To Paint or Not to Paint? Allison’s Coffee Table

I know I haven’t posted about Allison’s home makeover lately.  The truth is, we’ve been waiting on the pair of living room chairs we ordered from West Elm. Many of my clients are surprised that it takes 6 to 12 weeks to receive upholstered furniture. Sometimes people think you can just go pick something up off the showroom floor.  Even if something is available to buy right off the floor, it’s a long-shot that you can find something in the fabric you want and certainly less likely that you will find a pair.


Allison’s fabrics

So this week is installation week!  Practically everything we ordered is in, so now it’s time to arrange furniture, hang art, and accessorize.  Over the weekend, I worked on the coffee table I scored for Allison from an estate sale.  I knew it was “the one” when I first saw it, even though it was in rough shape.



Not only was it beat up, it also had glue and other sticky matter on it.  The brass legs had seen better days, but I definitely saw the potential.



We had decided to freshen up the legs with a gold glaze and paint the top out in Aubusson Blue Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  But the more I thought about it – I kinda hated to paint that wood top.  I love the design of the tabletop, and it appears to be tiger maple (I’m sure one of you will know!)  We are already using several painted pieces in Allison’s living room.  This is the kitchen table we bought for the adjoining area:

Screenshot 2014-01-19 15.55.38

 Allison’s new kitchen table



So I decided to change the game plan and see if I could restore the top a bit.  I did not strip down the entire thing – I just sanded the top, removed all the dust, applied two coats of dark walnut wood stain, applied a dark paste wax, and buffed it out.  Let’s see what you think!

restored coffee table

 restored table – totally Mad Men, right? 

Allison hasn’t seen it yet – but of course she will when she reads this post.  I also put two coats of the gold glaze I originally planned to apply to the legs.  It’s not perfect, but I think it looks like it got a new lease on life.

alllison's coffee table

 pretty good, right?

See, I don’t paint ALL wood!  We’ll see what Allison thinks when we get it installed in her living room this week.  Now, I want to know what YOU think.



  1. I think you made the best decision! My theory is “Why paint perfectly good wood?”. I tend to only paint wood, when it has seen better days and the process of refinishing is more of a bother (or impossible thanks to dings, gashes, etc…) than painting. I love the burled wood look that it has. Whatever type of wood that is, it is gorgeous and it pairs well with the brass legs and the table in the adjoining room.

  2. good call on not painting the table. I think it look fantastic now! perfecto!

  3. I am a huge fan of makeovers with pair but sometimes keeping the wood intact is right, this was one of those times so good call! This piece is a showstopper and you have given it back it’s luster, nice work! Hope Allison loves….

  4. love love love the coffee table! Great decision!

  5. It looks amazing! I agree, it will tie together so well with the kitchen table. I think I’ve learned something about paste wax too! Thanks so much.

  6. So glad you didn’t paint it. That wood design is beautiful! How did you decide to use dark wax rather than clear? It’s gorgeous!

  7. Looks great! I think it may be burled walnut.

  8. Deborah Jones says:

    Allison, As designers it is great when we know the rightness of something. Waiting , stepping back, surveying the whole landscape, is when some decisions can form. It is part of “our” expertise. Great that you helped this table put her party dress on and dance in her true colors in your clients home! Beatuiful

  9. Ruby Cooper says:

    I think it’s beautiful!

  10. Teresa Wagner says:

    The table looks beautiful!

  11. I want to try! I want to try! what kind of Wax & gold paste is it? Lowes kind, Annie S., Home Depot?

  12. I love that wood top, and I am definitely willing to paint anything that stays still long enough. That goes for monograms too. :-) Good call on bringing that amazing coffee table back to life!

  13. Jean from Georgia says:

    Love the look of the table. Just wonder, was the brass too worn to just polish back to original shine?

    • It had some spots and pitting on the brass. It may have been able to be restored – I don’t doubt it, but I was looking for a bit more of a gilded look and was using what I had on-hand to spruce the table up.

  14. Allison Lynch says:

    I LOVE IT!!!! Of course, I knew I would. Can’t wait to see it all come together this week!

