I have been known to hunt for and find great Craig’s List furniture pieces when I want to redo a room in our home. I figure it is always better to repurpose a good piece than buy a new one whenever possible.
My home is filled with refinished furniture that I absolutely love! However, this coffee table is still my all-time favorite!
This $25 wood coffee table started with very humble beginnings. (This picture is straight off Craig’s List minus the notations:)! I wanted a table large enough to fill my oversized room, sturdy enough people could sit on it, and have storage for blankets and remotes.
This poor thing was a steal at $25 if you could just look past all of the problems. I bought it from a man who was being redeployed to Afghanistan for the 3rd time and he needed to put all of his furniture in storage or sell it.
It was solidly built but badly abused by some obviously rambunctious kids! Bubblegum was stuck to the underside and names carved in the top for starters. But it had good bones; it just needed someone to see its potential. At 3.5’x5′, it also needed a large vehicle to haul it home, which I borrowed from a friend.
When my husband saw it, his first thought was “why would you ever buy this thing, it’s a total mess!”. I kept saying, it has good bones, it was a steal, and trust me, it is going to be beautiful when I’m done.
Let me just say, I do not have any formal training in furniture refinishing. Everything I learned was by reading online tutorials and websites of others who refinished furniture and shared their knowledge and finding inspiration on Pinterest.
Furniture refinishing, especially sanding, is a very PHYSICAL process. In my case, I enlisted the help of my husband as the top needed some serious muscle to sand out all of the kid’s artistic carvings. We used a belt sander for the first stage and switched to a Black and Decker mouse sander for more of the detail work on the edges.
Tip: wear a mask when sanding! We sanded in an enclosed space and it caused me serious respiratory issues for several days afterward. I should have known better, but stupidly didn’t wear a mask. At least I was smart enough to move it outside when I began the staining and painting process. Okay, sometimes I’m a slow learner.
I knew I wanted the top to be dark brown and the body to be creamy ivory. I used Minwax Espresso Polyshades with stain and polyurethane together and applied four coats with a Purdy paintbrush, applying it in smooth even strokes so it wouldn’t leave any brush lines. Propped up on two sawhorses made painting easy as I could walk around the table to paint the sides and legs without back and shoulder strain.
The body of the table was painted in Behr Whisper White (from Home Depot) in semi-gloss with a Purdy paintbrush, the only kind I use because they leave no streaks and just last a long time if properly cleaned. The semi-gloss finish was picked for easy cleaning.
Six years later, this table has been moved twice and still gets heavy use. It has had lots of family gatherings around it, grandkids on top of it, been used as additional eating space and sat on for extra seating when family or friends are over.
I’m pleased to say it has held up remarkably well.
It looks like a high-end piece of furniture in my living that I would have paid hundreds of dollars for at a furniture store. To say that I am still thrilled with this piece would be an understatement.
As a takeaway, my TOP 5 TIPS for finding and refinishing a great piece of furniture especially for beginners:
- Look for a well-built piece! Good bones, as I call it, solidly built and made of wood if possible.
- Be picky! I watched Craig’s list for 2 months waiting for the “perfect” piece to get listed.
- Keep it simple! If you have not refinished a lot of furniture, keep your finishes simple. I used two finishes and 6 years later the colors still look great with my furniture and home decor.
- Shop Local! Look for marketplaces where people just want to get rid of their stuff because they are moving, downsizing, relocating, whatever. Try Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, local flea markets, and garage sales.
- Be patient! This is not a weekend makeover. The finishes need time to dry completely if you want the furniture to handle wear and tear. I have not had to touch up my finishes at all over the years.
That pretty sofa table behind my sofa? That is my next furniture makeover project, a piece I picked up from my sister when she moved and was downsizing. I LOVE the character it has in the legs and the size of the top.