Turn Bland, Old End Tables Into Fabulous, Shabby Chic Side Tables

Lead Image
What You'll Need
All-purpose glue
Wood glue
Distressing tools (if needed): hammer, screws, pennies, etc.
Dry, clean towel
Decorative accents

Buying new furniture is tempting sometimes. Although it is necessary to buy new furniture sometimes, upcycling old furniture in order to integrate your own creative design can be just as much, if not more, fun than buying something new. Plus, who doesn't like saving money?

Sure, I still look in magazines for hip and trendy inspiration. I may even daydream a little about how the latest and greatest styles would look in my home. Oftentimes I'll even try to recreate these high-end designs for my own home without spending lots of cash.

Using what you have around the house to give your home a new feel is both fun and fulfilling. This simple, upcycled table is a great example of that. It is simple, fun and gives your home a different look.

For this project, I had a couple of cheap, old tables I wasn’t using. They were simple, black end tables with the legs that you screw into the tabletop. They were perfect for the upcycled furniture project I had in mind: a pair of shabby chic end tables.

Repurposing isn’t anything new, but when you do it yourself, instead of letting someone else do it, you can save hundreds or even thousands. Breathe new life into your old furniture pieces, and see what I mean!

Happy DIYing!

Step 1 – Distress (Optional)

If you have a real wood table top, you can distress it using one or more of the following techniques:

Hammer it a bit. Scratch it with the back of the hammer. Use pennies and screws in a sock and beat it up.

You can even use wet techniques to weather the wood, such as making welts with water rings from glasses or using vaseline. Make sure you weather the sides as well to ensure a dramatic, upcycled effect.

NOTE: You don’t have to distress your table if you don’t want to or if it is not make of real wood.

Step 2 - Check Stability

secure table legs with wood glue

Check the legs of the tables to make sure they are sturdy. If they aren’t, you can use some wood glue to secure the legs to the table top.

Make sure that you let the glue dry thoroughly before continuing; about 24 hours should be enough.

Step 3 – Sand

sanding edges of table

Use sandpaper to lightly hand-sand each edge of the table and legs.

Alternatively, you can use a sander with fine to very fine sandpaper. This takes less time, but you have to be very careful not to over-sand.

Step 4 - Clean and Paint (Optional)

wiping down table

After sanding, wipe the table down thoroughly with a dry cloth so that you are not working on a table covered with sawdust. If you would like, this is a good time to paint the newly sanded edges.

Try to use a soft color that compliments the tabletop, as this will keep the upcycled furniture look going. Be sure to let the paint dry before moving on to the next step. For a true shabby chic look, follow this guide for shabby chic painting techniques.

NOTE: I opted for the wood look, so I did not paint.

Step 5 - Find the Right Decorative Pieces

signs for shabby chic end tables upcycling

To spruce up the tables, find some type of decor to add to your shabby chic look. You can use a few tiles across the top or some old wooden signs you've found in a thrift shop. You could even cut some wood and paint your own custom design for a more personalized look.

Whatever you use, make sure you wipe them clean, sand the backs of the item(s), and wipe again.

Note: I used a couple of antique signs that used to hang in the kitchen of a previous home.

Step 6 - Add Your Decorative Item(s)

gluing on decorative signs

Position the decorative pieces on their respective tables. Trace the outline with a ruler so that you have a working layout. You may want to use a ruler or tape measure and a pencil to mark the correct spots for matching designs. Then, delicately sand the tabletop around the layout you drew.

Use the same wood glue to attach the pieces to the tables. Alternatively, you could use an all-purpose glue. Read the manufacturer's instructions to ensure the appropriate drying time is applied for your upcycled furniture.

If you'd prefer, you could also use small screws to secure your decor to the tabletop. However, this makes for a more permanent design choice. If you are the type to change your style preferences often and frequently upcycle furniture items, you may wan'y to stick with adhesive.

Step 7 - Finish the Look

shabby chic end tables

Once everything is dry, decorate your tabletop with flower vases, photo frames, knick knacks, lamps, plants, etc. Even with your added decorative pieces, you should still have plenty of room to add function and flare to your new, shabby chic, upcycled tables.

The tables can be arranged close to one another, giving the appearance of a coffee table rather than two end tables, or you can use them in two different rooms if you would like. The choice is up to you!

Time: 1 hour work time, 2 days w/ dry time || Cost: $35-40