Union Jack Coffee Table {With A Twist}

You know what’s really fun? Getting free furniture that you’re redoing for someone else. Why? Because 1) it was free, so if you jack it up you don’t have to feel bad and 2) it doesn’t need to match your house, so you get to branch out and try something new.

Here’s how this makeover went down…

Friend : “Hey, do you want a free coffee table? Here’s a pic…”

Me : “Yes. I’ll paint it and give it to Taylor (my brother-in-law) and he can put it in front of that old bare mattress he calls a couch.”

So we get it home and I add it to the pile of furniture that needs to be painted…the pile that lives on our front porch, cause we’re THOSE neighbors, the furniture hoarding garage-less ones.

It sits there for a few weeks until one Sunday when Elijah is taking a exceptionally long nap.

Adam: “Let’s go paint those tables…I want to get all that stuff off our porch.”

Me: “Okay!” (Looks like all I need to do is hoard furniture to get help painting it…good to know.)

So I take my before picture…

Then we paint the legs a stormy blue color (leftover from the kitchen cabinets) and sand the top down to bare wood. I was planning on staining the top, but as I was looking at the table I saw it…a Union Jack.

Me: “Baby, we have to paint a Union Jack on top of the table. Look, it already looks like one.”

Adam: “It does, but I JUST finished sanding it down…”

Me: “I know, sorry…the table wants what the table wants.”

Adam: “How about if we did a Union Jack in different colors of stain rather that painting it?’

I think I got a little weak in the knees…that was a GREAT idea. I started to get excited and imagined us becoming like John and Sherry…doing projects all day every day, sharing blogging responsibility…

Adam: “Well let’s do this before Elijah wakes up or else we’re screwed.”

Daydream over.

So we tape it off…

and start to stain it. We used dark walnut for the blue, red chestnut for the red, and the natural wood was the white.  (I know, it’s not the most accurate Union Jack…)

Then we start to peel off the tape. I hold my breath because my projects always go wrong before they go right, and nothing had gone wrong yet.

It was perfect, I couldn’t believe it. A couple coats of polycrylic and it was done before Elijah woke up.

Projects that go right are a beautiful thing!

One thing is for sure…it’s really going to class up Taylor’s apartment!

Looking for more furniture ideas? Check out THIS POST.
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  1. That table looks wonderful! What an genius idea to stain the union jack using the existing lines. Your BIL is going to love it! And who knows, maybe you will become John and Sherry someday. :)

  2. that is pure genius. i LOVE it!

  3. I was holding my breath for the reveal. This is beyond stunning. You two did such a great job. :)

  4. love it. my projects never go right, and yet, i continue to do them.

    here from #findingthefunny!

  5. It came out so good! I love how its stained and not painted, such a great idea

  6. What a beautiful piece. I love this Union Jack much more than the brightly painted ones I’ve seen. Good job!

  7. Holy crapola that is amazing!

  8. That turned out amazing….I love the stain idea! A “free” table that would certainly sell for big $$$ if it was in a store!

  9. Awesomesauce! Made of winning! And lots of other over-used pop-culture phrases that try to describe and praise something that is just so cool!

    Found you on finding the funny.

  10. WOW! I flippin’ love this! It is pure fantastic!!!

  11. I love this, it really did turn out great!

  12. I love it! You know that table was in my first after-college apartment, right? I showed it to Matt and he said “Wow, I remember that table. It never looked that good in your apartment.” Lol!

    • I had no idea, I just knew it came from your parents garage. Got any other old furniture you want to git rid of? I need two regular dressers, one tall dresser, two nightstands, another coffee table…

      Thank goodness yard sale season is coming up!

