Thursday 22 May 2014

How I upcycled my shabby chic table

     As my last post pointed out I have recently been enjoying a spate of DIY, redecoration and upcycling. I’ve always loved old furniture and buildings, and prefer reworking an old item to buying a new one. Much like buying second hand clothes, reworking old pieces of furniture reduces use of virgin materials and can be far more environmentally friendly than simply buying new every time.
     So recently, after a bit of a reshuffle in our living room, when it was decided to replace a bookcase with a sideboard, I took to eBay and found a local shop selling a gorgeous painted Edwardian sideboard that was the exact right dimensions for the space we needed it to fit into. Luckily, we won the auction (for a cracking price) and went to collect it a few days later.
The lovely sideboard (ignore the dog)
     Once home the sideboard looked great and made the rest of our mismatched furniture look a bit odd. So I decided to rework my existing furniture to be more complementary. I’m still in the process of the total transformation but my first item was a side table so that’s what I’ll be describing here. 
  • My first challenge was to source some paint the same shade as the sideboard that would paint over a polished table without too much strenuous preparation and priming. With a little bit of research I found many suitable paints on the market but some were quite pricey. In the end I went for a pale grey paint from B&Q that promised to paint over nearly any surface.
A typical shabby chic shade
  • Next I had to prepare the table. Following my experience with the blanket chest I knew that a light sanding would be a good idea, the only trouble was that the dark varnish created a horrible orange dust so ensuring my work area and I were well protected was a priority. After sanding I wiped the table down with a damp cloth to remove all dust and made sure it was fully dry and clean before painting.

  • I removed the drawer and put the table upside down. I only wanted a single coat of paint on the underside so I did that first. I was quite happy with how well the paint adhered so that was great. Next I painted the drawer as, apart from the front panel around the handle, it also only needed one coat.
The lightly sanded top
Painting inside the drawer
The legs and underside painted
  • I tried to get as even a coverage as possible and put two coats on the uppermost side and the legs. The spindly legs were surprisingly tricky to paint, especially to avoid the dreaded risk of drips, this meant being certain the paint had dried between coats.
An even coverage
The drawer close up
Fully painted
  • Now to get to the fun bit! After being so careful with my painting it seemed counterintuitive to go at it with the sandpaper but it was necessary to achieve the shabby chic finish. I used a 120 gauge sandpaper sheet and tried to think where natural wear would befall, and therefore I was careful to add more wear on the legs and top. Again, this created annoying dust so I had to be careful in regards to protecting my surroundings and myself.

  • Sanding complete I finished the table off with a good coat of Briwax clear wax. The tin didn’t warn me but my goodness this stuff stinks! I had to polish the table in the garden as the smell was so headache-inducing. However, it was worth the effort as the finish was great. The polish seemed to ‘seal’ the paint and also brought out all the texture of the brushstrokes in the paint, and heightened the variation of tones between the paint and the distressed edges.
Finished and looking good
     And there we have it, my first attempt at shabby chic. I’m really happy with the result and already have my next few projects in mind, so I’ll keep you posted as they progress.

All blog content and photos are Copyright of Charisse Sayers Proofreader & Copywriter I welcome all feedback and would love to know your thoughts so please get in touch, comment, share, like and generally get involved!


  1. Chic Charisse,this definately goes with sideboard.Id not heard of this type of wax for furtinure use.Does it make it less likely to aquire tea rings from the copious number of mugs I might drink from?As known I'm quite clumsy and would hate to ruin it or would it enhance the shabby chicness?

    1. In my experience it makes numerous tea and coffee spillages far easier to clean up as the wax creates a barrier!

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! I happen to know you've had a go at this yourself, might take some photos next time I visit and write it up :)

  3. You're getting pretty good at the old upcycling!

    1. I have always been crafty *cue shifty eyes*.