Marble Furniture Transformation on a Budget

My apologies for being MIA! Before we get into the nitty gritty of today’s project, a personal update: I’m expecting! My husband and I are thrilled to be welcoming our first baby this fall. Since I have been a bit distracted and lacking in energy, even my favorite hobby had to be put on the back burner. However, I am excited to share some of what I have been working on in the meantime! More updates to come later 🙂

Ever since we moved into our current home, I have fantasized about having a marble top dining table. However, since we are on a budget, splurging on one was just not meant to be. In the meantime, I made do with a hand me down glass top dining table that I hated (see my previous dining table update here!). We have since upgarded to an IKEA one that I love! It is glossy and white, and we already had white bent wood chairs to go along with it.

However, with that ugly dining table out of the way, our hand me down bar was now very much out of place. It was a matching dark wood and glass set, and I know it had to go! So off to IKEA we went, but could not find something that we both liked, that was functional, and pretty, and under $50- am I asking for too much?

During a quick thrift store stop to drop off donations after some spring time de-cluttering, I poked my head in to see what’s new. I came in with the expectation that I will probably not find anything that fits our home, but had a few minutes to spare. I ran across this white bar with perfectly proportioned cubbies in my go-to white. Ummm sold! The $29 price tag didn’t hurt either 😉

The furniture piece was fairly solid, but once we dragged into our apartment I gave all the screws a little tightening, just in case. I then wiped down every surface with sanitizing wipes, and gave some of the scuffs along the legs a little scrub with a magic eraser. It was already looking better!

The top surface of the bar had some water damage, with some areas scuffed right down to the particleboard. I know I was going to cover the top, and I also knew just the right way to do it- contact paper from the dollar store! My local dollar store, Dollarama, has a good selection of sticky back shelf liner and contact paper in a variety of colors and patterns. I picked up 2 rolls of marble printed contact paper for $2 each and got started as soon as I got home.

After wiping down the surface one more time, I smoothed on the contact paper. It is forgiving enough that if you have to lift it and try again you can, as long as you do it right away before really pressing it down. I find it easier to go slowly and squeegee the bubbles out of the way as I go along. I wrapped the paper around the beveled edges and smoothed it down around the corners, trimming as needed.

If you do end up with some bubbles during your application, you can poke a small hole with a safety pin, and smooth it down to let out the air. You can also smooth out bubbles towards the edges to get an even surface. Once it is all smooth, burnish your surface gently to adhere it securely. I find that the stickiness is enough to hold it down well, no additional adhesive is needed! I have done this project a few months ago now and it is still holding well, no peeling at all!

Unfortunately my contact paper roll was a bit too short to cover the entire length of my bar top, so I lined up my next roll to finish it off. There is a seam, as the random marble pattern is not made to be repeating / matched, however it is not too obvious in the finished piece. Here is a close up, judge for yourself!

This “marble” top bar definitely satisfied my craving for a classy and polished piece to complete our dining room. Total damage done = $33. However, you can definitely do this for any piece of furniture you already have. It is such an easy makeover, I am thinking of trying it with one of my living room side tables!

Since I finished this project, several friends who visited us commented on it. The consensus: none of them could tell it was not real marble by looking at it! many of them assumed it was pricey and heavy, and were shocked when I told them it was one of my dollar store projects 🙂

If you are needing a bit of marble elegance in your space, give this project a try! It is so affordable, quick, easy, and (so far) durable, and will easily transform even the most boring pieces in your home! The contact paper sticks to any smooth clean surface, so will work with laminate / IKEA type furniture, glass, metal, and I would assume even wood, as long as the grain is not too prominent.

Quick note- keep in mind this contact paper is removable! this means you can try a different style and take it off if you change your mind without damaging the furniture.

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Painting Laminate- My First Experience

Do you have an old, tired looking piece of furniture at home that you would love to make useful and pretty? Do you need to add an extra piece to your home, but don’t have the budget to splurge on the bright and modern piece of furniture you dream about? Well, this might be a good solution for you!

We needed a small storage unit for our entry way, for things like keys, purses, scarves, etc. We wanted a modern piece, that will stand out from the gray walls and white tile (while I am a fan of monochromatic looks, I prefer more contrast in my own space). Our options were- a) get an expensive piece that we are in love with, but break the bank, or, b) get a cheaper piece and fancy it up ourselves.

We went with option B. After week of going through every thrift store in our area, and not finding a piece to our liking, we folded and made a trip to IKEA. After much deliberation, we picked the Brusali TV bench, as it was narrow enough to fit the space, and cheap enough to fit our budget. I assembled it without the backing piece, to save on paint.

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Our next challenge was- how to paint over the ugly dark laminate finish? Spray painting was out of the question, as we don’t have a balcony or any outdoor space, so it had to be something relatively clean and low-fumes. Painting with regular latex paint was an option, but has to be preceded by long steps of prepping the piece, and sounded a bit daunting. After hours of googling and youtubing, I landed on using chalk paint, as it saves some of the sand-prime-sand-paint process. According to what I was reading, chalk paint is self-priming, and can stick to pretty much anything, even completely smooth and non-porous surfaces like glass- sounds promising! I read a few personal accounts of people who successfully tried it, and figured it would be worth the shot. I picked up a container of Americana Decor Chalky Finish paint in Treasure.

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And let the painting adventure begin! I did not sand or prime the piece prior to painting, and just started to slather it on in long strokes using a synthetic paint brush. Here is a before shot:

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Some of what I was reading online recommended sanding between layers of paint, to even out the surface texture and minimize brush strokes. I was too lazy for that, and didn’t really mind the look of brush strokes. If I wanted it to look perfect I would have spray painted it! The chalk paint that I was using had pretty good coverage, but I still needed 3 coats to get an even finish. The 8 oz container I got was just enough for that! Chalk paint dries very quickly, and by the time I was finished the first coat, the spot where I started was already dry and ready for a second coat, which made the process go by very quickly. Here is what it looked like after the second coat of paint:

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Since Chalk paint is porous, it needs to be finished, or sealed, in some way. Most sources recommend applying the corresponding wax, but my local store was out of stock. I also wanted the finished piece to have a shiny glossy finish that is very durable, so I ended up choosing a polyurethane varnish in clear gloss by minwax.

minwax poly

I did two coats of that with the same synthetic paint brush, straight from the can. Some sources recommended diluting it with water to make it thinner so that brush strokes are less visible, and to give it more of a self-leveling quality. They also recommend sanding between coats, and doing at least 3 coats. As you can probably tell by now I wasn’t following any of these recommendations anyways, and I think the end result looked perfectly fine. The poly dries very quickly too, but I gave it overnight to cure before touching or putting things on it.

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I am really happy with the color, and how it looks in the space! I also love the glossy shine that I got with the poly coat, and actually don’t mind the brush stroke look at all, I think it almost makes it look like a real piece of furniture made of real wood, rather than MDF covered in a thin film of laminate pretending to be wood.

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This process would be perfect to do over a weekend, and since it is fairly low fumes, was fine to do indoors. I can see this working perfectly for an old piece of furniture that just needs to be woken up a bit and freshened up, for a totally different look. Its amazing the difference paint makes! Do you have a piece that needs a fresh look? Or a thrift store find with great bones that needs to be modernized? I hope you give this process a try, and let me know how it goes! ❤