$15 Coffee Table Makeover


If you’ve been following my blog in any manner you may have realized a few things: (1) I live in a small apartment. (2) I have twin infants. (3) I have a thing for thrifted furniture. My dear husband puts up with quite a lot (usually in the form of piles of furniture I lug home or have him go retrieve for me). I currently have 3 end tables stacked in the corner of my living room that I will be re-doing soon!

Today, I’m giving a step-by-step of my latest project which includes a review of gel stain. Speaking of being a furniture hoarder, you’ll notice I’ve stacked this table on top of an old trunk I previously used as a coffee table and holds my fabric (something else I also hoard because I just can’t leave a pretty fabric behind).

My mom found this coffee table for me for $15. When I saw it in person there were some damages and it was much bigger than I expected, but I was excited to give it a makeover.

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There was a hole and a huge chunk missing in the edge on one side, so I got some Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty and followed the directions to mix up a quick-hardening wood filler. Using a putty knife I carefully filled the hole then roughly crafted a new edge to the damaged side. It isn’t perfect, but it works for my use. After sanding down the excess and smoothing the new edge, I cleaned the table thoroughly.

I wanted to stain the top of the table a dark walnut, but I didn’t want to bother stripping the top down to bare wood, plus I wanted to try out this new gel stain thing everyone on Pinterest is talking about. Let me tell you a few things about gel stain:

A) It’s thick and gloppy like old gravy

B) It doesn’t take much to get the job done

C) It’s DARK

I used a little sponge brush to apply the stain. It was thick and hard to apply evenly. The table top ended up looking something like a dark stained wood floor, which took a day to grow on me. To anyone wanting to try out gel stain, I suggest testing it on an inconspicuous part of the piece to see how you like it first. Also, try using a bristle brush instead of a sponge brush which holds stain rather than smoothing it out.


After giving the stain a solid 24 hours to dry and cure, I turned to my trusty chalk paint for the legs. First I applied a coat of Americana Décor “Primitive”. This is a great neutral color that’s somewhere between ivory and gray. I like it as a base to my white projects. For my second coat, I used Folk Art “Sheepskin” chalk finish paint. This is a wonderful ivory that may look a little yellow on the bottle, but I’ve used it multiple times and really like the color. When a piece has a lot of detail like this table, I find that using a lighter color really brings those out, especially if you follow up with a good distressing.


I like distressing things. Rustic French Country Farmhouse is my self-proclaimed style. Not always sure what that means, but for this table it meant I needed to take sandpaper to it. Using a medium grit sandpaper, I attacked the edges and the details. When distressing, remember that you can always add more so don’t get too aggressive at first. Focus on areas that would be affected by natural wear so it doesn’t look too contrived.

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When all is said and done, I think it looks great!


2 thoughts on “$15 Coffee Table Makeover

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