Help me spruce up a coffee table in a magical way.
January 3, 2013 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Bought a cheap wooden coffee table. Want to decorate it in a weird way. Any suggestions? It's your typical rectangular shape, nothing special. Some scratches on top. Design style: eclectic.

Things that I’ve thought of:

Mosaic Scrabble board on with tiles
Ask everyone who visits to sign it/thumbprint it/do something else to it
Decoupage postcards/Monopoly money/old 50s pictures/comics/??? on it.
Paint it in some ridiculous way
Poster+Glass covering.

Anything you’d recommend? This was my cheapest furniture purchase ever — it’s worth a good redo.
posted by melodykramer to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Broken china mosaic?
posted by The Deej at 8:25 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

My best friend likes to mosaic, and she did a small dining room table which everyone now comments on. I watched the process, and while it was moderately effort- and space-intensive, it did not actually seem very complicated.

I'd recommend against poster and glass, just because a glass-topped table looks clean for maybe like five minutes after you wipe it down, and smudgy the rest of the time.
posted by griphus at 8:26 AM on January 3, 2013

(That broken china mosaic is exactly the thing she did.)
posted by griphus at 8:26 AM on January 3, 2013

I've been wanting to do a herringbone pattern with fortune cookie fortunes on a tabletop for ages now, maybe tea die half the fortunes first to add color while maintaining readability.
posted by dadici at 8:28 AM on January 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Drill holes in it like a starry constellation, nail a bottom to the base with lights in it, and cover the top with glass. The effect would be something like a tin can lantern but on a large scale.
posted by mochapickle at 8:29 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Decoupage maps from the favorite places you've traveled to.
posted by stampsgal at 8:38 AM on January 3, 2013

Ikea Hacker usually has some interesting ideas. I'd decoupage something instead of china mosaic, which can add greatly to the weight of the table.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:39 AM on January 3, 2013

If you are a rock and roll type you could paint it in a Frankenstrat-inspired finish.

You could finish it with acrylic epoxy and embed whatever small bits of ephemera you want to (such as the afore-mentioned cookie fortunes) in it.
posted by TedW at 9:00 AM on January 3, 2013

Chalkboard paint. A renewable source of constant entertainment. And a place to write down things to do while you are on the couch daydreaming.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:01 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you are feeling artistic.. why don't you burn a design into the wood? (Mind you has to be real wood, no laminate/veneer/faux wood stuffs)

You can have visitors sign it, family draw on it ..etc (with appropriate supervision of course!)
posted by xicana63 at 9:36 AM on January 3, 2013

I once decoupaged a full deck of playing cards onto a coffee table. You could use a standard deck, something fancier, or something stranger.
posted by ourobouros at 9:50 AM on January 3, 2013

Buy gold leaf sheets at the craft store and gild the surface.
posted by lovableiago at 9:51 AM on January 3, 2013

I have a table I covered with canvas, primed, then painted. I just used staples underneath the top to attach the canvas. It's sealed with clear acrylic paint. The best thing about it is it's a really durable surface, waterproof, easy to clean, and able to take some heat.

In the future, if I don't like it, I can just remove the canvas and start over. I rounded the corners and routed the edges, to make it easier to attach smoothly, but it's not necessary.

p.s. dadaci, I have been collecting fortunes for years with something like that in mind. ;)
posted by annsunny at 10:03 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I did a decoupage project once with fortune-cookie fortunes (got really sick of fortune cookies during the process, I'll admit). Helps to have somewhere to buy them in bulk.

I've also done a lot of regular magazine-art decoupage (mostly cutouts from artsy catalogues). One of my friends did a beautiful tabletop with fancy liquor bottle labels.

If you decoupage with anything paper/porous, do NOT use ModPodge, spray-on acrylic, or anything like that. Good old polyurethane is the only way to go.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:10 AM on January 3, 2013

Make sure it's a pretty sturdy table before you try a ceramic and grout mosaic. You can easily add 30lbs to the top, which might make it tippy.

Another option is putting pennies, bottle caps, maps, photos, drawings, relatively flat things, then pouring epoxy varnish over top.

If you do anything thicker than paper, you'll need to frame in a temporary lip with some cardboard, and a bit of modeling clay to seal in any gaps and create rounded corners. It needs to be water tight, and you'll want to do the pouring outside over newspaper just incase you spring a leak. After it's fully cured, rip of the cardboard and scrub any extra off with a wet rag.
posted by fontophilic at 10:23 AM on January 3, 2013

If you had a lot of Mardi Gras beads you could make a mosaic with the beads.
posted by govtdrone at 10:43 AM on January 3, 2013

1. stick thumb tacks on tabletop in a pattern or random smattering of your choosing
2. wind an attractive looking string around thumb tacks in a pleasing fashion
3. cover with epoxy varnish, as fontophilic suggested
posted by Gonestarfishing at 11:10 AM on January 3, 2013

A former roommate of mine decoupaged an end table with photos of Arnold Schwarzenegger throughout various roles and life stages. Do you have a favorite celebrity?
posted by vytae at 11:20 AM on January 3, 2013

Response by poster: I once made this but I don't think that's what you had in mind. I think i might go with chalkboard paint/letting my friends do something. Thank you all for your creative input! -Mel
posted by melodykramer at 11:53 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Get escher interlocking patterns lasercut out of different interesting materials (cork, wood, plastic, stone) and tesselate.

Knicknacks and a poured plastic top.

Make a liftable glass lid with a micrcosm under it.
posted by plinth at 4:37 PM on January 3, 2013

Use a wall decal! I found one this morning featuring giant octopus tentacles. I'd probably paint it a solid color first, but that's certainly optional.
posted by copperdrake at 5:13 PM on January 3, 2013

Painted furniture is a pinterest board that may inspire you. I was looking for examples of Ya Ya furniture from New Orleans, but could not located any examples online.
posted by JujuB at 8:55 PM on January 3, 2013

Eight coffee table makeovers is less intimidating.
posted by JujuB at 9:13 PM on January 3, 2013

You can buy really beautiful giftwrap, or sheets of art paper at an art supply store. Cover the top with beautiful paper(s) and paint the legs in coordinating color(s).
posted by theora55 at 10:14 PM on January 3, 2013

Wow, MeFites are so crafty!

I've been planning to put some highlights from my husband's concert ticket stub collection under glass on the the coffee table he made, along with the train tickets from our honeymoon and anything else that seems to fit.
posted by lily_bart at 1:41 PM on January 4, 2013

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