Distressed Coffee Table (a revisit & rework)

Every now and again I receive questions about past projects.

It’s always a lovely surprise though also a tad embarrassing to be reminded that people still read my older stuff. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am proud of my humble beginnings and grateful for the path my callow bloggy pavers have laid, though am still bashfully aware of just how far I’ve come (and yes, I’m also aware that in a few years time I’ll probably look back at my current posts and think they’re crappy too).

Anyhoo, one of the most asked about projects from the past is my distressed coffee table makeover (from way back in 2011).

Cottage Country Living Room with Brown Leather Sofas | The Painted Hive

Photo from my living room mini makeover 2012.

After a slew of recent questions (I guess the old post must have been freshly featured somewhere?), I re-visited the article myself and was, let’s just say, a little underwhelmed.

No wonder I kept getting so many questions. Where were the step by step instructions, detailed explanations and accompanying images I love including today? Nowhere, that’s where! :-(

So, given the apparent ambiguity of the original post I thought I owed everyone (and myself) a more complete tutorial.

Just in case you’re new here and are wondering, I originally picked this table up from eBay for around $25. It was in great condition and certainly nice enough as is though I personally felt it lacked a bit of character.

Distressed Coffee Table Tutorial (Step 1) | The Painted Hive

1 Lightly sand the base using medium grit paper.

Because I planned to paint and distress the base I wasn’t too fussed about the preparatory sanding being thorough. In fact, I didn’t want it to be too thorough because it was important the paint could be distressed easily for a more authentic look. I simply wanted to create a bit of scuff to lightly grip some of the paint.

Maybe at this stage I should also apologise for the crap before shot. Another oversight from my early blogging days. It’s taken straight from the eBay listing and, no, the pen and phone were not included – false advertising or what?


DIY Distressed Coffee Table

2 Apply two coats of white paint to the base.

After cleaning away any sanding residue, I applied two coats (with drying time between, of course) of standard acrylic wall paint using a brush. You could use pretty much any paint though where distressing is concerned some do produce better results than others. In my experience low sheen, water based paints are great (of course there are also “speciality paints” – such as chalk and milk paint). I find glossy or oil based paints can be a bit ‘tacky’ which makes distressing trickier. Another reason I tend to use standard acrylic wall paint is because I often get it for super cheap (mis-tints) or even free (from hazardous waste depots). I didn’t apply any primer because, again, I wasn’t too fussed about the paint adhering perfectly.


Rustic Distressed Coffee Table

3 Distress the paint.

Once the paint was thoroughly dry I distressed it heavily by hand using a sanding block and a combination of sandpapers with varying grits (basically, I used rough paper for heavy distressing and fine paper for more subtle distressing). You could use a palm sander (I generally do) though for whatever reason I just distressed this one by hand (palm sanders can leave small scrolly squiggles – which may or may not bother you – due to the vibrations). I completed the sanding with an all-over rub of steel wool for a smooth and silky finish.

This process takes a bit of time and elbow grease and, although practise and technique can help, it’s pretty much just an ‘anything goes’ task. Play with sanding directions and depths, inspecting your progress from time to time, until you have achieved the look you’re after. From memory I also used a belt sander on the table shelf to make distressing the large, flat area quicker and easier.

Because my table was a naturally light coloured timber which had already been coated with a dark brown stain, my distressing revealed two tones of wood. This multi-tonal look makes for a really beautiful layered effect. If you’re starting with a piece that is light in colour and want the “layered” look, if at all possible, I do recommend staining it first.


Rustic Farmhouse Coffee Table

4 Apply a finishing glaze.

I’m not really of the opinion that top coats are always needed and am not sure if this is something I would bother with any more. At the time I think I was experimenting more than anything. I simply combined some brown craft paint with some clear acrylic sealer (around 1 part paint to 9 parts sealer) then applied it liberally with a rag before wiping it away again with another slightly damp rag. This created a subtle all-over sepia effect and a very soft sheen along with protecting and ‘finishing’ the finish (make sense?).

Just keep in mind that most clear sealers will yellow to some extent over time (some more so than others). If, like me, you’ don’t mind a bit of warmth in your whites, then this probably won’t bother you though if you’d prefer to keep them crisp ask for a non-yellowing sealer.


