The Coffee Table - Again
March 6-12, 2004

Before Jeff went to Hong Kong, I mentioned that I would spend my free time re-painting the guest bedroom. He didn't like the current ocean blue color on the walls so I offered to paint it a light lime green. Jeff told me not to paint any rooms while he was gone. I think he felt a little weird about going on vacation while I was at home working.

While Jeff told me not to paint any rooms, he certainly didn't say I couldn't paint any furniture and with that, a new project was born.

For the first time in a long time, I took a really good look at the tiled coffee table. The tiles along the edges were long since gone - and that didn't bother me - but now the tiles on top of the table were also starting to pop off. Plus, the grout was covered with food stains that just wouldn't come off. I decided it was time for a change. I went down to the basement and grabbed a chisel and a garbage bag.

The first few attempts to get tiles off the table were very successful. They came off in huge sheets. Those were the tiles I happened to put on last. I think I must have been tired and didn't put as much mortar on the table. The days of pulling off huge sheets soon gave way to just teeny, tiny chips of the tiles. After several of these chips flew close to my eyes, I went back downstairs and got goggles. Since Jeff was out of town, I would have to drive myself to the emergency room and if I had tile in my eyes, I would have had to do it blind.

About a half hour into my new project, Dawn and Joel appeared on my doorstep. They were very interested in helping and we all took turns chiseling away at stubborn tile. It became quite a game to get the tiles off. I learned quickly that they had to be hit at certain angles (and each tile was different) so it was fun to point out, "Maybe you should try hitting that tile here..."

Well over an hour after I started, the tiles were finally completely removed. With the original surface exposed, it was clear why the tiles were on in the first place. The surface was rather shabby and uninviting. Dawn then asked "What are you going to do with it now?" I hadn't thought that far ahead. I figured it would be painted but what color and what style - if any - had not been factored into the plan.

We took a trip to Home Depot and stared at paint samples for far longer than probably necessary. We finally all agreed on a mustard-y yellow. As we were looking at the samples, I wandered by the techniques board and pondered the different options. I knew that straight paint wouldn't make the table interesting nor would it hide the surface's imperfections. Again, after much thought, we decided to "crackle" the paint. It was then back to the thinking board to come up with a color to "crackle" the yellow against. We picked a very chocolatey brown.

After some dinner, we headed back to the house. We each grabbed a brush and painted a coat of brown onto the top part of the table and all three drawers. Just as we finished the painting, Sirbie came in to investigate. He sniffed the freshly painted table and turned his nose up in disgust. I thought the smell would drive him away. Apparently, I was wrong. Not a half second later, Sirbie was standing on top of the table - smack dab in the middle of the fresh paint. I grabbed him while Dawn went to work on touching up the table. Sirbie was escorted outside, where he was shown a pile of snow and was asked to wash off his feet. He gladly romped through the snow, taking most of the paint off and leaving brown footprints behind.

After that, Dawn and Joel decided to call it a night. The next morning, I was up with the sunrise and went to work on the table. I applied a layer of crackle to everything that had been painted. After that had dried, I applied a coat of the mustard yellow paint. A few minutes later, Dawn and Joel arrived and they got to watch the "show." As the yellow paint dried, it pulled away from the first layer of paint to expose its brown color. It "Crackled" before our eyes.

I went out a few days later and bought some polyurethane to apply over the painted surface. I kept meaning to work on the table throughout the week but never quite got around to doing it. Since Jeff was coming home on Saturday (the 13th), I figured I had better finish it before he was home. I put three coats of poly on Friday night, sanding between each layer. I started around 5pm and finished around midnight. I watched the movie Holes while the coats of poly dried.

What you see below are pictures of the finished product.