DIY,  Furniture

From Drab to Fab – A Hand Me Down Side Table Transformed Made Chic!

Today, I’m talking how to transform a wood furniture hand me down side table into a chic modern look.

Have you been gifted with a family hand me down that looks too old fashioned for your modern style?  Before you relegate grandma’s hand me down to a corner of your basement or garage take another look and think again.  With a little ingenuity or elbow grease that 1950’s table can become a chic addition to your home.

How to know if it’s worth a redo?

I consider the following to decide if an old piece is worth a second life:

1.  What’s it made of?  

  • Solid wood furniture – Unlike today, most often furniture pieces from 40+ years ago were made of solid wood , even less expensive pieces.
  • It’s easy to tell because of the weight, just try to lift it.
  • It’s not difficult to make simple repairs before ou can make repairs to solid wood furniture quickly to loose or damages
  • It’s relatively easy to transition the look of a solid wood table because you can sand back to the roots of the wood or paint to transform it.
  • Today, you can pay 3 – 5 times more for a solid wood piece of furniture.

2.  Will the silhouette work?

  • It’s a matter of style.  If it’s a classic silhouette look beyond the finish or color.
  • If it has a lot of ornamentation and your style is sleek and modern you may be better off passing it along to someone else.
  • However, if you like an eclectic mix you just might be able to pull it off by changing the color.  Paint is amazing.

3.  What will it mean to you to have the item in as part of your home?

  • If the giver has a special meaning to you – try to make the piece work for you.
  • It will still hold the memories when you transform it to make it your own.

Here’s how to update a hand me down piece.  You’ll smile for the memories as well as for all the money you saved.  Now that’s drab to fab at it’s best!

Black round side table

Round side table BA



I love the classic lines and quality workmanship of this side table.

In it’s current finish it looks a little dated but I envisioned something quite different.

This side table was from my aunt’s home, but I’ve seen similar ones at  local consignment stores.  It was in good condition except for a burn mark and scratches on the top.


My motto when shopping for items to redo is straight forward:  I love at the shape, the construction and the price.  Remember, price is always negotiable in 2nd hand stores.

Do you have a to give an inherited piece from grandma you need to When you want to change the look of Just like on walls paint changes mood more than anything else.

Changing this slightly tired traditional mahoghany side table into a black beauty freshened it’s look.

Here’s what I did:


  • Sanding block
  • Sandpaper – I use 120 grit first, Then I use 80 grit to smooth
  • Hand sander – you can sand by hand if you don’t have one
  • Afterwash & cheesecloth
  • Clean rags (an old t-shirt is perfect)
  • Minwax stain in your color choice
  • Polyurethane
  • Paint brushes for stain


  1.  Lightly sand the entire table to remove the vanished finish of the table.  Take care not to Cover the metal hardware with painters tape to protect the finish,


2.  Clean off all the sanded remains with cheesecloth and an after wash.  Let it dry.  Be sure to work in a well ventilated area.

3.  Apply your first coat of stain or paint.  Let it dry completely before applying a 2nd coat.

Minwax Polyshade

I used Minwax PolyShade.  I love it because it has the polyurethane included and that reduces a step.



black round side table

It took 3 coats of stain but the finish is beautiful.

Everytime I look at my new creation I remember my beautiful aunt.

black round side table

So next time you’re offered a free hand me down think again.  It just might be the addition you need for memory and beauty at home.

Until next time …

Splendid Habitat signature