Coffee Table Revamp

Yesterday I saw a post on Tin Barn Market‘s Facebook page about a coffee table that was redone in Annie Sloan’s French Linen Chalk Paint, which got me thinking about my own coffee table makeover. I did this about 2 years ago and I guess I knew that one day I would have a DIY blog, because I documented the process. And who doesn’t love a good Before and After story?

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Ick, I hated those vertical slats. This table was taking up a lot of room in our apartment without offering any kind of storage space, and the yellowish finish was not really my style. I was inspired to fix it up instead of scrapping it by this picture of a stained wood top coffee table that I found from The Feminist Mystique:

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You often hear people complaining that they don’t like their furniture and can’t afford to replace it- but a little bit of elbow grease goes a long way! This coffee table came from my sister and brother-in-law when they moved to Thunder Bay for school, and it totally didn’t match any of our stuff. But it was free a good size, so we picked up some stain, some paint, and a piece of wood to fit a shelf on the bottom and Bob was our uncle! Actually Bob is our friend, but that is neither here nor there.

This was one of the first pieces of furniture (maybe the first piece of furniture?) that I ever attempted to refinish, and the main thing I learned was that it takes time, patience, and sanding. A lot of sanding.

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Haha, neighbors! You thought you were going to have a quiet evening? Noooo.

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After I sanded the snot out of the top, I applied Minwax stain in Special Walnut (couldn’t find Regular Ass Walnut anywhere).

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Once the top was stained, we did a few coats of polyurethane and removed it from the frame after it dried. Then we disassembled the frame and went to town bashing the slats out, so we could install a shelf on the bottom.

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My husband made the shelf out of a pine board that we purchased from Home Depot, and attached it to the frame with screws.

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I painted the frame with white paint- in retrospect we should have used melamine but the guy at Home Depot talked us out of it for some reason. Not the biggest of deals but it probably would have been glossier and had a nicer finish if we’d ignored him and used melamine anyway. After a few coats of paint, we attached the stained top, and voila! The finishing touch was finding storage boxes that fit our board game collection, which made a huge difference in our living room.

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I was really happy with how it turned out, it was a huge improvement in both appearance and functionality. We use our coffee table all the time- way more than we use our kitchen table or dining room table! Most often you can find us eating here.

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Workshop at Malenka Originals

After months of blog-stalking Malenka Originals, I finally got the chance to attend an intro to Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint™ (ASCP) workshop! I first read about Malenka Originals and the owner, Katrina Barclay, in the Ottawa Citizen when the shop first opened. Ever since then I have been itching to try ASCP to refinish some old pieces of furniture- you know, the ones that you wish were a slightly different colour/style but that you keep because they’re functional, or the budget doesn’t stretch to replacing them just yet.

The beauty of ASCP is that it goes on with minimal prep work (read: no sanding or stripping required!), takes little time to dry, is very forgiving, and can be modified to do any number of finishes or techniques. You can thin it with water or apply it in thick layers, use waxes or layer the coats to change the texture, sand through multiple layers to give dimension, or paint it on in smooth, even coats for a more modern finish. The paint comes in a variety of colours that are really beautiful and richly pigmented, and they can even be mixed to extend the palette!

I knew right away which piece I wanted to take to the workshop: an old nightstand, inherited from my husband’s roommate in university. It had a dark reddish brown finish that was scratched in places, and it didn’t match anything else in our bedroom. But it was solid wood with a good little drawer and a shelf, so it was super functional. It just needed a makeover!

At the workshop, Katrina taught us how to do a variety of techniques using 2 colours of paint and clear or dark wax. I opted to go for a combination of a wet and dry distress using Old Violet, a blue with grey and purple undertones, and Paris Grey, a grey with blue undertones. I skipped the dark wax because it would have given the paint a brownish hue that I didn’t want.

Here is what my nightstand originally looked like:

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I first applied 2 coats of Old Violet,


and added some Paris Grey, wiping it off here and there to get a distressed look;


in some places, the original dark finish came through underneath, which actually looked pretty neat!


Then I alternated between applying clear wax and using fine grit sand paper to take off the Paris Grey, revealing more Old Violet underneath. The wax gave it a smoother, almost glossier finish. The wax can be worked into the different layers of paint and brushstrokes, giving it a sort of antiqued texture.


Once I was done painting and waxing, I exchanged the old drawer pull for one from the collection that Katrina sells, which really put the finishing touch on it!


I painted the inside of the drawer with only Old Violet, for a little pop of the pretty shade of blue.


My sweet little nightstand is now just as beautiful as it is functional!


Now I’m looking around my apartment and wondering what else I can use Chalk Paint on… whatever it is, I know what colour it will be: Provence, the colour I chose for the free sample pot that was included in the workshop!

Definitely check out Malenka Originals if you’re in Ottawa, and attend a workshop if you can… but be forewarned they book up fast! Visit the website for more info:


And so it begins…

Hey there! I am going to use this space to document my adventures in DIY. My plan is to eventually have photos and maybe even tutorials on some of my cool crafts/projects/adventures! In the past year I have tackled a variety of projects including the following: turned a flea market frame into a magnetic chalkboard;


refinished a hand-me-down generic coffee table to better suit my style (before/after);



fixed up an old sofa with a jazzy new slipcover (before/after);



and made cozy Christmas covers for throw pillows out of thrift store sweaters/old buttons!


Not to mention all the cool things I did for my intimate cottage wedding this past September… I made some of my accessories, hand-lettered our seating plan on salvaged window panes, and sourced tons of unique decorations from local flea markets. Here are a few teaser shots that one of my friends took… I’m going to put it all together in a future post, because there are too many things to mention and the end result was awesome (If I do say so myself).



Right now I am working on a mobile for my adorable nephew and in January I’m going to learn how to use Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint at Malenka Originals, an awesome shop in Ottawa that I have been dying to visit.

I love having a project to focus on. It’s so satisfying to work hard at something and then have a tangible result! Also, my day job is working as a research scientist, so I find myself really needing a creative outlet.

Here is a picture of me tackling the slipcover I mentioned above… I think it was the first time I had ever sewed a zipper on anything and I was SUPER proud.


More to come!