Tuesday, January 14

DIY [industrial coffee table]

This is a very simple project. The more DIY's I do, the more convinced I am that it's not about talent or skill but more about having the tools, the time, and the vision. Heck, you don't even need a vision, that's what Pinterest is for, and most tools you can rent out from a home improvement store or buy for cheap (the only "tool" we needed for this project was sand paper for $3/4 pack).

D and I weren't too keen on our Ikea coffee table, which was too modern and sleek for our preferred aesthetic. Glass isn't really our thing, so we knew we wanted to swap it out for some wood.

The table had great legs, which I coated with chalk board spray paint to mimic wrought iron. I've tried matte blacks before, but they just don't give the same texture as the chalk board paint-- believe me, I had plenty of time to experiment when DIY'ing for my brother's wedding here, here, and here. I taped off the nuts and bolts and lightly sanded everywhere to be painted- you want the paint to have some texture to stick to, and I wasn't going to bother with primer. Remember: multiple light coats of spray paint is the best way to get even coverage with no drips.

For the table top, we bought a 1/4in board of walnut at Home Depot for $25. We needed only a fraction of the board, but unfortunately this isn't sold by the foot but by the sheet. We don't own a saw, so we made sure to visit Home Depot at a quiet time so the man cutting our wood would have time to make exact cuts. We brought home the rest to save for another project, and D got to sanding.

The sheet itself was in great shape, but we needed to round the edges to mimic the frame. I debated busting out the orbital sander, but this took less than 5 minutes to do all four by hand.

Next up was staining the wood. If you're new to working with wood stains, go hang out with my boy Bruce Johnson. I use Minwax products, so it makes sense I would listen to their experts. D and I worked as a team here: he would paint on the stain, and I would almost immediately rub it in/off using a clean dry rag. We like this rich walnut hue (which we already had on hand), but didn't want the color to be too dark for this project, since we already have a honkin' big leather club chair in the living room. Gotta think about balance.

For any piece of wood, painted or not, stained or not, you need to use a protective product. Otherwise, your wood will get dry and crack. I used Minwax Polyurethane in clear satin for the table top. 1 quart is $10 at Home Depot. I did 3 light coats over the wood, and don't forget to sand with a fine grit (I used 220) between each coat after 4 hours of drying. Satin is the least shiny option in the Polyurethane/Polycrylic family, which we wanted to use for waterproofing and protection qualities, rather than a wax. In the picture below, the right half has been coated with Poly, the left has not. It really saturates the color and adds a richness.

All that remains is painting the knobs, which I did with my trusty liquid gold leaf. i actually don't like the result- it's a little too yellow to be brass- but I'm leaving it for now. I'll show you the end result tomorrow, along with my amateur attempt at styling a coffee table.


  1. I learned my sanding technique from Captain America.

  2. Meaghan, it's beautiful! When do I get to come down and see all of these lovely DIYs in person??


how you like dem apples?