How To Distress Furniture

5 Sand, stain and seal the top.

It’s hard to tell from the before photo though the table top was simply stained veneer and for my personal taste was just a little too perfect – bordering on fake looking – and had a slight pink tone.

I sanded it back to raw, being careful not to go too far and reveal the composite board beneath the veneer, using a belt sander then distressed it slightly using a combination of hard, heavy and pointy implements (a hammer, steel chain, and prick punch). I then stained it a deep walnut colour and sealed it with one coat of danish oil. Sorry if you’re a regular visitor here and are sick to death of hearing about my love for danish oil, though for any new readers it’s my absolute fave timber sealer and totally awesome!

How To: Distressed Coffee Table | The Painted Hive

What was originally a rather plain table is now perfectly at home in my cottagey style living room. But more than that I feel its sense of personality actual injects further “life” into the space.

I’m planning to re-visit a few of my other more popular posts from the past in the hope of making my project processes a little more clear, detailed, and ultimately, achievable. I’ve also been working on getting Charlotte’s bedroom finished along with helping my parents with another room makeover at their place so, although I know at the mo’ I could probably be out-blgged by a glacier, I promise there are fresh projects in the works.



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How to Upholster a Chair (attached seat pad method)

I actually completed this chair months ago (some of you may even remember I posted a sneak peek on Facebook) and have just been waiting for some spare time to sit down and write the tutorial and share it already.

How To Upholster a Chair (and a cable knit cover) | The Painted Hive

It’s a sweet little chair for Charlotte’s room (yes, I will get that space completed – one day). I picked it up from eBay for around $25 after a reasonably long search. You see, I have this problem where I tend to envisage things I want – usually things that don’t exist – which means finding them generally takes a really, really long time. Throw my aversion for forking out big bikkies into the mix and it’s near impossible. Anyhoo, when I finally spotted this chair I knew it was just right. The shape, scale and patina, not to mention the price, were all perfect.

It’s the same chair I featured (in its ‘before’ state) in my distressed table post

Antique Chair and Distressed Kid's Table | The Painted Hive

Lift Lid Kid's Table | The Painted Hive

I must admit, after seeing these pics I fell a bit in love with the raw unpretentious look of the incomplete upholstery and did consider leaving it as is, though the exposed hessian and remnants of gimp were just way too itchy and scratchy so a new seat cover it had to be.

This is the first time I’ve ever upholstered a chair without a removable drop-in seat. I guess I must have felt kinda intimidated by the task, because this poor little chair sat neglected for over a year. Turns out my trepidation was unwarranted. The project was actually pretty simple and the result is surprisingly proper.

If, like me, you feel a little uncertain about the process of upholstering a chair with an attached seat pad, hopefully this tutorial will help shed some confidence inducing light.

How to Upholster a Chair: Step by Step | The Painted Hive

1 Chair
Duh! As mentioned, I’m using an antique child’s chair I picked up from eBay for $25.

2 Webbing
I’m using traditional jute webbing. Nowadays, you can get it in nylon and other materials too.

3 Upholstery Tacks
I used 1cm (3/8″) long tacks. You could use a staple gun instead though given the thickness of the webbing I just prefer the secure hold tacks provide.

4 Hessian/Burlap
To act as a base for the foam. Hessian is traditionally used though any strong woven fabric should suffice.

5 Foam
I’m using mid-density 25mm (1″) foam.

6 Wadding/Batting
To soften the curve of the foam and help conceal any inconsistencies.

7 Fabric
I usually go all practical when it comes to upholstery fabrics, especially where kids are involved, though in this case I kinda forgot about that. I wanted to use a cable knit jumper – a cream one at that – so I just did. Of course I’ve treated it with a fabric protector and have tried to persuade Charlotte to be somewhat careful though let’s face it, she’s a kid and it’s her chair so she can use it as she likes (within reason of course). I figure if it does get particularly dirty, worn or stained I always know how to recover it – that’s the power of learning to do stuff yourself I guess :-) I picked up my pre-loved cable knit jumper for just $3.99 from Savers.

8 Trim/Braid/Gimp
For concealing the staples. I’m using some really lovely braided cotton which goes perfectly with the cable knit fabric. I found it at Spotlight for around $3 a meter.


