Saturday, June 22, 2013

Coffee Table Before & After

Here is my starting point - a $30 Craigslist coffee table, in all his gingery glory!

This was definitely a well used table - and it had the rings and stains and scuff marks to prove it.  Some were just on the surface and others were deeper ridges and nicks in the wood.

There was only one thing for it - invest in a sander!  (hmmm, he was looking extra orange in this shot.  Lovely!).

I sanded and sanded and sanded.  You can tell how long it took me by the fact the table was in complete sunshine when I started and complete shade by the time I had finished.  It was totally worth it as I was left with a nice smooth clean surface to work with.

I knew I wanted to paint the legs white.  I gave them a rough sanding by hand and then layered on 2 coats of white paint.

Next up was the table top.  I was really torn between painting or staining.  In the end I went for stain.  Mainly because I've never stained anything before and thought, at only $30, this was the piece to experiment on.  And also because I wanted a more muted/subtle finish.

Now for how to tackle the staining process.  I could have gone with an allover dark finish - but where's the fun in that!  Since I had decided on stain, I thought I might as well go all out and try something different.  I considered a chevron pattern, but the idea of trying to tape all those zigzags really didn't appeal.  In the end I came up with a Union Jack.  The table had the perfect dimensions (44" x 26"), and being from the UK I figured I should own at least 1 Union Jack based piece of furniture!

A quick stop a Lowes and I had picked up 2 tins of Minwax Wood Finish (Golden Pecan and Dark Walnut), a roll of painters tape and some foam brushes.

I started by applying an allover coat of the lighter pecan colour - this would represent the white in the flag.  I used a foam brush to apply the stain and rubbed any excess off with an old rag.

Next up was taping off the white areas to build up the darker colours that would represent the red and blue.  I used 1" painters tape.  There was a lot more measuring involved than I had bargained for (the chevron wasn't looking like such a bad option at this point!), but I wanted to make sure it was as to scale as possible and not off center or wonky.  For anyone interested, I used a 1" outline round the larger middle cross, and 1.5" and 0.5" on the smaller diagonal cross.  The large cross is 6" wide (including tape) and the diagonal cross is 3" wide (including tape).

I Googled to see how the painters tape would hold up with stain instead of paint, but I couldn't really find any info on leakage/bleeding/tips etc  In the end, I just went for it.  For this stage I used Minwax Dark Walnut.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little alarmed when I began to sponge on the wax.  It was much runnier than I thought it was going to be and looked like oil, and I felt certain it was seeping right under the tape.  I powered on regardless, following the directions on the tin.  I didn't let it sit for very long as I was paranoid it was going to be a blotchy mess.

But unbelievably, after wiping away all the excess, I peeled of the tape to reveal crisp clean lines.  There were a couple of spots where I hadn't sealed the edges properly (mainly around the outside lip of the table) where the wax had gathered, but with a bit of elbow grease it was easy to blend in.

Next up was the second layer of Walnut to make the blue area of the flag a little darker than the red.  This was much easier than the initial taping as all of the measuring was done.  I simply ran the painters tape around the existing triangles, trying to stick to the lines as I went.

I was a little more confident this time around when applying the stain.

Between each stage I allowed the stain to dry for 24 hours, and I sealed it all with 2 coats of Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane.  The new knob was a $2 Hobby Lobby find.

I'm so pleased (and surprised!) with how well it turned out.

Now for a good old before and after shot.  No more ginger coffee table for me!

More pics to come when I get it off the ugly driveway and into the living room!


I wanted to stop by to add just 1 last pic of the table in its new home (excuse the quality - its a phone snap!).

Linking up to East Coast Creative's amazing competition

DIY Show Off

By Stephanie Lynn
Home Stories A2Z
Furniture Feature Fridays

The Humble Brag Supporting Habitat for Humanity



  1. I love Union Jack theme projects, even thought I don't have any in my home. I like how subtle the stain makes the design, the table will go great with any decor colors as opposed to the red, white, and blue. Great project!

  2. I love this! (I have a penchant for Union Jacks too - fellow expat here.) You did a great job on it. :)

  3. Wow, that's really pretty! And a great idea, I will move soon and raid my parents attic for nice wooden furniture for the new place. Maybe I'll find a piece to stain as well :)

    Cheers, Anni

  4. What a fun up-cycle, Kate! I love the two tones and the fun flag detailing ~ adore!
    I'm visiting today from DIY Showoff. I hope you get a chance to visit my blog, too. I'm co-hosting the DIY Sunday Showcase and would love for you to come by and link up!
    ~ Megin of VMG206
    Open Now! DIY Showcase ~ Come Link Up!

  5. You are the idea of the subtle flag on top. And what you started with looks so plain and have a great imagination and the skill to make it a reality. Good job.

  6. Super awesome! Love this. Staining the pattern is so smart it gives it lots of texture and interest without screaming at you.

  7. A HUGE thank you for all the kind comments! I'm glad you like my little table makeover.

  8. I love your table makeover! It's great! I'd like to invite you to share it at my Twirl & Take a Bow party at Have a great week.
    House on the Way

  9. Wow!! That is REALLY cool!! I love how it turned out. I would have been scared the stain would bleed thru the tape, it looks FAB! Thanks for sharing this on the DIY Sunday Showcase! Jen @ PinkWhen

    1. You are featured with this awesome table over at the DIY Sunday Showcase FAVS from last week :-)

  10. Very pretty! I love how the union jack is subtle. :)

  11. Seriously cool table! Don't you just love it when you're going all out on an experimental idea and BAM! It's freaking awesome?!? Like you do it all the time awesome. I you hadn't said it, I would have assumed you do ridiculously detailed stains on furniture all the time. It's awesome. Seriously (again, haha)

  12. I love the stain on stain look!

  13. Wow - this is BEAUTIFUL! I absolutely love your take on the union jack - I would've never thought to do stain on stain! LOVE!

  14. Love this! I've painted several Union Jack dressers and tables, but never stain! I'm going to have to try this out! You got such talent!

  15. An instant classic, love the stained wood option, here!

  16. WOW Kate that is super cool! I'm totally diggin' the Union Jack. Pinning now and sharing on FB on Monday.
    Thanks so much for linking up for Habitat. Good Luck and hope to see you back next week!

  17. I love your unique staining technique, Kate. So cool! Pinned! And I'm including a link back in this week's DIY highlights (on Monday). Thank you so much for sharing your hard work and creativity!

  18. You did an amazing job. BRAVO

  19. Wow! I love how this came out. I truly have a soft spot for union jacks! Would love you to share at my link party if you get a chance:

  20. Wow! This is one of my favorite union jack pieces! Very well done!
    Danielle @ Antique Recreation

  21. LOVE this! Such a cool look with the subtle stain.


  22. Dying!!! I absolutely love EVERYTHING England. I have to have one of these in my house someday.

  23. Beautiful! I just saw your table on Better After and had to come see the rest of your post about it. :) It looks amazing! I love it!