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a grain bin turned coffee table


When I shared the industrial-style coffee table a few months ago, some of you called it.  It just didn’t work with my style.  While I like the table a lot and it was very functional, it was too large for the space and the longer I lived with it, the more it felt off with everything else in the room.  Great piece, wrong space.

Since I realized that, I’ve been looking around at antique stores and craigslist for something to replace it, but pieces were either the wrong size, wrong style, etc.

I finally came across an old grain bin on craigslist.  It was a little longer than what I was looking for, but otherwise the dimensions were perfect.  It wasn’t blue, either, but it was really old, had a lot of character, and, at $105, the price was right.

After thinking if over for a few days (and seeing that the listing was still active), I asked my dad if he could pick it up for me.  He acquired it from an elderly man who has dismantled dozens of barns in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and this was a grain bin out of one of those barns.  I was so excited about the old wood and the story of the piece and I eagerly slid it out of the truck to see how it fit in the family room.


Within two minutes, Jeff said, “So, we’re going to have a coffin for a coffee table, now?”

And then he dubbed it, “the coffin-table”.

Oh man!  It does look like a coffin!!

Well, maybe not exactly like one, but it had a coffin-ish look to it.  I lived with it for a day or two and knew that it had to be painted.  Not only did the raw pine reinforce the coffin-ness, but the wood was very rough and it was just a splinter waiting to happen.

Jeff can be so irrational when it comes to his insistence that my pretty things don’t inflict bodily harm.  Men!

In painting it, though, I wanted to retain everything that makes this piece charming – the texture of the grain, the handmade dovetail joints, the dents and dings.


Fortunately, I know just the paint that is perfect for raw wood and for looking authentically old.  Insert wink and nudge.

  I mixed up a custom color of French Enamel, Shutter Gray, and Schloss in the MMS Milk Paint line.  I couldn’t tell you the exact ratio, because I just added a bit here and there until I mixed a color I thought would suit the piece and compliment the rug in the room.  While I was working on other things, Kriste applied a wash of the paint.  I didn’t want a full, opaque coat…more like a stain.


Sebastian tried to help, but didn’t understand the concept.

After one coat, we took it outside and I heavily sanded the entire piece with 120 grit paper and an orbital sander.  I sanded aggressively in order to smooth out the roughness and to wear away a lot of the paint.  And I finished it with a coat of Hemp Oil to bring out the color and hydrate the exposed wood.


And it’s perfect.  It looks like it was always painted.



Now it is safe to use in our family room (thanks to the sanding) and it doesn’t look like a coffin, which is always a plus in my book.

I took lots of pictures of it in the family room, so you can see how it suits everything else that’s happening in the space…

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While it’s a little longer than I wanted, I like that it’s the full length of the sofa, so we can all put our feet up.


And there is our family room Christmas tree!  After the disappointment of last year’s tree (it was the wonkiest tree ever), I took my time picking one this year and it gorgeous.  It’s fluffy and full and tall and fills the room perfectly.  I put lights on it, strung the garland, and hung a few ornaments, but we still need to finish decorating it.  (Hopefully that will happen this weekend!)

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Aren’t the roses beautiful?  One of my sponsors, QuickStep Flooring, sent them to me!  And they were ordered from another sponsor, The Bouqs.  And the pitcher, a French ironstone pitcher, was a gift from one of my very sweet readers.


That’s just a whole bunch of warm and fuzzies right there.

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  1. marylisa noyes says:

    I love the nails in this piece. Very rustic and the paint color looks great.

  2. Debbie says:

    Love the color. The room looks gorgeous!

  3. Gavin From across the pond says:

    This is the only piece you’ve EVER done that I don’t like 😮
    maybe if it was against the wall or the bottom of a bed I’d like it but in the middle of the room it reminds me of a child’s coffin.

    • Why comment with that? If you don’t like it then don’t comment, especially regarding a piece a person has chosen for their personal home.

    • marian says:

      Well, that’s okay. :) The scale might be hard to see in the picture, but it really doesn’t look at all like a child’s coffin. I could fit in it! Trust me, as a mom of two young boys, I wouldn’t want anything in my house that looked like it could be their coffin.

