Monthly Archives: June 2015

Mid Century Coffee Table … And We’re Still Here!

Well, it’s been SO long since we’ve written but we have some good reasons for taking a break from refinishing! Let me update you with some of the exciting things that have been going on:

First, Nik and I are about to finish up grad school, and Nik found out that he got a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship at UNC that will give him training in teaching at the college level, which is what he wants to do with his life. He took the position, which means we’ll be near Chapel Hill for the next few years. So…we started looking for a house, and a couple weeks ago we had an offer accepted on a place just down the road in Durham.


The deal is still under negotiations, but the inspection went relatively well so we’re hoping everything will work out. The house has a great layout (a small colonial, 3 bedrooms, 2 stories), but definitely needs some TLC! Our first few projects will include painting everything, replacing the awful wall-to-wall carpeting/linoleum downstairs with some engineered hardwood floors, updating the downstairs (and possibly master) bathrooms, adding crown molding and trim to some rooms, and figuring out what the heck to do with the kitchen. Ugh.


The kitchen currently has very limited cabinet space (that’s just about all of it above!), terrible formica counters, linoleum floors, and a dishwasher that sounds like a steamboat engine. We’re toying with ideas of moving the pantry (not shown above) to the other side of the room to create more counter space, possibly adding an island, or adding a banquette with storage cabinets on the other side of the room. But those are big projects, so we’ll have to tackle things one at a time.

The yard also needs some work, and we’re hoping to put in a nice garden along the side of the house. There’s a play set that has to be ripped down in the backyard, but it’s built with some cool weathered wood so maybe we’ll be able to turn it into a furniture project.

So, speaking of furniture, amidst all this chaos of finding a house, starting to write up our research papers so we can graduate, moving to a small apartment for the summer since our current place wouldn’t do a short term lease, and finding jobs, we have managed to squeak a couple pieces out. I’ve written about this first piece before, but I’ll refresh your memory. I’m happy to say it is finally finished (well…it will be tonight. One more coat of poly. I promise!). This eclectic coffee table was made by Edward Wormley, whose mid-century-style furniture designs are actually featured in some museums.

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The guy who sold it to us knew it was worth some money, but unfortunately neglected to tell us the table had terrible water damage (see dark spot above). So we ventured to Raleigh and found some quarter sawn red oak veneer that we felt matched well enough for our budget.


We put off applying this veneer for about a year and a half because Nik is a perfectionist, and once it’s cut and glued, it’s cut and glued for good. So I did the cutting, which for 10 mil veneer can be done with a nice pair of scissors:


We then adhered it with contact cement which has to be applied to both surfaces, allowed to dry to a tack for about 10-15 minutes, then pressed together with a decent amount of force. We did one half, then the other to keep it alined. This stuff is stinky and noxious and can spontaneously light on fire…not fun stuff.

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After adhering the veneer, we let it dry outside for a day or two and got lovely bubbles lifting up under the veneer, so we kept some heavy textbooks on it for a few more days and they went away for the most part. Next we had to fill the seam of the veneer, which we did with wood filler.


This worked alright…and the wood filler sanded pretty smooth and stained decently but it’s not totally invisible.

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We had already stained the other parts of the table, but since it had been so long we did another coat of Golden Oak on everything (gotta keep the wood tone looking mid-century!). I didn’t think the veneer was stained dark enough, so I then went over it with a quick coat of Cherry (see the side by side comparison below), and I think it matches pretty darn well with the rest of the table now!

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The grain of the red oak veneer definitely is much stronger than the original veneer that is on the bottom level, but overall I’m really happy with how it came out. It needs another coat of water based poly and then we’ll have to decide if we’re keeping it or selling.

We also refinished the wood part of a piano bench we bought for $20 a couple years back. I think I’ve written about the upholstery part and the rest was just stripping, sanding, staining, and sealing, so here’s the before and after for that project:


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Some friends introduced us to a very neat reclaimed house parts store in Durham called the ReUse Warehouse, and we went there this past weekend. It was approximately 150 degrees inside with the NC summer heat (our SHINS were sweating), but despite that we found some cool old window sashes, one of which we bought for $10 to make into something fun. We’ll definitely be heading back there for other projects in our new house!

So, I’m sorry to all my readers for the long break, but we’re still here and always trying to find time to work on our projects! Once we get moved into our house, we’ll have lots and lots of fun DIY projects to write about there!