$12 end table from Goodwill transformed

I found this little beauty at Goodwill last week for a whopping $12. With a ton of elbow work, paint, sanding, glue and a special add-on that turned out brilliant. This French Provincial $12 end table, and now it stands proudly in our living room.

$12 end table from Goodwill

Published January 6, 2022
Updated March 30, 2022
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French Provincial $12 end table

There were no labels or tags on the bottom of the table. It was possibly a vintage French Provincial piece with an inlaid panel on the top. The section that was inlaid did not seem original to the piece. The top of the inlaid wood seemed more like a chunk of old countertop that was cut to fit and screwed to the bottom. Another reason I do not think the inlaid piece was original, is because the pieces of wood that were screwed onto the base is not the same wood. Nor are the materials used the same to adhere the wood pieces and the table itself. Oh well, time to make her pretty again!

top sheet removed from table top

Below is a similar piece that I found in an online search. This piece has the same curves and lines as the one I bought. However, when mine was sanded down, it for sure was used with different wood. Maybe it was the stain? But mine was a blond wood and not so dark. This piece I found was listed as a French Provincial piece.

See the source image, similar design


First, this table needed a decent clean. It was grimy and gross and super dusty. The insert was removed from the top and set aside for a special treatment.
After it was thoroughly cleaned and dried, I took it out to the garage for a sanding.

Using an orbital sander was easiest, and as it was going to be painted, a 220-grit sandpaper was great at removing any and all of the old and dull stain. This sander is one of the only tools in the garage arsenal that I like to use, and that will not cut my fingers off. As a clumsy person, that could literally happen. No joke.

More sanding

Once all of the big pieces were sanded, I got to work hand sanding the harder parts. This was WAY more tedious and took more time that I am willing to admit. I do not think my fingers will ever recover from holding the sandpaper and then rubbing it into all of the crevices and corners. But sanding is needed and essential when you are going to redo a piece like this because it helps the paint adhere much better.

I just love this extra detail on the ends, it is like the wood was carved and gives an extra special addition to the table. Someone went the extra mile making this double tiered table special with this detail.

sanding $12 end table

Clean the $12 end table

Once it was all sanded and the dust was removed with a rag, I brought it back into the house and placed it on the table on top of a drop cloth. Working on this project with the table set at a higher level helps to see it better, so you do not have to bend over. With a bad neck and back, I didn’t want to hurt my neck even more with bending over more than was necessary.

The next thing I did was to clean it with denatured alcohol to make sure all of the dust was fully removed and to clean the wood, prepping it to be painted. Denatured alcohol is much cheaper to use to clean your projects than isopropyl alcohol. When it was all cleaned, I let the table sit to fully dry.

Clean $12 end table with Denatured Alcohol

What paint to use

Onto the paint! As usual, I busted out a can of General Finishes Milk Paint. Today I am using the Snow-White color, as I wanted to bring this French Provincial dull table into the 21st century with some style and durability. I could have sanded the entire piece down to bare wood and stained it, but I really like the look of the wood that is painted white. It looks so clean and fresh. Plus, our living room could use a little white, as most of it is still greige.

General Finishes Milk Paint to paint $12 end table

Paintbrush of choice

I then used my favorite 2-inch angled brush for this paint project. It worked amazing at getting into all of the edges and corners and harder to reach areas.

When painting, a good tip is to do the inlaid areas first, then move onto the larger sections to even out your paint. As it was being painted, there was no need to get the old stain off 100 percent, but I did get the sheen off and made sure the piece was smooth to the touch.

This paint from General Finishes is a Milk Paint and is super pigmented so this table will only need two coats. They recommend using two layers of topcoat after the paint cures fur twenty-four hours, and is good to touch after 4, with a dry time of 1 hour between coats.

I have used this brand of Milk Paint for many projects and love it more than using a cabinet & trim paint. General Finishes products, on the pieces I have finished, have not chipped or shown any wear and tear. The Milk Paint is durable for high traffic pieces and has stood the test of time in our home with four kids!

Elliana was my manager today, informing me when I missed any spots. She is super handy to be around!
Additionally, click the link below to see more of my General Finishes Milk Paint projects.

This $12 end table needed two coats of paint

top of end table painted white

When the first coat of paint was on, I let it fully dry for two hours. The manufacture recommends one hour between coats, but I let it sit for two just to make sure it was super dried. Painting it while on top of the dining room table helped so much! I sure liked it more than sitting on the floor.

painting legs of end table white

When using General Finishes Milk Paint, you do not need to make sure to paint it on heavy. Because this paint is super pigmented, the second coat helps to be a fully painted piece without doing three-to-four coats. It may look streaky after the first coat, but wait till you do the second, it will look amazing!

What to do with the $12 end table top


This is the insert piece that was removed. As you can see, it looks like a chunk of countertop that was cut down to fit into this table. Maybe there was damage to the table-top and an owner did this to fix it? Whatever the reason, I do not like the style or colors, so I am going to do something super fun! Before it was worked on, a thorough clean was in order. The table-top sure had grime, and something sticky was spilled onto it.

As my next step was SUPER messy, there are no pictures. I am so sorry. As a novice in this craft, this being the second attempt to do this, I was trying to focus. However, I am super proud with how the tabletop turned out. It was just as I envisioned, if not better.

Gold leaf it is!

gold leaf on tabletop from $12 end table

Gold leaf is not for the faint of heart. Really. If you are not meticulous, patient or wanting to use 100% the correct products, do not gold leaf. There are so many ways to do it, so many different products, and so many people with various ideas on how to do it.

As we are not super-rich and this is a fun DIY, I used faux gold leaf. A year ago, I did our bedside lamps with gold leaf and had a bunch leftover. For a full tutorial on how to gold leaf from Better Homes and Gardens, click HERE!

Doing some research, this is the #1 selling adhesive and sealer for Gilding. This will be my next splurge! It is only $15 for the two jars and two brushes! Not bad for an awesome hobby that can add bling to just about anything. And for someone who detests glitter, that is saying something! I really love using gold leaf. I truly believe I am meant to be a professional gilder. Is that a thing?

Protect with a clear coat

Rust-Oleum crystal clear enamel spray paint

Anyhow… Once the gold leaf was completely dry, around 24-hours, I sealed the surface to prevent gold dust from being on even more of our house. Trust me, this stuff got everywhere. Kitchen table; check. Floor; check. Forehead; check. Ethel; check.

I love gold leaf and the metallic sheen it gives something, but darn if the mess is unbearable and so difficult to clean up. I used a can of Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear Enamel and sprayed two layers on top of the gold leaf, leaving each dry completely between coats.

$12 end table final result

finished white $12 end table with gold leaf tabletop

This French Provincial $12 end table turned out so beautiful! It is not perfect, but it is done and literally brilliant. The gold leaf was a difficult project and not a perfect result, but it is a process I am new to doing. This beautiful two-tiered vintage French Provincial end table is not sitting pride of place in the living room.

gold leaf $12 table top

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