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Upcycle a vintage side table, with paint and maps

Shabby chic wooden trolley side table - Home makes - Craft -

You will need

● A solid wood 1950s side table – this one came from environmental charity Ecco Screwdriver

To strip of paint or varnish
● Sandpaper (this is sometimes enough to remove a thin varnish) OR paint/varnish stripper – try 100 per cent biodegradable Soy Gel, £26.40 a litre, Dave Roper
● An old 50mm paintbrush
● Fine and medium sandpaper OR for painted areas, dispense with the stripping altogether and try no-preparation paint by Annie Sloan (see below)

To paint the table
● Low-tack masking tape
● Matt emulsion – try Sanctuary Matt Emulsion in Dusk, £13.99 for 1.25L, Homebase, OR Chalk Paint in Cream, £16.95 a litre, Annie Sloan 50mm paintbrush

To finish
● Fine and medium/coarse sandpaper
● Wire wool
● Map – source a map with personal relevance and a design that you like. For vintage maps try Etsy, eBay and second-hand bookshops. Or use a new map – has a wide selection
● PVA glue
● 2 x 25mm paintbrushes for applying PVA glue
● Fine metal file OR very sharp art/Stanley knife
● Clear Lacquer Spray, £6.49 for 300ml, Halfords, OR clear matt varnish
● Beeswax with lanolin – try Carr & Day & Martin’s Belvoir Leather Balsam, £13.30,
● Soft cloths for applying/buffing

To make

If there are castors on the table, unscrew them and set to one side with the screws. Unless you’re using ‘no preparation’ paint (follow the instructions supplied), strip everything except the top of the table back to bare wood with sandpaper, paint/varnish stripper (follow directions on the product) or a combination of both. Go over any areas you want to leave unpainted with medium and/or fine grade sandpaper to create a smooth finish.

Mask areas you’re leaving stripped, if necessary, and apply the first coat of paint, taking care not to overload the brush and avoiding blobs and dribbles as much as possible. Once dry, smooth down any blobs with sandpaper and apply a second coat, this time aiming for complete coverage. When this is dry, go over all the paintwork with fine sandpaper and wire wool until all visible areas are smooth.

Create an aged effect on the edges of the table using fine and medium sandpaper. Don’t be scared of this – if you go too far you can just add some more paint and start again. Then move onto other areas such as corners that would get natural wear and knocks.

Sand the table top with medium/coarse paper to provide a ‘key’ for the glue. Decide on the area of the map you’re going to use and cut it out leaving 20mm plus all round.

Mix some PVA glue 50/50 with water. Apply undiluted PVA to the table top (try not to go over the edges) and coat the back of the map/image with the 50/50 solution. This is easier with an extra pair of hands: align the first short edge and stroke flat with the wet 50/50 brush. Gently and gradually lower the paper down and brush flat, pushing any bubbles to the edge (don’t wrap the paper around the edges; leave it hanging over but not touching).

Allow to dry – any slight imperfections in the surface should tighten when drying out. When it’s totally dry, carefully file off the excess overhanging paper using a fine metal file at a constant 45 degrees round the edges (alternatively you can use a very sharp art/Stanley knife to cut off the excess, closely following the table edge). SPRAY with two coats of clear lacquer, following the instructions and masking the edges if necessary. Alternatively, you could use a clear matt varnish from DIY stores applied with a brush. Leave to dry. APPLY wax to the painted and stripped areas with a cloth and remove all residue with a second, clean cloth, buffing to a shine. CLEAN up the castors if necessary. The ones on our table were rusty and brass coloured; some fine wire wool removed both the rust and the colour, revealing silver-coloured steel beneath. Reattach them to the table with the screws.

For more upcycled designs, visit

Walls painted in Down Pipe Estate emulsion, £34.50 for 2.5L, Hardwick chair covered in Abraham Moon Melton wool fabric in Earth/Flint, £1,890, Selection of 3D Map Letters from Little White Dog at Textile notebooks, £10 for four, Find a similar antique table lamp at or Framed typewriter print, £194,

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