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A Trendy Update for a Laminate Table

Facelift Upcycling

Welcome to another installment of Facelift Upcycling from one of our designers. Please view our other projects for more ideas.


In today’s Facelift we tackle the dreaded laminate surface!! Picking up “that perfect piece” at a garage sale needing some TLC, only to later realize that the surface is a laminate can be heartbreaking. Laminate surfaces are often a super thin layer of wood, or worse yet, plastic, over a cheaper material such as particle board, press board or plywood. These thin layers make re-surfacing a piece extremely difficult and very easy to destroy completely. You want to be able to sand any piece that you are going to stain or paint to ensure a clean absorption of the product you will be applying; however, taking a sander to laminate can result in breaking through, cracking or melting the laminate.

Today’s find was a piece with a beautiful detail applique and turned legs. The top was a laminate with that all-too-familiar rubber faux-wood border to keep the piece from chipping, often seen on commercial tables.


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With the various materials, and the delicate detailing of this piece, sanding would have been tedious and difficult, if it didn’t destroy the top. The solution was a liquid deglosser. This product takes any surface and modifies it to have a coarser texture and removes any top layer or stain, varnish or paint that is high gloss, allowing for paint to adhere to the surface. The deglosser is used on the surface 30 minutes prior to painting and only works for a short 12 hours, so it is not something to do well before you intend to paint he piece. The deglosser is simple to apply using rags or old t-shirts and coating the surface well, ensuring all nooks and crannies are thoroughly wetted. Make sure to wear gloves, and have multiple pairs as this product will eat through you skin as well as multiple pairs of gloves, so disposable works best.


Once the surfaces were deglossed, a specialty paint specifically made for furniture pieces by Valspar was used. This paint is oil-infused, not to be confused with oil-based, meaning that it is more difficult to clean from your brushes (be prepared for it to stain your brush), has a more potent smell, and takes longer to dry, but creates a thicker, harder shell-like surface when the appropriate number of coats has been applied. This paint creates a scratch- and stain-resistant surface that is perfect for any item that may see high-traffic use.


A specialty round brush was used on the detail applique as well as the turned legs. The shape of the brush allows you to push the paint into the deep divots created by the detailing and when used in a circular pattern around the turned legs reduces the potential of brush lines in the paint. (Shown here after project completion, started as white bristles)


This particular piece took 3 coats of paint over most of the surfaces, and four in areas were the grain of the wood was more prevalent; the fourth coat in these areas was not necessary, but created a smoother, more solid appearance. The end result is a beautiful, trendy piece of furniture that will stand to the test of time.


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**In no means is this a review or endorsement of above mentioned products, they are merely suggestions of potential solutions. It is always best to do research in regards to the quality and standards of products, reading through reviews of others who have purchased the items as well as fully understanding the products limitations and warrantee information.

From $5 Find to Rich Focal Piece

Facelift Upcycling

Welcome to another installment of Facelift Upcycling from one of our designers. Please view our other projects for more ideas.


One of designers here at DMO has a husband who loves the thrill of finding at deal while garage sale-ing, and on one said occasion, he came across a steal of a deal on a vintage drafting table. All the pieces were intact and the hardware, though rusty, were fully functional and very charming. And can you believe it, he picked it up for only $5.

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Well needless to say, it needed a facelift. The legs were worn through years of kicking (and maybe even as a cat scratching post). The top had 20-year-old masking tape permanently adhered to the surface and was dinged and gnarled. But that didn’t matter, our designer fell in love with the piece and knew right where she wanted to put it, after a couple changes of course 🙂

Because of the tape and dings on the top, the surface had to be sanded down to the raw wood. First our designer hand scraped and filed the old masking tape off (simply sanding a material such as tape will gum up your sandpaper very quickly, so it is best to remove this in another manner first). Then she used a radial sander starting with a very coarse grit of 80 to flatten out the surface and remove the old varnish and stains. Then she went over the surface (and edges) with finer and finer paper until the raw wood was exposed and fully smoothed out. (When completing a project like this, going down to fine grit, usually 220, sandpaper allows for the smoothest surface; however, if you are finding dings that cannot be sanded without taking the wood too far down, then find a good wood putty and fill in the ding before sanding with the finer grits and smoothing the surface)

