One Room Challenge Week 2: Coffee Table Dreams

What’s more fun than steaming and scraping wallpaper off the walls of a 24′ by 13′ room?

Well, nearly everything is more fun than that. I’d rather take a grad school statistics class again. I’d even go to the dentist. I survived wallpaper removal by dreaming about DIY coffee table ideas while steaming and scraping.

Dreaming up ideas is part of the fun of the One Room Challenge. And right now, 20 featured designers and about 200 guest participants (folks like me!) are making their design-dreamy ideas come true during this six-week challenge to makeover a room. I am doing “Operation Lighten & Brighten” on our family room, to take this space from dark and dreary, to hopeful and happy. See lists at the bottom of this post to see what we’re doing. Visit the Week 1 post to see the overall vision and moodboard.

But first, coffee tables. 

Bwa ha ha. See what I did there. That needs to be a poster, for those of us who love to decorate.

I pinned an obscene number of coffee tables on the Pinterest board where I collect ideas for this makeover. The Pinterest board helped me easily see the elements of coffee tables that I liked. After a late-night pinning spree, some clear groups popped up on the board. If you use Pinterest, I’d suggest that looking for the patterns and themes in the things you pin is a great way to discover your style.

Brace yourself for a bunch of coffee table pictures …

Links below include affiliate links.

Organic Shapes

Mushroom shaped, kidney bean shaped, soft curves and interesting geometrics caught my eye. Because they’re different than the usual. I love “different.”

Coffee Tables Organic Shapes

Sources: Arteriors, 1stdibs, 1stdibs, Overstock, 1stdibs

Sooooooo … one of the tables shown above is almost $19,000! Another is almost $38,000! So I’ve been on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace looking for affordable tables, preferably older tables that are good quality, low price. I found this one on FB Marketplace, only $50. Wouldn’t it be perfect if I painted it with a metallic texture and patina (more on that below).

Kidney Bean Table

So the lesson here: Look at the expensive things to learn from them and discover what you like. When you see something you like and it’s beyond your budget, watch online secondhand markets. You might find the perfect piece at the perfect price. Looking at a $38,000 table opened my eyes to seeing this $50 table.

Metallic Texture & Patina

I am loving coffee tables in bronze and dark antique brass, but also tarnished silver and burnished gold, with textures and mottled patina. Oxidation. Etching. You’ll see metallic texture + organic shapes here! Two loves in one!

Metallic Texture and Patina Coffee Tables

Sources: 1st dibs, Furniture Favourites, Moroccan Bazaar, Luxurease, Max and Russ, Pier 1

My favorite of all? Those comma shaped tables. They also make me think of paisleys. They’re on sale, but still $8,000. But you know what? I can paint a look like that. Yes! What about paisley-shaped coffee tables with raised stenciling for texture …

Big Paintable Surfaces

I love to DIY and I’m seeking something that I can paint and/or build, a surface I can change. The broad surfaces on these tables make me salivate, thinking of how you could add metallic texture and patina! I wouldn’t DARE do that on the first one though — it is collectible and pricey. But it gets the ideas going.

Broad Surfaces Coffee Tables

Sources: 1stdibs, Wisteria, Macy’s

A coffee table is the only new piece of furniture I’ll get for this room. This makeover will lighten up the walls, oak shelves, floor, ceiling, and fireplace.

I’m changing the surfaces of the room instead of the stuff in the room.

For many years, an old Chinese chest has been in the “coffee table spot” in this room. But it’s more like a display. The top of it is covered with decorative things. I don’t want to set glasses of liquid on it and things that could damage it!

So we have nowhere to set mugs, wine glasses, small plates of food, laptops, books, etc. We wind up scooting things over on the bookshelves and setting mugs there. I set mugs on the floor and sometimes I kick them over. I set a plate of food on the floor and hope I don’t step on the food! We need a FUNCTIONAL horizontal surface. It’s not a want — it’s a true need here.

Thus, all the coffee table inspiration.

Idea Most Likely to Happen

Right now, today, as I write — because ideas can always change! — I most likely will paint the underside of a glass coffee table. I’ve already done this on another table in this room:

Verre Eglomise Table

You can find my tutorial showing how to paint underneath glass at Paint+Pattern.

If I paint a glass coffee table, I can get a few things that I really like in the moodboards above. Using metallic paints, I can create a rich, mottled, burnished bronzey surface. I can paint my own patina. Maybe I’ll try mixing metallic paints with the Krylon Looking Glass paint that makes a mercury glass look. Maybe I’ll add stenciled patterns.

There are a lot of potential tables to paint like this. Even when you choose a look you like, there are many options online at different price points. Here are some tables I’m looking at, to paint the glass:

Glass Coffee Tables

Sources: West Elm table at Chairish, Home Depot, Amazon, Bonanza, Wayfair, Hayneedle

To be honest though, after looking at all the bold and unique coffee tables I shared first, these daintier gold ones make me feel … deflated? Disappointed? Not sure of the words, but not super excited about the possibilities. I think you just have to imagine the table with a dramatic painted top?

You know what idea DOES make me super excited about the possibilities? Those comma/paisley shaped tables. How can I make that??? I can cut the top shape. But how to make the sides? Is there a flexible material that would make stable sides? Other than metal? I am sure I could find someone to cut metal and solder it into paisley tables, but … time … money … maybe file that idea for the future …

It’s getting late in the One Room Challenge game to play with more and more ideas. It’s time to get stuff done!