How To Upholster a Chair | The Painted Hive

STEP 1 Remove any existing upholstery as required.
In the case of my chair that meant the old webbing, hessian and glued-on gimp along with a hundred million staples. Seriously. In many cases removing the existing upholstery can be the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of the whole project. If possible, avoid it if you can. My webbing and hessian was just a bit far gone to be saved.


Upholstery: How To Web a Seat : The Painted Hive

STEP 2 Attach the webbing.
You can do this in a few different ways. This is how I went about it (you can read my previous tutorial for upholstering a drop-in seat for a detailed explanation of a slightly different method).

A Cut a strip of webbing around 20cm (8″) longer than the width of the chair frame and tack it onto the seat. Take care to ensure you tack it as close as possible to the inside edge. Remember, you need frame space to attach the coming layers which also need to conceal the webbing.

B Fold the loose end over itself and tack again for extra strength.

C Pull the strip taut across the cavity (preferably using a web strainer – again, refer to my previous tutorial for more info) and tack again in the parallel position on the opposite side of the frame.

D Fold the loose end over itself and tack again then trim off any excess.

Repeat this process, weaving the strips, until you have something resembling this…

Cavity Chair Upholstery | The Painted Hive

Of course, depending on the size of your seat, more or less strips may be required.


How to Upholster a Cavity Seat | The Painted Hive

STEP 3 Attach the hessian.
Trim a piece of hessian around 5cm (2″) larger than the seat base. Position it on top then fold in the excess before stapling it in place. This just acts to fill the webbing gaps, making the base more comfy and strong.


How to Upholster a Chair Seat | The Painted Hive

STEP 4 Attach the foam.
Trim your foam so it just covers the hessian. An electric knife is by far the easiest tool for this task though if you don’t have one sharp scissors will do. You may also find it easier to make a template of the seat shape from card or paper first. Lay the foam in place and staple it on. I like to push down the top edge of the foam, tucking the side underneath, to create a nicely rounded finish. Ensure you grab enough foam with the staples to avoid it pulling through (tearing) and lifting in the future.

It will probably look a little ‘bobbly’ (yes, that’s a word) though provided the ‘bobbles’ aren’t too inconsistent the wadding and fabric should even everything out nicely.


Cable Knit Chair Upholstery | The Painted Hive

STEP 5 Attach the fabric.
Trim a piece of wadding around the same size as the foam and lay it on top. Trim your fabric so it comfortably covers the seat (having excess makes things a little easier) and lay it on top of the wadding. Make sure it is straight and smooth. Neatly staple around the entire perimeter of the foam, pulling taut as required, then closely trim away any excess fabric.

TIP: Using a thick and slightly stretchy fabric, especially a soft woven one, usually makes for a more smooth and consistent finish. Thin and rigid fabrics show up imperfections much more obviously.


How to Upholster a Chair (Attaching Trim) | The Painted Hive

STEP 6 Attach the trim.
Choose an inconspicuous area or central position to start in (I began center back). Fold a small portion of trim under itself (to conceal the exposed end and create a neat loop) then attach it to the seat using hot glue. Press down hard to compress it slightly. Continue gluing and sticking until the entire edge of the fabric is concealed by the trim. When you reach the starting point, cut the trim leaving a little excess to fold under again, then glue it down abutting the beginning…

Upholstery Trim | The Painted Hive

TIP: If, like me, you’re using a braided trim that easily unravels, keep the ends neat by tightly wrapping a strip of clear sticky tape around the area you need to cut. When you do have to cut the braid, cut through the center of the tape. This will leave only a small portion of tape which will neatly hold the loose ends together though be barely visible once folded under.


Step by Step Easy Chair Upholstery | The Painted Hive

Like I said, hopefully this tutorial helps spark some motivation in those of you who have a chair like this languishing in a dark corner somewhere. Or, even better, maybe it might inspire a few of you to purposefully seek one out! In many cases chairs requiring some simple re-upholstering can be picked up for super cheap.

Now, onto the next project for Charlotte’s room…




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Simple and Effective Wall Art (with free printables)

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have noticed that a few months back I created a new “Masculine Rooms” board.