  13. As if you’d give it away! It’s fantastic!!!

  14. I LOVE this! It’s such a unique take on the union jack trend!

  15. That’s really great! I love that you used stain. It has such a neat look.

  16. Love it. Super cool! Thanks for sharing. Stopping in from the Link Up!

  17. What a great looking table! Found you on the Beyond the Picket Fence linky party…you and I were on the same wavelength this week, as I also did a union jack project with stain! Check it out:

    I’m a new follower! Thanks for sharing your project!

    Barbara @ Chase the Star

  18. I love that you saw the Union Jack “in” the table – that is so cool! Like a sculptor who looks at a chunk of soapstone and “sees” a bear. Totally impressive! And the finish on it all is just gorgeous.

  19. Pure genius – love the table!

  20. Gorgeous! How did you paint the pretty base without leaving brush marks? Whenever I paint furniture I have brush marks. I hate that.

    • I always leave brush marks too, plus I was using a really old rough brush this time. It the paint I used, it’s AMAZING. It goes on so crazy smooth and has great coverage and dries fast. It’s bascally what dreams are made of. For $10 I’ll tell you who makes it. No I’m kidding…it’s Duration paint by Sherwin Williams. We had origianlly bought it to paint our lower kitchen cabinets and I was so blown away that I went back and bought the same paint in white, even though we had already bought white for our top cabinets. Funny thing is, the white goes on like any other paint. I was soooo dissapointed…looks like I’m just going to have all my furniture redos be in navy blue!

  21. Dropped by from the UBP. Very nice output! I’m sure your brother-in-law liked it.

  22. I LURVE this! Oh My gosh. It’s awesome. And I started stalking uhhh following you on linky followers :)

  23. Thanks Ashley! So you are saying that you would not buy Duration paint in white? I wonder why the color would make a finish difference. Live and learn. I guess.

  24. That turned out so cool!!! I love when a project just works!! :)

  25. love your coffee table and i would love to feature it if that would be ok with you please let me know.

  26. Just pinned this! Love it.

    Please consider sharing on Thingamajig Thursday, going on now… http://radcrafter.com/2012/04/thingamajig-thursday-21/


  27. Queen Mary says:

    I love it too — it is so perfect, I am so sad Taylor has it!

  28. Oh my gosh! That turned out awesome.

  29. Totally awesome! Taylor will have to get a nicer bed/couch now :)

  30. LOVE your union jack coffee table!!!!! The stain colours make it nice and subtle!!!

  31. Beautiful!!!

  32. Very nice! I like the look of the stain…I wouldn’t have thought to use stain. So glad you shared this!

  33. This came out really pretty. Great job I love it.


    Genius. Pure brilliance. And it’s FREAKIN’ GORGEOUS!! Taylor is luck that I don’t know where he lives, otherwise he’d wake up in the morning with a jimmied lock and a missing coffee table. ^_- Thank you so much for sharing – I will totally be doing this as soon as I find an early 90’s-ish table with a built in Union Jack design.

    ~Nicole @ http://www.shabbybeachnest.com

  35. that is freaking fantastic!!! LOVE!

  36. Wow that looks awesome! Great idea. :)

  37. So you know I love this! The varied shades of stain look awesome! At least Taylor will have one really nice thing it his space! Haha! Featured you today!


  38. Anonymous says:

    Wow!!! That looks fanTAStic! And you’re right, that’s totally what the table was asking for! What a gorgeous finished project! Would you consider sharing here?


  39. i love the union jack as i am british. your coffee table looks really great i would ,ove for you to come and link it up over at http://www.twiggstudios.com/2012/04/sunday-show-off-linky-party_21.html

    thankyou so much xxxx

  40. i love the union jack as i am british. your coffee table looks really great i would ,love for you to come and link it up over at http://www.twiggstudios.com/2012/04/sunday-show-off-linky-party_21.html

    thankyou so much xxxx

    • I know I’m 4 years late, lol, but shame on you aimee…….especially as you’re British I’m dismayed that 1; it’s called the Union FLAG, it’s only called the Union Jack when it’s flown aboard a ship & 2; it’s not a true Union Flag either :-(

