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I am so excited to introduce you to my upcycled coffee table! We met one hot, sultry September day in a farm field in Kansas after I had shopped for months and racked my brain endlessly to think of different options that might work for our newly configured living room. The trouble was that everything that I found was either not long enough, or I just wasn’t convinced that some of the more unique options would really meet our needs. And don’t even get me started on the cost involved in almost every choice available. Oh, my!
When we rethought our living room space (you can read about it here), we decided on a new couch that was a lot bigger than what had previously been in the room. It is a long sofa with an extra section added on the end called a cuddle corner. Because the Wildman and I usually hang out on the couch together in the evenings to watch TV (or continue working on our computers ), we really liked the way this design worked with our lifestyle while also providing a lot of seating space for family events. The big drawback to such a long sofa? Finding a coffee table that fit the space, is functional, and that works with the rest of the components in the room.
Keeping floor space free was important so that the room wouldn’t feel crowded and so that their was room to play with our great nieces and nephews when they are over to visit.. Tables that were at least close to long enough were typically also very wide and would eat up tons of floor space. I also considered using two or three identical occasional tables to fill the area. My concern with this option was that the chopped up tabletop space would not work well for us. So I just kept looking, and looking, and looking . . . you get the idea!
This is where we were at in the coffee table search when the Wildman and I headed off to Sparks, Kansas to one of the fall flea markets that are held in our region. This market is held in a very large field where the vendors set up side by side for what seems like miles! The thermometer was approaching 100 degrees and we had been through the entire market and come up empty handed in the coffee table search. As we walked back towards the front of the market to head to our car, I saw her! I seem to remember that she was surrounded by a glowing light, but that might have been me being on the verge of heat stroke. She was a hot mess (no pun intended), but all I saw was what she would look like pampered, polished, and decked out with her new paint treatment! Again, that might have been heat induced hallucinations! She was long and narrow with great details . . . but, she wasn’t a coffee table.
This table had probably originally been used in a large entry hall. So she was, of course, tall. I pulled (literally) the Wildman over to see her and before I could even speak, the vendor approached and said that he had just pulled this piece out of the truck. We measured and examined her and the Wildman proclaimed that he could easily cut her down to the height that we needed if I thought she was the one. Given her rickety state and her stained finish, I didn’t want to pay the price that the vendor had quoted, so we stepped away to discuss our options. The vendor had not seemed willing to move on the price since the table had just been put out, and did I mention that I had been looking for such a piece for a really long time? Oh, and don’t forget the heat! I mean it was really, really hot . . . and really, really humid.. So, I caved. But, when I considered what I would have to pay for any of the other imperfect options I had considered, I happily handed over the bills and we carried our new found treasure to the car.
The Wildman has become a pro at painting and distressing furniture since he met me. This was right before my first hand surgery so I served only as coach for this project. (He would probably say supervisor, but I prefer a word that doesn’t sound quite so bossy! )
Upcycled Coffee Table–The Process
1) If you buy a piece in this condition it will need to be wiped down with TSP to thoroughly clean off the dirt and grime. (Wear gloves to protect your skin as this is a heavy duty detergent or it will suck every stitch of moisture out of your hands!)
2) The Wildman then cut each of the legs below the large turned bell of the design that is located near the top of each leg. Leaving this widest part of the leg intact gave a solid place to reattach the shortened legs to once they were cut down and also helped to retain the original lines of the legs. After determining the desired table height for our sofa, he cut about another 8” off each leg that was still attached to the base.
3) Remember that this piece was really rickety, so the Wildman separated the support grid on the table base away from all of the individual legs to remove old glue and clean the joints.
4) Holes were drilled into the bottom of the turned bell where the legs would be reattached and a dowel was inserted and glued. A matching hole was also drilled into the top of each table leg preparing it to be glued back in place. The dowels would join tabletop to table base.
5) With all of the pieces ready to assemble, the Wildman did all of the gluing at the same time so that he could be sure the table was level and all joints secure before he strapped the legs together to hold all pieces in place while drying.
6) Time to paint! The Wildman has developed different homemade paint formulas that he likes based on what he wants the final results to be. (He hasn’t even given me the recipes!) He used one coat of dark primer and one coat of a chalk type paint.
7) The table was then lightly distressed to bring out the details using 180-220 grit sandpaper. You can use a coarser grit if you want more paint to come off, but I always find it best to take it slow at first until you see how the paint is going to react. Humidity can affect how easily and smoothly the paint “wears” away. This process can be done by hand, but we usually use a Black and Decker Mouse sander. Use a tack cloth to wipe down pieces when you have finished distressing to pick up any residue from the sandpaper.
8) The table was then waxed using Minwax Finishing Paste Wax to give it a smooth, glowing finish and seal the paint.
Now look at her! She is so gorgeous and she fits the space perfectly!
I need to live with the room for awhile before deciding on the perfect rug for the area, but in the meantime I chose an economical faux flokati rug from the Home Decorators Collection that I could cut to the exact length to show off the sleek black beauty of our new addition. I have used variations of this rug in my bedroom for years. They look expensive, are soft under foot and washable! Win, win, and win again! There are lots of shapes and sizes available. Check them out here!
Some people like everything finished perfectly from the start when undertaking a decorating project. However, I think it is better to wait until you find exactly what your looking for in when updating your decor instead of making a costly mistake that you then feel you must live with because of the price that you paid. Empty spaces don’t bother me. In fact, I sometimes think looking at the emptiness for a while helps to solidify in my mind what I need to complete the look I’m going for. Sure, there are times when you can make do with a piece (like my rug) that may not be your final vision if it is economical enough that it won’t cause you to lose sleep when it comes time to replace it.
So there it is, the harrowing story of how our upcycled coffee table came to join the family! Who knows what other treasures are still be found in the farm fields of Kansas in the brutal heat? It’s just so exciting to ponder!
Hugs ’til next time!
Thanks for stopping by for a visit! Don’t forget to share these fun ideas with a friend!!!