I graduated college in 1999. (I was like 12 then…child prodigy…) I had no clue about my not-yet-discovered style. I slowly bought new furniture with my huge post-college paychecks. (They were bigger than what I’m making now!) I pretty much bought whatever Walmart told me was in style.
If it was new, and not a futon, I thought it was pretty fancy. Cherry was popular then. So. Much. Cherry.
I had cherry nightstands and bed and a TV armoire and end tables. I stained my old hope chest and dresser cherry so they would all match. I got a Queen Anne coffee table that looked a lot like this one.
I was all in. If I was a homeowner at the time, I’m sure I would have gone with cherry cabinets.
But then…it happened…I discovered HGTV and TLC. (Remember when TLC had Trading Spaces and HGTV had programming besides House Hunters? Aww, the good ol’ days.) I picked up some shelter mags. I started discovering my own style. It was not Queen Anne. Who knew?
So, I probably had that coffee table three years (still in excellent condition! Like brand new!) when I visited my dad and fell in love with a nasty piece of furniture he had recently acquired. It was free to him and he, like most bachelors, doesn’t care much about style. As long as it holds the remote and a glass and is sturdy enough to prop your feet, he’s good.
So I traded him my three-year old, Cherry Queen Anne in perfect condition for a rickety, veneer-peeling, kool-aid stained, top-missing, mid-century coffee table. It had this official sticker that let me know it was produced before 1969 (probably in the 40’s) and that it was genuine mahogany (just like “cherry” of the 90’s, “mahogany” was used to describe lots of woods that had just been stained the color of mahogany in the 20’s-40’s, so this sticker of authenticity was created to let people know they were getting the real wood), but I didn’t know or care about any of that when I saw it. I just knew I loved the lines. I was just getting into DIY at the time and knew I could make that thing gorgeous!
It probably originally had one of those swanky leather inserts on top, but it was missing. Instead, there was just raw wood exposed that happened to have a big kool-aid stain (I think that was from my nieces at my dad’s house). It was just a tiny little lip; it didn’t seem like it HAD to have something there.
I repaired and patched it, then stained it and we used it for years like that. Then I added foam and upholstered it in chocolate vinyl and used it like a big round ottoman for a while. Then I added a mirror where the leather originally went.
The mirror didn’t last long at all. I had a pulling-up/new walker at the time. The finger prints were killing me!
Then I finally broke down and painted it turquoise. That was a huge decision, but it has taken a beating over the years, and is nothing precious. It was to the point that a coat of paint was its last hope. (I’ll probably strip the entire thing and refresh it again someday when my kids are less harsh.)
So yeah, we’ve pretty much used that one free coffee table for eleven years. There was about a six-month period where I switched to a tiered IKEA table that I got at Goodwill for $10. I didn’t love it, so I sold it in a garage sale for $15. Hooray!
How’s that for a back story? I’m not so succinct with the words…
All that to say, “I made a new coffee table.” Or more accurately, “I AM making a new coffee table.” I have a few finishing touches still, so I’ll show you on Friday.
As for how any of that relates to this post…
The mirror (Kolja from IKEA, now only available in 22″…mine’s 30″) that I used for the inset of the MCM coffee table has been sitting in the garage unused since I took it off of the table in January of 2011. That’s three years. When we moved, I allowed myself to keep a few items that had not been used in a while, but only with the understanding that their days were numbered. They would be used or donated SOON!
I had planned to use this mirror on the wall somehow for a while, but had no space for it in our last house.
So, one evening during the Christmas break when my entire family was caught up in the fascination that is Minecraft, I decided to get my real craft on. I’m usually disappointed with my craft projects, because they look exactly like craft projects. Like third-grade craft projects.
I saw this mirror at Hobby Lobby, which is quite a bit smaller than I was thinking, but it was inspirational. Sixty dollars on clearance is not my idea of a bargain. There was also this mirror that I found via Pinterest while searching for images of the idea in my head. And this one on etsy. Also not much of a bargain, but they gave me hope that what I saw in my head would actually look good. (The one from Ballard Design is no longer on their website, but according to kaboodle, it was $349.)
I found all kinds of ideas on Pinterest when I searched for a sunburst mirror. I have an old pack of wooden skewers, but that was too dainty for my taste. The plastic spoon idea was definitely not going to happen. Talk about a third-grade craft project…I could really mess that thing up. Not to mention slice my thumbs with jagged plastic, and who has time for breaking all those spoons? So yeah, some great ideas, but I know my style and my patience and my area of expertise.
So I decided on paint sticks and wood shims. Those are two items in which I have complete confidence and lots of experience. At $1.57 per pack of shims and free for the stir sticks, if it looked awful I could throw the entire thing in the fire pit and make s’mores.
I didn’t feel the least bit bad about “taking” these stir sticks. I have been using the same three for a dozen years and they weigh ten pounds from all the layers and layers of paint. So it didn’t bother me at all to grab a few from the store each time I went for a period of time leading up to this project. I was all, “hey Lowe’s, remember those 30 times I said ‘No thanks. I don’t need one.’ when you offered me stir sticks? Yeah. I need those now.”
I started with a pretty specific pattern, but I didn’t like it. So then I just kept playing with the arrangement until I thought it looked good. I actually went back to the store for longer shims ($4.27 per pack), because I wanted a bit more depth, more variation in length. I decided along the way that I wanted it to be more layered, not just a perfect pattern stuck around the mirror.
I started out standing over the table, using a cardboard circle to mark my starting point on the mirror, but then I got frustrated and my back was hurting. After I got back with longer shims, I used a floral ring as my guide without the mirror and just laid it all out in the floor to figure out how I wanted it.
I gave it a good tug before I picked it up to hang it. The hangers came right off the mirror. What? E6000 has never failed me before.
I figured the backing that makes it a mirror must not work well with these adhesives. So, I sanded the backing off of the mirror. I got all the way to the glass and just knew it would work now. (Epoxy says it works on glass!) I decided to do it on the edge, because I was nervous about it showing from the other side.
I’m pretty sure a week passed. We were well into January by this point. I jerked on it. Off it came. I had to call in the hubs. I ask for his help all the time, but there are some things that just shouldn’t require help. Ugh.
He thought he was all smart and said to just wrap wire around the wood pieces. No, silly. That will not work. A flimsy shim will not hold the weight of this entire mirror and all this wood. I humored him.
I have been waiting to blog about this project because I thought for sure it would end with, “and then it came crashing down.” But it hasn’t. It’s hanging there just fine. My husband even gave it an earthquake test, and it passed.
I’m trying to decide whether or not to stain it. I think I’ll wait until more of the living room is finished to decide for sure. I love it just like it is, though. And at nearly five feet wide, it is perfect for filling a huge section of wall.
So woohoo, one less unused item in the garage, a successful craft project, and cheap (<$20) “art” for over the sofa.
I’ll be back Friday to talk about the new coffee table. It’s looking just like I pictured in my head and I’m excited to show you!