My ugly duckling vintage Florentine nesting tables

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Upon first glance they are by far the ugliest thing I’ve ever bought. Painted in gross uneven strokes the green paint adhered in clumps all over these nesting tables that I’d searched Craigslist for for months. I knew underneath they hid a gold and cream neatly detailed hue and they’d be as light as feathers to move around a party. Even the lady I purchased them from was apologetic about the color. Luckily, I never see something as it is in it’s current state but imagine the vision I have as the end result.

I took the tables home to the garage and didn’t even set foot inside the house before the green had to come off. I gave the keys to my kids and started to work. I spread out a drop cloth – already so thick with layers of paint that it was crunchy. Little did that drop cloth know that paint stripping isn’t friendly and after this project it would be sent with the other drop cloths in the sky.

Paint stripping is a messy, tedious, dangerous task. I probably should’ve worn goggles – but I definitely opted for long gloves before spreading the goopy stripper on the table surface. Almost immediately the paint began to shrivel and wilt into cracked areas and it was time to take it off. I had to work quickly to prevent the stripper from damaging the under layer in case the original paint was salvageable. I used a putty knife to scrape off the thick layer of green. I repeated the process working in small sections, stripping, scraping, and wiping the excess all over the drop cloth. One thing to watch out for – paint stripper burns – painfully. It kept burning near my elbow where my gloves stopped and all over my legs where tiny pieces of paint stripper flecks of paint splashed me in scraping. Have wet paper towels handy to clean your skin. Once I had it scraped clean, I sanded as much paint as possible and washed it down with paint thinner/acetone to give me a clean palette. Here is what was underneath the green:

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I thought I could live with that but at the last minute decided just to paint over it since so much green was not removable. It didn’t really have the shabby chic look I’d hoped for but just looked stripped.

I used flat oops samples that I had already from Home Depot. I always glance in the paint section when I am there and pick up any castoffs that are colors I typically use. Neutrals are always great to have. I picked a nice creamy gray hue and did a couple of quick coats. It was hot outside and flat paint dries quickly. I sanded it down at the end for antiquing effect and rubbed the tables by hand with stain – working it into the crevices. My experience with working a stain or matte varnish on top of a painted piece has been that it aids in reducing the sticky factor – essential in tables, sideboards, etc where people will put glasses.

I couldn’t be happier with the result. The finish dried nicely and the tops are roughed up enough that errant scratches here and there from daily use won’t effect the look. I had to stage it with a cup of tea it came out so charmingly and even cut a couple of my coveted hydrangeas from the side yard.
Two days after getting these ugly ducklings and the nesting tables came out as swans.

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