Check out this 1960s fluted side table I found at a junk shop up in Connecticut last week. As with most vintage finds, there’s usually a mix of good and bad. First, the bad: oppressively dark wood, a horrible paint finish and a travertine inset that was just a touch too Graceland for me. Fortunately, there was a lot more good: generous storage, beautiful fluting, great lines and hardware that was perfectly in tact.

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This one I knew I had to love because without a car, lugging it back to
the city was not going to be pretty. But with so much potential, I just
couldn’t pass it up. Under an arm it went, onto the train, into a cab,
up five flights and onto the roof of my Hell’s Kitchen apartment. Much of the process with this piece, including all the necessary materials like Zinsser primer, steel wool and paint, is actually very similar to the secretary makeover I posted not too long ago. Using a screwdriver, I took off the top piece, then popped out the
travertine inset. At first, I was just going to paint it out or
replace it with mirror, but then I remembered all the linen and
canvas-covered furniture I’ve been seeing lately at high end stores and
thought, why don’t I just recreate it in my own way?

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First, I ironed an old linen dish cloth perfectly flat. (It didn’t matter that the towel was stained because I was just going to paint over it anyway.) Next, I sprayed the cloth with Super 77 spray adhesive, then laid the travertine piece right over it. With a scissors, I cut out a circle, leaving about an inch and a half all around.

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Next, I folded the cloth over the edge much like a pie crust and pulled it taught.

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I put the inset back into the top, sanded, wiped clean and primed the piece with steel wool and Zinsser, then painted all of it—column, top and linen-covered inset—two coats of Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White.

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The first scenario I imagine as an everyday one in, say, the foyer area
of an apartment. I love how clean and elegant the piece looks now
that’s its complete. Simply painting an old piece of furniture like
this does wonders to update it. I chose a color that worked for my living room, but it would look just as pretty painted pale blue or a beautiful shade of yellow. It would also make a great statement painted red and placed between two very modern side chairs. Color aside, the new surface on top is totally unexpected and very now. I especially love all the nubbies and natural
imperfections in the linen; I think they give the painted finish great
texture.

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The second scenario is more of a surprise. Inside, I decided to give the piece more punch by painting it pistachio green. Then, for the propping, I pulled out all the essentials of the perfect mini-bar: a beautiful silver overlay ice bucket, an over-sized vintage bottle opener, an antique linen bar rag and, of course, plenty of liquor for my pre-party premiere of Top Design, tonight on Bravo!

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