      It’s a fantastic looking table, don’t misunderstand me, I think it’s really beautifully finished, but the Union Flag is a combination of the English, Scottish & Welsh flags, one laid on top of the other & the crosses aren’t symmetrically placed, in fact to my disgust many British people don’t even know that there is a right way & wrong way up. :-) To be correct the wide white stripe should be diagonal from the bottom left up to the top right corner and IF it is flown upside down it is the sign of a surrender :-)

      Before I get jumped on from a great height for being a pedantic picky Limey, I’m sure any American would be quick to point out if anyone depicted a U.S.A. flag with the incorrect number of stars or stripes :-)

      Finally Ashley, I think you’re absolutely brilliant & an inspiration, I’m saving the pennies for my counter tops :-)

  41. This is gorgeous! I love it, I just linked over from Craptastic, your blog is so cute, I’m excited to look through and see your other projects.

  42. Oh my goodness! I love this so much, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!

  43. What a fabulous redo! I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! Go to my blog to check out the details:)

    Rachel (absolutelylovingmylife.blogspot.com)

  44. This is super duper :) love it I liked you on Facebook!


  46. Hi Ashley: I’m Connie at http://hotflashncraftn.blogspot.com/, your new LF friend. I would love it if you stop by and be my friend, too.
    Love the table. You do nice work. Thanks for sharing your techniques.

  47. Loving it, Ashley!! Another FABULOUS project…you are so talented, girl! I soooo wish I could come down there and buy that farmhouse table from you. If you still have it come June, let me know…I’d have time for a road trip then (and time to convince the hubs that I need another table)! Your Union Jack has the Downton Abbey fan in me swooning…I’m featuring it on my FB page: http://www.facebook.com/ishouldbemoppingthefloor. Thanks bunched for linking up at Mop It Up Monday!!

  48. What a great transformation. I would love if you linked up to my link party “Show Off Mondays @ Kampen Lane Design”. Cant wait to see what you create next.



  49. OMG! This is AMAZING!

  50. Gosh, this looks so amazing!! Yay for projects that go well from start to finish :)

  51. Wow! This looks fantastic! A great twist on the union jack.

  52. Looks great.

  53. Wow, this is seriously amazing!!

  54. I was holding my breath right along with you as you took the tape off! What a fabulous transformation! Thanks so much for linking up at Reasons To Skip The Housework!

    Tuesday Time Out Linky Party


    Reasons To Skip The Housework {The Blog}
    Tinker B Boutique {The Shop}

  55. This is totally awesome, you are going to be a feature this week for our Pin’inspiration Party!

  56. Wow! That is really amazing! I think it is so pretty. It’s awesome how you can just all of a sudden come up with that idea and make it work. I love that the table wants what the table wants. Ha!

    (Thanks for linking this up over at #findingthefunny last week!)
    Kelley recently posted..Finding the Funny: Who’s coming with me to Nashville to sing El Virus?My Profile

  57. That turned out so amazing! Love that you used the pattern already in the wood but gave it a unique spin with the Union Jack. Pinned!

    Visiting from Domestically Speaking – Rhonda @ home.made.
    Rhonda recently posted..Vintage Vanity and Dresser TransformationMy Profile

  58. Oh my how I love this! I still can’t get enough of the Union Jack on furniture, but with stain!! Oh my, I must try this out. Your husband wanted to do this with you? Hang onto that man! I am featuring tomorrow at my party, will start at 2:00 PST. thank you so much for sharing! -K
    Karen recently posted..Bloguer d’ Invite, Jesse from 9 Red!My Profile

  59. This is one of my favorite projects ever! Seriously, it is beautiful!
    Megan recently posted..My PantryMy Profile

  60. Love the union jack! I saw it in the before picture too :) And the tri-color stain is brilliant!!!

  61. It’s darling- I love it!! I have a very similar table waiting for a new look too… you got me thinking! Thanks for sharing at Feathered Nest Friday!

