Guest Post: Vintage Tables in Vibrant Yellow

Hi there! I'm pleased as punch that Melody invited me to post in her beautiful piece of blogland (even though I'm so jealous that she couldn't sneak any of us stuck here in perpetual winter along with her to escape)! I blog at Anne Thompson Designs, which is something I started after leaving a career in television news to spend more time with my two kids. It's been such a blessing - more than I ever could have imagined. And no small part of those blessings has been the incredible women I've met who share the passions for home and DIY that I do.

I met Melody last summer at the Haven Conference, which is like mecca for home/DIY bloggers. It was the first time either of us had attended, and we both came knowing very few people. It was, for me, an exciting but also nerve-wracking time. Being among such awesome creatives, but being alone much of the time was kind of stressful, even though it was so completely fantastic.
I went to a painting class led by Shaunna of Perfectly Imperfect, and Marian of Miss Mustard Seed (holy cow, by the way, they rocked)!
And it was there I had the good fortune to sit at a table with Melody.  Man, did we have a good time!  We love furniture. And paints. And we have sons who are the same age. It was like we'd known each other for years. I've kept in touch with so many bloggers via social media, and now Melody and I get to be roommates at this year's Haven. It'll be like a reunion this time!

But for now, I'm very happy to be here with Melody's awesome readers!

I'm sharing today about a pair of vintage end tables I recently painted... I'll be honest. I was a little unsure when a woman I knew from high school said she wanted two vintage end tables/nightstands painted bright yellow.  The success of the way they turned out, I think, lies in the specific shade of yellow we ended up using.  Ironically, it's Sherwin Williams' "Overjoy." Coincidence? I think not!
 These two tables came to my friend via a yard sale.  Their simple shape and relatively good condition were well worth the $10 price tag.
 The polyurethane on top, however, was cracked and flaking off - it couldn't be painted over in that condition.
  They also came with a red-based stain on them that didn't want to quit.
 And they were basically filthy.
After sanding them with my RYOBI Corner Cat sander (LOVE that tool. And I'm not getting paid to say it. I asked for it for Christmas, and my husband obliged. I bought him clothes. #tablesturned) it was clear that a good primer was going to be needed. The table on the right is sanded below.
A quick swipe with a water based primer showed in no time that the red stain would laugh in the face of that. The table on the right has the water based primer. The other got the oil-based. Wow.
I'd have to turn to my trusty oil-based Zinsser Cover Stain. Man, I love that stuff. Again, not being paid to say that. It has proven itself over and over again. Zinsser better never stop making it or they'll have a revolt on their hands from furniture painters the world over.
Two coats of Cover Stain later, (I had to take advantage of the only 40 degree day this side of Christmas) we were ready to rock some yellow.

Yellows and greens, I think, can be tricky. You don't want neon (usually). You don't want sickly looking colors, or otherwise murky shades that may remind you of not-so-nice things that are green and yellow in the world. It can be hard to get them right. This time, we hit the jackpot. It was sunny and cheerful and just gorgeous. The paint went on like a dream.  Covered and leveled really nicely. The owner didn't want anything distressed on these pieces, and I completely agree with her call on that.
I will say, I had a devil of a time getting the topcoat right on these pieces. I tried a glossy finish Minwax Polycrylic, a brand I've used for a while now, with pretty good results.  It's not the easiest thing to get a streak-free finish with, but using the Satin finish I've taught myself how to manage it pretty well. (It just dries really fast, which makes it very hard not to over brush it, which effectively ruins the entire coat.) I kept getting streaks. I was about to lose my mind. I reached out to other bloggers. I read message boards on polycrylic. I even ended up posting (nicely) on Minwax's Facebook page, begging for an actual expert who has used the product to weigh in on what I might be doing wrong. Mercifully, they did. And their advice saved my sanity.
I was working in my finished, heated basement. But it has been a very long, cold winter and the heat naturally rises in homes. So the expert suggested the temperature may be chilly enough that it was causing the finish not to dry properly. I got out a radiator-style portable heater, sat it close to the pieces, and prayed. #notkidding. It helped. I ended up using some additional coats of the Sherwin Williams paint, as well, because it is an enamel paint that dries to a hard finish. In all, there are probably 4-5 coats of paint on the tabletops and 3-4 coats of poly. That stuff's not going anywhere! So thank you to the Minwax people for being so responsive. Much appreciated. I also cleaned up the original hardware with some Brasso.

 The bottom piece was how they looked when I got them. The top one is cleaned.
When I was working on these pieces, I realized they were stamped and numbered on the bottom of the drawers. I'm no expert on furniture. But I love to learn about pieces and where they come from. Mersman cranked out tables for American homes by the thousands. So, they aren't exactly collectors items, but still good examples of American made vintage furniture.
Luckily, my classmate/client was thrilled with them, and in the end, that's why I, and Melody, and so many others do this kind of work.

The hope that they are going to make her smile every time she looks at them.
And if that's not how you feel when you look at some of the things in your home, maybe it's time this spring to be asking, "why?" and then, "what can I do about it?"

 For help, I'd say keep your eyes here on my friend Melody's blog for a stream of beautiful pieces, gorgeously staged, to inspire your own space. I know I do.
Thanks for having me, Melody!
Bring on Haven, roomie!!



  1. Thank you Anne for doing this! These tables are drop dead gorgeous.

    1. The pleasure was all mine! Thanks for having me!

  2. Wow!! What nice info on this post! All information really useful.I love your stuff very much.Thanks for sharing this helpful post.

    Home Decor

  3. Replies
    1. Aren't they gorgeous Randi? Anne did a perfect job updating these tables. Now I wish I had them in my house!

  4. You are soooo right .... thank heavens for Zinnser Stain Block with shellac. My work studio has wreaked of the stuff for years! It has a pretty powerful smell I think you'd agree but nothing works as well .... not until I discovered the Autentico Stain Block which is water based and doesn't have the toxic odour.

    I have converted to the Autentico Primer priced at £24 for 1 litre, it works out cheaper than the Zinnser too. The main reason for converting is not the price though, it is the ease of use and the fact that it does not fill my lungs with toxic smell.

    I wonder if you can buy Autentico in US, here in UK it's range of chalkpaint is over-taking ASCP because it is water-based authentic chalkpaint and has an extensive and beautiful range of colours.

    I love your project - I wouldn't normally rave over yellow, but those charming little tables look gorgeous. Thanks for posting with such detail and passion.

    Warmest regards, Rhianne

    1. Aren't the gorgeous Rhianne?! Anne did a wonderful job. It's funny I never liked yellow until the last few months. These tables make me want to paint everything yellow!! Thanks for the comment on Anne's fun table makeovers!

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