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Redesign Walkthrough: How to Refinish an End Table

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

Refinishing, to me, has always felt like a show of respect for the past. I see it as giving new life to something that's lost it's luster so it can be used and enjoyed again. A short while ago, my husband's grandmother passed away and we were fortunate enough to inherit a couple of pieces of old wooden furniture that went unsold at the family's estate sale.

One piece was a wooden side table that I originally intended to repaint and flip. However, given the sentimental value of the piece and the fact that it happened to go great in our living room, we decided to keep it. This post shows how I took an ordinary end table and breathed new life into it - making it a showpiece in our living room.

Sanding It Down

When we inherited this piece, I was immediately happy about the overall condition (sturdy and relatively undamaged - especially compared to pieces I inherit from the curb). Aside from minor surface scratches, there were no major fixes required. Looks-wise, however, it needed updating in both color and style.

I started with lots of sanding. I sanded the legs bare with 120 then 220 grit sandpaper to achieve a smooth bare wood look. I loved the look of the natural wooden legs so much that I knew I would keep it exposed in the end. The rest of the piece I scuff-sanded. Meanwhile, I removed the pre-existing (and dated) handle and filled the hardware holes with Kwikwood. I also filled imperfections in the top with wood filler and a putty knife.

After that, I sanded both the top of the table and the drawer face completely smooth, so that I was left with a naked end table - ready to be redressed.

Painting It On

Before paint, an important step is to prime. This helps the paint to adhere and look uniform throughout the piece. I taped the edges of the legs and primed with BIN primer.

Given how great the natural legs of the table looked, I started to envision a deep green for the top to draw more on the natural theme (my husband and I love green accents in our home and I already had an inkling that I was going to keep this one).

In a previous post I mentioned redoing my bathroom vanity in PPG Winning Ticket which is a beautiful green . For this table I used my second favorite green and a very close match to PPG's Winning Ticket, called Backwoods by Benjamin Moore and painted three coats across the face of the drawer and the top of the table, sanding with 400 grit between coats to ensure that I didn't leave brush strokes along the top.

After it dried, I applied two coats of Varathane Satin to protect it from future damage.

Finishing the Drawer

The original hardware pull didn't match the modern/natural style that I wanted for our living room, so I selected a simple, yet modern, black horizontal pull, aligned it in the center of the drawer, and drilled two new holes through the freshly painted finish.

After that, I simply placed the final two screws and I was ready to stage it in our home!

What Would You Have Done?

I want to know what you would have done differently! Do you agree with the color of the top - with the natural legs? Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think - I'm always trying to learn more from other DIY-ers!

Links to products

Note that these links are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase them, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Keep in mind that I'd never link to something I didn't personally use and recommend!

Black pulls:


Varathane topcoat:

Plant basket:

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