Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vintage Table Makeover & a Transparency Transfer

This little thing has been a beast and has taken me forever to complete.  I'm gonna spare you the boring details and just give you the abridged version. 

Somehow the "before" picture got lost, but I got this at Goodwill for $3.  This picture is close to the before, it was taken after I sanded it down a bit.  So just imagine that the top was darker and the 90's style forest green paint was a whole lot thicker and gloppier. 

My original plan for the table was to paint it red and use it in our master bedroom, so I did a primer coat since red paint is notorious for being difficult to work with.

You're probably thinking that it looks pretty good in white aren't ya?  I know I know, but that would have been SO predictable, and though it would have been beautiful (and popular), it's just not me.  (I never was one of the popular kids)  : )

Part way through this makeover I changed my mind on where it would be used and thus what color it would end up.  I did a layer of a light green (an "oops" can bought from a local paint store) and then I randomly splotched some red around so that it would end up with a layered look.

I didn't take more pictures of the painting, but I did a second layer of green and finished it off with an antiquing glaze.

Now for the top of the table.  I had a "vision" for this table, I wanted it to have an old postage mark type emblem in the corner.  The problem was that after I decided this all of a sudden I started seeing tons of tables and projects done with the French postage mark found at The Graphics Fairy.  Again, I didn't want to be predictable and I didn't want to copy what everyone else was doing.  So I went searching for some other, non-postmark, image to transfer but found nothing I liked.  I kept coming back to my original idea.

I finally decided to go with it, but with my own twist to it.  Paris has no meaning to me so I didn't want to use the image from Graphics Fairy.  A Google image search brought up nothing useable.  So....I decided to design my own, one with a little more personal meaning. 

Months ago I had read about transparency transfers on Red Hen Home and thought they sounded like a great idea.  I never was inspired to try the freezer paper, Mod Podge, or Citra Solve transfers because they just sounded too confusing and the results seemed to be iffy.  But the transparency sounded like it would be easy enough and since the "paper" your working with is clear you can see exactly where you're placing your image.   HINT: a box of transparencies at an office supply store will run ya $35-$60 depending on which kind you get!  Instead, you can go to the copy center there in the store and ask to buy individual sheets.  3 of them cost me $1.28.

The idea is that running the transparency through an ink-jet printer gives you an image with ink that's sort of sitting on top of the "paper."  So you slightly dampen the wood you want to transfer it to then lay your image (printed in reverse/mirror image) onto the damp wood and press it down, thereby transferring the now wet ink to your project.  (Check out Red Hen Home for a more detailed tutorial)

I found an extra piece of wood in the garage to do some practice runs on.  

Good thing I did because my first try ended up in a big smeary mess!  The wood was too wet and I pressed too hard.  The half image to the left turned out better after I let the wood dry for a minute before placing the transparency on it.  Then I practiced putting stain over it to make sure it wasn't going to smear my image.  Since the stain is oil-based it didn't affect it at all.

I also experimented with applying the stain first and then putting the image on top, but that didn't work.   See how the ink dotted up?  It wouldn't soak through the oil based stain.

On this one I tried sanding the image a bit before staining, but it ended up looking smeary.  I don't know if the ink just needed to dry longer or if it's just not a good candidate for sanding.  In the end I decided not to risk it and didn't sand my image.

So, here it is after the transfer is complete, but before I stained it.

And here it is all finished up.......finally!

A coat of clear wax will give the top a little extra protection.

Here you can see the layering effect with the red paint.

And the touch of antiquing glaze in the cracks and crevices.

This little thing sat for months and when I finally decided to tackle it, it took much longer than anticipated, but........I'm happy to have it done.  Total cost was around $5.

So, now that I have this project complete, I can show you why I changed my mind about what to do with it and what I did with the  farmhouse lamp.  That'll be up next.

**Update** - if you'd like to see what I did with the table you can see that here: A Cozy Little Kitchen Corner



  1. So this is the little table that has caused so much grief. :) It's very cute - I love what you did to it.

  2. WOW! That looks really great!!!

  3. That looks fantastic! I love the stamp :)

  4. That is really cute - the stamp turned out well!

  5. Wow, THIS is awesome! Great job... and you've given me some inspiration for a table that's needing some love! :-)

  6. Great Idea for the transfer, will surely have to try it!! Thanks!~

  7. It is awesome...what a great change up. I have yet to figure out the whole image transfer thing so in the mean time, I'm sticking to my stencils :)

  8. I just used this same transfer method on fabric. Worked out great! I love the stamp image. Dee from My Painted Stuff

  9. Hi! That came out great! I"m sure you are happy that you did some samples first! I have to try some of these transfer things. I usually put the image on a projector and then trace away. But for something a bit faster, the transfer method seems pretty good.

    Hopefully,check out my blog - I posted a project on Miss Mustardseed yesterday - Creating and Old World Range Hood. And my other post from last week - about my dining room ceiling design and room re-do might interest you, since you an avid DIY-er and furniture might get inspired by these projects I did.

    I will follow you - hopefully, you'll do the same!

    Great project!


  10. That turned out really spectacular.

  11. this is so great i love it, it would be great if you have the chance to come and link up at

    thankyou xxx

  12. I love how this looks! Thanks for sharing all of your "experimentation," too!

  13. Your table looks awesome! I just grabbed a wooden table from the curb today and am excited to give it a new story. I love the colour combo that you chose and the personalized graphic.

    Thanks for some inspiration!


  14. Very sweet. You really gave this table a new life. love it.

  15. What a great tutorial... Thank you!
    Holly @ Down to Earth Style

  16. Love it!
    I'm going to have to try that. Thanks for sharing

  17. Featured this on my facebook page...

  18. Love this table! I am now following your blog. I also nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Go to my blog for the details:)

    Rachel (

  19. Way cool. I gotta try this too. Thanks for sharing.

  20. It turned out wonderful!! I'm going to have to try that method, because I thought the other methods sounded iffy too.

    I hope you'll come by the Knick of Time Tuesday Vintage Style party and share this transformation!

    Angie @ Knick of Time

  21. Love the transfer! Nice work :-) Thanks also for posting your trial runs; some really useful info there. I tend to use the carbon copy method - it's more time consuming, but I find all that tracing curiously therapeutic!


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