Fix It

stained, painted and stenciled coffee table Stained and Stenciled Coffee Table

Have you ever sanded a piece of furniture down to bare wood? I’ve seen all sorts of projects online where people either sand or strip a finish off, but this was the first time I’d attempted it. You can’t really tell from this picture, but there were tons of scratches all over the top of this coffee table that I snagged for $25 on Craigslist.

I sanded for what felt like forever, and it looked like this. I had the best luck sanding from the outside in instead of just going over the entire piece.

Sanded forever again and it only looked like this, haha. At this point I decided that I’d never sand down to bare wood again, but I probably will when the right piece comes along. (I sanded the entire base to, but just enough to scuff it up).



Eventually all of the finish did come off and I flipped the table over and primed the base, then followed that up with 2 coats of Rustoleum Heirloom White in Satin, which is my new FAVORITE white paint for furniture. It has a really nice sheen to it and is so pretty.






For the top, I used 3 coats of Minwax Dark Walnut. You can see the first coat on the left in the pic below, and the 2nd coat on the right. My favorite way to apply stain is by folding up a piece of an old t-shirt and wiping it on.






Every time I’ve stained a piece of furniture it always comes out differently, depending on what type of wood was used to build the piece. Staining furniture is very different than staining bare wood. On this piece, two sections came out darker than the other two, which I actually liked. Keep in mind that the stain will look different on each piece of furniture. Add more coats to darken or mix multiple stains until you like the finished product.








Minx Dark Walnut Stain on Coffee Table
3rd coat








I taped a $3 stencil I found at Wal-mart to the middle of the table.







Dip the tip of your stencil brush in your paint, then dab it off on a paper plate or paper towel.








Use up and down motions to tap the brush on the stencil. Don’t paint side to side or else paint will get under the stencil. Stenciling takes patience because you have to reload your brush fairly often…don’t try to rush it by putting a lot of paint, thinking you’ll save time or you’ll probably end up messing up the stenciling.







Do 2-3 coats of this depending on how stark you want the stencil to look. Wait a few minutes until dry and remove the taped stencil.







You can mix the dark stain with finishing wax if you don’t have dark wax and use it to completely cover the white base. This minimizes the contrast of the dark brown and light white and ties the whole piece together.














You could wax the entire piece to protect it, but I wanted a little more protection than that because of the stencil, so I used General Finishes Top Coat to cover the whole thing.



Looking at the finished product, I’m actually really glad that I put in the effort to sand the original finish off the top because I love how the wood looks with this stain, and paint would have covered that up. This table ended up being one of my quickest Craigslist sales, too, so I think I went the right direction with this project.

Coffee table with paint and stain


There are so many variations of paint color, stain color, stencil types, and levels of distressing that you can do with this project. It’s a really great beginner project too if you’re thinking of painting or staining for the first time. If you’ve never used stain before, don’t be intimidated! It’s actually really simple to do.



  1. What a wonderful result! Totally worth all that effort sanding; as much as I love painted upcycled furniture I always find myself loving a lovely waxed surface more. And the stencil ties it together wonderfully <3

  2. This is beautiful. I’m in the middle of a large sewing box makeover and am planning some sort of stencil for the top so your tips came in handy , thanks.

  3. This looks so good! I’m loving the stencil. I love it when easier projects turn out so wonderful and have s huge impact! #HomeMattersParty

  4. That looks beautiful! I have sanded furniture once and then the next time we had to strip it we tried some goop that took off layers and layers at a time; still had to sand some but it cut down on the work considerably.

  5. You did wonderful job rehabbing that coffee table, is now beautiful. Just think of all the pieces which have been given a 2nd. or 3rd.+ life due to bloggers rehabbing furniture to keep for their own homes or to sell. So much better for our environment and our wallets.
    Love that stencil, will be looking at Walmart for it.
    Found a project done using mandala stencil which could use this same stencil for. Did you buy the stencil in last few months?
    Have wondered if it’s good idea to buy things on Craig’s list, haven’t done so myself but looks like you sure found a great deal. I get too itchy, in a hurry going thru listings so is my own fault if haven’t found good piece. Need to make up my mind to take my time to hunt.
    Hope you had wonderful Mother’s Day

    1. Thanks! I found the stencil a month or two ago. Craigslist can be scary…the safest thing is to meet up in a public place. Garage sales are usually cheaper than Craigslist, but during the winter when garage sales aren’t going on I’ll do Craigslist and Salvation Army. It does take a lot of searching to find the good deals.

  6. Beautiful table! I recently sanded down a large cabinet/bookshelf piece for one of our Pastor’s and with help it still took three days just to get the stain off – and that was after using a furniture stripper too. It takes forever! Your table came out so well though so it was worth it. #HomeMattersParty

  7. So beautiful! My husband and I have been working on sanding down some old doors. Sanding really can take forever, but it’s worth the hard work! #HomeMattersParty

  8. Oh yes and it does feel like forever and we don’t need to go to a gym to get rid of the flabby arm bits. Love how it turned out Sara. Really gorgeous

  9. The woodgrain on the top of this table is beautiful, so I’m glad you didn’t paint it. The stencil adds just enough decoration to the top for interest, and the painted legs really make the piece stand out. Great job!

  10. That turned out lovely! I have always wanted to stain and do something like that to funiture. I’ve always been so scared to do so. You made it look so easy.
    I found you from Paula’s Weekend Party! I am pretty new to blogging! I’ll be stopping by some more!

    1. Thanks Tammy! It really is a project that even a beginner could do…my favorite kind of project. If you’re new to painting or staining, my advice is to find something free (curbside or Craigslist) or something really cheap from a garage sale or thrift store.

      You really can’t mess up with staining as long as you’re starting with a properly sanded and cleaned surface. It’s as easy as wiping down a kitchen table. I’ve had some projects where I didn’t love the color of the stain, so I layer another color of stain on top of the first one. Minwax Dark Walnut, Special Walnut and Classic Gray are some of my favorites. And I’ve seen a lot of people talking about Varathane Briarsmoke lately. I really love layering a brown stain with a gray one.

      If you end up trying it and have questions along the way, let me know! And I’d love to see pictures if you do:)

      1. Sara,
        Did you stencil with the same paint as the base? What kind of finish did your paint have? I kind of made a sanding mistake on an end table and thought after I stain the top, I will put a stencil over the mistake area.

  11. Sanding is incredible amount of work – love your finished product. The combination of white paint and stained wood with a stencil is unique and beautiful.

  12. Your coffee table looks lovely. The stencil is such a great finishing touch. Thanks for sharing at Brag About It. We’ll be featuring this at this week’s party.

  13. Good Afternoon Jessica, My word, what a wonderful transformation. I love the beautiful design you have stencilled in the centre of the table. It reminds me of Indian Kolams which I used to see when I visited India. They are designs which are created by using white rice flour, which are drawn by hand with rice flowing from the hand…. as beautiful as they are, after a slight breeze they disappear, not like your design which will last for years and years.
    Best Wishes

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