Vintage Side Table Revamp

Yesterday I told you about my bird feeder project – today we are going to look at the side table I worked on yesterday too.

Okay we have all seen these tables – either in their original (read dated) condition or in pretty pinterest photos where people have painstakingly and lovingly repurposed or refurbished them.  When I saw these for $5 each at my local Goodwill I could not help myself … I NEEDED to try it for myself.

These things are genius – set your lamp on the top and still preserve all the table top space you could need.  Anyway, clearly finishes and styles have changed and evolved over the year like they always have.  I had big ambitions to get these tables sanded and refinished before the snow flew – but the snow has flown and melted.  It was time to get moving on this project.

I grabbed some foam brushes, mineral spirits, paint tape, and polyurethane to add to my chalk paint, sand paper, and stain and got to work.  I learned a few things during this project – rather affirmed somethings I already new.  I am not a very patient person and tedious things bore me.

You see the row of spindles on each side of this little table?  They are not easy to paint – and of course as I was working on this table my son got white chalk paint on the stain twice … once before I managed to polyurethane.

But the end result is so wonderful – before we get there, let’s talk about how I did this project.

Tools and supplies:

  • sander and sand paper
  • mineral spirits
  • old rag
  • stain – I used a dark cherry 
  • polyurethane
  • chalk paint – I used an off-white
  • clear wax
  • foam brushes
  • painters tape 
  • putty knife or similar
  • tarp or other protective covering for your working surface – I just cut up a few paper bags
  • And of course patience  

You need to start by sanding down your table.  The goal is to get the finish and stain off of the table before you add the new stain and to get out any imperfections that may have popped up over the years like water stains.  I knew I was going to go for a slightly distressed look so I only sanded the area I intended to stain.

Once you are satisfied with your sanding you’ll want to clean away the dust and debris.  I used an old rag and mineral spirits to do the job.

Then you better lay out that protective covering and pop open that stain.  Using a foam brush or stain pad is ideal to ensure an even coat.  I wish I had not been quite so heavy handed on the stain since the wood grain doesn’t really show through and the table was a beautiful knotty pine but live and learn.

Now is where your patience comes in – you have to let the stain fully dry.  Once it has dried you will want to use a clean foam brush to poly the stained surfaces.  I chose a quick drying semi mate polyurethane to go with the ‘less than perfect’ feel of farmhouse furniture.

And once again you need to wait until the poly dries and then you’ll want to tape anywhere your chalk paint will meet the stained surface.  I didn’t tape off for the staining coat because I felt like any slip of the stain onto the area designated to paint would just add a little more dimension and ‘imperfect’ feel to the piece … and I hate taping.  But when you do tape, use your putty knife to make sure you really got the tape down and will get clean, crisp lines.

Now paint your first coat of chalk paint.  Use a foam brush to limit brush strokes.  What I love about chalk pain is how quickly it dries.  Once I finished the first coat I was able to go back to where I started and add a second (and third) coat.

Once dried I used sand paper to introduce a little distressing into the painted areas of the table.

All that is left for me to do is add the clear wax layer – and just like that I have a beautiful ‘new’ table.

Make sure to share your DIY table in the comments!

XO,