Turn a Dirty Wooden Box into a Gorgeous Refinished Coffee Table

I was looking for a project to make a refinished coffee table. found this trunk on Facebook Marketplace for only $5. It was a sad little guy that was dirty but had good bones. I wanted to give it a new life with some paint, a fun finish on the top, and add some legs to make it a perfect height for a coffee table.

I looked for some ideas of the look I wanted by looking on Pinterest. I found my inspiration (see the pin on the left) and when about trying to recreate the look.

Cleaning the Trunk

The first thing I did was give it a good cleaning to get rid of the dirt and see if there was any damage that I needed to fix. The was a small crack on the side, but it didn’t go all the way through so I could fix it with some wood filler.

Brown wooden trunk with dirt on it that was going to be transformed into a refinished coffee table
Old Trunk Purchased from Facebook Marketplace for $5

Sanding for a Good Base to Paint

Once it was clean and all hardware was removed, I sanded it down to give it a good base to paint. I used a rotary sander for this and then finished by hand with sandpaper. It made a huge difference in the smoothness of the wood to give a nice even surface to paint.

Sanded trunk to allow the wood to shine
Trunk Sanded and Cleaned

Painting the Trunk

I wanted the sides to have a distressed look so I first painted them a dark gray chalk paint and then once that was dry, I painted it white. Then I sanded parts of the sides to allow the darker paint to show through.

Trunk painted with two colors - dark gray and white for our refinished coffee table
Painted first with dark gray and then white

For the top, I painted a dark gray and then started layering light gray, turquoise, and white paint with a dry brush technique. I kept this layering until it gave me the effect that I wanted.

Top of the refinished coffee table painted with turquoise, gray, and white
Top with a dry brush technique

Final Steps on the Refinished Coffee Table

Once the top had the look I wanted, I sealed all sides with with Polycrylic water-based sealer with about 8 coats. It gave it a nice glossy finish and brightened up the colors on the top of the refinished coffee table.

Trunk with top painted and sides distressed
Finished paint job with sealer added

The last step was to add some metal feet to the bottom to raise it up to a good coffee table height and added rope on the sides to replace the old rope that was originally there. This was a fun project and I would love to do another refinished coffee table soon.

Refinished coffee table sealed and legs added
Finished Trunk with sides distressed, top finished, and legs added