Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Tables have turned (more attractive)

When we lived in our old apartment, we longed to have the space for more than just our coffee table in our living room. It wasn't that the room was teeny tiny, it just wasn't big enough for our two large chairs, sofa, and a place to set a drink. We made due with our large coffee table that we were given by David and Beth (yeah, we get a lot of their old stuff. They're pretty great peeps) by painting it black. I didn't have a workspace to really properly make it over, so I just taped a plasticy tablecloth to the top and called it a day.

This worked really well for a couple of years. I could change the $3 table cloth with the seasons and just throw it away when it was dirty, torn, or stained. It made our lives as people who entertain often much easier.

Here it is from an old post about painting the living room.

Sam lives in that chair. I can prove it.

And here it is a couple months later in the stag head DIY post.

Having a table cloth wrapped around a table in your living room isn't exactly grown up, though. It was amazing during the college/apartment years, but now that we have a house and a proper work area, it was time to give the ol' drink holder some love. Besides, it was a little boring and needed some spice.

The black paint that we had sprayed on it two or three years ago was starting to chip, so I knew my first step was so give it a good once over with a fresh coat of black.

I used spray paint again because it gives a nice clean finish if done correctly. It also allowed me to quickly maneuver around the lift top for an even coat.

I gave it a good couple of hours of drying time. This was on one of the nicer days we've had so far, but with it still being chilly outside, I had a heater running in the garage as I worked. When it was really fumy, I would open the garage door, let it filter out for a moment, then close it back up. It might not be a perfect method, but it worked well enough that I was ready to do the rest of the painting not too long after the last coat of black spray.

One thing I really wanted to do was put a pattern on the table top itself. It was a large black plane that needed to be broken up by some color. I automatically thought to use white because the table is black, but then I considered a fun color like my favorite teal or some sort of peach. That's when it occurred to me that this was going to be sitting right in front of the TV. If I used a bright color, it might be really distracting and I didn't want that. I ended up with a dark gray that was also in spray paint form. This way there would still be a noticeable design, but if we were watching a movie or TV show, we wouldn't be constantly glancing down at a punch-you-in-the-face yellow or white color.

Next, I had to plan my pattern. I wanted to go geometric because I really liked the idea of fitting it within the table top's rectangular space. I ended up on Pinterest (of course) where I looked up 'stencil design'. That's where I found this.

I really liked the symmetry of it and how it had a slightly Asian sense about it, so I decided to give it a try with some painters tape. Using painters tape for this task was also made much easier by the fact that it was geometric which, of course, meant that I wouldn't have to cut any curves or organic shapes from the tape itself.

I made sure to tape around the edge (which I wanted to stay black to frame the stencil). Then I made a grid pattern on the table with the tape. Keeping an eye on the pattern, I just used an exacto knife to cut away any of the pieces that didn't need to be there. I made sure all of my cuts were straight by cutting along a straight edge (like a ruler or paint stick). This whole part of the process didn't take as long as you might think, which was really nice.

Next I ran my hand over all of the tape I had applied (because it was Home Depot brand and it can be finicky) to make sure the edges were stuck flush with the surface. I then gave it one really well covering coat of the gray spray paint. I used a paint+primer, so the coverage was really nice. Pulling the painters tape while the paint is still wet is one of the keys to good stenciling because sometimes acrylics can pull up if you let them dry.

After the tape had been pulled, It was looking pretty snazzy, but that's when I decided to take the leap and make over yet another living room table. I had gotten this guy a couple of months ago from the ReStore for $10. It's a Broyhill table, so it's pretty hearty and in decent condition, but I couldn't help but want to give him some white accents. I saw this post on Pinterest the other day which finally gave me the guts to just go ahead and do it.

It started out pretty dull.

So Scott and I dragged him out to the garage and I put him along side his flat-topped companion for prep.

I taped off all of the parts that I wanted to stay wood grained. I was going to use white on this table because I really feel like the contrast between the white and the wood would be refreshing, but also very reminiscent of dutch post-modern design (which I am in love with if you couldn't tell).

I also taped off parts of the front of the drawer. Here you can see that the parts that are taped off were flush with the front. This would allow me to only paint the trim that was dimensional.

For this, I ended up using white lacquered spray paint. I had never used it before, but it was supposed to be made specifically for furniture. There was no cost difference, so I gave it a try. It worked really well and dried really fast, too.

I had to take the handles off of the drawer front before painting it, so I gave them a good scrub down with some Barkeepers Friend and the difference was pretty amazing. I don't mind that they didn't come completely clean, though, because the patina is nice on the brass. The right hand side is before, the left, after.

I let everything dry over night and had to do some touch ups with some mineral spirits the next day (The Home Depot tape was more of a let down on this table), but I like the end result.

His brethren across the way is also lookin' good with his new colors.

See? There she is again, MONTHS later!

I gave him a nice thick coat of polyurethane that I let dry over night before moving him back into the living room. This will help protect him, but it isn't invincible, so we have suddenly become a coaster-using household. The coasters are from our friends in TN who know we are huge geeks, so they are tiles from the video game Portal.  It's almost like we're adults!

I was then able to move part of our organizational system back into place as well. We have four baskets that sit under the table that hold a lot of our entertainment. This keeps it all within reach, but out of the way when we don't want to sit on a controller or look at the ten billion DVDs we own.

We are really pleased with the result and it makes me want to tackle my next piece of furniture (Scott's old dresser-turned-dog-medicine-and-leash-storage device) soon. I have the paint and the time, but not the temperatures. It snowed almost 4 inches yesterday, so it's a little too cold to do ANYTHING outside at the moment. That just means that the emerald green dresser post is going to have to wait.

That's part of the reason we can't wait for Spring. Is anyone else getting cabin fever?

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