The Tale of the Topless Table

There once was a lovely, small table.  She was made of sturdy wood, had beautiful scalloped edging, and an immaculate marble inlay.  Her owners had to give her up and left her at a place called Unique Thrift Store.  She did not like being stuck in the back of the store under piles of old CD towers, towel bars, and wooden boxes.  She did not like being shoved in between old dusty lamps and tattered chairs.
Then, one day a very nice lady named Sarah came to Unique and rescued her for only $12.00!  The table was so happy to have a forever home.  Sarah was very careful to get the table into her small car without damaging the legs or the marble top.  But when Sarah got her home and into the garage a terrible thing happened!  You see, Sarah’s landlords love to keep lots of random junk in their garage—so much that it’s hard to get out of the car!  When Sarah was trying to get the lovely table out of the car she tripped on a bike pedal (that was sticking out from the pile of junk) and dropped the lovely table!  Her immaculate marble inlay smashed on the cold cement floor and was ruined!
And that is the tale of how the lovely, small table became a topless table.
Ok, so that story was a bit dramatic.  I just was in the mood to write about this table differently than just a dry tutorial.  Tissue anyone?
The table above had a beautiful marble top, and as you can see it is was topless.

Now she looks like this:
Not too shabby, huh?
Here is the tale of her journey from topless to untopless? not topless?  You get the idea.

Besides the obvious problem of having a large gaping hole in the top, this table had some other issues.  The wood was pretty scuffed up and it had lots of layers of different sticky substances.
The shots below were taken after I had sanded it and taken off the original paint job.
Next, it was Elmer’s Wood Filler to the rescue!
I filled all the little nicks and gabs with this stuff, then sanded it down after it had dried.
Next, it was time to paint.  I used Glidden Paint and Primer in one mixed to be Martha Stewart’s cement gray.  Did you know her paint line is being discontinued?  Her quarts are only $4.50 and gallons are $9.99.  Get to Home Depot and grab some before it’s all gone!
Taking tips from some other great blogs, I added Floetrol to the paint before using it. Floetrol is a paint conditioner that extends the drying time and helps eliminate brush strokes.
Now because the paint I used had a primer mixed in, I did not prime before painting.  I did, however, apply two nice and thick coats.

Of course I removed the little doors and hardware before painting.
After painting the table I had to figure out what do to with the trim on the scalloped edges.  It was a dark gold color when I found it, but I didn’t like the big contrast.  I preferred a more subtle look  so I painted the edges “windsurf” by Behr.  I already had it leftover from my DIY pedestal bowl and earring holder.

The last step was to add two coats of protection.  I used Minwax water based Polycrylic.  I love that it is super low odor (so I don’t have to pull out a gas mask!) and dries fast.  I was a little disappointed that the finish was a little streakier than I had hoped.  If anyone has good tips on how to fix that next time, please share!
While the table was in drying mode, I turned my attention to giving it a top.  After the marble broke I decided it would be much easier, and cheaper to not and try to replace it.  Glass was another option, but again $$$$$$.  So, I decided to go with regular ‘ol MDF.  It’s cheap, it’s solid, and easily available.
Dave and I went to Home Depot and had them cut us a piece to fit the hole.  Now we were careful to triple check our measurements before going.  We wanted the MDF to fit snugly inside so the cut had to be dead on.  And guess what? It wasn’t.  When we got home, it would not fit inside.  The worker (no names shall be used!) had not cut it completely straight or to the right  measurement.  In his defense, it was only off by 1/8ths and 1/4 of an inch, but when you’re trying to make an inlay it might as well has been feet.
At first I thought I could just use sandpaper to sand down the edges that were too long.  Then I smartened up and realized I’d be sanding until I was 82 years old.  My sister suggested that I use a wood file and so I was off to—you guessed it—Home Depot again.
I marked off on the MDF how much I needed to take off and then set off to file my life away.
And did I mention that it made a huge mess?
But it was worth it.  After a LONG time (let’s just say somewhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours) I finally got it to fit.


I was so sad to have to take the top right out again so that I could prime and paint it.  I contemplated leaving it just like this.
But I didn’t.  So off I went to the back porch to spray prime the MDF.  Thankfully winter has decided not to come to Chicago this year and it was 42 degrees and sunny.  In December.  Craziness!

Since the new MDF inlay would not be flush with the surrounding edges (I knew that going in and liked it.  The marble was the same way) I needed to paint and prime the sides.  I used an old moving box to prop it off the ground to ensure proper coverage on the sides.
(Notice the wood filler on the edges? I got a little to rough with that filer!)
After priming it outside I brought it back in to get a paint job.  Yes, I had to use my dining room table because I didn’t want little dog paw prints on my new table top.
A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

I used the same cement gray color but mixed it with some white paint for a subtle color change.  The white was called “lamb” by Martha Stewart (I had to take advantage of the cheap going-out-of-business-prices!)
After the paint had dried I applied two coats of the same Polycrylic protective coating and……
I switched out the hardware for some new glass oval knobs that I got off Amazon for only $2.70 each.  Oh, and notice how the doors are not exactly even with each other anymore?  Well, it turns out that the screws were as old as the table and were all stripped.  I managed to yank jerk twist pull get all off them out except for one.  It would NOT come out.  So when I put the new screws in it cause the doors to be a little off.
I’m sure in the future I can fix this, but for now, I’m ok with it. But if you can’t fix it with yourself, better to just let take care of it!
I paired the table with the rocking chair we found in the alley and fixed up.   The pillows were made from thrift store sweaters.  Super easy! Let me know if you’d like a tutorial.
On the table is the tray I made from a picture frame, a vase from Michaels and dollar store roses.  On the right side (I know it’s hard to see-stupid backlighting) is a hurricane.  It’s been covered with chevron printed on vellum.  I’ll be posting about that later this week.


And that is how a lovely table went from the back corner of a thrift store to my living room floor.

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