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Before & After: Phone Table Redial

April 23, 2012


My iPhone is many things: lust object, trusty companion, second brain, alarm clock, pedometer … sometimes I even make phone calls on it. So, I feel guilty complaining about its simple need to be charged, or more precisely, its charge cord; I hate seeing it. I’ve seen charging stations for iPhones, and they’re fine. I just didn’t relish the idea of spending money on another thing for the house. Surely, I thought, I could come up with  something that would look good during re-juicing sessions, using something I already had. A quick scan around the garage and I found my solution; that’s it above. Not only good-looking, it’s a wry update of a telephone accessory from that bygone era when a smart phone was one that had a 20-foot long curly cord — you know, the 1960s.


I picked up this shapely little number at the Long Beach Flea Market ages ago. I was attracted by its slightly googie side profile, shapely tapered legs, and “off” color. Plus, I liked that it was functional: with a top surface for holding a phone (Princess-style, of course); a shallow pull-out drawer for hiding a handy notepad and ballpoint (for message-taking on the sliding writing surface); a lower shelf for sheltering an informative phone book (Yellow Pages; remember those?) … all in a very narrow piece that would look great next to a modern chair. Very nice, but no matter how much I liked this table, I never found a way to use it … Could I make this phone table relevant again, in spite of the fact that phones are no longer tethered, they are their own notepads and contain the combined information found in piles of phone books and solve my charger dilemma? It took a little thought, paint and time, but I think I have. Here’s how I did it:

First ...

As with most old furniture revamps, the piece had to be cleaned thoroughly and repaired … some all-purpose spray cleanser, a screwdriver and wood glue took care of that (one leg needed re-gluing and the side screws were tightened). I decided to paint most of the table a matte black, and settled on a Rust-oleum any-surface-any-angle spray paint (spray paints used for this project were purchased at a big box hardware store).


The matte black paint dried quickly to a blackboard-like surface … and surface imperfections magically disappeared. Areas I painted black were the underside of the piece, the top, the inside and front of the little drawer, and the sliding writing surface. Drying time: 30 minutes. On to the next step …


For the sides I chose a contrasting color, a textured stone gray spray paint by Valspar. As with the black paint this one is suitable for virtually any surface; once dry, however, it’s tactile, and feels like sand, with a subtle almost-glittery finish. To protect the black-painted surfaces I used painter’s tape as a mask all ’round the piece. After spraying on several light, overlapping coats per side, I was satisfied with coverage. An hour later, and the piece was dry.


Stepping back and looking at my new charging station I was pleased … but there was something missing: Color! I decided to add a jolt to the top and lower shelf with acrylic paints. I brushed on two colors, undiluted, a bright red-orange and cool turquoise, and allowed them to dry. Then, using a dry-brush technique, added another contrasting color, a yellow ochre. Just the pop I was looking for against all that black and gray …


I tidied up the colorful edges with black paint, then gave them a quick spritz with a matte fixative for protection … Now I couldn’t wait to give my new charger a go … only one crucial step to go!


The back of the message-taking drawer needed drilling to accommodate the iPhone charge cord. The Rancho’s on-site power tool expert, Paul, quickly accomplished this; threaded, the cord now fit snugly in the drawer, without danger of pulling out accidentally.


I plugged the charging unit into my phone and it worked perfectly, the drawer holding both phone and cord nicely and out of sight … Plus, as shown in the first picture, my iPad’s got a new charging home too, in the former phone book shelf … that’s it leaning jauntily.


Before, I wasn’t sure how to use this little table. Now, however, I have several options …


… it could play host to an robot sculpture …


… be an end-table/bookshelf …


… or a pedestal for a sweet cactus couple … all the while charging my iPhone so I don’t miss a text message, tweet, blog post, step count or podcast. This little telephone table was transported from the 1960s to the 21st Century in an afternoon and the cost for materials was less than $25 for two cans of spray paint (I had the table, acrylic paints, tape, brushes and power drill already). I’m gonna be on the lookout for other telephone tables for future projects. Some of them are really quirky with attached seats and other accoutrements; anyone need a smart phone charging station?

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Donita Smith permalink
    April 23, 2012 3:41 am

    Love it!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 23, 2012 3:42 am

      Thanks, Donita … it was a fun project

  2. April 23, 2012 4:32 am

    VERY cool! Love the way it turned out. And that turquoise paint on top contrasts sooooo well with the black!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 23, 2012 4:33 am

      Thanks very much! As with gardening, minimalism is a challenge for me … I gotta have color!

  3. April 23, 2012 4:58 am

    Before I need a smartphone charging station I need a smartphone!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 23, 2012 5:04 am

      You gotta get one, Loree, I resisted for a long time and I have to say it’s changed my life … I can’t imagine life without it now

  4. April 23, 2012 5:32 pm

    I love this thing. Never have I seen the textured stone spray paint look so good.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 23, 2012 5:35 pm

      Thanks, MM, I was nervous about using it but it worked out!

  5. Vickie Perez permalink
    April 24, 2012 4:43 am

    Do love your finds and the ways you help them find their way into this century….Why be nervous about the stone paint?? Can almost always repaint.. Or so I’ve been told. And have hated it when I didn’t quite like the way something turned out. I remember so close but no cigar projects…

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 24, 2012 4:51 am

      Hey, Vickie, I was just nervous that I might not like the pebbly surface when it was finished … I’d never used the product before and spray paint’s always scary: I always over-spray and then it gets drippy!

  6. April 26, 2012 2:50 am

    Love the acrylics–they absolutely make the table. The cactus in the white dish is the right set decoration as well.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 26, 2012 3:07 am

      Thanks, it’s nice to have one’s choices validated!

  7. April 26, 2012 1:36 pm

    You see… this is what I’m talking about, you’re so good… you can do anything! I love it and once again you have inspried me. I think a great lesson here is DON’T THROW ANYTHING AWAY, you never know what it may become.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      April 26, 2012 1:59 pm

      Thanks, WF … But certain things you just know can be revived … Someday! Finding room for those things can sometimes be a challenge 😉

  8. June 5, 2012 4:45 pm

    So many inspired ideas, sets my head awhirl. Fab. Thanks.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 5, 2012 5:04 pm

      You’re welcome, Patricia … hang out awhile! Thanks for commenting

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