  4. It’s beautiful and I love your tree! I do have a question for you because my husband has the same issue…making sure nothing I put in the house could inflict bodily harm…sheesh 😉! I have a few things that could cause lots of splinters buuuut I love the color of them. How can I preserve the color and smooth the wood at the same time? Is it possible?

    • marian says:

      I know! They are so high maintenance. :) Yes, there are things you can do. First of all, you can gently sand with a very fine sand paper, like 220-320 grit. This won’t wear away the paint, but will knock down any rough edges. You can also oil or seal the piece. Sometimes those feathery splinters off of wood can be helped a lot by being hydrated (sort of like frizzy hair). It won’t get rid of them altogether, but it’ll help them lay flatter. Applying a non-yellowing matte poly is also a good option. It’ll seal the piece, but retain the color and patina. With any finish, though, test it out in a small, inconspicuous area to make sure you like the look. Every piece is a little different.

      • Evania O says:

        Thanks so much for your suggestions! I will test these out and see how they work out! I hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

  5. Anna Price says:

    That looks beautiful Marion. You and Kristie finished it perfectly!

  6. Becky says:

    I love old boxes to use for coffee tables. Our home has an old wood trunk for a coffee table and it is great storage, too.

    Yours is the perfect scale for the room. And I don’t think it looks like a coffin at all. Love your entire room!

  7. It’s fabulous!

  8. Patricia says:

    Love this as a coffee table. I think it’s great to have something that you just can’t damage or ding. Put your feet up, bang it. and it only looks better. Love the blue color you ended up with. And you can store stuff inside.

  9. Melody Gentry says:

    I think it is simply divine!!! Congratulations!!! The color, the size, the height! Way to go, dad, and you girls for painting it up!

  10. Mary T says:

    Gorgeous!! I love your room & ALL the work you do!!!

  11. Amber says:

    Beautifully finished!

  12. This is my favorite set up you have had so far in this room. The coffee table is so happy but also calming. Also loving the checker pattern pillows on couch and the all white plates on the wall. Very pretty room!

  13. Antiquechase says:

    The finish is lovely as is the color!

  14. Laurie E says:

    I LOVE the coffee table The blue color with the warm brown ties in the rug & the tv stand! Where did you get your rug? It’s beautiful!

  15. First of all, I’m surprised that some people criticized your industrial table. I just thought that you were up scaling to a newer look. Because it had wheels, it was also practical because you could move it around so the boys could spread out and play. Now who’s to say that you couldn’t ” mustardize” a new table? Call me superstitious, but even though it was made in joking, the negative comments made would make me reconsider the newest choice, and you may realize that the new table takes up too much weight in the room and feels like a block in your path, not to mention difficult to move. You being an intuitive designer will know what “feels” best for you and your family. Btw, I love those old dovetail joints and the way you brought out the texture in the wood.

  16. Love the washed, painted look of the new table! Milk paint is awesome like that :) And the color works well on your room. We have a similar chest as a coffee table and it works great to store blankets, etc. We added wheels so we can move it easily.

  17. Alicia Damron says:

    I love seeing Sebastian in your photos! He looks like a full fledged family member and it makes me happy to see a dog have such a good home!

  18. Oh my gosh, it’s perfect for the space. I actually love how long it is. So funny that your husband labeled it coffinesk . I wouldn’t have thought about that until he said it. I think the blue totally takes that look away, and the color is scrumptious with all the other natural colors in the room.

  19. Oh My Marian, that is just gorgeous, it is perfect in the space, and I love the color you mixed up! We painted a small block of wood during the class and it is currently adorning a tiny ledge in the bathroom I just renovated and says brusha brusha, it looks so cute! I attended your class at haven in August, and we talked briefly afterwards. You told me that you felt like you had met me before or I looked familiar. Have a very Merry Christmas!

  20. Lorie says:

    I love the pop of color the new piece brings in to the room. Your home is warm and inviting!

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