Re purposing a battered beauty

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Years ago, a kind stranger was nice enough to give me this battered but beautiful table.  The base is unbalanced (either due to 2 of the legs being broken or maybe that's the reason why the legs broke in the first place?) and the top has a lot of damage (scratches, water damage, veneer peeling and edge chips).  I've always loved the shape so I've been storing it in my guest room with the idea that one day I would come up with some magical home remedy that would make it functional for us.




A few days ago, I was staring at the table and I had a thought. If I could cut down the legs, sand the top and paint it the whole thing, it would make a lovely low table for my daughter that is beautiful enough to live in the living room without screaming "I AM KIDS FURNITURE!".  Aside from the idea of putting something I really like into everyday use, I get misty eyed at the thought of sharing this special spot with my daughter to color, do craft projects and other fun tasks in the years to come.  I just love the thought. Yes, I've become a full on sap.

I know there are some hard core purists that are still horrified at the thought no matter how damaged but that's okay.  Rest assured, the damage is quite bad and the cost to restore it professionally would be much more than the piece is worth. While I do understand that sentiment of keeping even damaged items as-is, I'm a very practical person  - every item in my house needs to have function or its just collecting dust.

So I'm quite excited about the project. Now I just have to figure out the best plan of attack. I could go three ways. Each have their merits, but I'd love to hear what you think.  Anyone have experience with any of these options want to chime in?


a. classically beautiful table with a chalkboard treatment made by mark tuckey
b. inspired by charm's refresh of some old wooden stools with high gloss paint
c. two tone chalk paint table makeover by shades of amber

Chalkboard paint
A few people have suggested using chalkboard paint on the top which is a fun idea but makes me worried that I might be teaching my daughter its okay to write on the furniture.  Anyone with a chalkboard kid's table have that experience?  Not to mention the chalk dust to clean up.  But this example is pretty lovely.

or

High Gloss Paint
This seems like the most kid resistant finish in the sense its will stand up to the most abuse so that is a definite +1 in the pro list. While I am pretty partial to high gloss finishes, it will also show all the little bumps and scratches and chips I'm not able to sand out.  While that will probably not bother me that much, it something to consider.

or

Chalk paint
It's dead flat finish is perfect for hiding flaws and/or covering them in a way that works with something a little rough around the edges.  But I worry it won't be a great surface for cleaning up art projects and whatever else it might have spilled on it in the future.  I could always touch up if necessary and I do love the look.

Decisions, decisions.  What do you think?





29 comments:

  1. From experience, I can say go with high gloss paint. I did the chalk paint on my sons' table and it has not held up well. We have stool in high gloss paint that they use as a table that has weathered much better.
    Beautiful table! I'm sure A~ will love it.

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    1. Thanks Susan. That's good to know. Do you mind sharing if you used the wax over the chalk paint? That seems to be suggested to make it durable but having used it before, hard to say.

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  2. i painted a table for my daughter with general finishes milk paint which is super durable. i top coated i with a polycrylic which was a nice hard finish and has a bit of gloss. it was PERFECT for her because she is always drawing and coloring and everything came off! except for the permanent marker she got ahold of... anyhow, i don't think chalk paint would hold up and it would soak in much of the paint/marker/crayons and be harder to clean. here's a link if you want to see what the finish on mine looked like- but i promise it held up really well the the abuse of children!
    http://primitiveandproper.blogspot.com/2012/01/emmys-toadstool-tea-table-rustic.html

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    1. Thanks Cassie - that is very helpful. I didn't even think about sealing the milk paint so that might work perfectly. Love the toadstool!

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  3. I'd paint the top matte black or navy and the legs metallic gold.

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  4. I agree on the chalkboard top-it this table is in the living room, she will use the chalk on other surfaces too. I'm excited to see what you end up doing to it.

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  5. I would love to see it in something like a pale pink or white. i think it would be magical and could see it going to college with her or in her beginner apartment. Love the clover shape- very distinct and non-ikea as great as ikea is :)

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    1. You mean she wont be a baby forever? Sob. :)

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  6. I like Mindy's idea to paint the top matte black and the legs metallic gold. It sure is a beauty- have you tried just cleaning her up a bit- there is a product called Restore-A-Finish (or something like that) that I think I actually picked up at a Ben Moore Paint store and it really does do wonders for the finish. It is not a permanent fix tho, and like a furniture wax, it does need reapplication (I aim to do it seasonally but sometimes I miss!) but it is not a big procedure at all, like waxing. It comes in different finishes so you would have to figure out which is closest to yours. I would do that first, then, if that doesn't satisfy you, you could always paint it. You have nothing to lose, but I still would hate to see that beauty covered up. She has a story to tell...

