Upcycled Coffee Table – With a Modern Update

Image of tiles covered with fabric for upcycled coffee table project
fabric covered tiles for a multitude of projects

Today I’m going to show you how to take a typical coffee table and upcycle it with a modern look.  As with all my projects, this one aims to use basic skills and effort to achieve a fabulous result.  The wonderful twist here is that I’m going to cover some tiles with fabric for added interest.

As someone who likes to live sustainably and not create waste upcycling furniture is a great way to explore my creativity whilst minimising my contribution to landfill.  I’ve been using these box stools from an old dining table setting for some time now.  They are dark and boring and overdue for a facelift.  Some of the tiles for this project are even second hand, picked up from the iconic Reverse Garbage in Sydney’s Marrickville.

Image of two dark timber box stools for coffee tables in lounge room for upcycled project
two mini coffee tables for upcycled project

The great thing about this project is that any straight angled coffee table is suitable for this project.  If you are yet to purchase a coffee table, go no further than your local charity shop for a next to nothing base.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

My splurge came from my finally investing in some Annie Sloan chalk paint and a couple of her trademark brushes.  I am keen to take on several projects, as well as a couple for friends who have asked me to overhaul some of their old furniture pieces.  I bought mine at Tara Dennis Store in Wahroonga.  There are quite a few locations for Annie Sloan chalk paint in Sydney.  Not only is Wahroonga one of my closest, it was also a nice excuse to pay Tara a visit.  Find your local stockist here.

Of course, you can use any type of paint or stain you’d like.  My aim for my lounge room space is lighten and brighten.  The beauty of chalk paint is that it is very forgiving and the prep is mostly nothing.  Typically, you don’t need to prime furniture pieces.  If you have a high gloss surface, a light sand is all that’s needed.  For stains, a quick coat of stain blocker will set you right.

Image of a light karkey fabric with a deliate arrangement of various feathers and sand coloured tiles for covering tiles
fabric for covering tiles
Image of preparing tiles with glue and a brush to apply fabric
covering tiles with fabric

Materials for Upcycled Coffee Table

  • coffee table
  • chalk paint + wax
  • tiles
  • fabric
  • modge podge
  • brushes
  • tile adhesive + grout


Measure your upcycled coffee table and take with you to work out how many tiles you will need.  For ease, purchase a good amount of plain square tiles (they cost around 50c each from hardware stores) and then consider buying a couple of sheets of two sizes of tiles in a combination to suit your colour scheme.  They look like this:

Image of a sheet of small grey tiles
grey small tile sheet

Step 1 – Paint your coffee table base

This one’s a no brainer.  Simply follow the steps on your chosen paint.  For mine, I am using Annie Sloan’s “French Linen” chalk paint.

Step 2 – Tiles for Your Coffee Table

  • To prepare your tiles, take the larger ones and your chosen fabric and cut slightly oversized squares
  • Taking your modge podge, apply one coat to the actual tile, place fabric on tile and apply a coat on top
  • Apply a further coat of modge podge once dry
  • Using your scissors, carefully trim the edges of the tiles
  • Determine your pattern and using the tile adhesive, apply to your coffee table
  • Next up, grout!
  • Clean up your excess grout
  • Apply a further two coats of modge podge to the fabric tiles
  • Look at you!  You’ve got an upcycled coffee table!
Image of the two completed upcycled coffee tables in Rebecca's living room
completed upcycled coffee tables in my living room
Imageof a closer look at a completed upcycled coffee table in Rebecca's living room
a closer look at the finished product


When using modge podge, always apply a coat to the base of your project before applying your paper or fabric covering to ensure adhesion and no bubbles.

Image of applying final coat of modge podge on fabric tiles
final coat of modge podge on fabric tiles
Image of tiles arranged and grouted on the coffee table top
tiles on coffee table and grouted
Image of removing excess grout from tiles of coffee table
removing excess grout from coffee table


If using a light fabric, you will need to use white grout as small stains will show up on your fabric covered tiles if an alternative colour is used.

Coloured grouts are fine for darker fabrics.

The best thing is to always use a grout that is a little lighter than your fabric choice.

Final Step

Pour yourself a well earned vino, grab a snack, pop a coaster on your upcycled coffee table (or extra tile with felt backing to match!) and sit back and admire your handiwork.