  15. I hope all those who loved the work are not designers. The work is terrible. Splotchy and uneven is the minimum one can say. Remember if it looks like crap in a photo, it is ten times worse in real life. As a decorative artist I appreciate all designers who try to do the work themselves….at least once. Those that do, invariably appreciate our work more.

    • I’d like to clarify that I’m doing this for free – as a favor to my assistant. This is strictly DIY – not a professional refinishing or painting job. This whole project is about working within a tight budget. Sorry to offend your delicate sensibilities, Peter.

    • Wow,Peter Perfect,sorry that your business must be so slow to be so critical of a refurbishing of an inexpensive table-good luck getting paid big bucks for tables that almost got trashed. chill out! life is short!

    • Jennifer Carlton says:

      Peter –
      I keep looking back at the photos to see what you could possibly be talking about. This was taken in dappled shade; maybe the shadows are what you’re referring to?? The photos show an old table that’s been spiffed up, not to look like new, but like something ready to be used and lived with by a family – certainly not like “crap.” All you have accomplished is showing how unprofessional you are, and there is no excuse for your blatantly RUDE comment.

      Kristie –
      I enjoy seeing your posts about Allison’s house. I’m sure y’all are having fun pulling it all together.

    • Not everyone appreciates paying big bucks for “perfection.” Give me a hand-done DIY imperfect piece done with love anytime…

  16. Veronica Tostado-Domurat says:

    Great Job Kristie!! looks awesome!!

  17. Amanda P. says:

    Pretty! I love it!

  18. Paige Brasche says:

    I think you’ve made a great decision! I love mixing painted and unpainted wood in a room!

  19. Allison Lynch says:

    Well, the table is for me and I LOVE it so I really don’t care what Peter has to say about it. I think it is beautiful and perfect for my family. I went to Peter’s website and I see why he doesn’t like it. If I wanted to live in a castle with big murals and everything painted in gold, then he might be the guy, but I am a mom that works from home with two kids, a husband, and a dog and want something that is beautiful but also functional at the same time. Understanding your clients needs/wants and budget are very important and Kristie makes every effort to do that. She spent her day off working on that table for me because that is the kind of person she is. Peter needs to think before he speaks!

  20. I love it just the way you finished the coffee table Kristie. It looks fantastic and was a great find! No I would not paint on this one. That is my opinion.

  21. I love dark wood! This turned out BEAUTIFUL!! Great find. She’ll love it!

    I love reading your posts! I slipcover for a living, but LOVE decorating–I’ve done a few room makeovers for friends on TIGHT budgets and I am addicted to making something out of nothing and restoring thrift store finds and giving them new life.

  22. Excellent decision. It’s beautiful!

  23. The gold-glazed legs work beautifully with the warmth of the burled wood. Do you mix metal finishes in a room?

  24. Donnamae says:

    Stunning! Really glad you decided not to paint it! Hope she likes it…I know I’d be proud to have that in my home! ;)

  25. I love this perfectly imperfect table. Great choice not to paint!

  26. Well said, Allison! :)

  27. Love the table and the fabric choice too! Could you share who the fabric is by! It is exactly what I am looking for !

  28. I like where you went with this Kristie – it looks great… you did stop me in my tracks though! I had to reread to make sure I read right – no paint?!!! ;-)

  29. Great project! I love the gorgeous wood. Lucky table to get such a beautiful makeover, and to be part of the fabulously redesigned home.

  30. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Hi Kristie!
    I’d use this coffee table in my LR any day-or night—great job Kristie!

    As for Peter–it’s one thing to think these things as a critical artist—but another to WRITE it, for all to see….My father taught me a valuable lesson— Watch what you put in writing! It can be held against you and it is VERY difficult to ever erase it.

  31. LOVE it!!! Wow, it looks absolutely amazing. Allison is in for a real treat.

  32. Ann Ruggles says:

    I grew up with MCM living room tables with insets of that same wood.They were beautiful. Furniture (that’s affordable) just isn’t made like that now. How I wish I’d been savvy enough to hold onto them 20 years ago after my parents passed away.


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