How to shabby chic a wood table

Written by beverley gee
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to shabby chic a wood table
Rescue an old table by giving it the shabby chic treatment. (table and tile image by Donald Joski from

Your old wood table may be nondescript, tired, dull or brown with cracked varnish, but you can make it the centre of attention with a little effort and minimal cost. Give your table shabby chic makeover to revive it, and your room's decor. The makeover doesn't have to be confined to tables; once you've tried the shabby chic technique, you'll be eager to revamp other pieces.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Protective face mask
  • Sandpaper
  • Clean rags
  • Paintbrushes
  • Primer
  • Latex paint in two contrasting or complementary colours
  • White candle
  • Water-based varnish

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Lay out newspaper underneath and around the table. Put on the face mask and ventilate the room; varnish should not be inhaled.

  2. 2

    Sand the table to remove all cracked varnish. You don't have to remove all the previous finish, but try to get as close to the original wood as possible. Wipe the table clean with damp rags and allow to dry.

  3. 3

    Remove and replace the newspaper under the table. Apply a coat of primer with a paintbrush. Allow the primer to dry.

  4. 4

    Apply the first coat of latex paint with a paintbrush. Allow the paint to dry according to the label directions.

  5. 5

    Rub the white candle randomly over the table, making sure not to leave a pattern. Work the candle especially on areas that show natural wear, such as the table edges and legs.

  6. 6

    Apply the second paint colour with a paintbrush. Let the paint dry.

  7. 7

    Rub the table gently with clean sandpaper. Where the candle was applied, the top coat of paint should easily lift off, revealing the colour underneath. In areas of heavy wear, rub the paint back to the natural wood.

  8. 8

    Apply a coat of varnish with a paintbrush. Allow the varnish to dry according to the label directions. Apply a second coat and allow it to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider your colours carefully. A bright blue-green top coat will give a French look, and earthy colours will be reminiscent of American folk art.
  • Rub a little gold wax or acrylic paint on the table edges and legs before varnishing to add a hint of grandeur. This works well on turned or carved legs.
  • Take care of your shabby chic table by wiping it with a damp cloth.
  • Shabby chic tables look extra special with old candelabra, a flower centrepiece and mismatched floral china.
  • Carefully dispose of the newspapers covered in old varnish; it may be flammable and/or poisonous.
  • Ensure your table is not a valuable antique before attempting any kind of revamping.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.