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Upcycled Outdoor Coffee Table/ Fall Outdoor Space

Hey Loves,

Even though it's getting chilly outside, I am back with another way to make your outdoor space look amazing and be functional on a budget!

If I can share anything with you, it's to not be afraid of considering things that other folks throw away. My husband and I live in an apartment and on our way to an evening out we found a very nice, yet damaged, trunk dumped out near a dumpster. We saw it and thought how easily we could fix it and add it to our small apartment patio.

This is just one example of things that you can find that some folks are only interested in throwing out.

Isn't it pretty cool? Of course, you should investigate thrown out or otherwise used items with some care. You want to inspect them to make sure there are no pests, like bed bugs or termites, or that there are no other health hazards, like black mold. A rule of thumb that my husband and I have is that, if we find something that someone has thrown out, it shouldn't have fabric or padding on it. That helps lower the risk of health hazards that you can't see. Of course, it's all up to you but this is just our own rule. Some folks don't mind reusing old couches, chairs and even mattresses. Not us.

You also want to make sure that it is, after all, okay for you to be grabbing someone's old, thrown out furniture in the first place. Since this was next to an apartment community dumpster, we didn't feel odd about grabbing it. If it were out on the curb in front of someone's house, then it's still technically their property. It's also, most likely ON their property so it then becomes a matter of trespassing. So just be careful and if you have any concerns, try and ask the owners.

Don't take this to mean that you should go roll around in the garbage, but that you could definitely find some hidden gems if you care to take a look.

So, without further ado, here is our little coffee table/storage bin project. I'll describe some of the ways that we fixed it up to make it fit our space!

The first step is to repair the damage. In the photo before the one above you can see that everything looks to be in pretty good shape. But the photo directly above shows that one of the legs with a wheel has been broken off. It's difficult to see but there was also alot of dirt and grime coating the other three wheels. You could barely see the heads of the screws that held the legs on. It was a bit of a mess. But one what we decided to get cleaned up.

To clear up the grime around the screw heads that kept the legs on, we just scraped at it with an old butter knife that was nearby. You could use a pick or a box cutter. We tried using a flathead screwdriver at first. We got the grime cleared up enough that we could get a good grip on the screws and draw them out. There was so much crud in there that a couple of the screws really didn't like leaving their home. Unfortunately one of the screws was so insistent on remaining where it was that we ended up breaking some of the wood slightly.

When you have things like this happen, get some wood glue and try and stick the broken off piece back where it came from. If it's not a major structural piece then don't worry too much about it. We just want it to look good.

Now that we've removed the old legs, and buttoned up the damage, we will get it cleaned up and ready for paint.

The first thing you want to do when dealing with old wooden items like this trunk is to strip it of the old coats of paint, or in this case, the clear coat/sealant. This trunk just had to be cleaned and roughed up for the paint. You can either just grab a few slices of sandpaper or, if you're like my husband, use this project as a new excuse to buy a new sander. We used the rotary sander to strip the surface off of the trunk. Typically, you'd use at least two different types of grit to do this. A more coarse grit is good for getting the cleaning up done quickly. Once all of the old surface is sanded off, use a finer grit to even out the wood and make it nice and smooth. This will help the paint adhere smoothly to the trunk.

The same principles apply to sanding this by hand. It will get done but it will likely take longer.

The next thing we did was to add legs to the table to keep it off of the ground and well within reach of the patio seating that my husband made earlier this year. You can glue some legs to your furniture, figure out a way to attach them to it, but we got lazy when we hit Lowe's. We found out that other folks had dealt with the same issue and the market had replied with an easy way to add some legs to our trunk.

As you can see in the above photo, we found these metal attachment points right next to the legs that were pre-threaded to screw right into them. They only cost $15 for the plates and the legs so it's not expensive in the least. The plates have their own screws to attach them to the bottom of the trunk then you just screw in the legs good and tight. Of course, being such a quick and easy method of affixing some legs to furniture, they might be a little crooked. Ours were but the metal is soft so you can gently bend them a little in whatever direction you need to straighten them out.

Once the legs are screwed in place and you've made sure that they are straight, turn the trunk over and check for it to be level. If it is a little off, use your sander or sand paper to remove some of the material from the longest leg or legs. Remove a little material at a time and constantly check for levelness. When it's level, go ahead and turn it over. We are going to do one more thing before we paint.

One thing about old pieces of wooden furniture is that they are definitely NOT weatherproof. They have cracks and crevices that hold onto water and that leads to mold and damage. We want to get rid of those so that it helps keep out water. For that, we will use a wood filler and a scraper tool to press it into the cracks and smooth it out. We got a nifty tube of it which made application really easy. Just make sure that, when you use the filler in the tube, you squeeze it around to mix all of the ingredients thoroughly. When the ingredients are mixed thoroughly, squeeze it out over the crack or damage. In the photo above, we fixed a spot where the trim was separating from the lid. In the photo below, you can see my husband pressing the filler into the crack. Let the filler dry for the prescribed length of time on the container then sand the location to smooth it out. If needed, apply more filler until it is filled completely. This will allow the paint to completely coat the trunk and seal water out.

We had a much deeper cut in the front of the lid. In the below photos you can see the rough fill then how it was cleaned up before we painted.

When you're done applying the wood filler, make sure you sand the areas around the repairs. Now you can paint! Put down 2 or more coats of your favorite color. We were lazy so we used some spray paint. We put down 2 coats of the color and 2 coats of satin clear.

Note: With older furniture like this, the sealant or whatever oils that were originally used can seep through the paint job and ruin your hard work. Even with 4 coats of protection. I am speaking from experience because the old chemicals came through some spots. To fix this problem, first lay down a couple thick coats of primer that is made for covering up old oils. THEN use your paint and clear coat of your choice.

And that's it! All that we spent on this project was ~$35 for the legs, paint and wood filler. This resulted in a table/storage solution that would have cost nearly $100 in some stores. Of course, I realize that this is coming as temperatures are dropping and being outside isn't as often an order of business, but it can serve as a place to put your hot chocolate while you curl up under a big blanket to watch the frost melt off in the mornings. For us, it does exactly that and also gives us a place to put some of the blankets that we want easier access to. However you do a project like this, I hope it comes in good use for you! I hope you also learned a few things to help in fixing up some old furniture instead of tossing it away!

Enjoy the Fall while it lasts because we have Thanksgiving coming up this week and Christmas soon after that. I hope you all have a wonderful day Loves!

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