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Trashy Coffee Table Finds Her Beautiful Beachy Self

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Okay readers, so the truth is out, I just can’t seem to pass up discarded furniture. They look so sad and pitiful awaiting the trash trucks. They plead with me to rescue them from life in the dump. That is how I found this coffee table.

It was resting against a dumpster. The legs and skirt of the coffee table were in good shape structurally, but the top was cheap masonite (compressed and glued fibers of wood.) This type of wood will swell and absorb water like a sponge. I’m one of those unfortunate homeowners who’s house is sided with hardboard (essentially the same as masonite.) Now you can see why that isn’t a good thing:

Moisture causes mold to grow, and the retained moisture also causes the wood to swell, become misshaped and will eventually rot away. The first thing I did was unscrew the top and throw it away! Yuck.

Sorry Mr. Tabletop, there was no rescuing you.

I also removed the hardware from the table skirt and saved it with the screws.

I cleaned the base of the coffee table with bleach cleaner to get rid of all the mold.

After it dried, I roughed up all the surfaces on the legs and base.

Then I primed it to seal the wood and prepare it for painting.

I painted the legs and skirt with two coats of Benjamin Moore Impervo white paint (leftover from our living room trim.)
I always paint the undersides or the hidden side first, then I use a technique for elevating my object and keeping it from sticking to the drop cloth.

Simply tap a nail into each leg after you have painted the foot. Then turn the table over and continue to paint. Some other bloggers have found the Rockler painting pyramids, but I have yet to find any in my local stores to try them out. Hey Rockler, if you are reading this, send me some painting pyramids so I can give them a spin and see if they work better than my nail technique!

After the paint dried, I removed the nails from the bottom of the legs and hammered floor protectors in their place.

Now, to replace the masonite top with something with more age and character. I searched through my wood stash and found these two discarded boards that I think used to be in someone’s closet or pantry.

The boards fit well on the skirt of my coffee table, but it had a funny cut out on the edge of one of the boards. It was probably a profile cut.

It didn’t look very old or interesting to me, so I drew a line diagonally along the board and cut it off with my jigsaw. That looked much better! More like a salvaged board. Then I flipped the cut board to the inside edge.

I distressed my new table top with a heavy chain, pry bar, and hammer (read more here.)

At this point, I went to my “oops” paint stash and chose this gallon of $5 baby blue color.

I know it looks like a nursery color, but I wanted something vibrant to show through after glazing and antiquing. I painted the whole table top this light blue color. Luckily I was able to skip the priming step because the boards had previously been painted.

After the boards were dry, I sanded, glazed and then applied a stain to antique it (more on these techniques here).

Then I turned the boards upside down, and used the screws I set aside to attach my boards to the table skirt.

I decided not to re-use the handle hardware that was originally on the coffee table.  Instead I wanted to give this table a beachy look. So, I added some shells to the front of the coffee table using my new favorite glue, E-6000 glue. This glue holds super strong, I even set the table down on the shell edge (forgetting they were there,) and the shell broke, but all the shells remained glued to the table. Now that is a strong bond!

My last step was to put a protective coating of polyurethane over the whole coffee table. I used an old can of oil based polyurethane that had yellowed. This added the perfect age to my coffee table.

And here is my Trashy Coffee Table turned into a Beautiful Beachy Babe!

Uneven boards = instant character


Glazed legs and table skirt


Now isn’t she beautiful?
One more look at the before and after:

Not bad for a new coffee table for our porch that essentially cost me NOTHING, since I already had all the paint and supplies leftover from other projects. What do you think? Do you like her color? Or too baby blue for you?

Next Up: More tips on antiquing, distressing and adding age to objects. I hope you come back soon.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

68 replies
  1. Laura's Rose Garden
    Laura's Rose Garden says:

    WoW!! Brittany….you go girl!!! that is an exquisite transformation!!! I, too, cannot leave a good piece of discarded furniture at the side of the road or at the dump. After 35 years, I have accumulated some nice pieces of junk!! Keep on collecting and revamping!!
    Warm hugs, Laura

  2. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Fabulous! Just fabulous! I love everything about it. I completely agree that the uneven boards add to its character. The blue is just an awesome shade. I'd love that for my family room!! Amazing job.

  3. kathie
    kathie says:

    Seriously… magic! You have an eye that not many folks have ~ like you said, lots of people would have just driven right by that table at the dumpster! It is gorgeous, and I hope you are proud of it!

  4. Amanda@The Hand Me Down House
    [email protected] Hand Me Down House says:

    LOVE this, Brittany! It's so adorable! I love the color you chose, too — and the shells are a fantastic idea, too! Can't wait to read your tips on antiquing and distressing. Love the new header by the way. 🙂

  5. Biljana
    Biljana says:

    Wow!! It is so beautiful, great makeover, bravo:)))
    I am your newest follower, come to visit my blog:)
    Greetings from Europe, Biljana

  6. Carriage House Antiques
    Carriage House Antiques says:

    I don't believe this,so you probably won't either..but I too just rescued a coffee table from the trash,it has nice chunky,shapely legs and that beachy look will be perfect for it as well..some teenagers carved their names in the top of the table so I may just add new "old" boards too if I can't fill and sand the graffiti out ! Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Pegster
    Pegster says:

    Beautiful!!! You are very talented! I have all kinds of "junk" find and am afraid to do anything..you are inspiration! THanks!

  8. Nora
    Nora says:

    I wouldn't have DARED to tackle that project because of the mold (I'm allergic), but it looks great. Really love the color combo!

  9. TheVirginiaHouse
    TheVirginiaHouse says:

    I love it!!! I too am a lover of pulling those poor souls out of the trash and giving them new life. What life you gave that one!! Thanks for linking it up to We Can Do It Cheaper. Now I'm off to see your tips on ageing and distressing!

  10. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Love it! I am visiting from The Virginia House. You did a great job giving this new life! Oh, be so glad you got rid of the masonite, not only does it trap water, it is highly flammable! My father in law burned some once, and it burns really fast, and really hot! I really love your table!

  11. Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes
    Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes says:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, that coffee table! Funny, I could have picked up a similar one this summer, but after talking to the home owner who was painting her summer (sometimes rental) home I convinced her to "save" it by painting it! I had done a few tables for my cottage porch and I love them – so beachy! I enjoyed my visit today, when you have a moment, please stop by, visit, and "Follow" my new blog if you like it! I enjoyed my visit today!


  12. Michele
    Michele says:

    that is one lovely table. i like finding old junk and fixing it up too. but this is far nicer than anything i've ever done. impressive!

  13. Doris Today
    Doris Today says:

    Oh my gosh that is absolutely amazing! I have the same basic table my grandmother gave me years ago but has never made a transformation. Mine actually has a wood top but the rest is all the same. I love, love, love what you did with this table. What an inspiration!!!!

  14. Corrine
    Corrine says:

    I love your table. I noticed you used an interior latex (water-based) paint on the top (baby blue) and then an oil based polyurethane to seal it. How did that work out? Does it make it resistant to water stains? For some reason I was under the impression you can’t mix the two…Please advise. Thanks.


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