The Life and Times of a Kmart Table

Are you so tired of me talking about this table? I wrote an entire post about how we use this table just a few months ago.  We bought it for $40 about nine years ago.  That was back when lots of KMarts were going out of business.  It’s just your average inexpensive kitchen table that lots of us have had at one point or another.  The top used to be some kind of light wood but I painted it years ago.

This is my table’s reality.  Every surface in this house must earn its keep.

Surfaces are for working.  This was during tax season.  I’m our tax preparer.

Surfaces are for projects.

Over the years this table has taken a beating.

So much so that I had to find a way to hide it for the book signing party.  You didn’t think that was just a pretty table-cloth did you?  Oh no, that horribly, scratched up table top was a Lovely Limitation that forced me to get creative and the book page table covering was a great solution to an annoying problem that I didn’t want to deal with.

My table top needed painting.


So I texted Angela and she let me borrow three colors of her Chalk Paint so I could figure out the best match.  I really liked the color I had on the table and I didn’t want to have to deal with a new color in our family room.  Lucky for me, Duck Egg was really close to the color I had.

So I painted the top with chalk paint. I’m not sure if that’s the best use for chalk paint but, it worked for me.  In certain lights you can see the brush strokes, which I kind of like.

And a year and a half ago I painted our big table with flat paint and it’s held up great.  I like to think that the secret is in wipe on poly that I use to seal it.  I LOVE that stuff.  I learned that trick from Mandi from Altar’d.  She’s the furniture painting whisperer and has an entire ebook full of secrets if you need someone to hold your hand. Click here to visit Altar’d Furniture {in a new window} and to get your ebook if you feel like you need more guidance when it comes to painting furniture, I don’t claim to be the pro {but I am an affiliate for her ebook which means I get a percentage of the sales if anyone buys–you can be an affiliate too}.

See? Doesn’t the table look so much better now that it’s painted?

Here’s a vanity shot.

And that’s the cold, dirty truth of the vanity shot.  Because it’s slipcover washing day.


  1. Wipe on Poly…crylic or urethane? I’ve spent way too much of my life standing in the Home Depot aisles trying to decide between that pair. I know urethane yellows over time, but the Depot peeps look at me like I’ve lost my mind if I mention polycrylic; they say it’s too difficult to work with. Which is your favorite?

    • hmmm, it’s by Minwax and is says “with polyuerthane protection” on the front. but, I only use two SUPER thin coats, this isn’t the thick poly of the ’70s.

  2. I love how you and Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam both show the real truth in your pictures! We all dream of the vanity shots for our house all the time but it is so nice to see that everyone’s house looks like mine! LOL!

  3. Love the painted table! And thank you for the vanity shot cause it makes me feel normal!

  4. I am grateful that you put the “dirty truth” photos up on your site. I am an avid home decorator and follow many decorating sites. I find it easy to get discouraged that everyone’s house is beautifully decorated AND clean all the time. I have to remind myself that you can photo any corner and make that look beautiful and clean, but we don’t always see what is behind the camera. I appreciate your honesty. It helps me to remain more hopeful and realistic…

  5. Looks great. It is great to have a table you can use and abuse and then redo!

  6. Well that table owes you nothing!!! I guess that a classic style can last forever. Imagine the stories the table could tell, if it could only talk.

  7. Such a pretty color the table is now. Your space is wonderful:)

  8. Can you tell me the specific color and type of paint you ended up using. Love the color and I have a white kitchen table that needs a good repainting. thanks!

    • yep, like I said in the post it’s Chalk Paint {google it but it’s made by Annie Sloan} and the color is Duck Egg. But it probably looks different in real life than on the screen.

      Happy painting!

  9. This NEVER gets old! I am not sure if I have shared this before…I might mention it every time I see this table. But about a month ago I went hunting for this original post and the post at in courage. I put a table in our living room and wanted to see how it worked in your room again. The longer I live in our home I have found that it functions a certain way and that my decor needs to encourage that way of living. I recently started watching my one year old nephew part time and I was feeling limited to open space for him to play in. By moving things around I opened up our home, still keeping it pretty, but more functional for the way that we live now. The table in our living room now holds our computer so I can watch TV while I work and be in the same room as my husband in the evenings when we are also watching TV. Yes, our life often revolves around the TV…but that is life, isn’t it? I used to try to sew on our coffee table…but sewing only a foot off the ground is rather difficult! Now I have my little table to house projects I can work on in the evenings but still be in the same room as my husband. And like you have shared, our dining table is now a lot cleaner…or can hold other messes for the moment. I feel like our home is more functional and a bit more tidy with our messes. So I love your table. It is probably my favorite thing in your home right now. :)

  10. so, what did you think about the chalk paint??

    it looks great nester. love it with the orange chairs!

