Okay, this is one of those projects I started a very long time ago, finished a somewhat-long time ago, and just never got around to blogging about until now. Which, let’s face it, is how most of my posts are going to go this summer. There are several reasons for this particular delay, mostly annoying little obstacles (like staining obstacles, and cement obstacles, and I-suck-at-decorating-console-table obstacles) which I will happily share with you. Because there is no point in you jumping over the same hurdles if I can clumsily knock them down and out of the way, right?
Like most of my projects, this table started with an inspiration:
I came across this chunky, rustic console table and immediately fell in love with it. I mean, what a great piece for an entryway! I loved it. I wanted it. I would make it.
Slight Issue #1 I don’t own a giant mansion with 20 ft ceilings that offer an entryway big enough for this massive piece of furniture. My little foyer is more like a small four and half by six and a half square foot nook with stairs leading up to my living room; much like what you’d find in a cute little brownstone, only we don’t live in a brownstone either, but the swampy lowcountry of South Carolina (and if you opened my front door right now, you’d feel the heat of Mordor to prove it). There was no way I could build that table and fit it into my entryway. In order to scale it down, but still keep the chunky look I loved, I decided not to use both sets of inside crossbeams (the two boards that form the upside down Vs). If you look at my version, I sort of mentally cut the table above in half, then moved the center piece over between the upside down V.
The actual base of the table was very easy to build. I used 2 x 6 boards to achieve that chunky look.
This is how my mathematical mind sees projects:
All angles were cut at 15 degrees.
Obviously, there is no set width or height your table has to be. I will tell you that I just cut my top and bottom pieces the way I wanted them to look given the space provided, then worked around those two pieces. These are the measurements my table ended up having:
I used a Kreg Jig to connect all the pieces. If you don’t already have this, it is seriously an awesome tool to own. I’ve used it for multiple projects.
Just a funny side note: I bought mine a few years back at Lowes, and as I was leaving the aisle, box in hand, an older Lowes guy stopped me and said, “Can I ask you about that?” I said, “Sure,” not knowing whether I’d be able to answer his question or not. He said, “I only see women buying that. How do they all know about it?” I laughed and said, “Ana White.” This required some explaining as well, but it satisfied his curiosity.
Here are a few photos of the pocket holes made using the Kreg Jig:
I used a right angle to make sure the table would be level.
Once I made two identical pieces for the front and the back of the table, I connected them using four 10 in boards.
Lastly, I added inside crossbeams which serve no purpose whatsoever except design. These were a pain in the rear to add, only because I had already screwed the entire base together, and I remember I did not have enough room to use a nail gun straight on. Not sure why I didn’t use the Kreg Jig on these. Probably thought the wood might split. Or I was too lazy. Yep, that’s probably more like it.
I decided to add a second pair of crossbeams on the back end of the table as well.
All in all, this was a VERY easy table base to put together. I really thought I’d have a new decorated entryway in no time!
Little did I know…
Obstacle #1 Stain Gone Bad
So I got this great idea that I was going to make my own stain. I don’t know why I decided to do this. I guess because I could. Or, at least, the internet told me I could.
I wanted that rustic, edgy, worn look to my table, and when I came across this article How To Weather Wood by Cherished Bliss, I thought, “Yes! This is exactly what I want!” It was so pretty. She even provided a recipe DIY Wood Stain. Whoo hoo! I could do this!
And I did.
Only here is my mistake. And it’s a biggie.
I didn’t use the stain right away. In fact, I probably made the stain, and then, due the number of other projects I was working on at the time, or because school was in session and I was only “projecting” on weekends, or because it was so darn cold outside at the time, it did not get stained. For weeks. Or maybe even a month or two.
And then one day, I was like, “Oh yeah…my table. Let’s stain it today.”
OH. MY. GOODNESS.
So this is what happens when you leave steel wool in vinegar for a really, really, really long time: it rusts. And when you put that rusty stain on your wood, your wood turns orange. We’re talking Donald-Trump-Orange. It looked so horrible. Not at all the beautiful dark brown it was supposed to be.
This is when I retreated back into my house and pretended the project didn’t exist.
Eventually, weeks on down the road, I sanded off the ugly orange stain, and re-stained it (this time using some leftover Walnut stain by Minwax). This is probably one coat on. I added until it was the darkness I was looking for.
Then I dry-swiped it with white acrylic paint from Walmart to get that rustic look. Love it.
Starting to feel positive about the project again. Until….
Obstacle #2 Cement Issues
This project was seriously one farce after another.
