How I Restored a Painted Mid Century Modern Coffee Table

I found this painted Mid Century Modern coffee table on the Facebook Marketplace and was lucky enough to snatch it up. The table was listed for sale for weeks, starting at $150 and eventually dropping to $100. I made an offer at $80, and the man selling accepted!

When I arrived to pick up the coffee table, it was a bit smaller than I expected, but I was happy because it looked sleek. The table was stamped “Beaucraft,” which is a company from Minneapolis, Minnesota. However, Elmira Furniture Company in Ontario Canada sold and manufactured Beaucraft furniture. I believe this table was built in Canada in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

I will walk you through my process of restoring a painted mid century modern coffee table to its original glory. If you want to watch the process, you are in luck because I have a full video of the process below.

Stripping the Paint

carbide scraper removing bright teal paint on coffee table

The very first thing I did was being scraping the coffee table top with a carbide paint scraper. After removing most of the paint, I realized the paint was stuck deep in the wood grain, and the scraper was not going to remove it.

I decided that paint stripper was necessary, so I picked up some CitriStrip and slathered it all over the table. Then I wrapped it with a plastic garbage bag to keep the paint stripper wet and activated.

After leaving it for a few hours I came back and used a wire brush to scrub the paint stripper deep into the groove. It worked decent, but after cleaning up with mineral spirits I could still see some paint in the grain.

scrubbing paint from wood grain with wire brush

I tried sanding using my random orbital sander (using 150 grit) to see if it would remove the paint, but I had to be careful with the top as it was a thin veneer. Since the table base was solid wood I just sanded until the paint was all gone. For the top veneer I had to redo the paint stripper. After letting it sit, I added mineral spirits and used my wire brush again; the mineral spirits really helped this time around, and I got the paint out of the grain.

Wood Filler Fix

wood filler on broken coffee leg before and after applying

One of the legs required some wood filler. I added some walnut wood filler by hand and made sure it was shaped nicely. Make sure the surface is cleaned up before applying wood filler to ensure it sticks on well. I also applied some filler in some cracks where the table joints were to hide some paint.

Sanding Smooth

sanded mcm coffee table smooth

Sanding was also part of the process of stripping the paint from the base, but after the paint was fully removed I sanded things smooth with a 240 grit sandpaper using my random orbital sander. I also grabbed a 400 grit sandpaper and sanded the wood filler smooth.

After using my random orbital sander, I used a 240 grit sandpaper sheet to sand everything down to make sure the table was shaped correctly.

Staining the Coffee Table

gel staining coffee table top

I decided to stain this MCM coffee table using a gel stain by General Finishes, the color I chose is called Candlelite.

Applying gel stain is simple:

  1. Clean the wooden surface free from dust. I used a tack cloth.
  2. Apply gel stain generously over the full piece.
  3. Once done applying, you can grab a clean rag and begin wiping it all off.

That’s how easy gel stain is to apply. Make sure you wipe it all off, leaving excess stain will dry blotchy and look unprofessional. Also wipe with the wood grain, I find it makes it look best.

Sealing the Coffee Table

spray lacquer on mcm coffee table

To seal and protect the MCM coffee table I chose to use a spray lacquer from the can. The application process is straightforward; go back and forth, making sure you cover everything. Then re-apply 3 coats in total after each dries.

Do not apply it too thick as you can cause drips; these are a pain and require sanding to clean up.

I chose a gloss sheen, mainly because the store only had this sheen. But I do think a gloss look on a nice MCM piece like this coffee table is a good idea.

Buffing/Rubbing/Polishing Out the Lacquer

mcm coffee table polish using finishing wax, cloth, and steel wool

You won’t see this process in the video, but I ended up buffing the lacquer to make it feel even better. I made sure the lacquer dried for a couple of days. I came back and wiped it clean with a tack cloth, then I rubbed some minwax finishing paste was all over the top of the table.

I rubbed it in pretty good, then I grabbed 0000 steel wool and rubbed hard in a circular motion buffing the surface.

After buffing with the steel wool, I grabbed a clean rag and buffed it again. Then I rubbed it out ensuring the wax was no longer visible.

When I finished, I left the table to fully dry again. After this process it felt like a buttery smooth surface that looks and feels professional.

Before and After

before after coffee table restoration mcm

I really enjoyed this furniture restoration process, if you have any questions about this project or your own, please leave a comment here or on YouTube!