  62. Oh my word, it’s amazing! What a brilliant idea you had to see the UJ and your hubby for the stain suggestion!!

    Thanks for sharing at Simply Klassic!

  63. Thanks for linking up, and… you’ve been featured!


  64. Truly beautiful. I’ve wanted to try something like this for quite some time. It looks like a beautiful wood inlay created by a skilled craftsman! And you make it look pretty easy! Featured on A2D today. Thanks for sharing! –Kristi
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating recently posted..DIY Convex MirrorMy Profile

  65. Amazingly beautiful. Really cool that you used the pattern on the top of the table. Most of the time when I come up with an idea, it doesn’t work, so glad it did for you. You now have a class act coffee table. Thanks for sharing you creative inspiration at Sunday’s Best Par.tay!

  66. oh awesome! I’ve been staring at a piece of furniture, wanting to stain the pieces diff colors but scared they will leak! This looks terrific!

  67. Hi Ashley, This is my favorite kind of project. I love upcycling & I love people who see beauty in an object that was destined for the garbage. You did an excellent job! Thank you so much for linking up on Fabulous Friday at Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust.

    Warmly, Michelle

  68. Wow. What an incredible project!! :) I love this piece. Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy!
    Alison recently posted..Mother’s Day Card {Using Silhouette Sketch Pens}My Profile

  69. Beautiful! I love that you decided to stain the top instead of paint it. Thanks for linking up.
    Tisha @ Delectable Home recently posted..bye, bye bronze {& making practical pretty ~ kitchen edition}My Profile

  70. I absolutely love this table, but had a question.. how did you keep those lines so crisp? Didn’t you get any bleed under the frog tape? My hubby has been wanting to do a two tone stain before but I was always afraid of bleed through, which doesn’t really happen w/ the frog tape and paint, but I’ve been terrified to mess up a piece I’ve worked so hard on with stain.. let me know if you did anything else, like wood conditioner or a clear paint or something. Did you use oil based stain or water? Thanks for the info!! And I LOVE IT!

    • The pictures make the table look totally perfect, but we did get a tiny bit of bleed. Just a tiny bit, and it could have been avoided if we didn’t do it in a super hurry. We didn’t do anything extra and used regular Minwax oil based stain…just push down the edges of the tape really really well and when you stain don’t wipe it torward the tape. That’s it! Good luck and THANK YOU!

  71. This is AMAZING! I have done a two-color staining project before, but there were grooves to “divide” the stains. I wouldn’t have guessed that painter’s tape would give such great results with stain as well as paint! Love, love, love it!
    [email protected] recently posted..A Beautiful Place v. 2.0My Profile

  72. I love free! This table looks fabulous!

    Have a great day,
    Elizabeth recently posted..Monday Musings, Blogger FrustrationMy Profile

  73. This is a fabulous table. I love the style and the workmanship is truly beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful piece with us!

    Take care,


  74. WOW, fantastic job!!

  75. Liisa Sanchez says:

    I’m in lurve………maybe it’s just speaking to me cos I’m a British lass, but this is the best Union Jack I’ve seen!! Love the stain idea :)

  76. This is the coolest table. I will be featuring it tonight at my Swing into Spring party that opens at 8pm EST. Please stop by and pick up an I’ve Been Featured button. Thanks so much.
    Judy recently posted..The Best Home Goods EverMy Profile

  77. Such a fun idea!! Perfect wood pattern for your inspiration. VERY clever. :)

  78. I loved your table so much that I searched for a few others as well and got inspired to make my own! Thanks for the great idea!

  79. This table looks fab!!! I love what you did with the stain and the shade of blue you used on the base and legs is beautiful. Another very inspiring project.

