Upcycled coffee tables

If you've always fancied upcycling furniture, why not start with a second hand coffee table? Interiors writer Karen Wilson gets some tips from those in the know.

Creating a coffee table with wow factor needn't cost the earth. With a bit of creative upcycling, you can give a tired second hand piece a designer look without the price tag by painting, swapping the legs, switching up handles or even wallpapering drawer fronts.

Sarah Maguire's cottage coffee table

Freelance events manager Sarah Maguire has upcycled most of the furniture for her West Yorkshire cottage, including this bargain £1 coffee table, painted with a tester pot of Wilko's Imp Green.

The living room of Apple Cottage@sarahmaguire_myvintagehome / Instagram

'You can find some absolute gems in furniture charity shops, particularly old display cabinets that have fallen out of fashion,' she says. 'Try to have vision and don't push brown furniture aside as it can look amazing re-painted. Lots of people go for expensive chalk paint but I just make my own colours mixing tester pots with white emulsion. I always clean the piece well first, then give it a light sand before painting. Afterwards I finish with a good wax or clear varnish.'

Jo Harrison's French coffee table

North East based Jo Harrison has a business upcycling furniture to sell on her website www.relovedbyjo.co.uk and undertakes commissions too. 'Charity shops are a great place to start, as they're a win, win for everyone concerned,' she says.

When Jo saw this French coffee table she loved the pretty carved detail, curves and original knobs, so decided to paint it in her own mix of grey chalk paint.

A wooden French coffee tableA French coffee table upcycled with grey paintrelovedbyjo.co.uk

'Although my style of painting is more classic, I did distress this piece a little to fit with the rustic style and cleaned up the gorgeous knobs by soaking them in vinegar and baking powder which takes away any grime and leaves them sparkling,' says Jo, who recommends both Little Greene and Autentico paint, especially the latter's Versante Matt outdoor paint which doesn't need waxing.

'With three very deep drawers this lovely coffee table is both pretty and practical. It was snapped up by a lady who loved it and wanted something stylish and sturdy that her granddaughter couldn't trip over.'

Nicky Cash's geometric coffee table

Leeds based Nicky Cash of Done Up North is another upcycling pro who loves a good rummage around a charity shop and describes herself as a 'vintage purist'. 'I avoid desirable brands like G Plan and Mackintosh as they don't need upcycling,' she says. 'I'm looking for the right shape with modern straight legs but it doesn't have to be solid wood. Many pieces are made from light veneer over a thin ply and if nobody else wants it, it gives you carte blanche to change it.'

Nicky's signature look often involves geometric patterns, black and gold. 'It's more masculine and graphic than girly, so has universal appeal,' she says.

This oblong coffee table, which cost £10 from a charity shop, is typical of Nicky’s style and has been revamped using masking tape and Rustoleum metallic spray paint.

A plain brown rectangular coffee tableThe plain coffee table upcycled with black and gold geometric lines on it's surfacewww.doneupnorth.com

When Nicky spotted this round table, it was watermarked and spoiled by a toffee coloured varnish, but at £5 it was a compete bargain. Nicky used a wood dye to reveal the lovely tiger oak wood grain beneath and masked off a star shape before painting with Wiko’s black wood paint and sealing with a General Finishes top coat. ‘It’s worth spending more on really good masking tape like 3M edge lock or Frog Tape, as otherwise you'll end up with a fluffy edge,' she advises.

A circular wooden coffee table before upcyclingA coffee table after upcycling, painted black with apart from a central stardoneupnorth.com

Nicky advises up-cycling newbies to start with a small object to experiment. 'You don't need expensive paints,' she says. 'You can even use up leftover emulsion from the shed, because a good top coat makes it resilient.'

Start your upcycling journey at one of the British Heart Foundation's Furniture & Electrical shops.

Find your local BHF Furniture & Electrical store