DIY Coffee Table Trunk
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There is finally progress in the living room! I set a tall order for myself since this is really an extra room to us (we’ve never had 2 large shared spaces) and I have some big-ticket items on my wish list (wood floors in the bedrooms!) and just survived birthday/Christmas/birthday (both girls birthdays & Christmas all fall within a few weeks) – and I want to decorate this room for next to nothing. It is truly becoming a functional room and I’m meeting my project goal of using only items we had in storage or hard-me-downs from family. I’m going through pieces I came up with one-by-one to create the perfect living room on a budget. Although I’m throwing these items together, I’m going to work on each of them to bring them all together. After all, this is the first room you see when you walk into our home.
One thing we definitely need is a coffee table, but we also need storage. Here’s my solution, and I did it completely with things I had on-hand:
After not feeling the direction we were headed with the blue sofa in the living room, I took a shopping trip to my parents’ storage where I found this lost treasure that used to be mine in its more glorious days:
The forest green clearly dates it to a mid-ninties purchase, although we believe it to be much older. I loved the gold details and the idea of using it as a storage coffee table. In pretty much any other color. Since I’m loving the chic way designers are playing with mixed metals, I immediately saw it’s potential in silver. It wasn’t quite that simple, though, a few problems needed to be addressed, like the broken leather handles.
I removed the handle hardware by gently prying with a flathead screwdriver. The 3 nails around the outside were driven through the side and then the points hammered over inside the trunk. It took some work to get these out without damaging the trunk.
Here’s what I ended up with once both were removed. The brackets were in decent shape, although I did hammer one of them back into shape. A few nails were re-usable, but many weren’t.
I ordered replacement leather handles from Brettuns Village along with a pack of new nails. They carry other trunk restoration parts as well so if you find yourself in the midst of a similar project, check them out.
Once the broken handles were out of the way, I set about cleaning and refinishing the trunk. I freshened up the wood using Restor-A-Finish (my go-to for wood furniture), painted the canvas with Martha Stewart Living Precious Metals paint in “Tin” from Home Depot (although I don’t like this paint, more on that in a bit), and used Rub N Buff in “Goal Leaf” to freshen the hardware.
I first used the Restor-A-Finish on the wood in Walnut. I didn’t want to darken this too much since I’m working to create a light feel in the room. I love darker woods, but I didn’t want to weigh down the center of the room with this big trunk any more than necessary. I pulled the straps out of the way before painting to keep them as clean as possible. One came of completely and one was so well connected that I opted to paint around it.
After detailing the wood (it was a quick detail), I painted the canvas the light silver color. I was going to use the same Martha Stewart specialty finish paint that I used in the girls’ fairy princess bathroom, but in the spirit of using what I had, thought I’d use what was left in the “Precious Metals” paint in the “Tin” color that I had on hand. Both of these paints are available at Home Depot, although I’ve found that you’re basically on your own since the paint specialist clearly aren’t well trained on Martha Stewart products. I’ve used the “Precious Metals” paint twice now and I officially don’t like it. It took soooo many coats to cover the dark on this project and acted strangely when I used it on another project where I first used white primer. It is a nice, light silver, but if I did it again, I’d stick with the Martha Stewart “Metallic Paint” in the little tubs from Home Depot and not this more expensive mixed stuff.
But, in the end, it turned out great. I used a 1.5″ brush to do the larger parts and cut in the detailed edges with an artist’s brush. I didn’t want to do a complete restoration, more of a make-over, so I left as many parts on as possible. After the wood was cleaned up and restored and the green canvas was re-painted with a bright silver, it was time to focus on the hardware.
Since I removed the leather handles completely in order to replace them, the next step was to install the new handles. I re-used the original bracket hardware. It wasn’t in perfect condition, but was pretty decent so I cleaned it up as best I could.
Since the original holes were no longer tight enough to hold the handles in if we ever go to use them, I had to make new ones. To do this while keeping the hardware in it’s original spot where it had already made an indentation, I put the nails in at an angle.
Here’s a handle re-installed with the original brackets, new leather, and new nails. I bought the stainless steel nails since that’s what appeared to be there originally, but really I should have used the brass ones since I was restoring the gold look to the hardware. Not a huge deal, but details are important so it’s something to think about.
Next I used one of my favorite new DIY supplies, Rub N Buff. I bought the sampler pack a while ago (this pack, which comes with full-sized tubes). This was the easiest part of the entire project. It does have fumes, so open a window if you must do this inside and if you’re especially sensitive to fumes, I’d definitely recommend doing this outside. They aren’t that bad, but they are there. I used the finger method of just rubbing a pea-sized amount on and rubbing it in on all of the decorative hardware. I used “Gold Leaf” which is the brightest gold color. A little goes a long, long way with this stuff. I hardly put a dent in this tube over the entire project.
Here’s a closet-up of the patinaed hardware next to a Rub N Buffed one: