Mid Century Modern Glass Top Coffee Table: Re-Staining Makeover

You might remember, in August I sourced this Mid Century glass top coffee table from Used Victoria. I wrote about the downsizing story behind it here.

Glass Top Table - Used Victoria Buy

My original plan was to paint this little table black – another display prop for Audrey Would! This turned into a re-staining project instead. I’ve never really tackled staining anything on my own and will admit I was a bit nervous.

From what I’ve read I know I should have stripped the old stain off first, but there were some pretty deep water stains to overcome so I went straight to sanding.

Mid Century Glass Top Table - Before (650) copy

If you want a great tutorial with some biodegradable product options for stripping old stain, check out my friend Shauna’s post here.

The sanding went fairly well and I was able to remove most signs of the water damage. I was left with the raw wood of the table looking like this:

Glass Top Table - Sanding - Sheila Zeller Interiors

After wiping away the sanding dust I applied Minwax® Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner with a foam brush. This conditioner penetrates the wood to help ensure an even stain, and I chose to use this because of the pre-existing water stains.

Because I wasn’t 100% sure of the wood (I think it’s Mahogany), and I wanted to reinforce the table’s Mid Century Modern roots, I chose Minwax ‘Gunstock 231’ for the stain colour. This stain has the orangey-red teak feel without being too strong in either direction.

Minwax Wood Stain 'Gunstock 231' Colour

I also applied the stain with a foam brush and then wiped it away with a lint-free cloth. I am so glad I used the conditioner first as the wood really soaked the stain up. Here you can see the stain applied to the shelf, legs and end pieces. The side pieces hadn’t yet been stained, and yes, I panicked at the bright orange of the shelf at first!

Applying Minwax Gunsmoke Stain - DIY Mid Century Coffee Table

Without the conditioner it would have been really hard to apply the stain evenly on this shelf. The darker sections you see in the shelf are actually the wood itself, not uneven stain. This shelf was really tricky to work with and I had to give some spots more layers of stain than others to get it looking even.

Minwas Gunsmoke Stain - DIY Mid Century Coffee Table - Drying

I think the legs are maybe a different type of wood than the rest of the table, because the grain of them is more porous and they took the stain to a darker colour than the rest. The shelf took the longest to dry of all the areas, but it also had more layers of stain applied than the rest. In the end I left the table alone for 2 days to fully dry before moving it into place.

To recap, here is the table ‘Before’:

Glass Top Table - Used Victoria Buy

And ‘After’ (without the glass because the stain was still not fully dry in spots):

Mid Century Glass Top Coffee Table - DIY Re-Staining - Reveal

I almost left this project too close to the wire. You see, we hosted a cocktail party on Saturday night and I wanted the table ready in time, which it was but with no days to spare!

Mid Century Glass Top Coffee Table - DIY Re-Staining - Reveal (1)

In the end I’m happy with how this table came out – it isn’t actually as orange as it looks here. What I feel good about is having honoured the roots of this little piece rather than painting it my go-to black.

New sofas are next. They’re on the way, but had no chance to join this party. They won’t be here for another month. In the meantime we borrowed our daughter’s to replace the milk crates for a place to sit 😉

How about you? Have you stained anything like this, and if you have what are your tips? What do you use for a finish?

Thanks for stopping by!

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Photographs by Sheila Zeller. Please link and credit if you choose to use!

A ‘Used Victoria’ Buy Made Me Pause and Reflect… Downsizing. What’s It All About?

As September kicks into high gear and the Victoria Vintage Expo draws near I have been shifting my focus to this year’s booth presentation. This has me clicking through the Used Victoria ads for potential DIY options.

And so I picked up this table… it caught my eye because of its lines and glass top.

Glass Top Table - Used Victoria Buy

It’s made of mahogany, and was crafted over 40 years ago.

My initial thought when I answered the ad was for a quick makeover, most likely my usual go-to black spray paint, maybe turquoise, gold or white, to become an Audrey Would! prop… and then I met the owner. If you’ve followed my blog over the years you will know how much the stories behind the pieces mean to me, and with this piece I inadvertently tripped upon a story about the journey of ‘life’.

You might want to sit with a cup of tea for this read.

An elderly gentleman answered my knock. Well, actually it was after I twice rang the doorbell and then looked for another door just in case. He apologized for not hearing the doorbell, said he and his wife didn’t hear so well anymore. He invited me in, and the home was clearly in the throes of being undone. I asked if he was moving, and “yes’ was his reply.

We made our way to this little table, which he showed to me with pride. I asked how old it was, and it was in this moment that I knew the little table was more than just a piece being moved on. The gentleman told me his son made the table in high school, and his son is now 58. He reflected that he thought his son had done a good job – the table was very solid and in good shape, you know. Then he shared how he and his wife have taken very good care of it over the years… all 40-plus years of its life… he said they kept plants on it and used doilies to protect it, and that they were very careful when they watered the plants not to get water on the wood… He said they had cleaned the glass, but I would probably have to clean it again.

And then he told me that he and his wife were moving into a Seniors’ home. They were downsizing and so things like this table their son had made had to go… I could see the struggle in his eyes, and I could hear it in his voice. Moving this table on was not easy to do, but it was just too big to fit this next phase of their life. He told me about when they first bought the house how they had added on and incorporated a crawl space. And that in this downsizing move he discovered old assorted scrap metal stored in the crawl space he’d forgotten all about… and how he took it to the scrap yard where they actually paid him to take it away! This made him chuckle. He marvelled at the huge weigh scale to weigh it all out, and how this big scale could weigh things right down to the size of a coffee can with precision… but he says, everything is electronic now-a-days. We laughed about how in the old days a scale used the slide and weights… 

We wrapped the table glass in a sheet I had brought, and he gently lifted it into my vehicle. I put the table in place, and he shifted my ‘in place’. Once he felt the table was a ‘secure’ load, we closed the hatch and money changed hands. He said again how his son had made the table and had done a good job, that the table had lasted all these years…

I promised him I would take very good care of the table, that I would give it a good home. And so… for now I will not be painting this table black or turquoise or white. I will not be adapting it for an Audrey prop at this year’s Vintage Expo. I will be giving it a light sanding and a fresh staining that brings out the mahogany red, and my Mr. and I have decided that we will be giving it pride of place in our home. Some things are meant to just be.

**UPDATE** The table has now been re-stained. Click here to see it pride-of-place in our home.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Photograph courtesy of Used Victoria ad.