4 Easy Steps To Update an Old Side Table

4 Easy Steps to Update An Old Side Table
4 Easy Steps to Update An Old Side Table

It seems like everyone has at least one of these little side tables. They are quite functional since they are small enough to fit anywhere but still large enough to put down a drink or a book. But a lot of them need some help in the design department.

The Side Table "Before"
The Side Table “Before”

Mine was no different (sorry for the poor picture quality!). As I continue to update my den, it became obvious that I needed to do something about the little side table beside the rocking chair. The finish was not in good shape and it did not add much to the new decor. Since its footprint is desirably small, I thought it could be salvaged and serviceable as a side table. A little paint and a metallic finish were just the thing to bring it back to life. Because I already owned the supplies I needed, this project was completed without any out of pocket expense.

Continue reading to see my 4 easy steps to update an old side table.

What You Need

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Latex paint — I used Sherwin Williams Emerald line from HGTV in “Plum Dandy“ — left over from another project, and a perfect compliment to the fabric and rug in the room


Step 1: Sand and Clean

The original table
The original table

1. Remove any existing trims and garnishes. I just pried them off with a small knife, being careful to retain the nail head surround so that I could replace it later.

2. Use a finish sander to scuff the table surface…or surfaces in my case (since there are 2).

3. Hand sand with the 400 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface on the legs.

4. Fill any holes and rough spots in the veneer with Carpenter’s wood filler.

5. When it is dry, re sand until the top is smooth to touch. Note: Any unevenness will show up on the painted surface so make sure that it is smooth.

6. Clean the entire piece to make sure there is no dust, grease or dirt left. I like Cottage Paint “Clean and Prep” sprayed on and wiped off as directed.

Step 2: Paint The Surface

The painted table
The painted table

1. Now you are ready for the primer. I used an undercoat because I planned to use latex paint as opposed to Chalk paint. (A primer would not have been necessary if I had been using the latter).

2. Paint 2 or 3 coats of latex on the table surfaces, allowing the paint to dry thoroughly between coats.

3. If you want to protect the surface a little more and don’t mind the extra shine, applying a couple of coats of urethane is a good idea at this point. Since my table is in a low use area and I liked the matte finish, I left it as is.

Step 3: Apply Gold Wax To the Legs

Apply gold wax to the legs
Apply gold wax to the legs

1. Apply 2 coats of “Old Gold” metallic wax to the spindles of the table with a small brush, and smooth the brush strokes with a damp sponge.

2. Before it dries, buff the wax with a soft dry cloth to bring up the patina.

Step 3: Add Nail Head Trim Around the Edges

Table top with studs
Table top with studs

The final step is to add nail head trim around the edge. You can either apply individual upholstery nails (click here to see our instructions on how to do this), or use a nailhead strip that only requires a nail once in a while*. In my case, the trim was already on the table so I just had to put it back on! It goes very well with the design of the table and with the gold legs.

The Finished Table

The finished table
The finished table

There is a lot of silver in this room, so I think the addition of some gold gives a visual reprieve. Besides. I like to mix my metals!

Pink and gold table
Pink and gold table

The finished version looks so much better than it did before!

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