Kate Dolack
September 30, 2013 9:00 am

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with two things: pirates and fashion makeover Fairy Godmothers.  Sure, they sound like polar opposites, but I assure you they are totally related.  One group seeks out treasure only to hide it, and the other group uncovers it and exposes it for the world to see.  I’m ignoring the whole part about pirates killing people for treasure because that doesn’t really fit in with my storyline and I really don’t want to encourage anyone to get stabby.

Anyway, my parents understood this similarity when they cleverly buried an old chest filled with plastic jewelry and Bonnie Bell lip-gloss in our backyard.  They took me on a walk to a park near our home where a river flowed through the otherwise overgrown landscape- and from a distance I will never know, my dad dropped a bottle with a map into the water.  Down the river it floated until my scrutinizing eyes spotted it lulling across the bank.  When I opened it, I did not think it odd that the old pirate map signed by a ‘Peg Leg Pete’ lead me of treasures that were coincidentally buried in my own back yard.  Instead, I thought of it as something like fate.

When I eventually unearthed the chest, I spent the rest of the month giving my friends and all my stuffed animals total makeovers thanks to the treasure uncovered from ‘Peg Leg Pete’s’ map.

Fast-forward twenty odd years later, and I’m still that wide-eyed treasure hunter scanning the horizon: a little taller, with considerable more experience dying my hair.  I’ve also moved from coast to coast and to the middle, calling ‘home’ by the name of, oh, at least twelve different apartments through the years.   And while my love of makeovers never did quite dissipate, it did shift in theory.   Instead of eye shadow and hair dye, I now look to paint and power tools.  Because, whether I’m living somewhere for a few months or a few years, it won’t feel like home until I plait together my own little crows nest.

The truth is there are diamonds in the rough stashed all across your own town just waiting to be uncovered.  All it takes is an eye that can look beyond the superficial and a little bit of elbow grease. Why bother to drop tons of your hard earned cash on pricey designer furniture, when you can create the same thing for less and have a little adventure on the way!  Bonus, the end result will also be totally, perfectly from your creative brain.

Join me on a treasure hunt, where I will tell you where to find and how to create one of the most in demand items on the market: an upholstered coffee table/bench.

      For this project, you will need:

  • Coffee Table/Bench
  • Sand Paper in Fine
  • Quart of Paint
  • Paint Roller (I like the smaller rollers for painting cabinets)
  • Fabric of Choice (I used 1 yard)
  • Batting or Foam
  • Staple Gun

Despite how it appears, this is an absolutely easy project that can be completed in a few hours (the longest part is waiting for the paint to dry!)

The Hunt: The absolute best place to find a coffee table is a resale store or a thrift store like Goodwill or a Habitat for Humanity Resale shop.  You can also check out local flea markets and antiques stores. My advice? Go early in the morning on a weekend before the crowds snatch up the good stuff.

Look past minor imperfections, you’re going to paint and cover it with fabric anyway.  Concentrate on the design of the piece; does it have an interesting shape or neat detail?  Of course, make sure it’s stable; you don’t want to create the piece only to have a leg fall off once complete. I scored this table for $15.00 in a local thrift store.

The Transformation: Just like a perfectly placed highlight or a some bright red lipstick can totally brighten up someone’s face, a fresh coat of paint on a dingy piece of wood will give it a new look.  First, I used a fine sandpaper to remove any existing gloss to ensure an uninterrupted surface for the paint.  Then I used a small roller designed for smooth surfaces, like cabinets, to paint the wood’s exterior.  I didn’t bother painting the top, since fabric would cover it eventually. Depending on the size and type of paint, you should allow about two to three hours for the piece to dry.

Now, place your batting or foam on the top of the table and cut it to size.  Batting is usually cheaper than foam, where foam tends to be more flat and durable.

Lay your fabric across the foam and determine where you’re going to staple it in to the wood.  Wrap the fabric around the overhang or the edges of the table, and fold it in on itself to prevent fraying.  Then, staple away!  If this is your first time using a staple gun, congrats!  It’s amazing and surprisingly easy to use, isn’t it?

The Grand Reveal! Voila! That is really ALL there is to it! You now have an upholstered coffee table for your living room, or a bench for the foot of your bed. Overall, I spent $48.00 on the entire project, to include the coffee table, the paint, the fabric and the foam.  If you don’t have a staple gun, I totally recommend picking one up.  There are few things more beautiful (and few therapies that cost less) than a woman and her power tools.

Happy Hunting!

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