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    1. Thanks Joanne. Restor-A-Finish is great for old pieces but this well, well beyond that. (I did try it on the water stains and it didn't help) If it were just scratches I could live with it but its a lot more than that.

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  7. I think B is a great choice. As an adult sitting with her at a chalk table, I feel like you might constantly have your elbows/forearms/sleeves sitting in chalk dust. And if crafts are happening, choice B is surely better for cleanup than C. I'm sure it will look amazing, as always, though.

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  8. Oh, wanted to add- that I love the idea of using it! Just have a cute fabric round handy to cover the top for particularly messy creations! Can't wait to see what little chairs you will find to go along side of her!

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  9. I like Cassie's idea of sealing chalk paint with acrylic top coat. you could leave the legs matte (waxed) and just seal the top which is where all the abuse will happen! agatha is one lucky little lady to get such a lovely table no matter what you wind up doing!

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  10. Beautiful top. Chalk seems more of an outside activity so I'd go with the glossy paint. Much prettier table than I had for my son - still fun to remember the tea parties for the stuffed animals and drafts we'd do there.

    Seems though that cutting down the legs of this table will result in an unstable table as the legs curve in?

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    1. I'm going to remove the legs and cut the top portion down. So the bottom piece that flares out will still be there. I'm hoping by bringing the height down, it will also help with balance since its lowering the center of gravity.

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  11. I coated my craft table in high gloss paint WITH poly to protect it. Its been about 3 years, and the finish is really bad looking. It has held on to several stains and looks dull. It's quite the eyesore and needs to be refinished again. If you are really going to use and abuse a painted surface, it will eventually tear down, no matter what.
    I would also like to give a thumbs up to milk paint. I used it on my sons dresser and nightstand, and we use the dresser as a changing table. After wax, that surface is HARD. I've had the same experience with chalk paint, wax makes it totally different.
    About 1/2 our furniture is painted, and the only one that is yucky looking is the craft table. But it's because we use it so much for tough activities.

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    1. Oh that's interesting. Do you think the poly didn't coat it properly? How did it stain?

      Ive heard such great things about milk /chalk paint, this might be a great project to try it.

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  12. I love colored chalk paint and a stained top that can be polyurethaned for protection. Chalkboard top will encourage drawing on furniture and will always look messy and dusty. It's a great looking table. Good luck. Pat

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  13. That top is BEAUTIFUL...gorgeous color wood and that grain!! I think would be a pity to paint it without at least first attempting salvage the original finish. Have you heard of or tried Howard Products' Restore-A-Finish followed by their Feed and Wax? I promise I'm not affiliated with them; found them through the comments section of an old AT post...But those two products seriously worked miracles on the mahogany sideboard I got from CL. Its top was in much worse condition than your table--heat marks, old water rings, scratches, cracked/flaking finish. And I paid only $25 instead of the $960+ quoted by two restoration companies for refinishing work (no structural repairs)

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    1. Restor a Finish is a great product but it doesn't repair peeling veneer or deep gouges. I've actually applied it to this piece already and it didn't do much on the scratches and water stains either but I wasn't really expecting miracles.

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  14. Lacquer… no brush strokes, it is durable, easy to clean, clear so you can see the beautiful surface of the table and self levels. Chalk and chalkboard paint seems to commit it to a kiddy table. By preserving its natural beauty , your daughter can keep the table as a wonderful memory and use the table well past childhood…

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    1. Thanks! I've never used lacquer paint so I'm new to it. Is there a brand you recommend?

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  15. Chalk board paint or high gloss. I know that chalk paint is the "it girl" of the moment and I've used it but I don't love it.

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  16. Chalk board paint or high gloss. I know that chalk paint is the "it girl" of the moment and I've used it but I don't love it.

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  17. High gloss finish is easy clean up and will look like "grown up" furniture when you're entertaining with other adults.

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  18. That is a really beautiful table!!! I saw on Young House Love that Sherry did a damaged table with Moroccan influenced stenciling. It was really cute, you might check it out. Either way, can't wait to see the after pictures. Good luck!

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  19. My 2 cents: I'm pretty horrified that you'd want to paint over this gorgeous crotch mahogany antique. All it needs to revive the finish is a cleaning, and a coat of "Restore-A-Finish". The broken leg, however, would need to be repaired. I generally don't mind painted pieces, but this table could be as old as the 1850s (American Empire) and I kind of love it.

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    1. You are entitled to be horrified - I know not everyone agrees that furniture should be used rather than admired - but as I've mentioned a few times already, Restor A Finish didn't do anything to help the damage and fixing TWO broken legs would be a big expense. On the other hand, if I cut and paint it, I can turn it into something functional and beautiful in my home. So its an easy decision for me.

      I don't believe its very old based on the screws holding up the legs and the plastic feet but but as I'm sure you know already, heavily damaged items aren't worth very much anyway even if it was older than I think.

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