The Inspired Coffee Table

She painted the underside of the glass, my friend Lauren. 


A couple of weeks ago we went over to spend time with some of our bestest friends and there in the middle of their den was this gorgeous, new coffee table.  I just assumed they got it at some cool store and maybe it was even one-of-a-kind (and it is!).  That cool store happened to be her Grandmother’s house and the one-of-a-kind piece it is is because Lauren made it that way.  She took the hand-me-down table and painted the underside of the glass so that it looks like a beautiful, saturated, minty green sea set atop the original creamy white base.

IMG_1774By painting the underside, the green shows through the slightly mottled top but it won’t scratch, like paint can do very easily on glass.

I loved it.  I loved it so much I had to do it.  The next week, this coffee and end table set popped up on my go-to, second-hand sale site and I snatched them up real quick like, and for only $35.

My plan was to paint the coffee table just like Lauren did hers and turn the end tables into stools for another project.  We don’t have a need for another coffee table since I’m not ready to part with our tufted ottoman but I thought, since I needed the end tables, it’d be fun to do a little makeover for someone else.  (Stay tuned for the end tables…they’re too big to be stools like we wanted so we’re going to keep them end tables.)

So, first I removed the glass (which was just set in) and gave the whole base a quick coat of primer.  The legs of the table were wood while the rings were metal so I used Rust-Oleum Clean Metal primer* (cheap if you add it to an existing Amazon order!)   IMG_1647
To make sure I got every inch of the table, including the tough to reach areas under the rings, I first turned it upside-down and sprayed what I couldn’t easily get while it was right-side-up.

Then I turned it over, set the legs on some pieces of cardboard so the very bottoms wouldn’t get missed (since I was using a sheet as ground cover), and primed the rest.
And then I repeated the same process with the spray paint.  I used Rustoleum’s Heirloom white.  It’s a beautiful creamy white – not too ivory and not glaringly white.
Last, for the base at least, I added a little more interest by giving it a slight distressing.  Basically I put some very fine sandpaper onto a palm sander (that we’re still borrowing from a friend two years later…Thanks Gina!) and went around gently tapping it to the edges/corners of the base.  I didn’t sand along every edge fully but very sporadically.  This close-up shows the variation – some corners are sanded, some still are painted:
Next up was the glass top.  After a good cleaning on both sides, I turned it over so that it was upside-down on our kitchen table to be painted.  The underside of this glass was frosted which I wasn’t aware of until I went to grab the tables.  No big deal but I would’ve preferred clear.  The fact that it was frosted though meant that whatever color I painted onto it would appear a tad more subdued from above; like a filter was placed over the paint.  So, I made sure that the color I used was a little more saturated than I want it if I were painting over clear glass.

As for the color, I loved Lauren’s minty green (she used Martha Stewart chalkboard paint from Michael’s) so I made a similar color by adding the green color I painted these lamps to an almost-empty bottle of white acrylic paint I had on hand.  To paint the glass, I used a foam pouncer (from my trusty Martha Stewart set*).
Basically, I just squirted the paint onto the glass and swirled it around.  I worked in fairly large sections until the whole thing was covered.
IMG_1662 You can see a video of me swirling the paint around here.

Here’s what it look liked after it dried and was placed back on the base:
The color looks a little more blue in the above pic vs. the truer-to-life color it is two pictures above but you can see the swirl effect.

It gave a fun effect however, I think I would’ve preferred it to be one solid color.  I didn’t know before I started if you’d be able to see the swirling or not once the glass was on the table since it didn’t really have light shining through it but you can.  I’m thinking of possibly doing the same thing to the glass on the end tables and for those, I’ll roll the paint on for a more solid look.

Backing up a tad though, before I placed the painted glass back onto the table, I placed rubber bumpers onto each leg, where the glass rested.  There were bumpers there before but one was missing and they were really dirty so I just grabbed some we had leftover from past cabinet transformations.
Here’s the full monty: 
Shortly after I finished, I listed it for sale and she went right out the door.  :)

.           .           .

So, painting glass.  Have you tried it?  I know it scratches off pretty easily so you have to either seal it or paint glass that won’t be touched.  I’ve painted behind the glass of picture frames before (here and here) but Lauren’s idea of painting the underside of a glass table was genius!  Think of all the options!  You could wash and repaint for every holiday and season!  Solids, patterns, abstract, a stencil…the options are endless!   

*affiliate links to items I used – if you purchase through my affiliate link, we’ll get a small commission but your price won’t be affected at all!  Thanks for supporting us!


  1. Such a great idea! I love the look.

  2. I've got an old dresser to paint in our barn, thanks to your inspiration! Excited to make it look not so awful anymore :)

  3. great job! my first thought was, whoa, a glass table top with 3 little ones?! but then I read to the end & see you sold it (hopefully at a profit!). awesome work!

    1. Haha! Yeah, not a good idea. It was sitting out around them for a few days though and they didn't do much harm to it so maybe it wouldn't be bad...maybe. If it had sharp or even rounded corners, it'd be a whole different story. We'll see how glass plus our kids goes though with the end tables...

  4. I am really interested in doing crafts, upcycling and then reselling them so I was wondering. How much did you sell it for? Or is there like a typical mark-up you do for those kinds of things?

    1. Hey Emily! Well, since I got the whole set for $35, I basically paid $15 for the coffee table and $10 for each end table...or at least that's how I divided it to figure out how much to sell it for. At first, I had it listed for $70 with zero interest in it for a couple of days and since it was taking up space in our bedroom, we really wanted it gone so I decreased the price by $10 every day until I settled on no lower than $40, which is what I sold it for. The bottom of one leg was a little roughed up and even though the distressing hid it a little and I disclosed that in the sale ad, it didn't help me to get max price. So, with supplies, I ended up making about $20 on it. It's hard to determine pricing, I think and it also depends on where you're selling your stuff. The site I sell most things on is a site where most people are just looking to get something for cheap, thrift store pricing. Selling on etsy or a higher-end site could get you more. But then you might have to factor in shipping and all that. Anyway, sorry for the novel. I guess the best way to price for wherever you're selling is to find comparable prices on similar items. The girl who ended up buying my coffee table was looking for something similar to a $400 Pottery Barn table she liked and mine was so, in her mind, she got a steal. Other folks are just looking for any old coffee table for cheap and so they're not willing to pay much regardless of what it looks like. We have a lot of those kinds of people around here (which is why I'll never host a yard sale again). :)

  5. Love the minty green color you chose! It's perfect.

    Kathy | Affordable Blinds