When I initially tackled this project, I had no intention of involving my husband, and because I was not involving my husband, I had to be realistic in what I could accomplish on my own. I knew I could build the base. What I did not know is if I could seriously take on a concrete tabletop. Then I came across the following blog post DIY Concrete Dining Table Top and Dining Set Makeover by The Crazy Craft Lady (I already knew I was going to like her). This seriously was the coolest thing ever! She creates the look of solid slab using a wood IKEA tabletop. I could do that! And I could do that, more importantly, by myself.
Clearly though, by the heading above, this does not turn out well for Kelly.
So, here’s what I did wrong. I read the article several times. However, I did not fully take in the article (this is what I am constantly preaching to my students, but did not follow myself: Reading is everything). Therefore I somehow missed the product she used, which I now realize is a feather finish. This is very important, people. Because I bought a small bag of regular cement. And regular cement is NOT going to give you the beautiful cement tabletop that Aimee created in her project. Stop. Let me rephrase that. It is going to look like it’s going to give you a beautiful cement tabletop. And then it is going to dry and crack into a million smithereens.
(tiny, meek) Yeah!!!!!!
I retreated into my house once more, and the table became a sort-of catch all in our garage.
Until one day, I came across this post and video How To Make An Outdoor Kitchen Island With a Concrete Countertop. This video proved the inspiration I needed, and even better, a visual for my husband since I was now enlisting him to help. We pretty much followed the video step-by-step, except for using the Quikrete Countertop Mix as suggested (because it pretty much does not exist…anywhere….trust me, I tried to find it).
So I settled on using Cheng Concrete Countertop Pro-Formula Mix–Stone. Now, I should warn you that when this bag arrived in the mail, I was completely taken by surprise. I had it in my mind that this would be a substitute to the Quikrete we could not find, especially given its price. But it is not a full bag of cement. You still have to buy a bag of cement, and then you add this powder to it.
Overall, this process went smoothly, and any hesitation I had making a solid slab concrete tabletop were put at ease.
Though I am a little disappointed I didn’t get to try my hand at the feather finish. I am still very much impressed by it.
Obstacle #3 I Suck At Decorating
So the table was eventually (and completely) finished shortly before Christmas. I’m pretty sure, given the fact that I was wearing warm socks with my ballet flats in the first set of photos, that I started this table one winter and finished it the next. Hurdles, people. Avoid mine.
Hubby and I promptly carried it upstairs and there it sat.
Once Christmas ended, and the garland and lights were put away, that poor little table that I worked so hard on, for so long, just sat there naked and undecorated.
And that’s because, as crafty as I am, and as much as I love some great tablescapes (see my favorites here: Fall, Christmas, Winter, Valentine’s Day) I am not good at styling a table for the long run. Probably because it requires me to decorate for the sake of decoration.
Let me explain.
I love beautiful things. And I love useful things. I usually like these things to go hand in hand. For example, I want a beautiful living room, but I also want the things in that living room to serve a purpose. I like baskets that hold things, and candles to create ambiance, and blankets that are good for snuggling. What did I need to put on that console table? Absolutely nothing. So what was I going to put on that table?
This is what my mind was saying: Junk.
And then: Junk you don’t need.
And this is relatively true. Anything that I put on that table, aside from the lamp because I really did need for there to be light, was going to be put there to look pretty. I had to wrap my mind around that, because putting something there just to put something there felt like clutter. And I hate clutter.
The other issue is that because I had used rather cold items already (gray wood, cement, Mercury glass) I needed to stay away from those elements when decorating. This was surprisingly difficult. I did not realize how much I am drawn to similar items (wood with silver, glass, mercury glass, metal, cement) until I started looking to decorate this rustic cement table. I began to worry that this was going to be a very stark and uninviting foyer. One day, I finally decided to go out and buy a few things to play around with. I knew if I didn’t, this was never going to get done. The items I bought were from At Home and Marshalls. I also grabbed a few things I had on hand around the house.
Then I played around.
I finally settled on (with the help of Hubby) the following:
The gold brings in some warmer tones to counteract the starkness of cement and Mercury glass.
I even added a gold mirror from At Home to the side wall to compliment it further. This is really pretty. It’s got a pretty cool cut design to it, and when the light hits it just so, it sparkles.
I choose the white box over the Asian green because I felt it looked good with the milk glass goblet, and also better represented the whites throughout the remainder of the house. The greenery was used to add a soft touch.
And that, my friends, is the story of my rustic cement table.
If you avoid all of my overturned, knocked down hurdles, you should be able to get this whole table made within two weeks (give yourself a weekend for the base and staining, and another weekend for cement mixing-pouring-drying).
As always, thanks for stopping by!