Chances are you have an old piece of furniture that may need to be refurbished. Or you can find one at a garage sale or thrift store. If it isn't an antique, you can some do fun stuff with it.
Here is my most recent such project.
Note: I have been working on this project in stages. I did a lot in November/December 2014 before the holidays, and just finished this up 1/8/2015. for example, I added the first napkin layers in December, then finished the other napkin layers and paint/glue this first week of January. Last night I finished the last sealant of the coffee table cover :D I had to do the wrapping paper top cover after the holidays, because I hadn't received the paper until mid-December, and I was working on making 100 Doctor Who Chocolate Candies and Geeky Christmas Wreath gifts by then. Priorities!
I have had this nice, solid, hollow wood box around for years. My father had it made for their console TV many years ago. It was pretty when it began, but over years of wear the finish got dinged up a bit, and I used it as a craft surface for a while, where it got a lot more scratches and paint splatters, so I would need to re-finish it somehow.
I envisioned a tufted storage ottoman coffee-table at first, bought the feet online a few years ago to do this, figured I needed a piece of plywood for the top. I also bought the batting and such... and promptly decided to do something else.
So this year, trying to clean up some projects I have wanted to do for years, I recently re-covered one couch, and created some fabric at Spoonflower to make accent pieces.
I had a very different idea for this coffee table when I started, thinking I would still do the tufted storage ottoman coffee table - with the same fabric, and decoupaging black and white copies of the same pulp fiction covers all over the sides. I wanted a black background under the copies, so I was just going to use a few of the black paper napkins along the edges. But when I saw the texture of the black paper napkins I found at our local Dollar Tree, I really loved it and thought it looked much more refined than what I had originally planned.
Also I wanted the coffee table top to be more functional and less wobbly than a tufted ottoman, I decided. I wanted it to be able to reverse so I could still use it as a work surface while watching TV and doing crafts. So I went with the flat wrapping paper (also created at Spoonflower from the same fabric line I made for this project) for the top.
I like this technique because someone can take any napkin color and use it to cover things, and it is really cheap and looks pretty cool. Or it can be painted over, or use wrapping paper for the whole thing. I liked the texture of the napkins.
And the wrapping paper table top - someone can create their own, or find another cool wrapping paper at their local dollar store or anywhere. The cost of creating my own roll of paper was only $16 with shipping for a 26" x 72" roll, that covered the plywood and gave me a little extra left over. I loved being able to create my own fabric and paper to really decorate exactly how I wanted - and using it as accent pieces made it really affordable.
Step 1: Gathering Supplies
I gathered my supplies mostly over the years, or had them around the house
Here are the supplies I used for this project:
- Wood box to be used as a coffee table: Free
- Six 2 1/2" Wood Legs: $15.00 (I got them when they were $1.87/each)
- Six Table Leg Top Plates: $11.00
- Large Dollar Tree Black Paper Napkins: $4.00
- Gift wrap I designed: $16.00 with shipping, (minus $8.00 "Spoondollars" I have received because other people wanted to buy my fabrics that I designed for myself!)
- Gallon jug of glue: $17.00 (leftover from another event)
- Great Stuff Spray Foam: (not recommended - Spackling Paste would have been better): $3.00
- 4' x 2' 1/2" Plywood Top: $12.00 on sale
- Acrylic black paint: $4.00 (with coupon from Joann's)
- Mod Podge Spray Sealant: $7.00
Here are "tools" I used:
- Foam Brushes
- Zip Baggies (to hold foam brushes when not in use so they won't dry out -and I don't have to wash them out every time and waste glue)
- Sanding sponge
- Plastic Wrap (to not glue top to bottom while I had to flip top over to work on reverse side)
- Dollar Store Plastic Tarp (to stand top on while drying to avoid cat attacks)
- Folding utility knife (my favorite strait edge cutting tool!) & extra blades
- Large Metal Ruler (or even better, a large squeege like used for screen printing - which I didn't have)
- Sharpie Marker
- Dollar Store Putty Knife
Step 2: Screw on Table Legs, Sand Surface, Fill Gaps & Gouges
I dug out my table legs I bought two years before, and went and bought the top plates to screw them to the bottom of the table. I wanted six for uniform support - as this could be used for extra seating as well.
On the bottom of the box, I measured out where I wanted the six legs to go while using the plate to mark the center with a Sharpie. Then I used a Philips's head screwdriver to screw the plate to the box underside. It was really easier than I thought it would be. I then just simply screwed the legs into the top plates, and I have legs! (I type as I'm singing ZZ Top's "Legs" to myself.)
Sanding Down the Box & Filling the Gaps
Considering that I used the napkins for the main texture, I could have skipped the sanding step and the gap filling step, but since I did them, I figured I would include those steps.
(I was going to use more flat things that possibly would have slipped off or shown gaps under - but liked the napkin texture - as repeatedly mention.)
I used the sponge sander and sanded down the entire box, trying to just make it a little more rough in order for my images (that I didn't use) to stick well.
There were several deep gouges and holes in the veneer, so I wanted to level those - therefore I used the spray foam and a dollar store putty knife to try to do that, as my spackling paste was all dried up. I figured I could use straight edge blades to saw the overfill off fairly easily, and make nice corners.
