Decor Update – Faux Painted Marble Table

A few months ago I bought a new coffee table for the living room. I decided to get a new one when I rearranged the furniture and I realized that the herringbone coffee table made of edge grain plywood I had made was way too thin with the furniture arranged in the new way. (However, he will appear in another place.)

So, having probably seen hundreds of coffee tables, I returned to this mid-century modern coffee table with a tinted wooden base and a white tray.

The choice was unusual for me, because I usually do not like mid-century modernity, and yet it is the one to which I returned again and again. I found it in several online stores, but in the end I bought it on Amazon, which had the lowest price and free shipping.

The table always had high ratings with laudatory reviews, except for one thing. Almost all the reviews mentioned that the tabletop was not white. It has been described as ranging from cream to a yellowish color. This made me hesitate and look further.

Somewhere along the way I decided that I would love a table with a stone top (preferably marble). I came across this very similar table with a marble top from West Elm and almost bought it. I had entered all my payment information and was ready to click the last button to make my purchase and I just couldn’t do it. I finally decided to change my mind way too easily and often to pay so much for a coffee table. And it was only 20 inches wide, anyway. I really wanted something at least 24 inches wide.

So I went there with the first coffee table. And, of course, the top was certainly not white. I think it started in white, but the transparent layer they used for the top was certainly not yellowish as well. It looked like an oil-based polyurethane that had turned a little yellow over time.

I had already decided that if the finish was too yellow, I would paint it. That’s exactly what I did. About three weeks ago, I sanded the top down, primed it with a Rust oleum aerosol primer, and then sprayed it with Rust oleum Touch spray paint in white. I’ve been living with it for more than two weeks to see if I liked him, and eventually I decided he was just too white.

So yesterday I decided to make a faux marble finish on top. I did not want a studded marble with many veins. I just wanted something subtle that would give the look of marble while toning this blatant white tabletop. Here’s how it happened…

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I used two-color paints-BEHR Polar Bear (white) and BEHR Intellectual (gray) mixed about two parts of paint to one part Floetrol, then added with a little water. I also used a sponge soaked in water. I didn’t find a large sea sponge, so I used a yellow sponge from Home Depot (which can be found in the tile area) and squeezed some pieces together and cut them off to give it a more natural look like a sea sponge. And then I had a selection of brushes at hand. I didn’t use any of the artist brushes in the plastic packaging, after all, but I used everything else — a 1-inch guillotine brush, a 1.5-inch guillotine brush, a very large and soft watercolor brush (which looks like a makeup brush), a wide, wide stain brush, and two small round art brushes.

I also used a spray bottle with water and I had paper towels on hand. With all my supplies together, I was ready to start.

Step 1: Create a soft gray and white background.

With the damp sponge I dabbed white paint on the surface of the table.

And then I dabbed some of the gray color into the damp white color.

And then with the big stain brush…

I jumped and buffered and brushed and swirled until both colors were mixed enough to create a soft background with a color variation.

Step 2: Create large gray veins.

Then, using the 1-inch guillotine brush, I created very large gray veins. The key when creating veins with a brush is to be messy. You don’t want to brush them, but fill the brush and drag, slide and roll the brush as you move across the surface.

Once I had the veins in place, I used the large stain brush to soften those veins a little.

I also used the large soft watercolor brush to soften the look.

So it looked with these veins softened with these two brushes.

and then I began to jump and swirl with the large stain brush until these dark veins were sufficiently buried for my taste.

Here you can see the difference between the vein buried on the ground and the rest of the gray veins that had not yet been softened and buried with white paint.

I continued to do this until these large dark veins were buried and softened and they looked the way I wanted them to look.

Here you can see the difference with half of the finished table again. The veins in the foreground of this picture were exactly as I wanted them, but the veins on the other side of the table had not yet been softened by white.

Step 3: Add the small dark veins.

The final step to marbling was to use a small round artificial brush for smaller, darker veins. Again, the goal is to be messy and imperfect. To maintain this appearance, I loaded the brush with gray paint, and then pulled it over the surface while pressing, pulling and rolling the brush.

The lower half of this thin vein is how it looked right after painting…

And then I used a spray bottle filled with water to gently spray on this vein.

The water alone did a lot to soften and break those lines (because you don’t want perfect lines), but there were areas where I threw myself a little bit with the 1-inch brush (which I cleaned thoroughly) to break the paint a little more to give it a more natural look.

And, of course, you can make as many or as few veins as you like. I decided to keep it light on the vein, so I stopped when it looked like this…

Step 4: Coat the top.

Once everything was dry, I sanded the top very lightly with 22o sandpaper just to make sure there were no color combs anywhere. After wiping off all the dust, I used my preferred transparent top coat-General high performance finish top coat in a flat finish.

I rolled the top coat with a 6-inch roll and a 1/4-inch nap roll lid labeled for smooth surfaces. I made two layers, lightly sanded with 220-grain sandpaper between the layers.

And here is the finished table!

One thing I learned by looking at marble images online is that you can’t really spoil the marble. There are so many variations out there! I came across several photos that I thought were not real marble because they didn’t look like real marble to me. But it was you! I didn’t come back. Some of them didn’t look like real marble to me. All this to say that it is quite difficult to spoil and do something that does not look like real marble.

The challenge is to make it look like a real marble that I really like because I can be a little picky. 🙂 Luckily I managed to get a look I like. But of course the sky is the limit. You can change as much or as little background color as you like, as much or as little “buried” of the big veins as you like, and as many or as few small veins as you like. I mean, if something like this is more to your liking, you can really go crazy with it.

But I personally like the subtlest marbles, so this one is perfect. And he really dampened that glaring white that he was.

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