Metallic Painted Drop-Leaf Table

When we moved into our rental house last year–almost exactly a year ago, actually–we didn’t take our dining room table with us.  It was too big for the rental, and we didn’t know if it would fit into whatever house we bought, and since it had been a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law that my husband got before we were married (that even then was only meant to be temporary), we didn’t cry too much when we left it behind.  Didn’t cry at all, actually.  Don’t miss the table.

But we still needed someplace to eat, particularly the children for breakfast before school.  And since the rental we go was a 1960s ranch with a squinchy little “breakfast area,” I knew it ought to be pretty small.

Enter: the Craig’s List score.

Very simple turned-leg drop-leaf table, good-quality wood, little vintage thing.  And I got it for ten bucks.  Yeah, I did.  We used it like this for the better part of eight months, so when we brought it to the new house, it wasn’t in perfect shape.  It started out in the breakfast room here after we moved, then moved to the dining room/my sewing space when my mom gifted us a nice, free hand-me-down round breakfast table.  Then I scored some Ikea tables for the sewing room, and this little table was kinda homeless.  But perfectly good!  Except for the oatmeal congealed on the surface, but other than that!  Nothing wrong with it!

One day, walking past the entryway, it occurred to me that we needed a table in there–and some art and some flower and a new light fixture, but that day it was just the table that *clicked* for me.  And this baby, with the leaves down, was just the right size.  It has never been a big table, and has a slim profile when the leaves are folded.  But I didn’t want to put a wood table in there, I was hoping for something mirrored, maybe.  And then it hit me: metallic paint.  You heard me.

I started by sanding the whole thing down–I wanted to get off the oatmeal concrete as well as a bit of the original finish, and rough the surface up so it would take the paint.  I opted to use spray paint, which seemed like a gamble until I started spraying, at which point I instantly regretted taking all the advice that told me not to bother with the sprayer on the kitchen cabinets, because spraying is SOOOOO much better and faster and looks a bunch more professional, and now I’m mildly bummed that I didn’t do it on the interminably unending task of getting my kitchen cabinets painted white.  But bygones, let’s talk about this table.

Flipped it upside down and began on the underside, so that if I made mistakes or had a ginormous learning curve I could screw up where it wouldn’t be so obvious.  And I found this:

No idea what it is, not even entirely sure what it says, but it sure does look old, and old stuff is COOL.

The coats went on smooth and easy–no primer here, just spray paint.  It was best that there wasn’t much wind that day, because I can see how this could get super messy super fast.  I looooooved watching the metallic sheen hit the wood in the sunlight, so pretty.  I worked hard to get every nook and cranny, even moving the support bars left and right to get beneath them–never too sure what will be visible from the public side when it’s all done, and I didn’t want to have to fold it all up and paint it again later.

I did multiple coats, naturally, light light light coats and waited in between for each to dry before I did another.  And when I say light coats, I mean LIGHT coats, just a bare misting.  It was excruciating, but I really wanted to avoid any drippies and bits that would run down the legs–those were the whole reason I didn’t want to use a brush, because those parts where the legs are turned can be super hard to get right without paint rolling off the curves (as I learned over and over in the thousand coats I gave our daughter’s bed).

At first, I didn’t really like the way the grain of the wood seemed to seep through, how it was visible even after it was painted, but now it has really grown on me.  Kindof a faux bois, without the faux.  Even the little broken-off pieces left from the years this table had before it came to us don’t bother me–they give it a little character and make it seem renewed, despite its ten dollar price tag.

I rubbed the dried table down before bringing it in, just to get the finish a little more even.  I think now I should have given it a few coats of polyurethane, but it’s never too late.  Anyone know if that stuff comes in a spray can?

Here it is, in the entryway.  (The lemons in the vase are ENORMOUS, God bless Costco.)  The light fixture gives me the heebies and the jeebies–no love for that fella, he’s going to have to go.  But the walls came out lovely, particularly when you compare to what this angle looked like before.  Just needs a nice piece of art above it.  I was thinking of going with something abstract, maybe?  Something that would pick up the colors of the living room and bring the two spaces together conceptually.  Or else something pretty!  And sparkly!  Jury’s still out.

I’m seeing lots of catalogs come out this time of year with images of fall decorations and scary skulls in vases and Christmas wreaths and candleholders. All of which are going to look fantastic on this entry table.

So, what are we thinking?  Dogs playing poker, perhaps?  Art, art, art.  Time to find a great big piece of fabulous welcome-to-my-home art.

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  • Sparrow
    September 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    That is fabulous! I agree that you need a large statement piece of art there. As it is in the entrance, I think it’s important that it represent you and your family and the kind of mood you want your house to have. In other words… I think you’ll know it when you see it! Good luck!

  • Kim
    September 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Love it! Would never have thought about multiple, fine layers of paint to avoid drips. Good tip.

  • treen
    September 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Polyurethane does come in a spray can. We got it at Home Depot for a project a couple of years ago.

  • EG
    September 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    The wood grain peeking through is exactly what I love about this finish! Excellent work!