Masculine Rooms

I was hunting down some style inspiration for my brother’s new house, and whilst I’m pretty certain its rooms will never grace the pages of a design magazine, the house is looking much more like a home now.

One of the additions was a really simple, and super affordable, series of ‘artworks’ for the entry. I created them on a whim in a spare five minutes and never really intended to blog about them, though everyone keeps commenting on just how effective they look so, whilst I’m under no illusion that they are spectacular or anything, I thought perhaps I should share.

I’ve always been a fan of basic black and white wall art though haven’t really had a chance to use it in my own home. It’s easy to think of it as being quite contemporary and maybe even a little stark, though when used right it can impart a gentle sophistication which I think compliments a myriad of interior schemes, including country and coastal styles.

Here are a few examples of some quite different yet equally lovely rooms all sporting their own versions of predominantly black and white wall décor.

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

Decorating with Black & White Art

1 | 23 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

My brother’s blank canvas of an entry seemed like the perfect candidate.

For me, the secret to DIY wall décor like this is to use large thin frames with generous mattes (or basic backing) and very simple art, preferably bordered. It creates real impact.

Of course there are a heap of ways to go about creating art like this and endless design possibilities (I’m actually really excited about playing with some different ideas). For this project I used Photoshop and some free high resolution hatching brushes. They have a raw, graphic, abstract nature which, whilst neutral enough, imparts a subtle masculine edge. It would be easy enough to hand-draw something similar though I like the instantaneousness of using digital images – especially when pressed for time. To set them off I added a black border which I think is a really crucial element.

Although they’re black and white you could always colourise them in an editing program if you’d prefer a bright punch.

Free Printable Modern Black & White Art | The Painted Hive

SET OF 3 18cm x 18cm/7″ x 7″ IMAGES

I printed the images onto nice quality paper then carefully cut around them. I also added a little signature in the bottom corner of each print to help with the illusion of ‘proper’ art.

I housed them in basic black frames (40cm x 50cm – $5 each from The Reject Shop) and instead of going to the trouble and expense of mattes, I simply flipped the card which came in the frames around to use as a background. I originally wanted white backing though the reverse side of the card was a natural cardboard colour. I was worried it might look a little crude and make-do, though it actually ended up being just perfect (I think I even prefer it to white). I simply attached the little artworks to the card using double sided tape.

The scale of my brother’s wall lent itself to a column of three landscape oriented prints.

Black and White Wall Art Free Printables | The Painted Hive

I think this is one of those “you had to be there” kinda projects. The photos just don’t convey the full effect.
Oh, and please pardon the reflections!

There is so much you can do with basic art like this. Hang it individually, in a small group, rest it on a shelf or use it as part of a larger gallery. Here are just a few configuration examples…

Different Wall Art Configurations | The Painted Hive

As I already mentioned, I know this isn’t anything spectacular. Whilst I hope it’s helpful to some of you (perhaps particularly those dealing with decorating ‘manly’ rooms) what I wanted to do more than anything through this post was inspire and encourage – ignite a little “brain flame”, if you will. I know that for most of us budget conscious decorators original art is prohibitively pricey, and whilst there are lots of affordable alternatives nowadays, there’s just something so satiating about using some ingenuity to create something personally.

I’m contemplating creating more free printables in this same kinda vein (horses, pears, birds, sea fans, tree silhouettes, geometric shapes, feathers, and on and on!) using and sharing different techniques and resources. Is this something you guys would be interested in?

Just to reiterate, I used Photoshop and some free brushes in this instance. If you don’t have Photoshop you can use GIMP – a free alternative (Photoshop brushes can be imported into GIMP). If you don’t know what the heck ‘brushes’ are, they are basic drawing tools which range from simple shapes to complex illustrations. Photoshop comes with a range of standard brushes though additional ones can be easily imported. If you’re interested, try Googling “Photoshop Brushes” to see some of the options – there are some really amazing ones!



Printables free for personal non-commercial use only.


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How To Create Perfect Looking Curtain Folds

Remember when I posted about my parent’s made-over bedroom (a month or so back now) and promised to share my tip for creating those neat looking curtain ripples?

