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Before & After: My Coffee Table Makeover


Remember that big empty spot in the middle of our sectional sofa?  You know, the place that doesn’t hold the remote, a drink, or the bowl of popcorn?  Yes, that one.  You will be relieved to know that it’s gone now, and we now have a coffee table in its place.  Did you just sigh with relief?  I know I did. 

I’ve been on the lookout for a coffee table forever, and I finally found one.  Of course it was nothing like what I wanted, but it had potential.   So what’s a girl to do?  Give it a coffee table makeover of course!



The first step in the makeover was to sand a gazillion and one layers of polyurethane off of the table.  I used a belt sander and started with the top of the table.  It didn’t take me long to decide that I kind of liked the way the base of the table looked with all that polyurethane and dark wood.  Okay, my arms were tired so that probably influenced my decision just a bit.  And I just didn’t have the patience to sand the entire table.   So the top was getting a makeover.  Onward!

Once the top of the table was sanded and I regained the feeling in my arms, it was time to paint the first coat.  My vision from the start was to have the top of the table look like an old sign.  I had seen this table one time when I got lost on Pinterest for several days.  It was the strangest thing.  One Monday I was pinning, and the next thing I knew it was Wednesday.  Please tell me I’m not alone in losing track of time on Pinterest.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?

First coat of paint


So anyway, I painted the first layer a cream color.  I then did a layer of green on top of the white, then an even darker green.  The plan was to put a lot of layers of different colors.  That way, when I was all finished and sanded the table, the different colors would come through in different points and make it look old.  

My next step was to plan the design I would paint on the top of the table.  I used Photoshop, but you can use any program that you are familiar with.  I just happen to have a mild Photoshop addiction so that worked well for me.   

Because showing is often easier than telling, I made a video of  how to get the image onto the table.  Roll it!  


Wow.  I had no idea my bird was so loud while I was filming that.  Good thing he didn’t start meowing like that cat who was sleeping behind me, or start calling the boys to dinner.  That wouldn’t have been good since they would have stampeded downstairs at the mention of dinner.

A couple of things worth mentioning.  When you trace the image, use a ball point pen and press hard.  Your hand will ache by the time you are finished, but like they say (whoever they are), no pain… no gain.   Also, use scotch tape to tape the image to your table.  That way the paper won’t move while you are tracing and mess up your design. 

Running...without scissors


So now my design has been transferred onto the table, and it is time to paint!  I used acrylic paintfor the image.  You’ll also want to have a good variety of brushes.  When I was painting the skinny letters, I needed a thin stiff brush, but for the bigger places I used a wider brush.  It really depends upon what you’ll be painting.  And to answer your question, no.  I had no idea my hair was in the paint.  

Paint by numbers, er...lines.


Now for the scary part.  Once I finished painting, it was time to sand. And let me tell you, this next step gave me more anxiety than any step so far.  In my mind I knew I wanted to sand the letters to make them look weathered, and I knew I could repaint if I messed it up, but I was such a chicken.   But I put on my big girl panties and started sanding.  And guess what?  I like it.  I really, really like it.  Truth be told, I kind of wish I had gone a little further with the sanding.  Oh well, there’s always next time.

Me likey!


Once my sanding was done, I applied a thin layer of glaze.  I mixed some of my brown paint into the glaze until it was a medium brown color.  I then spread it over the tabletop to give it an antiqued look.


The final step was one of those function over form things that I don’t usually choose.  But in this case (or should I say in the case of my five boys) I needed to protect the table.  So I came full circle and finished the table off with a coat of polyurethane.   I used a satin finish, but it still is a bit glossy to me.  I sanded the finish once it was dry, and it did remove some of the shine, but I might do it a bit more. Overall though, I am really pleased with my coffee table.  


Could you please pass the popcorn?




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Category: Frugal Decorating

Comments (14)

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  1. 1
    Lisa says:

    You are awesome, Candace! It looks wonderful.

  2. 2
    Madeline says:

    Your table turned out great. I love the outdoorsy look. How did you get your paper to print like that?

    • 2.1
      Candace says:

      Madeline – my printer has a multiple page option where I can print 2×2 or 3×3.

      I will tell you that it took a lot of trial & error (and a lot of wasted paper!) to get the image to the right size. That was probably the hardest part of the whole project for me.

  3. 3
    efisherfan says:

    I am seriously loving your table. I have an old table in our garage…it’s more of an end table than a coffee table. I feel inspired to try what you did. Smiles.

  4. 4

    Hey Candace! This turned out great! You made it look easy. I’d be happy to share! 🙂

  5. 5
    Megan says:

    Thank you for the lettering tutorial!! I’ve wanted to do this same technique on a small table I have but for some reasonthe carbon-paper technique never occured to me! You’ve made me one happy girl – love how your table turned out!

  6. 6
    rose at home says:

    thank you for this video 🙂

  7. 7

    Wow, so I have 2 of those exact tables I bought for a buck each and just got around to painting them but was wanting to do some neat word stenciling on the top – mind if I steal your idea?! Especially since they’re for my parents rustic cabin – except I’ll have to leave off the running water part, as there isn’t any! haha! I would love for you to share this over at Trash to Treasure Tuesday on if you get a chance!

    • 7.1
      Candace says:

      Hey Kammy!
      Of course you can steal my idea – consider it all yours! And so sorry I missed Trash to Treasure yesterday. I’ve been offline for a couple of days and missed it.

  8. 8

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