Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

October 14, 2016

Mid-Century Tulip Table Makeover

vintage tulip table makeover

This vintage tulip table makeover has taken me since 2010 to accomplish.  That's when I scored a tulip table base at a yard sale for $5.00.  I know that at least a few of my wonderful readers have been with me since the beginning - did you ever think I'd finally get around to giving this tulip table a makeover?  No, me neither... 

I really love tulip tables, but in the townhouse we already had a really gorgeous mid-century teak table in the kitchen and another one in the dining room.  My Mom ended up stealing the base from me, but because the apple didn't fall far from the tree, she didn't do anything with it for many years either.

tulip table base

Poor little unloved table.

In the process of tackling her budget-friendly kitchen makeover, Mom jettisoned the table that was in there.  My parents live in a small, post-war home with no dining room and a small eat in kitchen, which drove my Mom nuts because when there were people sitting at the rather large, square table, she couldn't open the stove, the fridge, or even leave the kitchen very easily.  Finally following my advice, she moved the dining room table to the living room.  Eventually a bedroom on the main floor (which is currently occupied) will become the official dining room - we already bought an insanely gorgeous brushed gold light fixture in preparation.  Even though Mom wanted the kitchen 100% table-free, I thought that a smaller table and smaller scale chairs would afford us a nice spot to have a cup of tea when I visit, without using as much floor space and disrupting the flow, so I rooted around in her garage until I found the old tulip table base and forcibly made her use it in the kitchen.

First I gave it a new look - and found a new top!

Painting the Tulip Table Base:

To revive the metal base (the existing white finish was scratched and chipped and just really worn), I scrubbed it clean, gave it a light sand, removed any dust with a tack cloth and then applied many light coats of Rust-Oleum's Universal Metallic in Pure Gold - the same paint I used for the typewriter table makeover awhile back.  (This table is most definitely a knock-off tulip table - vintage, but still not a real Saarinen - so I didn't feel guilty about re-painting it.)

mid-century tulip table makeover
diy tulip table top

I LOVE the tulip base now because Mom's kitchen cabinet hardware is brushed gold (thanks to our little DIY) and so are the hairpin legs on the new pink dog bowl stand we made.  More importantly, Mom's thrilled - the chipped old base made her sad. 

Finding a Replacement Tulip Table Top:

Finding a replacement tulip table top was trickier.  We could have made something from scratch (walnut!) but Mom's not 100% committed to the table being there so, instead of spending the time and money, I just ordered a cheap pine table top online.  I didn't love the profile, though:

pine table top
route table edge

I wanted the profile to look more like this.  Not to worry!  When Hubs and I went to my father-in-law's for some wood chopping, I lugged along the table top and my father-in-law routed the edge with a 45-degree chamfer router bit.

routing a table edge

It was a bit tricky to do, because my father-in-law said it's easier to just cut the edge with that angle in the first place, as opposed to shaving off a small amount after the fact, but he managed to change the profile:

how to make a tulip table top

Looking for an Inexpensive Tulip Table Replacement Top?

This kind of round top can be bought in a lot of home improvement stores for really cheap and you could just use it as-is.  But if you want to change the profile, this doesn't take very long so a woodworker in your area might do it for a small fee.  As well, if the local high school or college has a woodworking class, a Starbucks gift card might be all you need to get an edge routed.  You might also want to check out some shops on Etsy that make and sell this kind of wood top and see if they can route the edge during manufacturing.  There are other options as well: this table top on Amazon is more money, but it already has a more delicate profile.  This solid reclaimed wood top is kind of neat too.  If you're not a mid-century purist, it's fairly easy to track down an affordable solution.  

Painting the Tulip Table Top:

With the edge routed, I gave the table top a light sand before applying light coats of Rust-Oleum Gloss White spray paint.  My Mom loathes pine (and it doesn't take stain well anyway) so I opted for paint instead of stain.  I also wanted to add some lightness into the kitchen because although we kept the counters white, the white cabinets were painted light grey and her once white vinyl floor was replaced with a darker, busier patterned floor - which you can spy in these photos.  A white table top was was a welcome addition.

