Sunday, June 29, 2014

Side Table Makeover

To see a run down piece of furniture and instantly visualize how it could be transformed...that's a gift...a gift I don't have. But once in a while I'll see something that might have some potential. That said, I spotted this little side table at a yard sale.

I know...ugh. It was filthy...covered in dirt, spider webs, crayon, dried sludge and something that appeared to be cigarette ashes. In fact, it was among the leftovers at the second day of a neighborhood yard sale. The "good stuff" had been sold early the previous day. For all I know this table was discovered buried under stuff in their garage and placed outside for the garbage man instead of the yard sale.

Now, I also don't have much furniture renovating experience...but in this case the table was already as run down as it could get. At least it wasn't rotting. If nothing else, I could sand it and re-stain it and it would still be a thousand times better, right? I gave the guy what he asked for it (a dollar, though he said it rather apologetically) and hauled it home. I probably could have gotten it for free if I'd have only asked.

I know Mr. LH was probably muttering something about how nuts I was when I pulled it out of the van.

The table was making me sneeze big time. I had to scrub it down quickly...using a bucket, cleaner, scrub brush and even wire to get in between those slats. After all that the sneezing stopped but the table still looked pretty sad.

The varnish was yellowed and peeling. The table top was scarred and dented. It appeared to be homemade (and hastily so). was solid. Made from 2x4s and 2x6s. I had no clue yet what I was going to do with it so I parked it in the garage for a couple months.

Last week inspiration and a bit of motivation finally hit me (along with a desire to clear out some space in the garage).

I lugged the table outside, pulled the whole thing apart and sanded down the individual pieces removing as much of the old varnish as I could. A belt sander makes quick work of this.

For the top, I considered using regular wood stain. But after spotting this post from Young House Love, I wanted to try a colored stain or a semi-transparent paint for a touch of unexpected color. We headed to the store to see what we could find. Cabot has a wood stain in small containers that can be tinted. (According to the Cabot website at the time of this posting, this wood stain is available exclusively at Lowes.)

Mr. LH and I decided on the blue-green "gulfstream" (though the mosaic blue would go fabulously with our bedroom decor).

The tabletop still had some dents and scratches that I didn't get sanded down all the way to completely remove the old varnish. The stain wasn't able to soak into those spots. But it "gave the tabletop some character".

After the first coat of Cabot Wood Stain

After two coats of the Cabot wood stain

The instructions indicate 4 coats for full color but we stopped at two. I was really loving the color! I had barely used any stain at all so there was plenty left for another use. It dried to the touch quickly and had a nice satin finish (the image above is after applying a couple layers of glossy polyurethane).

I don't care for the "distressed wood" look too much and my tabletop already had plenty of distressing in it from it's mysterious past. That was enough for me so I simply primed and painted the bottom pieces solid white.

I also added a shelf in the middle using a scrap piece of plywood and molding. That's the large piece in the photo above.

Everything was coated in several coats of polyurethane and then reassembled (a little differently than it was originally done).


So for lots of elbow grease and less than $9 in new materials (a dollar for the table and less than $8 for the stain), we had a new side table. So maybe I'm not as nuts as Mr. LH thinks I am....

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