Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ugly Duckling: Refinishing a '70s Coffee Table

$6.99--was I robbed?

I'm starting a new feature here at This is Beige. I'm calling it "Ugly Duckling" and it is inspired by the thrift store next to my daughter's swimming lesson. I have 45 minutes to kill three times a week so I decided to try to find the ugliest item I could find and challenge myself to making it cool, or at least not as uncool.

It's pretty dinged up.

8-year-old Max went with me and immediately spotted the winner: a $6.99 coffee table that screamed "Choose Me!"

Why don't you make yourself useful and dust it while you're there?

The first thing I did with this table was saw off the legs, which are made of turned wood and look antique-y. Better already. I then grabbed my trusty can of black spray paint, the essential ingredient in most of my budget remodels, and painted it.

The top of the table has some pretty deep scratches so I needed something to put over them. I found a cool technique where you paint the back of a piece of glass and it makes a really cool looking tabletop/tile/backsplash. I went on eBay and ordered a round disc of plexiglass but when it came it was black! Stupid seller! So I went back to the listing to complain and the word "black" was written all over the description. How was I supposed to know? Stupid seller.

Should I do something with these weird side pieces?

So I've now got a black disc; put it on the table and it actually looks better. I'm posting this now to ask for your help: what do you think? Good enough, or does it need something more?

Why do you guys keep doing this?!

Has it become retro or is it still just dated?


  1. I usually like natural finish, but this looks beautiful. Love the cat, mine would be crawling in there too. My suggestion: when I look at those side panels, they look the size of picture frames. Perhaps you could get some black & white photos or posters and glue them on with about 2" of black border around them. Maybe something like those vintage french rainy street scenes?

  2. I think it looks great - like a completely different piece. Although I might have gone with some crazy obnoxious color like turquois or bright yellow and still made it look a little rustic.

  3. I agree with all of you--I was actually going to spray paint the clear plexiglass with turquoise, I was thinking of putting something on the sides but couldn't figure out if it would be too much, and also putting a couple more cats down there!

  4. Very cool. Just needs a couple of good books placed in the shelf and you should be good to go! :-)

  5. I think it is great, but then I lived through the 70's. Your update is very attractive.

  6. When I first saw the photo I could only see the top of the table and I thought it wasn't that bad. And then I scrolled down and saw the legs. Ugh! Good move sawing them off. I think its very attractive and very retro!

  7. Think I'd get rid of the plastic disc on top. Here's a tip to fill those deep scratches: bondo. That's what the pros use. Dries fast and hard. You'll have to prime and you'll lose wood grain, though, if that's important to you.

    I think sawing off the legs helped, and painting it helped, but that shape is still so dang ugly. I like what one poster said about adding b/w photos. You have to do something with those big panels. Drill some random holes in them or something. My 2¢.

  8. Apply Fleck Stone on the side panels please. Then I'll buy it from you for $9.99 (includes pick-up)