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Refresh a retro coffee table without losing its character

02 Oct 2019

You will need:

  • Sandpaper or electric sander
  • Testpot brushes and/or roller
  • Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat
  • Painters masking tape (and ruler, pencil, scissors for measuring)
  • Resene testpots in your choice of colours; Sarah chose Resene Yuma and Resene Karaka
  • Resene Aquaclear Natural

Step 1 A classic piece of retro furniture like this coffee table is always a great find. This one was in fantastic condition, but it had a few wonky legs that need to be screwed back into place. It’s always important to check second-hand furniture items for repairs before you start applying any paint!

Once you have checked the table is sound and fixed any loose parts, give the entire table a thorough sand to remove a build-up of old lacquer and stain. Sarah did this with an electric sander, however you could use sandpaper and do it by hand.

Step 2 Once Sarah had sanded back the whole table, she found it had a beautiful light wood grain that she wanted to preserve. So Sarah decided to paint just the table legs and apply a stencil design to the table top, so the natural timber of the table would still be visible.

Decide for your table which areas you want to paint.  Apply one coat of Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat to the legs using a testpot brush.

Step 3 Once the primer is dry, apply two coats of your chosen topcoat colour.  Sarah used Resene Yuma for the table legs. She chose this colour because it felt fresh and new, but still evoked retro vibes.

Step 4 Mask out a retro pattern on the table top using painters’ masking tape. Sarah designed and painted arrow shapes with two coats of Resene Karaka.  Once dry, remove the masking tape carefully.

Step 5 To protect the table top artwork while still maintaining a matte finish, Sarah applied three coats of Resene Aquaclear Natural using a testpot brush. For a harder finish you could use a higher sheen Resene Aquaclear urethane.

And there you have it! A fresh new look for a retro coffee table. Sometimes the best part of upcycling something is updating it while still honouring its roots.

Top tip: Resene Aquaclear comes in a range of finishes – gloss, semi-gloss, satin and natural.  Usually the higher the gloss level the easier the surface will be to wipe clean.

project and images Sarah Herring