Perfect Curtain Tabs | The Painted Hive

Well, here’s the little trick (in all its unspectacular glory) and how those lovely waves came to be…

On the day of the photo shoot (of my parent’s room) I decided the flimsiness of the curtain heading was irking me a little too much. Here’s how it looked to begin with.

Creating Perfect Tab Top Curtains (before) | The Painted Hive

Don’t get me wrong though, I get that in the right setting slightly messy curtains can look relaxed and casual, though in the context of my parent’s semi-formal-ish bedroom to me they just looked plain untidy.

Anyhoo, keeping in mind that the curtains are merely decorative (that is, they don’t need to be opened and closed – you can read why in my original post about the make-over) I got to thinking about an easy way to make them look less dishevelled. Emphasis on easy (as in lazy ;-)

Something that instantly came to mind was this roll of wired paper ribbon (blue-grey in colour if I recalled correctly) that I remembered from my childhood. It had been part of my mum’s gift wrapping stash. Hmmm, something like that could work, maybe.

So, pushing the silliness of my overly fastidious need to have unnecessarily neat curtain tabs aside – anyways, as a part-time perfectionist by definition surely I have the undeniable obligation to be overly fastidious at least part of the time – I headed to a local store to buy some said wired paper ribbon.

None – of course!

Hmmm, maybe flimsy curtain tabs would just have to do.

A little dejected, I drove to my parent’s house and, with low hopes, decided to rummage through mum’s current gift wrapping stash anyway. Just in case.

And, guess what I found?

Yup, the very same roll of blue-grey (my memory served me well!) wired paper ribbon from twenty-odd years ago!

Hoarder much Mum? :-)

Okay, tale now told, onto the tute.

How To Create Neat Curtain Folds | The Painted Hive

1 To create the neat tabs I first cut a strip of wired ribbon slightly longer than the curtain panel width. Of course, you don’t have to use wired paper ribbon. Wired fabric ribbon, or anything with similar bendy properties, would suffice.

2 With the curtain in the ‘closed’ position (extended along the rod), I then threaded it right through the front pocket until it protruded slightly at both ends. This sounds fiddly and time-consuming though it was actually really quick and easy. You may need to fold the leading end of the ribbon over slightly to create a nice smooth edge for optimal glide.

3 Finally, I carefully pulled back the curtain into the ‘open’ position and went about manipulated the now pliable semi-rigid tabs into smooth looking ‘waves’ before trimming off any excess ribbon still visible at the ends.

4 Once complete, I climbed down from my little step ladder, stood back and prepared to be totally underwhelmed. Surprisingly, it seemed to have worked! I must admit, I was totally impressed with myself (insert immodesty curtailing blush here).

Of course, they’re not totally perfect (I’m not sure there is such a thing where curtains are concerned) though they are approximately 112% better. And around two months on, even with billowing in the breeze, they have held their form beautifully.

How To Fake Perfect Curtain Ripples | The Painted Hive

Obviously, this type of solution is not an option for ‘working’ drapes which need to be opened and closed though for stationary curtains which are being used purely for the purpose of decoration or concealment it’s a simple and effective fix.

I know, I know, it would have made more sense to stiffen the flimsiness of the heading during the actual making of the curtains, though for whatever reason (impatience I’m looking at you!) that didn’t happen. Plus, I think this make-shift method actually provides greater control and the ability to create nicer waves.

I hope it might help those of you who, like me, have issues :-)


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The Re-Love Project Auctions Are LIVE!

My heart is honestly beating a little faster than usual as I type this.

I didn’t anticipate being so excited-anxious-nervous-enthralled about seeing my pieces, and those of the other ladies involved, go under the hammer!

 Upcycled Map Drawer Style Bedside Tables


If you can see these babies gracing your bedroom (or living room, or office, or kid’s room, or…wherever!) then be sure to bid.

Remember, all proceeds go to Salvos Stores and delivery Australia wide is free! Yes, free national shipping people.

In addition, you definitely have to click here to check out the pieces being offered by the other seven fabtabulous designers, complete with some gob-smacking before and after pics.

Can’t wait for that hammer to fall!


PS Can’t sign off without expressing my gratitude for the beautiful response I’ve had for this project. Thank you all.

The auction has now ended. Thank you to everyone who bid. We managed to raise a cumulative $2,500 for the Salvos!

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