Sometimes you learn from fails. This was one. (Of many.) Of course I have used this stuff before, as intended, to fill gaps not in furniture. It seemed possible. What happened was I went through a LOT of my utility knife blades, popped some of the foam all the way off and had to re-apply it, and just gave up in some spots.
Also Note: If you ever use spray foam and plan to touch it or come close to touching it, wear gloves. I didn't. I HAVE plenty of gloves - I just didn't use them. I didn't have ANYTHING that could remove that stuff. I had oddly textured fingernails for a couple of weeks afterwards.
In the end I had succeeded in squaring off some of the bigger gaps. Which I think I would have wanted anyway.
Step 3: Start Gluing on Napkins
Honestly, I started off using the black napkins because:
- We had black napkins left over from an event
- I had run out of black tissue paper
- Again - I was planning to use flat images on the sides, just using the black napkins rather than paint to cover the edges better before adding the flat black and white pulp fiction images.
So, intending to just do the edges of the entire box, I removed the crimped edges and separated the two-ply napkins into a single ply. I just needed it to sort of frame the edges of the box, mostly.
Then I got the idea that there may be gaps in between the pictures, and I wanted to be sure to have black behind them, so I just started covering the whole thing and went back to the dollar store to get two more packages of the large napkins to finish that idea.
I covered all the background napkins with glue, let that dry. At this point my boyfriend and I thought it looked really cool the way it was - like burnt wood. I decided that it would look less busy overall if I left the main box with the napkin covering, so I went in to add more here & there to cover up obvious napkin-looking areas, and as parts tore I pushed them around and made more texture. (See next step)
I also went ahead and did the plywood board that would be the top, so it would be less splintery until I got the wrapping paper finished and ordered - and one side would have the black napkins under my cutting mat anyway.
Step 4: Add More Napkins, Mix Paint With Glue, Cover Whole Thing
I wanted to do two more things before calling the sides of the box finished:
- Add more texture in some areas while covering up the obvious "napkin" lines
- I wanted to seal the whole thing with glue to protect it
I also wanted to try using the black acrylic paint to see if it added to or took away from the overall effect of the texture. So I tried this in a little spot (I even added some grey paint in areas to see if that added a desired effect, it didn't - just went with the black.)
I liked the result, so went with adding the paint, but decided to mix it in the glue itself to just kill two birds with one stone, so to speak :D
One may ask, "Why use specifically black napkins if you are just going to paint over it?"
That one would have been myself, truly.
But I didn't know at the start that I would definitely want to do that, and plus it makes it to where any areas I missed won't be noticed. It is also nice to know that it looked nice - because if I ever want to paint it another color - that is easy enough! Texture already in place!
Plus, I like experimenting (if that isn't obvious enough yet.)
So, having mixed the paint in the glue, I went in to add more napkin pieces here & there to cover up obvious napkin-looking areas, tearing the napkin into strips and pieces, and I pushed them around to create more texture.
When I was satisfied I had plenty of texture, I used the glue-paint to cover the whole box, which did cover any remaining lines very nicely!
Step 5: Cover Top With Wrapping Paper, Seal Top
My wrapping paper overlapped the long edges perfectly, and I had some length left over I can save for another project.
I wanted to get the images lined up square with the edge of the table, so I poured a little glue and used my foam brush to smooth it out, then rolled a little bit of the wrapping paper while I lined up some of the edges of the pulp fiction covers with where I felt the table edge was.
Once I felt it was lined up, I spread a little glue at a time and rolled out the paper while smoothing the paper down with my large ruler (or a large squeegie would have been better.)
I smoothed it all down and glued the edges down, sort of folding the paper like wrapping paper (which it was!) and tucking it under. I then applied a thin layer of glue all over the top and flipped the top over to finish up the other side. I secured the edges on this side, then used more napkins to overlap the wrapping paper edges to make it look neater.
Glue Seal & Spray Sealant
With a foam brush, I spread a thicker layer of Elmer's Glue to seal the top.
(I know Elmer's Glue may yellow in time, but since these are pulp covers, I don't mind that.)
I laid a tarp down on the floor in our spare room and let the top dry propped against a wall (because cats.)
The next day, when it was fully dry, I used the Mod Podge spray sealant to finish the top.
I sprayed the whole top with a thick layer (including sides) and let that dry for a couple of hours while we fixed & ate dinner. Then I flipped the top over (so that the part that was touching the tarp was now facing the ceiling) and sprayed a lighter coat.
Now I don't have to worry so much about spills and such!
Step 6: Inside
I now have a nice coffee table that matches my decor and lifestyle!
I had wanted to be sure to have the one side I could flip over and not worry about damaging when I am working on a project in the living room (where I normally take everything so I can be in the middle of things.)
It also really looks great, if I do say so myself. It can be used for extra seating, and stores a whole lot of crafting supplies!
I love experimenting with different papers, glue, paint, and different textures. I've used facial tissue, toilet paper, newspaper, magazines, cardboard, scrapbook papers, gift tissue paper, now napkins and wrapping paper :D