  11. Hey, you live in a real house. Cool.

  12. Love the zoom out! I do that all the time…get close in to distract from the craziness. ;) Love the new tabletop!

  13. I love the table in your living room I think its one of the best parts of your home that I have seen. We are trying to sell our house and I am so hoping our next home has the ability to do the same. I need a place in the middle of everyone for my computer and sewinig machine. I would get so much more done.

  14. It looks awesome! Love the duck egg with the orange upholstery on your chairs.

  15. I LOVE that you showed us the pile of cushions on the floor. My house doesn’t even look that nice WITH a pile of cushions on the floor. :)

  16. Slipcover washing day – I love it!
    Nah, I don’t get tired of hearing about things are are really and truly in USE!
    So much of our stuff – read MY stuff – just sits around and needs to get purged.

  17. OH, Nester. You give me HOPE. Thank you for showing the reality of surfaces in your house.

  18. I have the same table. I transformed mine, also. I have two questions: will be ever part with the table or be sad when you part with it ? (I ask because I get emotionally attached to things like that–that we have used and that we have transformed) Also, did you seal the table with the two thin coats? I was not quite clear on if you sealed this particular piece (but it appears to be sealed).

    • yep, I’ll probably be able to get rid of it, my sister has the attachment gene in the family. Yes, ESPECIALLY for chalk paint, on the top of the surface you need to seal it or else it will soak up any oil–even like lotion and have a stain immediately. So I did I think two coats of wipe on poly, no sanding or anything. Chalk paint is really thirsty so it used more poly than my flat painted table. But I just put enough on to see it and then rub it in kind of.

  19. I echo the thanks for being real! We have slipcover washing day too! ANd children….and Lego,…and husbands (well just one for me actually, a very nice one!)…and projects….Your blog reminds us that it’s worth making the effort to find beauty in the midst of the realities of our lives. AND … it doesn’t have to be perfect! :)

  20. Thank you so much for the reality photo. It’s not like me, but when I saw your clean floors and beautiful table and all the pretty colors together I got tears in my eyes thinking about how messy my disaster of a house is right now. (if it’s so messy why am I surfing the net??;) But it’s laundry day and I had strep throat earlier in the week and I spent all day working on a PB knock off Christmas pillow that I can’t wait to put on my blog. So if we all had random breakfast food for dinner and had to step around the piles of clothes to get to the table so what!! :)

  21. I was just pondering the use of chalk paint the other day and thought, “I should ask Nester if she likes what she has done with it.” I guess you read my mind, even though we have never met, and I live in Texas. I am thinking about using it for 2 orangey-yellow pine bunk beds that need a new lease on life. Don’t they sell some kind of wax you can use to seal it with?

    • yes, they do–Angela uses it often, so I asked her but she said that my poly I had would be fine and I didn’t want to have to learn to use something else and I already had the poly–you can buy wax through the Annie Sloan vendors OR at Lowes Depot.


  22. I was thinking of you and that family room just today. I just found some new fabric (oh happy day) the background of which is the color of this message box–which I think is close to the color in your room. Also present in the fabric? The color of your chairs. And some bold brick-red and some gold and some greens. And it dawned on me that the fabric was kind of like the fall trees against a Carolina blue sky. Does that make sense? Maybe not. But it made me think of you. :)

  23. I love how the colours in your space come together. So pretty!
    And, what a great purchase that table was :)

  24. Donna Johnson says

    Ok…..completely random, but did u know that there is bead board wallpaper that looks exactly like the real thing?????? Blows me away and LOVE the table! :)

  25. Loved this post. I have been following your blog for a long time. My goodness your sweet boys are growing up!! What a beautiful family.

  26. I had the table and two chairs. I bought it for my first apartment 20 years ago from Ames (very similar to Kmart). Unfortunately the legs kept falling off and we couldn’t repair it any more. Too bad, I would have loved to paint the top!

  27. I love the picture of your husband your son at the table.

  28. love that table and never get tired of seeing what you do with it.
    also really love that you take pictures with your family in your home…I don’t do that a lot on my blog, and I need to bc it’s real life.

  29. Just. love. you. Nester…

    Just that.

  30. I love the table but I have to comment on your son & the dog! LOL I have tons of pics just like these of our lab laying under my teen son. So precious.

