Sunday, July 8, 2012

Coffee Table Experiment

I'm a sucker for a good deal and cool furniture.
A few weekends ago, I somehow talked tricked my husband into going garage sale/estate sale shopping with me. I heard that there was a HUGE estate sale in one particular part of town, and I insisted on going to that sale. On the way there, we took a wrong turn and found another estate sale... I think it was my lucky day.
As soon as we pulled up, I saw this beauty:

I absolutely love the lines of this coffee table. I love the shape. And I love that is is as long as our couch. (I also love that couch in the background, but we don't "need" a couch like we do a coffee table, and the "fixing up" of the couch would cost significantly more time and money than I can justify.)
I tried to convince myself I didn't need this table. I looked around and found a few other treasures, and still had my heart set on this coffee table. The problem? The price tag was $45. Um... No thanks.
I'll be honest, $45 may have been a fair price on this table. It's solid wood, and other than the worn finish, is in excellent shape. I wasn't in a bargaining mood, so I talked Daniel into trying to talk him down on the price. I wanted to pay no more than $25. SO-- we asked for $20, and the guy said the lowest he could go was $30-- but if it was still there next weekend, he could go down to $25. Since I didn't want to pay more than $25, we said no thanks and walked to the car. Then, I had a change of heart, I REALLY loved this table. Daniel got the cash and went back in with the $30. The guy said, "$35 is the lowest I can go." Daniel is furious, and forces me to leave, even though at this point, I just didn't want to let the table get away.
Meanwhile, I was browsing through pinterest, thinking about the coffee table, and looking up how to refinish furniture, and stumbled across this stenciled table.

And I thought about how I would love to do my own version of this on that coffee table I let slip through my hands.
I thought about the table all week, and went back for the 2nd weekend of the estate sale the next Saturday. LUCKY ME! My table was still there, and everything was 50% off! I ended up getting it for $20! (Amy-1, Estate Sale seller-0) In the end, Daniel's patience, and my persistence paid off.
So, I took the table home, sanded it. And sanded it. And sanded it. And Daniel sanded it. Here is the before.

And the after. (Well, almost after. Daniel was finishing up.)

WOW. What a difference.
I got some white craft paint, a sponge brush, a pencil, my stencil and some painters tape and went to work.
Step 1) Tape the stencil to the table with painters tape. Then brush on paint with the sponge.

Step 2) Mark the corners of your stencil so that it's lined up. I used a pencil.

Step 3) Repeat all the way across the table.

Step 4) Step back and admire your handiwork, and let the paint dry. (This only took about 15-20 minutes, since I used a VERY thin layer of craft paint.)

Step 5) Cover with stain of your choice. I used Dark Walnut. In hindsight, I wish I'd used Espresso stain-- it would been easier to achieve a darker finish like I wanted. Put a generous coat of stain on with a stain brush, and wipe with a lint-free cloth. (Trust me--- I learned this the hard way.) Tack cloth works best.

Step 6) Let the 1st coat of stain dry, and repeat step 5 if you want a darker finish. Here's what it looked like after 1 coat:

I liked it like this a lot, but I wanted something more subtle for the living room. A couple coats later:

Step 7) Let the stain dry overnight, then coat with polyurethane. (My first attempt was a spray polyurethane, but that didn't go over so well. The wind was blowing at about 30 MPH that day, so we had to make a trip to Lowes to get brush-on poly. We did 2 coats, letting each coat dry at least 6 hours.
The final product:

I pretty much love how it turned out. But I would do a few things different if I had it to do all over.
1) While sanding, I would wear a mask. The old finish had a pretty bad odor, and I'm pretty sure my sore throat the next morning was a direct result of sanding this table.
2) I would have used the mouse sander from the beginning rather than trying the old rotary sander that we had.
3) I would have purchased espresso stain, so that it would match my other furniture a tad better.
4) I would have used the spray polyurethane, but picked a better day to do it. The brush-on was too messy for me, and had too long of a dry-time for my impatience.
Oh... one more thing. Daniel and I have a debate going on about which decade this table is from. I say 50s-60s. He says 70s. What do you think?

Total cost of this project: $45
$20 table + $25 supplies (2 cans of stain, sandpaper, polyurethane coating, stencil)