  80. I loved your project the first time I saw it, and then we ended up with a table that had a Union Jack pattern on it too (we bought the table only because we wanted the chairs that went with it for another project). So we decided to try your technique–we even printed out the picture of your taping pattern. It came out gorgeous–check it out on my blog: http://talesfromasearshouse.blogspot.com/

    Thank you for the inspiration–I credited you and linked to your blog from mine.
    Diane recently posted..Breaking Up Isn’t Hard to DoMy Profile

  81. Trish Ford says:

    WOW – I love your (Taylor’s) coffee table and you’re right – the way the wood was going – it was wanting to be a Union Jack coffee table. I like the way your write too – you sure did make me laugh reading your blog. Great job on the coffee table. Kudos!

  82. I’m SOOO glad I ran across this article! I have a dining table with a similar top and have been wanting to sand and refinish it, but I wasn’t sure it would take the sanding. Any particular advice on sanding when the grain is running in so many different directions? Do you have to be really careful?

  83. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the structure to your weblog. Is this a paid subject or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is uncommon to peer a great weblog like this one today..
    Leonie recently posted..LeonieMy Profile

  84. Realy very nice, turned out great!
    By the by, its a FLAG, a JACK is a flag that is on a boat. :D
    Union Flag !
    keep up the good work.

  85. now THAT is awesome! i think (ok fine i KNOW) i would have kept it for myself. it’s awesome and i luv the twist on the union jack colors!
    michelle recently posted..Things falling into place is mucho better than things falling apart..My Profile

  86. AMAZING! Forget Taylor! That table wouldn’t have left my house!!

  87. I’m using this general idea on a wood coffee table I found for $3.
    And just to add to the union jack/union flag debate the flag institute says:

    It is often stated that the Union Flag should only be described as the Union Jack when flown in the bows of a warship, but this is a relatively recent idea. From early in its life the Admiralty itself frequently referred to the flag as the Union Jack, whatever its use, and in 1902 an Admiralty Circular announced that Their Lordships had decided that either name could be used officially. Such use was given Parliamentary approval in 1908 when it was stated that “the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag”.

  88. I stumbled upon your blog a few days ago via Pinterest and have been enjoying reading about your various projects. When I first started reading about this one, I was immediately interested as we just picked up a table this past weekend with the same pattern on the top. You can guess what I want to do with ours now!! I love this idea, and using stain is such a beautiful yet subtle way to accent the table. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • You’re welcome :) This is still one of my favorite projects, mainly because not only did it turn out fantastic but it was also super easy. One naptime…it doesn’t get better than that! Good luck with yours!

  89. I would pay money for this. I mean it! If you ever want to sell it, seriously get in touch with me cause Id ship it clear to the UK. Great job.

  90. Hi. This is a fantastic tutorial. After reading it, I went on a mission to find a similar table.
    Craigslist=jackpot! $15 (and it came with a leaf!).
    I was so proud of myself for negotiating and bringing it home by myself.
    I showed my husband, and he simply said “it’s Formica. You can’t stay that.”
    My heart sank.
    There has to be a way to stain the table still…right? I adore yours. I don’t want it to sit in the basement. Any help would be appreciated.
    Merry Christmas!!

    • I hate to be the bearer of bad news (especially after you got such a great deal on the perfect table) but I’m going to have to agree with your husband. I don’t think you’d have any luck trying to stain formica because it’s basically plastic. You could rip the top layer of formica up (it should just be a really thin sheet) and add a wood veneer over the particleboard that’s underneath. That way you would have a wood top you can stain, and it shouldn’t be to difficult. I’ve never done it myself, but you basically just glue the veneer onto the top of the table. http://www.wikihow.com/Apply-Wood-Veneer I hope that helps…I’ve bought a few pieces of furniture I thought were wood only to find out they’re laminate. Sometimes that stuff looks just like the real thing.

  91. I love this! I’ve been wanting to refinish my Pottery Barn knock-off coffee table for a couple of years now, but haven’t figured out what I wanted the top to look like-until today :)


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