DIY Coffee Table Makeover

DIY Coffee Table Makeover | step by step directions and photos at |

I recently shared with you my mini living room renovation project (which you can check out here) and hinted that this room would also be getting some furniture updates! I’ve slowly been working on it and when things are completely finished I’ll post the “part 2” for you to check out.

The most labor-intensive update was going to be my coffee table facelift. I bought the original coffee table at Target a few years ago. Aside from a few surface marks and scratches it was in pretty good shape. I’ve grown out of the dark wood though and in an effort to keep this project low cost while also trying to salvage a perfectly good coffee table, I just decided to redo it. I wanted the body to be an off-white/ivory. The surface was going to be refreshed by adding stained wood planks. Overall, I wanted it to be lighter and brighter, which a touch of rustic farmhouse, to go with the rest of this area.

Here are my before photos followed by a a list of supplies and step-by-step directions, enjoy and happy building 🙂

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– 1 x 4’s (I needed 7, mine were 4′ long and I needed to cut to size but your hardware store can also do that for you)
– Liquid Nail
– Wood stain
– Foam brushes
– Primer, paint, sealer

** not absolutely necessary but I also used a a piece of fine grit sandpaper, wood conditioner, a few screws, and sealed my top with polyurethane



If desired, lightly sand/scuff the coffee table. This will rough up a heavily sealed surface and allow your paint to stick better. I used a fine grit sandpaper. Then wash the surface with warm water.


I chose to apply primer because this surface was so heavily sealed/coated. I wanted an extra layer for the paint to stick to so I didn’t want to have to worry that the paint will scrape off every time I bump into it. I chose this primer for difficult surfaces:


Yes. I am doing this project in pajamas and slippers. Don’t judge.

I probably should have purchased 2 cans of the primer, but I didn’t, so I had an uneven coat of it prior to painting.
Next, came paint. I chose an off-white color. I did purchase 2 cans of spray paint for this, because I knew it would take quite a few coats.


When finished with painting (I used both of my cans completely for this small project) apply your top coat. I applied 2-3 coats of this and let it dry overnight.


Meanwhile, you can also begin working on your surface. Between coats of primer, paint, and sealer I cut, conditioned, and stained my top planks.

I chose pine boards for this project. It’s lightweight and easy to stain if conditioned well. Its surface is relatively soft and does tend to get dinged/scuffed easily so I would recommend a good top coat if you also choose this wood. My boards were 4′ long and I cut these to the measurements I needed to fit on top of my coffee table with some overhang.

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Though not a required step, I highly recommend conditioning your wood prior to staining. This helps the stain go on evenly, without patchiness.


Then you’ll apply your stain. I purchased “weathered oak”, which shockingly went on grey. Fortunately I tested the stain on the back of one of the boards before I went and ruined the board. I purchased “provincial” as a back-up stain in case “Weathered oak” didn’t work out, and I’m glad I did! I also tested a stain I already owned, red mahogany, but it was too dark. 

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Once dry, I placed the boards on top of the painted coffee table and began measuring for placement. I placed the center board first and placed the rest of the boards outward from there. Apply liquid nail to the back of the boards, making sure to keep it away from the edges of the boards because it will expand. 

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I used C clamps and other heavy objects to keep the boards in place and keep them from rising and shifting as the nail glue dried. I let the entire table, paint and top, dry overnight. In the morning, I removed all clamps and flipped the table over. I decided to add screws to the end planks for more stability. The end planks overhung the table a few inches, and I didn’t feel confident the liquid nail would be enough to hold these boards indefinitely.


Now, it was time to apply the top coat. I used a polyurethane I already owned from building my kitchen island. I love the protection this stuff gives (after having used it on a daily basis in my kitchen for over a year) and the semi-gloss sheen, highly recommend.

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It stinks while it’s drying and it also takes forever to dry, so I kept it outside to help speed that process along.

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I would recommend letting the paint and top coat cure for at least a week before using it. When it was dry to touch I placed stuff on it for pictures but then took it all off to let to dry appropriately.

What do you think? Suggestions/comments?

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Thanks for stopping by!