To pair with the table, I loaned her (who am I kidding?  I'm never getting those back) my teak dining chairs from the townhouse kitchenRemember how I lovingly upholstered them in black and white houndstooth?  I laughed at the person who would have to remove all 1,000,001 staples.  That person was me.  But it was worth it because the new fabric - a gorgeous, luminous gold tweed ($5.00 on clearance from Fabricland - this is similar) is the perfect fit for Mom's style because she has pops of this hue elsewhere in the house, so the whole place is starting to look really pulled together. 

tulip table top makeover
tulip table makeover
tulip table makeover

And so, after a little budget-friendly makeover, here is what that poor little abandoned tulip table looks like now:

tulip table makeover

Such a change!

tulip table base

My Mom's kitchen is DONE - did I mention that?!?  I'm so excited to share the reveal because it looks so refreshed, with a cute vintage appeal, for so little money.  We chose everything together and you'll be amazed to learn there is not. one. stitch of turquoise.  Yep, I can do that!

I just need to photograph the finished room and then I'll break it down into posts focusing on a few of the bigger projects (like refinishing the cabinets and repairing/painting the counters) - but expect a FULL TOUR with before and after photos very soon!
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20 comments

  1. Wow! I love that you figured out an inexpensive table top solution. I have a MCM coffee with a top that I hate, so this is definitely on my to-do list. By the way, I love your mom's floors. :)

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    1. Thanks Emy! I hope you're able to find something perfect for your coffee table. We just put down those floors - they're peel and stick! She wants darker floors when she renovates for real, so this is a great way to test it out because she's only ever had white.

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  2. Niiice! Can't wait to see the full kitchen. Those chairs are really droolworthy in houndstooth or rust!

    [Aside]: Love how Canadian switchboards always look surprised :O hahha

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    1. Thanks!! I do miss the houndstooth, but that tweed is just so perfect in the space. It was a lucky fabric store find!

      LOL - yes, they do look surprised.

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  3. Routing the edge of the table made a huge difference, that was genius.

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    1. Thanks! I wish I'd thought to ask if they could route it like that in manufacturing but I didn't realize that it's trickier once it's already cut. But live and learn! I'm experimenting over at my Mom's place, haha.

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  4. the table is gorgeous--- but I couldn't stop looking at the kitchen tile! I loveeeee it! :)

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    1. Thanks! It's a cheap peel and stick! We had some trouble getting it to stay stuck (argh) but we both loved the design - it pulled together all of the colors we had chosen.

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  5. What a really lovely job you did! The chairs are the perfect finishing touch, looking forward to seeing the whole room.

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    1. Thanks Patricia! I just need a sunny day to photograph the space - it's been so overcast and dreary here, blah...

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  6. Love it so much!!! I love tulip tables too and I like the Liberty you took by spraying it gold. I got my hands on a metal tulip base (also a knockoff) for $10 at a flea market earlier in the year. Mine came with an unfortunate looking rectangular top and is a small one, side table sized. While researching what size top the Saarinen side table has, I found them in black. I'd seen marble-topped tulip tables but not black. I'm really leaning to black.
    I didn't even think about looking for a table top online, so thanks for that..... And the inspiration. I have been sitting on this while waiting to decide but I want it finished now that I see your mom's lovely table. I need to decide where it will go first- so much furniture, so little space.
    What a cute little remodel with the chairs. Looking forward to the kitchen tour.

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    1. I'm so happy you like it. And so excited for you that you scored an inexpensive tulip table too - yay! I like the smaller side table tulips, but I know the furniture struggle. This is how Mom and I keep passing things back and forth, haha. When I went looking for tops, I saw black too and I agree with you that it looks so good. I love the marble tops too, and I've seen some brass/walnut ones (not sure if they're knock offs or repros). Hard to believe there are so many folks getting rid of these!

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  7. Love that you could do this for your mom. And especially that you did it together. Your mom must feel a kind of "refreshed" herself when you enters the new kitchen. Bound to make the winter a bit brighter and warmer feeling. Well done! And you haven't even shared the reveal yet!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, she does feel a lot better and it's kick started some great changes in other rooms too - it's motivated her, which I love seeing. I'm happy I could help her :) Hopefully this spruce makes winter easier. We all definitely log more hours indoors around here.

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  8. I really enjoyed seeing your father-in-law's wood shop. It looks like he has two of everything in there, all very organized!

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    1. Yes, his shop is amazing! He used to work out of the lower level of his house, where he had a much more compact shop, but he was able to build this separate shop awhile back. I love hanging out there!

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