End Table Makeover: Broken Tile Mosaic with Fall Leaves

The day that I bought this table, it was one of the first things I saw when I walked in the door at The Salvation Army.  I immediately snatched it up and set it behind the counter with the clerk for safe keeping.  I had to have it!  There were a few things that drew me to it:

  • I really needed another end table in my living room.
  • It was $1.99.  How can you not buy a table that’s only $1.99??
  • Most of the finish was already worn off of it.  The price reflected the condition of the finish, but for me that meant less sanding.  Yay!
  • It was solid wood in good condition;  a piece with a whole lot of life left in it.

Here’s a before and after so you can see what it looked like when I first brought it home:

One of the first things I noticed about the table was that it had a nice lip around the top edge.  A lip that made it absolutely perfect for tiling.  With every intention of giving it a mosaic top, I brought it home and promptly buried it under a mountain of books and stickers and ribbon.  It stayed there, hidden away under the pile, for about 2 years.  Terrible, right?

And then one day as I was looking at my Martha Stewart paint and stencils, I was trying to think of projects that would involve them.  I was inspired to pull out that sad old table, and by the next day I had dug it out and visited Dollar Tree to buy a stack of plates.  A few days and a lot of painting and gluing later, my end table makeover was complete!  (Finally!)


  • End table
  • Sandpaper
  • Martha Stewart metallic craft paint: Copper and Yellow Gold
  • Paintbrush
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Sharpie
  • Inexpensive plates
  • Hammer
  • Pillowcase
  • Glue
  • Martha Stewart Holiday Icons II self-adhesive stencil set
  • Grout
  • Grout sealer

First I sanded the table down and gave it a new paint job.  I used Martha Stewart metallic craft paints to paint it: copper on the legs and around the top, and yellow gold on the bottom shelf.  I didn’t do anything to the top surface of the table since I knew I was going to be covering it up anyway.

I measured two inches in from the edge all the way around the top and marked it with a Sharpie.  This line made it easy to give the table top an even border all the way around.

The number of plates you will need will depend on the size of your project.  I ended up using 5 green plates and 7 grayish off-white plates to fill in the entire tabletop.  To break up the plates, I put them inside an old pillowcase one at a time and whacked them with a hammer.  After every couple of hits, I stopped to pull out the pieces that were small enough to use; about 1 1/2 inches and smaller.  Be very careful when you’re breaking up the plates!  You should always wear safety glasses, and handle the broken pieces with care so you don’t get any cuts.

Since I wanted a flat, even surface for my table, I only used the bottom portion of each plate.  I carefully picked out all of the curved pieces from the edges of the plates.  I put them aside for another broken tile project in the future!

Starting from the corners and working outward, I used the pieces of the green plate to fill in the border area.  It’s kind of like putting together a puzzle!   Glue the pieces down as you find where they fit.  If you start getting frustrated with fitting pieces together, walk away for a few minutes and focus on something else so you can come back with fresh eyes…  Or go bust up more plates!

Once the border was done, I filled in the rest of the space with the off-white plate pieces.  While the green plates were $1 each, the off-white plates were only 25 cents each.  (I did a happy dance when I found them.  I might go back and buy all the rest of them on the shelf so I can do a backsplash in my kitchen.  Hey, the people there think I’m crazy anyway, so why not?)

I knew I wanted to incorporate leaf stencils, since I’ve been slowly redecorating my living room in more fall-ish colors.  My first thought was to stencil large leaves onto the broken tiles, then grout over them.  But then I started thinking about the last time I used grout: it’s gritty, abrasive stuff, and there is a lot of rubbing involved in the application process, so I wasn’t sure how the designs would hold up to it.  In the end I decided I wasn’t willing to test that theory with my precious table, so I put that idea aside for later (I will make it work!) and kept brainstorming.  Meanwhile, I decided to go ahead and grout the tiles first.

After the grout was complete and sat overnight to firm up, I used smaller versions of the leaf designs in the same copper and yellow gold paints to decorate some of the larger tile pieces.  The little stencils are self-adhesive and they work like a dream!  I’m seriously loving them.  Since the stencils are so tiny, I used a cotton swab instead of a foam pouncer to apply the paint.  I love how the metallic paint catches light!

In a few days I will seal the tiles and grout to make the whole thing more durable.  I love my “new” end table, and I want it to last for many years to come!

Disclosure: This post is part of a campaign sponsored by Plaid Crafts.  The paints and stencils for this post were provided.  All opinions are 100% my own.