Coffee Table Makeover

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Our old Ikea Lack coffee table had definitely seen better days.  After lots of usage, the top was all scratched up and bubbled in places from condensation on cups.  The plain light wood color also left us bored and uninspired, so we decided it was time for a coffee table transformation.


We are waiting until we buy a house in order to get all new living room furniture, so we are looking at this as a temporary rejuvenation. Decoupaged table tops are not going to last forever with heavy usage, but look great in the short run. Alex came up with the idea of using pictures from our travels, but I thought color would be too busy.  So we opted to use black and white photos on top and paint the legs and shelf black. Now it has much more of a personalized, modern appeal.

The Materials:

Old coffee table  •  Glossy black spray paint  •  Mod Podge Gloss Finish  •  Clear spray acrylic sealant  •  Printed black & white photos in 5×7 and 4×6 (approx 70 photos total)  •  Sandpaper  •  Foam brush

The Process:

1. To start out, I gathered all my materials.  Next I took the table apart so that I could work on the pieces separately.  Taking the top outside, I sanded down all the imperfections and bubbled up areas to begin with a smooth surface.  I then wiped it clean with a damp cloth and let it dry.  Now we are ready to start laying the photos.

2. Start from one corner.  Place a photo on the top and wrap over the side.  Crease the photo where it bends over the edge to have it lay down nicely.  This is important to help the mod podge hold. (There are a few spots on my table where the photo did not adhere all the way on an edge and makes a crinkly noise when pressed.)  Using your foam brush, apply a layer of mod podge all over the back of the photo and adhere it to the table top.  Continue this process of applying your photos to cover the entire top and edges. Coat the top and sides of table with a coat of mod podge to seal everything in.  Let the table top dry for 2-3 hours.

3. While the top of the table is drying, take the legs and shelf outside to spray paint black. I did multiple coats of spray paint, waiting about 15 minutes between coats, to prevent applying too much at a time and seeing runs in the paint.  I did not apply a primer first, but would highly recommend it being that the paint seems to be chipping off pretty easily.  Also, I would recommend buying two cans of paint to be safe, because I actually ran out on the shelf so there are a couple of light spots that could use one more coat.

4. Once the table top seems dry, take it out side and spray a generous coating of clear acrylic coating.  Let dry thoroughly before reassembling the table.

Voilá!  Newly transformed decoupage table.  To help prolong the life of your photo table top you can purchase a piece of glass and use it as a topper.

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15 thoughts on “Coffee Table Makeover

  1. I am getting ready to start this on tv trays for a christmas gift this year. After doing a coat of mod podge on the top, could I then coat it was polyurethane to water proof it?

    • I have not tried topping with polyurethane, but imagine that would help to seal it in. Just be careful that the polyurethane does not dry too yellow. On a different project (painting corn hole boards for my husband), I opted to use polycrylic to seal them since it tends to dry clearer.

  2. I did this on a wooden child’s IKEA table (found at a thrift store for $5)using Eric Carle illustrations from a book I had doubles of . I applied two coats of poly spray after attaching pictures , and still had small, annoying sharp corners and edges peeking up even though I was meticulous in Modge Podging them onto the table! I wish that I had soaked the illustrstions in water first , peeled off their top layers , and then trimmed and attached them to the table. At very least, perhaps I could have sanded their egdes a bit. I will need to buy a clear acrylic plexiglass ( not cheap ….$25) , to protect the top and make it useable for children.

    • Yes, I did mod podge over the top of the photos and let it dry completely and then added a coating of spray acrylic. I wanted to seal it well to make sure I would use it like a coffee table without being worried about the photos underneath. After about a year of usage, I took it outside and gave it another fresh coat of acrylic to freshen up the shine and seal. Still be careful with water rings from glasses of course, as that can damage the photos or warp overtime.

  3. Pingback: Home Makeover Ideas – 25 DIY Projects to Update Your Home | Home and Gardening Ideas-Home design, Decor,remodeling,improvement-Garden and outdoor Ideas

    • I used glossy photos that I had printed from Shutterfly for my table. Originally I planned on printing them on computer paper, but found that the ink bled when coating with Mod Podge. The glossy finish helps since the coating seals in the print. Good luck on your table!

  4. very nice..having a similar table and thinking of trying it…should we apply mod podge on the top of the photos too??

    • Thanks for the comment. Yes, I applied mod podge over the top of the photos (just make sure it is glossy, not matte). You can also get a clear spray paint sealer to coat it for longer lasting durability.

  5. I’ve done something similar to a lamp but used printer paper and decopauge (sorry about the spelling, lol) Can I use your version on a glass top table? I mean, will it adhere?

    Jacqui

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