Way before our house was a twinkle in my eye, I started buying decorative pieces at thrift shops and yard sales. I tried not to buy huge pieces unless I really loved them, because that would just create more stuff to move and we already had a garage full of items that we were saving for the new house.
One day, on my way to the local ethnic grocer for some Mexican coke (the soda, not the drug) I spotted this cute little blue accent table at the thrift store. It was $10 and adorable. I had to have it so I had the sales people load it into our SUV.
I got home only to realize the table weighed some ungodly amount. Seriously, this small table that was about a 2’x2′ cube must have weighed about 75 pounds. If Fury wasn’t home to help me unload it, I would have just gone back to the store and returned it. Cute as the table was, it needed some work – removal of the stickers, a paint job, some new hardware. And if I couldn’t get it out of the car, there was no way I was going to be able to move it around to work on it.
Flash forward two months, we go under the contract on the house and I begin to realize that I better get cracking on all these little DIY projects I made for myself. Our rental had a spacious one car garage which was the perfect place to work on all these of projects. Once the projects were done, they could just sit in the garage along with the other stuff we would need to move to the house.
I had never painted furniture before so I spent quite a bit of time googling. There was cleaning, sanding, stripping, priming, and finally painting to be done. This was not going to be the quick and easy project that I thought. Furthermore, I thought the table would look better – more modern – with legs so there was also the business of learning how to attach legs to furniture.
This piece of furniture had an interesting history. It was made of formica which made it heavy as hell. Additionally, there were stickers from local breweries on top as well as the names of six girls carved into the door. The inside of the cabinet shows that it had been painted at least once, but maybe twice before (see below).
It’s been a few months now, and I don’t remember all of the various sites I referred to for this project but I will list out the steps below and provide links as I can remember them.
Step 1. Remove stickers. Somewhere online I read about using a blow dryer and/or a combinaion of oil and salt to remove stickers from furniture. Apparently this is something that kids do all the time as I learned in this video from Do It Yourself Dad.
Step 2: Clean Furniture. I’m a naturalist so I just use some sort of mild soap and water like dawn soap or castille soap and an old rag.
Step 3. Sanding. I bought this handy dandy orbital sander from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It’s my favorite power tool yet. If you are results-oriented, get a sander. There is something very satisfying about using one.
N.B. I’m always super cautious about sanding something that I don’t know the age of because of lead paint. Wear a mask and keep the children and pets away from the area. For this reason, I only sanded this piece minimally to smooth out the surface where the names were carved in.
Step 4. Priming. I thought I had bought chalk paint at Lowe’s but the guy sold me regular paint. This was before we owned a home and became well-versed in the purchase and return policies of my various home improvement stores. So I just sucked it up and decided to prime the piece instead of using chalk paint that promises you don’t have to prime. In the end, priming the piece was probably the right decision but it was a lot of work. It took two coats of primers, and 2 days of drying before I could even start painting.
Step 5. Painting. Again, I should have bought chalk paint. Chalk paint is a little bit thicker and I think I just used regular latex paint for this piece. I did three coats of paint inside and out, sanding between each coat. The color I used was canary yellow from the Valspar line.
Step 6. Attaching the feet. I also bought legs for the table at Lowe’s. The legs were unfinished wood so I painted those as well by making a contraption with some holes out of a cardboard box, and sticking the legs into the contraption. This allowed me to paint the legs on on all sides without them touching anything (sorry, I didn’t take a picture of the contraption). The bottom of the table was not flat, so we had to go to Home Depot and have them cut a piece of wood the size of the bottom of the table. We then attached this piece to the bottom of the table with a few nails, and then screwed the legs into the new base.
Note: I sent Fury to get the wood cut and he selected a type of plywood which was actually a bad choice for the job. The edges of the plywood cant be painted so the table doesn’t have a smooth monochromatic look. (look right above the legs and you can see the plywood surface) Right now, it’s not a big deal. We’re not selling this piece, and I’m just using it for storage and decoration in my office, but sometime down the road we will have to pull the legs out and replace the wooden support with a “smoother” piece of wood and paint it.
Final Product: Voila!
WAS IT WORTH IT?
Anytime I watch a DIY project on YouTube or read about it on someone’s blog I’m like, “That looks easy, I can do it! It won’t be so bad.”
Hours later I’m cursing myself. Eventually, if I finish the project I then ask myself, “Was it worth it?”
In the case of this table, was it worth it? Let’s see. In terms of out-of-pocket costs, here’s what we have:
Plywood: $20 (they make you buy a whole sheet even if you only need a small piece – we used about a quarter of the sheet but since I had to buy the whole piece I’m counting the whole thing)
Sunk Costs (items we had on hand, or would use for other projects)
So all in, we were out about $50 on the table. Does it look like a $50 table? Maybe.. from a distance.. I don’t know? Given the fact that Target sells accent cabinets anywhere from $80-$150, I’d say it was worth it. It was time consuming but it was a great starter project to get my feet wet in that DIY life as well as to have a unique piece of furniture.