Before and After: Ugly End Table

Many moons ago, Angela and I were walking through Salvation Army perusing their wares on a day with particularly slim pickings. I don’t remember exactly how this weird energy got started, but suddenly we were standing looking at two disheveled, ugly pieces of furniture saying to each other, “I bet we could make those look cool.” Angela bought a Cosco bar cart that you might remember from what is still one of our top read posts (check it out here). I, however, walked away with a much, much more questionable purchase. I bought this:


That’s right, I paid money for this. Seven whole dollars, in fact. No part of this is even wood, the whole cabinet is just injection molded plastic with a particle board top covered in peeling woodgrain laminate. I can’t  imagine what would have possessed someone to buy it brand new. Is it Mediterranean? Is it old English? In any case it was terrible. So terrible that it was intriguing. Could anything make this better? You be the judge.


Primer, a couple coats of marigold yellow gloss spray paint, a quick blast of black on the hardware and new rosewood veneer on the top yielded this. Although it didn’t magically turn into an Ethan Allen side table, the yellow paint did make it a lot more fun and calmed all that late 1970s smeary faux woodgrain to allow you to see the form.

IMG_6034I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do about the hardware. I didn’t want to leave it antique brass, but I also didn’t want to take the typical route and spray it silver. I’m not a big fan of metallic spray paint for hardware. It often either looks fake or tarnishes from fingerprints with use. I decided to go with satin black at the risk of it going a bit bumblebee. I think I made the right choice, although white might have been an interesting twist.

After_TopFor the top I had strips of rosewood veneer left from another project and decided the exotic wood would help elevate the look of my little plastic table. The veneer wasn’t pre-glued. Normally one would use a contact adhesive made for such things, but I chose to use 3M High Strength 90 spray adhesive; it did the trick. On my first attempt at finishing the wood, I tried using polyurethane. I knew better, but I was in a hurry—the results were disastrous. Dense tropical woods like rosewood and teak have high amounts of natural oil that can sometimes prevent film-forming finishes from curing. I had a sticky mess on my hands. It took an hour to scrape all the veneer off and start over. This time I oiled the wood with teak oil and the result was perfection.


So, what are your thoughts? Good? Bad? Or is it still just plain ugly?

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  1. Victor
    Posted October 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    It looks like a prop from an “Austin Powers” or “Our Man Flint” movie.

    • Austin
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      I’m going to take that as a compliment. It started out looking like a prop from “Roseanne.”

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