  31. Seeing and hearing so much about this chalk paint lately and now that I’ve seen you use it I know it’s the real deal…especially with boys in the house. I’ve got 3 boys too and my surfaces need to stand up to the boys and legos test! And the boys in general test…you know the deal!

  32. Nester, I think I love you! Couch cushions on the floor…can’t get more real than that!

    Thanks! I needed that!

  33. We had the same table, as newlyweds it was our first purchase together, and did the same thing. It’s final incarnation in our home was with the legs cut down to make a nice large surface work area for our young daughters. They finally outgrew it, and I was so sad to part with it.

    The good news is I found another one at a yard sale last year for $5.00 (score!!) so I am starting again, and now thinking chalk paint is exactly what it needs! Seeing yours in your living room is what isnpired me to snatch this one up!

  34. Yesterday was my slipcover washing day! Doncha just love ’em? I have that same table in my studio/sewing room!

  35. Thanks for showing your real life. Messy projects, vanity shots, scratched up tables. I love to have my house look great, but we need to be able to live here beautifully as well. Thanks for the reminder. : )

  36. that duck egg table might look pretty as the centerpiece of your front ‘unused’ room, you could convert that into a study, library, just sayin’.

  37. Love it! I have a KMart table just like yours that’s badly in need of some paint. There’s a tatoo from a hot iron, rippled varnish from spilled polish remover, gouges from whatever, and extra supports built in by my husband after a particulary rambunctious game of Spoons! Yikes! It’s covered regularly with a pretty tablecloth. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks!

  38. Love your re-invented table!! I have yet to try chalk paint but can’t wait to! As for sealing surfaces, I always do now. My kids’ painted desks need a sanding, re-paint and sealant – I have learned the hard way, if you don’t seal it, you will be re-painting soon!

  39. Love the “vanity” shot and the following…the table looks fab. $40. 9 years?! Can’t bet that! Janell

  40. Does Chalk paint mean like chalk board like you can write on it? Or did I just out myself as the dumbest home interiors person ever?

    {My money’s on the latter}

    • yep, it’s the ladder.

      see what I did? I told you the truth but I made myself look worse by spelling latter wrong. Anyhow, I forget that not everyone has Angela for a Bestie, so I know all about every paint thanks to her and even Mandie just emailed me with more paint news–I have my people and sources you know. Anyhow, I am not the person to tell you all about Chalk paint {not chalk board allthough there is a debate apparently} go visit Miss Mustard Seed and she will tell you every thing you need to know and Kate from Centsational Girl did a report on Chalk Paint as well good stuff :

      The beauty of chalk paint is that you don’t have to prep, like sand {I did lightly sand my table b/c it had big PEELING paint} or take old paint off before you use it–it sticks to just about anything and has a matte finish

  41. My favorite posts of yours are those with your boys pictured! Those years are mostly gone for us, with just two old people rattling around here. I love that you are making your home beautiful and functional — and that you point out the honest reality of laundry. Thanks.

  42. Table looks great! And…totally off topic…did I miss what kind of vacuum you ended up getting? Just curious because I’m in the market for one. We have all hardwood floors and some rugs, and I don’t want to spend a fortune.

  43. I absolutely HAVE TO KNOW where you got your curtains. I pinned them when I first saw them, and I’ve seen online tutorials for ironing horizontal stripes on existing white curtain panels. But I have never seen any that look as nice as yours! Please share!!!

  44. I seriously <3 your table. I need to get myself one of those . . . well, after the apartment experiment is over. (Thankfully, the apartment is over a garage that's sitting on twelve acres.) ;)

    But wait . . . did you say slipcover washing day? How often do you wash your slipcovers? I know I don't wash mine often enough (they seem to be dingy all the time). What works for you, with kids in the house. I've sure got plenty of feet on my furniture all the time . . .

  45. Great table, no doubt. Love the curtains too!

  46. I have that table (via craigslist) and have been wanting to replace it but waiting because my kids still destroy furniture. I’m not sure why I never thought of painting it, especially since I rarely buy anything new and almost always refurbish first. Thanks for the motivation. Our house is very tiny so this table is where we eat, do homework, do art projects, play games, etc. Right now we’re missing a chair which is highly problematic. Because I’m addicted to great deals I’ve been combing thrift stores in search the perfect replacement but so far, no luck. I’m thinking if I paint the table, my chair options will expand. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  47. Thank you for posting REAL LIFE pictures of your house…it make everything seem so much more do-able around my house :) The table looks great!

  48. Jacqulyn Little says

    I am sensitive to chemical smells and I was wondering if the wipe-on poly has a very strong odor since it is oil based?

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