painting sunny

Coffee Table Stenciling


When we moved into our current home, we brought with us a nice, pretty, dark-wood square coffee table from Ikea. It had lived with us in our last two homes and had been a good friend. Oddly, although our new living room is actually larger and more square, this coffee table no longer fit with the layout. Sometimes the best table in the world isn’t the right fit for a particular room, you know? Happily, we were able to sell it on Craigslist for $60.

We began to peek around for a new table that would better fit us. Our criteria was that it be rounded (sharp edges and little kids don’t mix), narrow enough to walk around easily, and wide enough to spread out a board game down the middle. For $30 (again on Craigslist) we stumbled across one that looked decent and sturdy, and checked all the boxes on our list.

Within a year the kids had destroyed the finish… And then, in a movement of epic clumsiness, I knocked over a bottle of nail polish remover and officially sent it over the edge. It looked horrible.

We debated about what to do and I spent a few weeks living with it and considering the options. A) Buy a nicer, brand new coffee table we would love, B) Buy another second-hand coffee table and potentially refinish it, or C) fix up the one we have.

With two little kids and me still being clumsy,we put off buying a new dream coffee table. Nothing popped out at me at the local thrift shops… So we used what we already had. Here is the end result:

Finished Coffee Table 2

Below is the “Before Picture”. Actually, it is the after picture of the damage we were able to do to a perfectly fine coffee table, but before it reached this new chapter in it’s life. It is embarrassing.

Coffee Table Photo 6

Okay, want to see that nail polish remover issue up close? BAM. There it is below. Complete with a Paloma the Cat photo bomb, our adorable 3-year-old snuggling on the sofa, and my purple flip flops. That’s real, ya’ll.

Why is our cat-bed upside-down in the picture above? Could not tell you. I’m assuming the cat didn’t do it herself, but who knows.

See below, that little wooden upside-down shell decoration? I tore that sucker off with a hammer.

Coffee Table Photo 7

When I began brainstorming how to refinish the table, my first thought was to paint it the same color as our TV stand. I don’t like everything matching in a room but frankly nothing else really “matches” so I thought it might be nice. I went to our nicer local paint store, but without actually dragging the TV stand in with me, matching was tricky.

Now that I think about it, I totally could have taken a little drawer divider in. Oh well.

I chose Benjamin Moore’s Bittersweet Chocolate. In the store it looked dark enough, and I thought maybe it being a little more brown than black would help tie our blackish-colored TV stand in with our brown sofa/chair.

The paint we ended up with was a nice enough color but didn’t at all match the TV stand. I went ahead and painted it anyway… mostly just so I didn’t have to stare at that nail polish remover spot anymore. Seriously.

Coffee Table Photo 5

The Paint Shop Guy suggested I try an oil paint, given the surface I was working with. I have used a lot of latex paint and some milk paint, but never oil paint on a piece of furniture. I took two years of oil painting for my BFA in college… not the same thing.

The picture above shows the table after two coats of paint, and not yet dried. In the end, the oil paint worked out alright, but I don’t know that I’ll be doing it again any time soon. It took forever to dry, stained everything it touched much faster than latex paint, and the smell wasn’t quite pleasant. A low-VOC latex would have been more my taste, I think. Still, gotta try something new every once in awhile.

Ultimately, once painted I just wasn’t satisfied with how it fit into the room. I really wanted it to tie in better, and wanted to cover up a few of those little paint mistakes on the top.

Coffee Table Photo 4

So, turning to my Pinterest boards I decided it was time to jump in on the stenciling craze. That bandwagon was passing me and I threw myself right up on it!

Literally, within an hour of getting my husband on board with the idea of my stenciling over the top of the brand-new-paint job, I was back home from Hobby Lobby. Here is the materials breakdown:

  • Wall & Floor Stencil: $16.99 using a 40% off coupon from my iPhone Hobby Lobby app.
  • Stencil Paint in black: $3.47
  • Stencil brush: $2.47
  • Brush Cleaner and Restorer by Winsor & Newton: $7.99 (more info on that, below)
  • Spray adhesive: I already had on hand.

A lot of the above items were full-price, so if you waited for a good sale or went in several times with those 40% off coupons, you could do it for much cheaper, I’m sure.

Note: I only used about 1/5 or so of the stencil paint on this project. I still have the brush and stencil itself as well, of course, so I’m making plans for how to use it on future projects. Given that, the stenciling of this table was very affordable.

Coffee Table Photo 3

Following the instructions on the back of the stencil, I sprayed the back lightly with adhesive (I held it in the kitchen sink while I sprayed it quickly) and centered it on the middle of the table. I used a ruler to check that the edges of the pattern were actually centered and straight. It explains how to use these tiny triangles on the corners of the pattern to mark your place in pencil, which worked really well.

Coffee Table Photo 2

Okay, honestly – stenciling was the easiest thing I have done in a long time. Maybe a little tedious, but easy. I had the entire top of the table stenciled in 35 minutes. It was basically effortless – this stencil was just designed really well.

As a side-note, I was really excited to find a brush cleaner that could remove oil paints but was not the mineral spirits or turpentine I recalled from my art-school days. I just don’t want to have that ultra-flammable and toxic stuff in the house with the kids. And knowing myself, I would probably… you know, spill it on the coffee table.

This brush cleaner I picked up claims to be biodegradable, non-toxic, water soluble, low vapor, and non-abrasive. Both my husband I and were skeptical, but I thought it was worth a shot. I had to clean both the stencil brush, and the brush from painting the actual table. It was a tiny bottle, but I only used about 1/4 of it total cleaning all the brushes and it worked like magic. I was so impressed.

Coffee Table Photo 1

Following the instructions on the back of the stencil paint, I used my little brush and paint and worked my way across the pattern. Then, I carefully lifted the stencil and moved it to line up the arrows again, on one side of the pattern. I stenciled that part, then lifted it again and stenciled the other side. I didn’t even wait for it to dry first – it wasn’t smudging at all.

The hardest part was getting it to the very edges of the table, but even then I just held the stencil up with one hand (where it hung over the edge) and painted with the other, and easy-peesy-lemon-squeezy. It was done.

It suggested waiting 24-48 hours for it the stencil to fully dry, which I did. It is holding up really well, now.

Finished Coffee Table

I really like how it turned out. It might not be our forever-coffee-table, but the dark pattern works much better with the dark tone of our TV stand and the ironwork on the shelves behind the sofa. The pattern also plays nicely off the lavender-patterned pillows you may recall. I like that the coffee table pattern isn’t too feminine or too masculine.

And you know, anything is better than that nail polish remover blotch. Let’s never talk about that again, okay?

Anyone else jumping on the wall-stencil or Moroccan-pattern bandwagon a little late in the game? Experimenting with a new type of paint, to the detriment of your fingernails? I about have mine looking pretty again!

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.

PSS: This post was linked to Miss Mustard Seed.

Author: Dani @ Painting Sunny

Hi there! I'm Dani, and it's lovely to meet you. My little family just moved to the quaint little college-town of Ithaca, NY and are loving it. Come hang out with me and talk about food, books, art, and other odd little things.

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