Coffee Table Makeover (From One Non DIYer To Another)

If you are reading this because you’re my real life friend, bless you. I hate to break it to you but this post is not for you. If you are savvy with power tools, this post is also not for you. If, however, you have stumbled upon this via a frantic Google search about how in the &*$@ to update your coffee table, welcome sweet friend. Grab a cub of coffee, sit down, take a deep breath, and read on.

Since we don’t know each other, let’s get a few things out of the way.

1. When I say I suck at all things DIY, I mean that with all of my heart. I do not sew or really make anything ever. I do not own goggles, I don’t have a “work space” and I do not have sand paper on hand. I just referenced sand paper, so that means I for sure don’t have one of those fancy sanders that would fall under the power tool category. A power tool to me is a handheld vacuum or possibly my iPhone. So there’s that.

2. I do not follow directions well. I like to skip steps. I also like to add steps. This is what I like to call my “creative process.” This is also why I’m terrible at baking.

3. The only old window I have hanging in my house is one I bought from Target.

4. Sometimes I pretend like the reason we don’t have a headboard is because I’m going to make one out of an old door. That is hilarious. It’s also a lie.

5. This tutorial is written by a non DIYer to the non DIYer. I promise to not casually tell you to do anything. I know this is hard. Turn on some Justin Timberlake and get to work. You can seriously do this. I’m not even 1% joking.

So, let’s talk coffee tables. I have been wanting a new coffee table for a while now. It’s not that I didn’t like ours, it’s just that I didn’t like ours. It needed to be updated. My husband was very against me getting rid of it because it had been in the family for a zillion years or something. I’m all for that and everything, but I’m also all for just buying a new coffee table and being done with it. But whatever.

I started to research how to update your coffee table and the most ridiculous things would come up in that search. I think people who DIY for real are secretly possessed. These cute little blog posts would pop up actually telling me how to do things myself and I’m like, I know I searched that but THIS is not what I meant. These people were flippantly telling me to GET OUT MY SAW. I can barely cut out letters I’ve traced and glue them on a canvas. I most certainly cannot CUT WOOD WITH MY HANDS. Lord. So I found some pictures and started Googling how to do this thing. Here we go.

Here’s what I started with:

photo 1

Step 1

Here are the things you need. The only things not pictured are a scrapper and some paint. Screen shot this and take it with you to Home Depot and ask them to help you find all the things.

photo 8

Step 2

The first thing you are going to do is strip the top of the table. Let’s talk about stripper for a second. The man at Home Depot told me that if it got on my skin it would “burn like fire” and if it got in my eyes “you’ll go blind.” I left there terrified to even touch the bottle. So I got home and suited up Breaking Bad style. Like sweatpants, long sleeved shirt, socks, and those sweet gloves. It says on the back of the bottle to use “protective goggles” so by that I assumed they meant sunglasses. I don’t know if all of this is necessary, but I also don’t have a skin disease and I’m not blind. Just saying.

Here’s the thing about stripper. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO OPEN. It took me around 30 minutes to open the freaking bottle, no joke. I almost called it quits and I hadn’t even started. It was a sad time. I was tempted to go across the street and ask my neighbor to open it, but “burn like fire” and “you’ll go blind” stopped me. I didn’t want to subject Kenneth to that. After a few Google searches and some cussing, here is how I opened it. Cut the plastic top off with scissors. Then go get pliers and use that to open the metal cap. If you do not have pliers I’m so sorry- the only reason we do is because I stole my dads tool belt a few years ago. I literally don’t know how to help you open it if pliers and strong neighbors are not options for you. You may just need to pack it up and call it quits at this point. Your coffee table looks fabulous as is. Promise.

Take your table outside, if you can. Pour the stripper into the metal bucket and paint a thin coat of it on the table. Let it sit there for like, 15ish minutes. It will start to bubble and that means it’s working. Take your scrapper and scrape it off. It took me three times of this to get all/most of the top off. It should look something like this and then you know you can stop with the stripper:

photo 2

If there are any parts you can’t get off, it’s okay. I put some of the mineral spirits on a rag and was able to get some of it off. For the stuff still left, I just sanded a little and called it quits.

High five. You’re seriously done with the hardest part.

Step 3

I sanded the legs of the table with the blue sander thing. Then I wet a rag with water and wiped the whole table off.

Step 4

Now you are going to stain the top of the table. This is actually quite fun. Use the mineral spirits and clean off the paint brush you used with the stripper. Paint the stain on the wood with the brush. The longer you let it sit there the darker it will be. Use an old rag and wipe the stain off. You’re going to want to paint and wipe in the direction of the wood. I liked this because it doesn’t have to be perfect to look really cool. I almost think it looks better the less perfect it looks. You can always go back and do a second coat once it dries if you want it to be darker. This is what mine looked like post stain:

photo 3

Step 5

Now you’re going to paint the legs of the table. I had some paint left over from painting our bedroom, so I just used that. It’s Pebble Grey and I got it at Walmart.


Step 6

You’re basically done! I left ours outside to dry for almost a full 24 hours.

Step 7

I decided to sand the legs a little bit to give it a rougher look. Just personal preference. You can most definitely skip this step.

Step 8 [Last Step!]

Put finish on the top of the table. There is a paint on option of finish, but I really loved the spray. That is a decision I do not regret. It was so easy. All I did was sand the top of the table a little, wiped any dust off with a dry rag and sprayed a thin layer of the finish on. I let it dry for about an hour and then repeated this twice just to be safe. Let is sit for a full 24 hours before putting it to use.

photo-2AND YOU’RE DONE. Like seriously, you did it! I walked around all day saying things like, “I want to stain all the things!” and “DIY THIS.” Feel free to be proud of yourself. YOU FREAKING DID IT YOURSELF FOR REAL. High five.


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