)


It’s getting there…



We moved everything into the front yard so as to keep things as quiet as possible while our little guy was sleeping.

We moved everything into the front yard so as to keep things as quiet as possible while our little guy was sleeping. And yes, my husband is wearing a bacon shirt.

In the meantime, I sanded down the drawer of the coffee table and the legs with a very fine grit sandpaper and put a coat of Zinsser primer paint on it. Once that dried, I applied a coat of Ultra Pure White Behr paint on top. But it was just too white, and looked rather harsh. So I went back to the hardware store, stared at all 50 choices of white shades, and came home with another $3 sample can in the shade of Magnolia Blossom.

In the meantime, the coffee table was finally sanded. My hubby said there were just a few more small areas to work on, so I took the sander with a fresh piece of sandpaper and gave it a go. Less than a minute later I hit a patch that looked like this:

Particle board. Can you see it?

Particle board. Can you see it?

I felt like a real dummy to not even check to see if the table had a veneer. But it did. Between the last owner sanding it down, and us sanding it down, it looks like we had just about sanded off all the real wood. I wasn’t sure what this meant and whether it would stain well at all, but there was only one way to find out…

Minwax Dark Walnut stain.

Minwax Dark Walnut stain.

I took the plunge and stained it using an old paintbrush I didn’t like to use for actual ‘painting.’ After I was done, I looked at it carefully. It did look lighter in the “particle wood” patch. So I let it sit for 24 hours to let the stain fully soak in. It was already as dark as I wanted it, so I didn’t apply another coat of the stain.

The next day it looked a little better. There were some shiny spots on the table that I wasn’t sure about. My cousin and her husband were helping me with some of the staining details and they said I might as well ignore it since the entire top would by shiny after applying the top coat anyhow!  So I sealed it. I put on 3 coats of Minwax’s polycrylic on the top, leaving 3 hours for drying time in between each coat. I also finished painting the rest of the table with the Magnolia Blossom white paint and sealed it with 2 coats of polycrylic. Coffee tables can take a beating from small children so I wanted it to be {somewhat} durable!

After a coat of polycrylic.

After the first coat of polycrylic.

Lastly, I hauled the coffee table inside and put it back together. I could not be more pleased with the results! It was exactly what I had been hoping for!

{Coffee Table: After}

{Coffee Table: After}


(I guess this is the epitome of laziness: Too lazy to even remove my running shoes for the picture.)

(I guess this is the epitome of laziness as I didn’t even bother to remove my running shoes for the picture.)

Thanks for checking out my little DIY project!



Filed under DIY

7 responses to “Coffee Table Makeover

  1. oh my goodness! I am in love!! I would love to have one of these! Great job girlie!

  2. You did a great job!! I did one too 😊 check out my posts to see what i did

  3. So nice! The project sounds like a lot of fun! 🙂

  4. Pingback: 10 Months | mercynew

  5. Pingback: DIY Rustic Wooden Sign | mercynew

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