After pulling the table apart (the vintage hardware actually allowed for very easy dismantling of most of the pieces), our designer lightly hand sanded the other components. Now with this particular piece, on one of the visible components there was a manufacturing stamp from the original furniture maker. Our designer took note of this and knew that if this stamp was damaged, the value of the piece would greatly diminish. That being said she paid very particular attention to not sand over or too close to the stamp, and she knew that she would have to use a surface stain rather than a penetrating stain. (Penetrating stains bleed into the wood and require a fully sanded, raw surface. They are generally applied with a brush or a rag and the excess of each application must be wiped off with a rag. They also need a coat of sealer such as polyurethane after the surface is stained. Surface stains are applied over the surface using a brush and can be applied to previously stained or varnished pieces so long as a light sanding has been completed to ensure adhesion. Surface stains can also be purchased with a polyurethane mixture making it unnecessary to cover the piece again with a sealer)) When choosing a stain color, our designer wanted something that would work well with the dark floor that she would be putting it on, so she went with a dark walnut color.

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After the stain was cured, our designer was thrilled with the outcome. She was able to take her husband’s $5 garage sale find and turn it into a rich focal piece by repairing the damage, darkening the wood to fit in her room and still leaving the charm of the vintage piece intact.

Ordinary to Funky

Facelift Upcycling

As you probably know we here at DMO absolutely love bringing new life to old products. Here is another installment of Facelift Upcycling from one of our designers. Please view our other projects for more ideas.


When moving into her home in 2009, one of our designers was left a single ordinary dining chair in the work room of the basement. In semi-decent condition, she didn’t see a reason to throw it out, so it became her sewing and craft-room chair. Well for the longest time, her craft room was hidden in a room in the corner of her basement, so the simple (and a bit beat up) chair was just fine. However, when it came time to move her craft room (due to a growing family) into a space that was visible to all her guests, she no longer wanted plain and ordinary. But why waste money on a new chair, especially when fun and funky chairs can cost you upwards of $300! So instead she decided that her old chair would work fine once it had a facelift.

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First she took to sanding down the chair. She stared with a larger grit (around 80) to get the old shiny lacquer off the surface. Then she worked her way down through a couple more grit becoming finer and finer, until she finished off the sanding at a 220 grit. Doing this allows the courser grit papers to remove the old finish and the finer grits smooth out the surface allowing for a smooth paint application.

When picking a color for the chair, she knew that it would be against white cabinetry and atop a dark wood floor, so she could be bold in her color choice. She had found an amazing piece of fabric at the store and was inspired by the color palate. So with that, along with her knife stand that she had for some years (the craft room was going to be affixed to the kitchen, so it made the most sense to run the color scheme through both rooms), she chose a vibrant lime green color for the base coat of the chair. Because of the uneven surfaces of the chair (spindles, legs, curved seat and back) she decided to go with a spray paint for the base coat. Because of the bold color choice, it took more coats than normal to provide complete coverage, at 5 coats total.


Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Once the lime green was completely dry, our designer knew it needed a funky touch. She went back to her inspirational piece of fabric and pulled more colors out that she wanted to use for wall colors, accent colors, and the like, coming up with this color palette:

Color Palette

She then got a few sample sized cans of each of the paints in a satin finish and decided to create an accent on her new chair. Using painters tape, she taped off varying sized stripes in different directions on the chair and painted them different colors from her palette. (With this, you must complete each stripe separately if there is any overlap, and allow paint to dry for a minimum of 24 hours, or the paint’s curing time, before applying the overlapping tape for the next stripe. Also, due to the curves of the chair, measuring for straight lines was a moot point, rather you would need to just eyeball what looks straight because it may actually need to curve a bit to appear straight to the eye… and what you see is more important than a measurement you took.) Once all the stripes were fully cured, our designer used a spray polyurethane to cover the chair to prevent scratching, chipping, and most importantly to make the surface smooth for sitting.

