Danish Mid-Century Coffee Table | Vintage Find & Refinishing

Another great vintage score that simply needed a little TLC.

This piece has a bit of an interesting story to tell. I was out of town for work in Greensboro, NC. Living out of an apartment downtown during my stay provided a few benefits. While not the most vibrant, there was just enough stuff to keep me busy downtown. I found my favorite coffee shop, my two favorite pizza places, my sushi place, my favorite bars, etc. They were all within walking distance and it helped smooth over the fact that I was working out of town for long periods of time. However, one of the biggest perks of staying downtown there was the abundance of vintage and antique shops for such a small downtown shopping district. I was able to walk to all of these places and back to my apartment and really enjoyed the 1 mile trip from my crash pad to the street with most of the shopping.

Several of the pieces I have featured this year came from stores in the area while I was up there for work. The Saarinen tulip table, the golden lamp, the vintage stool, the clock…these were all items acquired in Greensboro. Today’s piece was also from Greensboro. Now, if you’ll notice, the other pieces I listed were fairly small- items I was easily able to carry home for the most part, or if I really needed I could put them on hold and run to the apartment to grab my car. This coffee table was a little trickier.

The day I found this coffee table, I knew it would potentially work really, really well for the bonus room we had been mentally putting together. The wood-tone looked right, the style was right, the simplicity was right, and most importantly it was second-hand which was exactly what we were going for. It stood out to me as I was walking by the store-front:

vintage coffee table

So, I popped into the store to check the price and it was extremely affordable. It was structurally in great condition and the finish on the legs was still perfect. The top however was very worn, had ink stains, and of course some drink condensation stains. But the price was right and being real wood (my guess is maple?) it could be refinished.

vintage table top

Yikes! Looking back at this picture, I am realizing that it was even more worn than I thought. Hard to believe how it looks today, but more on that later.

Now, surely this was something I didn’t want to carry 1 mile back to my apartment, so I bought the piece and walked to the apartment so I could drive back to the store to pick up my piece. A little while later I was back. I took the piece from the store, opened my car door, and tried to get it through my door. Except it wouldn’t fit. The shape of the table and the shape of my car doors just wasn’t meshing no matter how I arranged the seats or twisted the piece. I had already bought the piece, I was a mile from my crash pad, and I had no way to get it home. I thought about calling some acquaintances in the area, or renting a van, or even stopping a stranger driving by in a truck. Finally, I decided I was carrying it one mile home to the apartment.

Being a surfboard-style table, I did the logical thing: I tucked it under my arm like a surfboard and walked home. Of course, I always have to challenge myself and make things a game. The rules of this particular game were simple: I wasn’t allowed to set the coffee table down the entire walk home. I completed the game, but not at the expense of feeling like my arms were about to fall off. Regardless, I got it back to my crash pad in one piece. Of course, I now got to walk a mile back to the store to drive my car home, but it was totally worth it.

This past week, we finally decided to refinish it. We have a Dremel multi-max tool that, while it isn’t the best, it is a decent tool for sanding smaller objects. I chose to utilize 80 grit -> 120 grit -> 240 grit -> 320 grit -> 400 grit and the sanding turned out pretty well. I probably should have spent more time with the 120, but by the time we got to the 400 I didn’t feel like stepping back up and it was good enough for what it was. It wasn’t perfect, but it was also vintage and leaving it with a few small imperfections was acceptable to us.

Once we had it sanded, we wiped it down with damp paper towels to make sure we had all the sanding dust completely off it, and then we used Watco Danish Oil (in natural/un-tinted) and an old tshirt to really soak it and spread it all over before letting it sit for 30 minutes (per the instructions) and then applying a second coat. Finally, after letting the 2nd coat soak-in, we wiped it with a dry rag to remove any of the excess residue. By the next day, it was looking pretty glorious:

refinished vintage mid century modern danish table

Looking pretty good right? Not perfect as I said, but MUCH better. The oil really brought out some great properties in the old dried-out and scratched wood top. Can’t wait to finish this room. Hopefully only another week or two before we get our reupholstered pieces back!

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2 responses to “Danish Mid-Century Coffee Table | Vintage Find & Refinishing

  1. Gorgeous find! You did a great job with it. When I lived in Boston I was just under a mile away from a few great thrift stores and often ended up awkwardly lugging larger pieces home with me, so I can relate.

    • Thanks!! Im glad you can relate. Also, I see that you are living in Raleigh now; I’m an NC State grad 🙂 i miss raleigh. Definitely a nice place to live.

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