The Fussy Tale of My Entryway Hall Table

Three weeks ago, I’d embarked on an ambitious project. I was going to strip my faux bamboo entryway hall table and then spray paint it a luscious emerald green. Everyone was going to go green with envy. (Get it?)

Five years ago, we packed up our comfortable, large three bedroom home and moved interstate to be nearer to my husband’s family, for the sake of my daughter. In Melbourne, we lived without family around, so she didn’t get much contact with her doting grandparents or aunts and uncles. That started two years of very cramped living; in a 44 square feet shed/granny flat/studio at the back of my in laws’ garden. (Yes, only 44 square feet of living. Beats most of these Apartment Therapy small home makers!).

We sacrificed our big lovely dining table in the move. After much eBay trawling and garage sale hunting, I was almost at the end of my tether. We needed a place that Hannah and one of us could sit with her to do school homework and share meals at. Then very early one freezing Saturday morning, my mother in law and I headed out to a few garage sales. I hadn’t much hope for anything, but kept praying. I remember getting out of our car and squealing loudly when my eyes clapped on this:

Our new "dining table"

The hall table newly installed was our “dining table”

In that moment, I remember feeling God’s love. He provided! A hall table that was just the right width, length and height to function as our “dining table”. God chose the Right Time (at the end of my tether) and with the Right Price Tag, a mere $45 at a garage sale. It was newly painted with a dove grey-white. Not a perfect job, but at least it wasn’t mottled purple or army green with black spots.

After two years as our dining table, we moved again. In this rental, it was the perfect thing to adorn the small entry hall. The two drawers which previously housed our cutlery and cooking utensils, now held keys, wallets, mail, pens. Even though it’s clearly missing the bracket in the front right corner, it still looked perfect. I loved it.

The other 'dining table' finally as our hall table.

The hall table dining table finally as our hall table.

But I’d noticed that paint was started to peel and lift.

We were in that rental for 2 years.

We moved almost exactly a year ago to this current rental. It’s a much bigger space, which our growing family needs and we could see ourselves here a long while, so this has been another blessing from God. (But yes, I am sick of moving from one rental to the next.)

This sweet little hall table has kept its function, holding keys, mail, pens, forms, coins, crap…

Colleen in our current rental

Colleen in our current rental

But over the few short years we’ve owned it, we’ve discovered that the paint job was a quick and bad one. Structurally, it’d started bowing in the middle and it was kinda rickety. It was high time ready for some TLC and a bright new look.

Bad paint job of our hall table

Bad paint job of our hall table

The hall table was painted a dove grey white. In the previous homes, the colour wasn’t really a problem for me. But now, in this home, it looked awful against the insipid pale yellow of the living/entry space. It needed a strong hit of glossy, beautifully smooth colour.

I saw this photo a while ago and my hands literally itched to match paint:

Vibrant emerald green.

I’d planned on marrying that emerald green paint with some pretty handles from Anthropologie:

My favourite knobs from Anthropologie

My favourite knobs from Anthropologie


Sources: 1. Mouse, Forest Critter Knob, 2. Through The Woods Knob, Fox, 3. Antler Melody Knob, Tusk, in yellow

I did my research: Natalie at Natty by Design painted the above dresser using Amazon Moss by Benjamin Moore. We don’t get Benjamin Moore here but I think I can get a Haymes Paint match. (Btw, head over to Natty by Design for the best furniture painting tips!). I also read Censational Girl‘s tecniques and steps. So armed with my rubber gloves, paintbrush, CitriStrip®, a metal container, tarp and paint scraper, I went to work stripping the hall table.

Stripping faux bamboo is sh*t work.

My hall table covered in CitriStrip®

My hall table covered in CitriStrip®

Then I hit multiple problems. The hall table is “vintage” but not “good vintage”. The bad paint job hid rotten wood, rotten ply, rotten caning… The piece was clearly on its last legs. (I did discover that it wasn’t “faux bamboo”, but the real deal. Even this many years later, the bamboo is still in good condition, no rot. At the end of the day, the paint was the only thing keeping this piece sturdy!)

The plywood top of the hall table lifting due to moisture and bad paint job.

The plywood top of the hall table lifting due to moisture and bad paint job.

Also, bamboo is stupidly difficult to strip with all those roundness. Even worse are the cane ties. Bleh.

So, after two weeks of stripping, I had to pronounce this *project a goner.

So we had piles of bags and keys and coins sitting on the floor and that was getting SO MUCH to me. I began madly looking for a suitable sideboard. Now that I didn’t need to deal with bad dove-grey-white and pale-yellow combo, I started looking for good antiques that were affordable. (Of course, I still kept looking for a bright green sideboard. The green Stockholm cabinet was a strong contender at AUD$399, but I wanted something that was made better.)

I finally found something on Gumtree I was happy with.

When the Husband and Father in law brought it home (was a three hr round trip), it was past ten. The girls were in bed. I was bone tired from preparing my place for the Mothers’ Day Celebration High Tea… but I was itching to drag out the loud vacuum cleaner, rag, cream polish to clean and ready it.

But I waited till the morning (talked wisdom to myself). Then I found out how grimy the sideboard actually was. It wasn’t dirty. Just grimy from years of old polish build up. The patina was beautiful but just needed a good clean.

The beautiful grain of this antique sideboard

The beautiful grain of this antique sideboard

I applied some methylated spirits to it with a rag, left it for a few minutes then applied more with a steel wool. Then I’d follow with the soft clean rag. After doing the entire thing, I applied some Gilly Stephenson’s orange oil to the sideboard with more steel wool. I spent some time rubbing it in with the steel wool before buffing it with a soft clean cloth.

My new antique sideboard after rubbing and buffing

My new antique sideboard after rubbing and buffing

I was going to sand it back but decided against it. The piece is old. More than 120 years ago. So the old oak/oregon had dried with hard and soft grain and had this lovely feel to it. Luckily I decided not to sand! I found out on Mothers Day, that I’d taken the correct route. My wood-crazy brothers in law gave me the thumbs up. I was happy.

My new sideboard all dressed up!

My new antique sideboard all dressed up!

The white and blue ginger jar sat on the sideboard of the previous owner. I complimented her on her matching the items as they went so well together. She gifted me with the jar! So sweet. I had thought to add it with more blue and white urns and vases but I’ve matched it with the yellow cased glass vases and an blue art glass pear from my collection. I think it makes the display more youthful and contemporary. Which is fitting since a piece like that could well stand out too much with my other pieces.

Sometimes, it’s all about letting go. And finding something completely different. And yet, it works. Now it happily houses our bags, totes, keys, mail, sunglasses, coins, pens, measuring tapes and screwdrivers. (It even goes with the insipid pale yellow wall.)

My new antique sideboard with the yellow, blue and white pieces.

My new antique sideboard with the yellow, blue and white pieces.

*I was going to donate the sweet hall table to my Husband’s next Men’s Bonfire night with his mates. But I’m really attached to this piece and am so happy I kept it. The hall table now sits in its most rustic form under our carport, holding some pot plants. Husband says it looks good there.

15 May 2014

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Hermelinda

    19 March 2015

    I owned a glass dining table a short while ago and once the table got broken it
    was a very difficult time acquiring a replacement one, ultimately I purchased a different sort of kitchen table mainly because it
    was less expensive

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