Weekend Project: The Shabby Chic Refurb

July 1, 2015

Three years ago, when I was very married and very pregnant, I made my (then) husband pull over to the side of road and toss this abandoned little table in the back of his truck. After that, life took over and I forgot about my little curbside project.

However, two weekends ago I noticed this “ugly” little table sitting in the corner of my basement. Have you ever heard the phrase “trash to treasure”?  It fits.

Here is a tutorial of how I turned this sad, abandoned, table into something happy and funky again, including all the mistakes along the way…

The first assessment wasn’t good. The sides were peeling off, the top was cracked, the hardware didn’t look like it was removable.

The “assessment” is usually the precursor to refurbishing something. You want to ask yourself how much effort and money you are willing to put into a piece.

It’s always worth it. But you have to do an honest assessment of your time and your abilities. If you are going to take on a refurb project, make sure you plan on doing it right, otherwise you’re just going to end up re-junking the piece instead.

This piece took me about two weekends to complete.  It was worth every second. I also learned a lot in the process, which is always good when you are teaching yourself something from scratch.IMG_2970 IMG_2982

Step One: Remove ALL hardware and dust the piece with some water and a rag.

With some elbow grease and pliers I was able to remove everything. Turns out, the beautiful front piece does actually open, some one had just screwed it shut. For a while there, I thought the hinges were ornamental.

Make sure you keep the screws, hinges and knobs all together. They are easy to misplace. I have a bucket that I put everything in: sandpaper, screwdrivers, wood filler, scrapers, whatever. I tossed the little screws and hinges into that bucket for safekeeping.


Step two: Sand and sand and sand. Some pieces don’t need a lot of sanding. Hell, I’ve had pieces that I never touched with sand paper. This was not one of them.

I used 3M 150 grit sandpaper. I hit this entire piece about 5 times from beginning to end. You want to make sure you have a smooth surface to work with. Or at least as smooth as possible. Get in all the nooks and crannies, around the edges, the table legs, everywhere. After you get done sanding, wipe down the piece again.

Step Three: Fill all the cracks.

This piece had a lot of cracks. The entire first layer of wood on the sides was peeling off. I ended up pulling off all the breakage I could and filling the gashes with wood filler. I used Elmer’s Glue Wood Filler. It was my very first time using it, so it was pretty tricky and messy, but it  really smoothed out the surface and made it paintable. After all, there is a difference between shabby chic and crappy chic, am I right?

If you have any reservations about how to use wood filler, I suggest using YouTube to educate yourself.


After the wood filler dried, which didn’t take long, I sanded the entire piece yet again. The Elmer’s Wood Filler sanded down really easily and I noticed I needed to even out a quite a few spots.

Step Four and Learning Experience One: Primer coat. I used Zinsser Bull’s Eye  1-2-3 Multisurface Primer. I use it for everything and I love it. I asked for a gallon for Christmas, no joke.

HOWEVER, in this specific circumstance, my perfect primer would not work. Do you see those oily little dots bleeding through the primer? That’s stain. I did not realize that this piece had been stained previously, I just thought all those dark blotches were dirt from hanging out on the curb for a few days. Regular primer does not have the moxie to cover a stained surface. Lesson learned.


So instead I got this stuff, Zinsser Stain Cover Primer. They had one quart left at Ace Hardware. It covered over the previous primer and all the stain that had bled through it.

Beware when looking for a primer to cover a stained surface. Brands will use the terms “stain blocker” and “stain killer” almost interchangeably. You want to make sure you have paint that covers a stained surface, not just prevents stains from your two year old’s juice box.


I did several coats of primer, I wanted to make sure none of the stain was visible through the primer coat.

As you can see, I am painting in my living room on a shower curtain. I wasn’t about to let the typical Sault Ste. Marie rainy weather ruin my project, and Squeaker was at her dad’s for the weekend. I had a lot of ventilation, and many careful brush strokes.


Step Five: My personal fav! Color! I chose ColorPlace Festive 50s Pink. Before I applied color I made sure the primer was good and dry. Then I sanded the entire surface down, yet again, and wiped it off.


ColorPlace is on the cheaper end of paint. So I also bought a nice spray can of gloss enamel for extra protection, which I will use at the very end.

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I painted two coats of color and I let it dry overnight before sanding it again.


Step Six: Two more coats, and let it dry really well.

Step Seven: The final sanding.

This time the process is a little different. I wanted to recreate wear and tear on my table to give it that shabby chic look. I did this by: a. sanding the entire piece lightly and b. sanding along the lines and contours of the piece. You can see there is a little roughness to the entire table, but I focused mainly along the edges and curves. I also left the old rusty, painted, original hardware.

my baby sanding

Little Squeaker was such a good help :)

sanding and damaging (2)

Step Eight: Spray paint two coats of gloss enamel, after that dries (which doesn’t take long), add the hardware back onto the piece and TA DA!!!! You are finished my friend and reader.

Below are several photos of the finished piece. I love it. It’s so fun and funky.

refurb job

Now that’s a happy table.


Questions? Comments? Hit me up below!



P.S. Readers, I would personally like to thank my friend Jason Smith for talking me off the ledge when I was about to give up. Thank you Jason!!

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1 Comment
    1. You did Awesome job & Especially the help from little hands also :) Love the color…I enjoy my roadside reading of moxie girl, seeing the projects you do, mainly stories, Makes me Cry, Happy, Get to See my Favorite Girls…..

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