Leather-Top End-Table Makeover

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Never judge a book by its cover, right? Or maybe we should say never judge a table by its ugly green top!

We were in need of end tables for our living room. We had one measly little table left over from my husband’s bachelor days (I’m pretty sure it was a Target clearance special), and it just wasn’t cutting it.

I scoured the internet, Facebook Marketplace, and various stores for end tables that would fit our space and needs, but came up with nothing. Nada. Zilch. You see, I needed two matching tables that would be tall enough that we could fit one over this monstrosity:

It was huge, it was shiny, and it was the bane of my decorating existence.

Many times in marriage, you have to compromise for the sake of marital harmony, and so it was with the subwoofer. Apparently we “need” it and this one is too fabulous to replace with a smaller one (you know, like one that could hide in a basket). So the deal was if we kept it, I could at least put it under an end table between our couch and wall so it wouldn’t be visible from most angles in the room. Finding two matching tables that height was no small feat.

Then one day, the kids and I were in Goodwill, and I spotted these two end tables hiding under a pile of stuff. $30 for the pair!

I was so excited – they had so much potential! However, there was no way I was going to be able to fit them in the car with the kids in tow, and I had forgotten my measuring tape at home, so I couldn’t be sure they would even work in our space. I begrudgingly passed them up, hoping that the ugly green tops would turn people off and that the pile of junk on top would help hide them until I could talk it over with my husband. When he got home that afternoon, we talked it over, he went back up to Goodwill, measuring tape in hand, and brought them home. Eeeee! 😀

Now, you might be thinking they don’t look like much, and I don’t blame you. They were pretty rough and dirty.

But just look at all that detailing!

I gave them a good cleaning and set to work. All the steps I’m about to tell you I did over the course of several weeks because, you know, I work during nap time and “after-mom hours” (but that never really ends, who am I kidding).

This right here has to be my favorite chalk paint color of ALL TIME: DecoArt Americana Chalk Finish Paint in “Vintage.” I got mine at Hobby Lobby, but I’ve linked it to Amazon so you can see it. It’s slightly cheaper on Amazon right now, but you could use a coupon at Hobby Lobby and make it even cheaper! (Always use that weekly 40% off coupon! Just go to their website or use their app.)

This color is the perfect vintage blue with just a hint of green. I know the jar right there looks green, but don’t go by that.

I did not sand the tables. I decided to just give them a cleaning and go straight on with the paint. Let me warn you, though, that different wood finishes will handle paint differently. It’s a good idea to rough up the finish if it’s especially shiny and slick. Also, if you plan to use a water-based topcoat, like a polyacrylic, certain woods like mahogany will wick the stain color up through your paint if you haven’t sealed it with a stain-blocking primer like this. I did not use a primer, and I’ve not had any trouble, but I kind of wish I had just to give it more durability. I’d recommend it to be on the safe side, especially if you’re not going to sand.

Back to the fabulous vintagey paint! A lot of times people will do some post-paint sanding or use an antiquing glaze to give interest to a piece and highlight some of the details. When it comes to distressing, I am a minimalist. I like some interest, but really don’t want my piece to look like it fell out of the truck on its way to my house. 😉

I decided to do my own version – I call it “Missing Spots.” Haha. Seriously though, by simply not working the paint down into all the nooks and crannies, it left some depth to the details that helped them pop.

I taped off the green leather tops of the tables and gave these babies two coats of “Vintage,” allowing them to fully dry between coats.

The next job was to tackle the leather tops. They were SO dry, cracked, and worn that there would be no conditioning them or trying to bring them back to life.

I very carefully taped off the edges, making sure that all the lines would be straight.

For this endeavor, I turned to Fusion Mineral Paint in Lamp White. Why? Because I already had it…and I thought it would go well with the Vintage paint…and it does. 😉

Allow me to give you my honest feedback on Fusion Mineral Paint, if I may.

The Pros:

  • It goes on very smoothly and dries evenly.
  • It comes in beautiful colors.
  • It seems to be more durable than I expected.

A Few Cons, with Explanations:

  • It is a bit pricey – not as expensive as something like Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, but it’s more than you’re going to pay at the hardware store for a little can of latex paint. I don’t live near a Fusion Mineral Paint supplier, so I have to order mine on Amazon, and by the time you throw in the cost of shipping, it adds up.
  • The general hype is that you don’t have to sand or anything before you paint. However, the paint comes with a prepping flow chart, and in many cases it would behoove you to rough up your piece with sandpaper first. So the non-prepping step is kind of over-rated.
  • The other idea that seems to be floating out there is that you only need one coat on your piece and you’re done. Eh, maybe it’s user error, but after roughing up the finish on a bunch of dining chairs, it definitely took two coats of paint per chair.
  • They say that the 500ml container goes a loooong way, and while it does go decently far, it didn’t go nearly as far as I expected.

Bottom line: It’s beautiful paint and I recommend it, but it’s also been over-hyped and can’t live up to all the impossible expectations floating around out there.

Sorry – back to our originally scheduled programming:

The table tops got brushed with a coat of the Fusion Lamp White, then rolled with two more coats, using a foam roller. I allowed each coat to dry several hours before re-applying.

Here is the part where I hope you can learn from my mistakes and avoid yourself some headaches.

Remember to test your topcoat in an inconspicuous spot first, although this is pretty impossible with a table top.

I decided to top-coat the whole table because I have a toddler and a baby and, well, life happens. So I sprayed them with Rust-oleum Satin Clear Enamel, which I love for top-coating furniture. I used it on my dining chairs after painting with Fusion, and it gave them a beautiful, extra-durable finish. While this enamel spray worked well on the body of the end tables, the leather top was not perfectly level, and it ended up looking splotchy.

I would not recommend using a sprayed top coat on a painted leather surface. It’s going to look uneven.

So I re-rolled the tops with two more coats of Fusion. Next, I foam-brushed on some General Finishes Flat Out Flat Topcoat. Not good. Even though I tried to keep the application very thin and smooth, it pooled in sections and actually cracked my paint! I was beyond upset.

I picked myself back up off the floor (kidding, mostly), touched up the cracked spots and rolled with two more layers of Fusion. Oooh boy.

It was at this point I realized that there was probably no topcoat that was going to work out for me, and I decided to put Fusion’s promise of durability to the test.

Fusion Mineral Paint has a curing time of about 21 days for maximum durability.

It says that on the jar and they mean it. I was impatient, moved the tables back into the living room the next day, and topped them with decorations. My metal picture frame left some little indentations where I originally set it, but I’ve noticed that nothing else has left a mark since the 3-week curing time has passed.

So please learn from my mistake and wait the curing time before putting anything on your table top!

At the end of the day, I am super happy with how these tables turned out. With their fresh, beautiful color and unique detailing, they have become two of my favorite pieces in the whole house.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more.

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