One Room Challenge Task List

You might think six weeks is a long time to makeover a room. Not when you have a long list of stuff to do. Here’s what we got done, but there’s still enough to do that I worry about whether we’ll finish within the next four weeks:

DONE

  • Removed wallpaper
  • Got Pure & Original lime paint sample colors for wall color, tested sample boards
  • Got carpet sample colors; didn’t like; ordered more sample colors
  • Got Fusion Mineral Paint sample colors for oak shelf unit, tested sample boards
  • Ordered Fusion Mineral Paint
  • Found source for custom wood grilles to install over radiant heat

TO DO

  • Get quotes from roofing contractors to install skylights; schedule job
  • Replace some radiant heat baseboards
  • Order lime paint
  • Wash walls, repair some spots and prep for painting
  • Prime and paint the walls
  • Empty oak shelf unit, wash, light sand and prep for painting
  • Paint the shelves
  • Order wood grilles
  • Install wood grilles
  • Fix trim under window
  • Remove broken Hunter-Douglas blinds from window*
  • Whitewash the fireplace (or more like gray-wash or beige-wash)
  • Decide whether to do hardwood floor – carpet quotes are costly enough that hardwood might make sense for the value it adds
  • Choose carpet or hardwood
  • Schedule carpet or hardwood installation
  • Fix cracked areas in ceiling paint
  • Finish sewing curtain for window in garage door
  • Find canvas art for fireplace mantel
  • Frame fabric pieces from a vintage kimono and kuba cloth

There’s a few things here that threaten our ability to get this done within 4 weeks. We’ll see. The paint that I set my heart on for the walls has to come from Europe in a boat!! I didn’t know that. I’m not changing my paint plan — I really want to use this paint. And, we did procrastinate with contacting roofing contractors and making final decisions on flooring.

*  Our Siamese cat chewed strings on the window blinds 12 years ago when she was a baby. The blinds haven’t worked since then. For all those years they’ve been kept closed with a piece of jute string tied around them!! Some things in this room are long overdue!

One Room Challenge Spring 2008

One Room Challenge Week 1: Operation Lighten & Brighten our Family Room

My family room smells like wet paper. This is a good thing.

What?

Yes! It’s because we’re back for more One Room Challenge excitement, and the work started this week. We are updating our family room. Even on the sunniest summer day, it’s a really dark room. Look at this photo I shot while writing this post:

Dark Room Before One Room Challenge Makeover

This is how dark this room is, even on a sunny day. Now, I know many bloggers including me will overexpose photos and boost brightness in Photoshop to make a photographed room look much brighter than it is in real life. In reality, many rooms you see on Pinterest are darker than you think. Believe me, this room is so dark, no amount of Photoshop will make it feel light and happy! We’ve lived with this for 14 years. It’s time to lighten this space up!

The timing of our plans coincided with the Spring 2018 One Room Challenge (ORC), which is hosted twice a year by Calling It Home. The ORC is a challenge when bloggers makeover a room in six weeks. I hope over the coming weeks to give you ideas to brighten a room, if you have the same problem in your home.

Here’s the vision:

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Moodboard

And here’s a video to show you the room and our plans:

I had insomnia, I was tired during this video — will have more energy in future videos. When I’m showing you the shelves, you can’t even see, it’s so dark!

Twenty bloggers are Featured Designers in the One Room Challenge, and 200+ bloggers like me join in as Guest Participants. Visit these links over the next six weeks until May 10 when Pinterest-worthy pictures are revealed!

Meanwhile I’ll post my progress here at Nomadic Decorator blog, and you’ll surely get some DIY tutorials to lighten up your own home.

See what we decide to do

There are a few issues with this project:

  • I’m very uncertain about whitewashing the brick fireplace. Will I chicken out?
  • Little picky details like dark metal parts on wood shelves. These dark metal strips will show up when the shelves are painted light! I don’t think painting the metal will be durable enough. Ugh, how to solve this problem?
  • Budget constraints. Accepting that you can’t always have what you want. Things like hardwood vs. carpet. Stone on fireplace vs. whitewashing. What will we do?

Follow along to see what happens during this round of the ORC! Get email notices so you don’t miss a post!

Why does this room smell like wet paper?

Oh, I almost forgot! I’ve already started removing wallpaper. This is a 13′ x 25′ room. But with big windows, big fireplace, big shelf unit, a few doors and a big opening to the kitchen, there isn’t too much wall to deal with. Still, removing wallpaper is a pain in the butt. I’m using the Wagner 715 steamer (affiliate link). I’ll write more about this steamer and maybe film a video. It makes removing wallpaper SO EASY! So the wet paper smell is good — it means the steamer is working well!

 

One Room Challenge Spring 2008

Moodboard

Soft Color Palette Found in India

We’ll be heading to the India pied-à-terre soon — our apartment in Chennai, India — so I’m planning projects for the place and looking at photos from past trips for inspiration. I spotted this “funny face” and love its soft color palette:

Funny Face Found in India

See, the “face” is on this wall:

Soft India Color Palette

I spotted this wall while our driver sped past it, on the way to see a temple in a tiny village called Osur southwest of Chennai, India.

Maybe this soft quiet wall stood out because it was a rarity among all the screaming bright colors. The drive was about 2 hours long (or more? I forget now) so I saw an unusual billboard nearby and made a mental note to watch for the billboard during the drive back. Because I needed a photo of this wall! We told the driver to STOPPPPP, stop-stop-stop — because saying stop one time doesn’t work so well — and I jumped out and greedily got this cute wall into my iPhone.

India Color Palette

Old Wall in India

I share a few pictures of it here as inspiration for color combos, for old wall texture, for adding whimsy and fun in unexpected places!

I am not sure if the pink pipes are for plumbing or perhaps they hold electrical wires. But if they are functional, someone took the care to ensure they were worked into the design, not just slapped on the wall wherever. And I appreciate that, and details like that certainly caught my eye as we flew by.