Money Month

Before and After: An Old Table with Office Furniture Vibes Gets a Chic Upgrade for Under $100

published Mar 6, 2022
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Organic Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: Round laminate table with a shiny red-toned wood finish

Sometimes, furniture has such distinct style that you can immediately envision the environment where it belongs. That can be cool — like finding a piece that looks like it was transported from a rockstar’s living room or a teeny rustic cottage in the mountains. But sometimes it can be a harder to imagine where something should go, as was the case with this table Serena McGinnis (@survivalofasuburbanmom) found secondhand that “was definitely used in an office setting.”

“The cherry color was really outdated, but when I came across it on Facebook Marketplace, I immediately saw the potential,” Serena says. In pictures, she could tell she loved the shape (those sculptural legs!), and when she picked it up, she knew it was a sturdy piece, too. The one problem? It was laminate, not real wood, so re-staining it wasn’t in the cards.

It was hard to look past the cherry-red finish, Serena says. “But the table was sturdy, heavy, and still had so much life left. And I knew the base of the table was dynamite.”

“My first plan was to paint the table black, but just as I was about to start, I had a change of heart,” Serena says. She remembered she had a paint on hand — Retique It — that she frequently uses for IKEA hacks and thrift flips. “It’s a miracle paint,” Serena says. “It has little small wood fibers in it, so you can paint and then stain it.”

Serena started her project by scuffing up the surface of the table with 120-grit sandpaper. Then, she added two coats of paint in a light beige color. Once dry, she lightly sanded that finish and lightly stained the piece with a golden-oak tone. “You want to make sure when you’re staining to go in the direction that the wood grain would be,” Serena advises. Finally, when the stain was dry, she sealed it all with a polyurethane.

The total cost came in at under $100, though the piece looks like something from a designer showroom. “I love how the stain turned out. It was the perfect shade, and completely transformed boring office furniture to a modern, stylish piece for the home,” Serena says.

This piece is part of Money Month, where we’re covering everything from side hustles to down payments to a beginner’s guide to investing. Head over here to read more!