Paint Coffee Table Makeover Ideas

Maybe your coffee table is damaged, worn, or out of style. Or perhaps it no longer meshes with the design of your living room. Before you replace it or send it to a furniture refinisher, consider giving it a new look. Read on for some inspiration from clever design bloggers, and then try your hand at a DIY coffee table makeover.

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1. Distress to Impress

Blogger Kristine of The Painted Hive found a coffee table on eBay that was the ideal size and shape, plus it only cost $25. The only problem: it was ho-hum design-wise.

To give it some character and make it fit into her cottage-style living room, she decided to distress it—a process that only took her a few hours.

Kristine began by lightly sanding the base of the table and then applying two coats of white acrylic paint. Next, she distressed the paint by hand with a sanding block and sandpapers with various grits, then rubbed the table with steel wool. “Don’t worry about it being perfect,” Kristine says. “The more haphazard things appear, the more naturally distressed your furniture will look.”

Next, she applied a finishing glaze of brown craft paint mixed with clear acrylic sealer. Finally, she sanded, stained, and sealed the top, being careful not to sand so much as to expose the wood veneer surface.

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2. Spray Away

Blogger Suzannah of Create/Enjoy transformed her coffee table dramatically—with very little effort. Inspired by a faux bamboo gold and glass table, she decided to glam up a $15 dark green and black enamel coffee table that she found on Craigslist.

After a thorough coat of spray primer, she covered the metal portions of the table with gold spray paint. “I love how fast and easy it is to transform things [this way],” she says.

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3. Chalk It Up

When a client asked Steph and Michelle, the mother-daughter duo behind Sunny Side Design, to refinish a thrift store table, they weren’t optimistic. “At first glance, we thought it was too far gone to refinish,” Steph and Michelle recall. Along with the remnants of a nail head border, it featured a chipped finish, water damage, and a rough top.

Over a couple of days, though, they filled in all of the nail holes, sanded and cleaned the surface, and applied white chalk paint.

After the paint dried completely, they distressed the table using fine sandpaper. “It’s best to do this by hand to better control the amount of distress you would like,” Steph and Michelle said. Then, the mother-daughter team finished the table with three coats of a satin finish polyurethane.

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4. Apply a Lime Wash

Aiming for a coastal vibe, Lindsey, the blogger behind Repurpose and Upcycle, decided to makeover her “drab” dark wood table.

She began by cleaning and stripping the surface. Since it was heavily stained and sealed, she needed to use a paint stripper three or four times to remove the finish.

Then, with a lint-free rag, Lindsey applied lime wax in the direction of the wood grain. After about 30 minutes, she buffed the surface with a clean lint-free rag. “Be careful not to buff too much because you don’t want to remove the finish,” she said.

Overall, Lindsey advises choosing furniture made of wood with a large open grain, such as oak. “The lime wash finish won’t show up well on wood with a smaller grain, like maple,” she explains.

5. Glaze to Amaze

The Sunny Side Design bloggers Steph and Michelle said the $75 coffee table they found in their local classifieds section had good bones. “We loved the shape and planked surface and knew we could transform it to a light and airy coastal look,” they said.

After a light sanding, they added two coats of white chalk paint. Once dry, they applied a mixture of four parts glaze to one part light gray acrylic paint to add depth and dimension to the finish. “The glaze extended the drying time and thinned the paint slightly,” Steph and Michelle explain.

They lightly sanded the table once the glaze dried, achieving an aged, driftwood-like patina. Then, Steph and Michelle applied a clear wax and buffed the surface. “When using chalk paint, it’s important to seal your piece,” they said, “otherwise the paint can stain or discolor over time.”