Thursday, May 2, 2013

The 2 Hour Side Table Makeover

I bought this little side table for my living room a few months ago for a whopping $5 online. Its just a little fella in need of a new coat of paint and I knew it was the exact kind of project I needed; straightforward and easy. I figured, even if it doesn't work in my room I can resell it and make a little something for my time and effort.

The varnish was pretty thin and sparse to start with so I just hand sanded it with a coarse grit paper and cleaned it up really well afterwards. I used an all-natural spray product to clean any left over varnish powder (how's that for technical terminology?) and let it dry completely. I was completely ecstatic to find a full can of grey tinted spray primer in my possession already and was able to apply 2 coats which was dry and ready to paint within about 20 minutes.

Despite my reservations about spray paint following my last project (the changing table with 1 million parts) I went with a spray paint for this one because it was a small table with no disassembling necessary. Also, I couldn't find an interior color that I liked well enough to justify the time it would take to tint a few sample color jars and a quart of paint would have been too much. I ended up getting Rust-oleum Painter's Touch in Dark Walnut and I gotta say, I LOVE this stuff! It went on nice and smooth, covered beautifully and the color is perfect. To my delight, I was able to paint the entire piece (2 coats) with only ONE CAN!

I top coated it with a clear high gloss acrylic and was getting all excited about how gorgeous it was turning out when I noticed some bubbles had developed on the very top surface of the table. Hmm. As the morning progressed the shadows had shifted and the table was in direct sun light as it was drying. A quick Google search confirmed that direct sun can heat up the paint and cause it to dry unevenly, resulting in bubbles.

Determined not to be defeated (and to finish this project before my toddler woke up)
, I lightly sanded the top surface and repainted it with 1 coat of paint. So much for only using 1 can! But that was my fault so I'm not going to count it :) I followed that up with 2 light coats of clear top coat and Voila! Gorgeous!

As you can see, the table isn't the best fit for it's current location but for now it'll do. I love how it came out so even when we get something that's a better fit for our living room I think I'd really like to find somewhere else in my home for this little table. Its so SHINY :)

Lesson Learned #1: Spray paint can be your friend. Supporting my previous conclusion I found that spray paint is a good option for small, uncomplicated pieces.

Lesson Learned #2: Direct sunlight and drying paint are a bad combo. It doesn't matter if it's only 65 degrees outside, direct sunlight messes with how the paint dries. And take it from me, bubbles are ugly and require time and effort to fix. You can still find where they were if you look hard enough for them.

Lesson Learned #3: High gloss finishes are gorgeous but somewhat unforgiving. Follow the directions on your product label and resist the urge to touch it before the allotted dry time. Finger prints are very noticeable on a glassy surface.

This end table is proof in my eyes that a beautiful result can be achieved with just a little time and effort, and perhaps more importantly, very inexpensively! I'd love to hear about your successes in turning an old shabby piece into something you love!


  1. Thanks for posting your lessons learned. I have never thought of using spray paint (i use color tint wood stains) and have so many half-cans of stain just lying around. I'll have to try spray paint next time.
    Also, I tend to do my work on the porch, in the sunshine. Your experience will save me on reworking do to bubbling, so again... Thanks!

    1. Im a spray paint fanatic- it comes in so many pretty colors!! Plus you can really get a glossy finish pretty easily (which I personally really like). That being said, its definitely best for smaller, uncomplicated pieces. Try it out and let me know how it goes!