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With a little work, our designer’s ordinary left-behind chair was now as fun and funky as she was, making for the perfect focal point to her new space.

Cheap to Sophisticated

Facelift Upcycling

We here at DMO absolutely love bringing new life to old products. With America generating over 254 million tons of trash per year, and anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of that is building materials (with only 20% of the building materials making it to a recycling facility), it is extremely important for designers to be aware of the waste they create. And more and more homeowners are doing the same. Upcycling products, as a substitute to trashing them, is a great way to do your own little bit of good for our environment; and what a great way to let your creativity soar!

Periodically, when we here at DMO have completed an upcycle project, we will share it with you in a hopes to inspire creativity, and new ideas for your dated, worn out, or unused products. Remember, you can be making any of these items for yourself, as gifts, or to sell; anything to keep usable materials out of our landfills. And we will always say, if you can’t think of something to do with that worn out product (or you don’t have time, money, energy, etc.) then there are always other options, such as donating them to Goodwill, Salvation Army, the ReStore, or other charitable organizations. Be on the lookout for future installments of Facelift Upcycling!


One of DMOs designers was given a used truck to store toys for their growing boy; however, the obnoxious turquoise color was not very well liked by said boy. Additionally, the clasps, hinges and corner casings were done in a shiny chrome metal. The combination of colors, though the styling of the trunk was intended to be that of antiques, made the piece look cheap. So our designer set out to give it a facelift, because the trunk itself was solid, worked well, still had the key and could hold plenty of toys or collectables.

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So first step was choosing a paint. Because the trunk had so many seems, divots, peaks, brackets, rivets and other applications that made the surface anything but smooth, a spray paint was going to be the best choice. With the right amount of patience, this project could have been done in two different colors, painting the case one color, allowing to dry, taping it off and painting the metal another color; however due to time constrains and ease, our designer chose to paint it all one solid color. So because the paint was going to cover metal pieces our designer chose a metal spray paint (one that gave a slight texture as if it were wrought metal). Then for the color, honestly, she just let her 2-year-old daughter choose 🙂

The most important and most tedious step in this facelift was sanding down all the shiny chrome. In order for most paints to adhere to shiny surfaces you must either use a primer that is made for shiny surfaces (very few exist) or you must rough up the surface. Our designer hand sanded all of the pieces of chrome with a 220 grit paper, ensuring coverage of all of the nooks and crannies. Once sanded, our designer inspected the piece for any place in which she would not want to get paint and taped it off. For this particular piece because the interior of the trunk was just particle board, she was not concerned with getting paint on it; however, she did want to make sure that the locking mechanisms were not ruined by the paint, so she folded a piece of painter’s tape over itself several times and stuffed the keyhole with it. Generally, to protect a keyhole, you would place the key into the lock as far as it could go and then tape up the visible portion of the key; however, with this project the key was too loose and would not stay in the keyhole if done in this manner. She also used painters tape to cover the black plastic handle; places where constant motion or friction take place may become worn down quickly depending upon the paint chosen.

Now it was ready to paint. Our designer laid out large pieces of cardboard and started with the trunk open and face down in order to cover as many surfaces as possible in the first run. Then after following the spray paint’s instructions she let the coast dry before flipping the trunk over and painting the sides that were missed. It took a total of 3 coats to cover this piece.

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The resulting product is exactly what she was hoping for, and her son loves it too! The spray paint took on two different textures due to the materials that it was being spraying on, where the metal pieces look similar to wrought iron and the trunk surface looks like expensive leather. Something as simple as a can of spray paint turned this trunk from looking cheap to looking sophisticated!