Be Bold Challenge: West Elm Wood Tile-Inspired Bedside Table

It's Be Bold Challenge day, y'all!

If you're popping over from one of the participants' blogs, welcome! So glad to have you here. Each day this week, a few of us will be revealing our projects and then next Monday, February 24th, we're having a big ole link party where your project will be shared on ten, yes TEN blogs. How's that for awesome? Here are the other lovely BOLD bloggers:

So what did I do for my bold project? I'm so glad you asked! (Ok, you didn't, but that's why you're here, right?) I gave my bedside table, or nightstand, if you prefer, a makeover with inspiration from West Elm. I've always loved their Wood Tile collection, but haven't had a good reason (or budget) to purchase any of the pieces. In the spirit of being bold, I decided to attempt to make my own wood tiles and use them to make over an old World Market Tall Chloe Accent Table I've been using as a nightstand since college. It was actually in great shape, and I liked it fine as it was, but the wood was so dark and didn't go with the light and bright look of our bedroom.

Here's what it looked like:

It just didn't "go" - you know? But the size and height of it work really well with our bedroom since it's got some weird angles (you can see our floor plan here if you want more specifics). I wish I had room for a larger night stand, but right now I've gotta work with what I've got, ya know?

I decided I was tired of living with something I didn't love though, so it was time for a change. I boldly chose to paint it...white. Yeah, yeah, I know. White's not bold. The real bold part of this project was figuring out how in the world I was going to make those wood tiles without access to power tools or losing my mind cutting out all. those. little. things.

I'll get to how I did that in a second.

First though, I want to give a shout out to General Finishes, who generously provided some of their milk paint and gloss for this project. It took FIVE coats of their Snow White paint to cover that dark wood, but the results were really nice. I actually really liked the finish of the milk paint by itself, but I wanted the final look to have more of a lacquered look so I put two coats of gloss on top.

After two coats... yikes. There's still brown showing through!

And after five... muuuch better. (This is pre-gloss by the way.)

Then it was time to get working on the wood tiles. My chosen material to conquer all those little bitty things? Balsa wood. I figured it was easy to cut with an X-acto knife, and has a pretty grain running through it so it looks just like "real" wood. It worked like a charm.

I bought a 4" wide piece from Michael's, which was the perfect height for the panel of tiles I wanted to install on the front of the table.

To mimic the look of the wood tiles West Elm has on their pieces, I lightly white washed a section with a tiny bit of watered down General Finishes Snow White paint. I brushed the watery paint on, and then immediately wiped it off with a paper towel. I wanted it to be a little bit imperfect and still show the wood's grain. In other words, I pretty much treated it like a wood stain.

Then I measured the area on the front of the table where the wood tiled panel would go (just over 8.5" in this case) and cut the piece of balsa wood to that size with an X-acto knife.

Then came the fun part - figuring out how large to make my tiles! Math is not my strong suit, y'all, so this part made my brain hurt a little bit, but if I could figure this out, anyone can.

I made a grid on the BACKSIDE of the piece I planned to cut into tiles. It's a little bit hard to see, but the photo below shows you what it looked like.

Figuring out the height of the tiles was easy: The balsa wood was 4" tall, so I divided that by eight to get 1/2" tall tiles.

The width of the tiles was trickier. I found the middle of piece of wood and drew a line to divide it in half. I then divided each of the smaller sections in half, and then in half again so that I ended up with what looked like eight equal tiles across the width of the piece of balsa. (Does that make sense? It's hard to explain in words.)

Then I cut the pieces so that they'd look like subway tile when laid out, rather than a stacked brick. I cut long strips first...

...then the individual tiles. You can sort of see the subway pattern here once I finished all the cuts.

I sanded the edges of each tile to smooth them out and rounded the corners a tiny bit to give it an organic look. This was quite labor intensive, but the results were well worth the extra effort!

I mounted the tiles on another piece of balsa using wood glue in that subway pattern I mentioned above. Apologies for the yellowy lighting in this photo - it was dark outside by the time I got to this step!

Once it dried, I mounted the panel to the front of the side table and it was done!

I LOVE how it turned out! It fits in so nicely with our bedroom now!

As you can see in the next few photos, I added a plain (non-wood tiled) balsa wood panel to the other sides to beef them up and to give it a finished look.

To compare, here's the before and after:
I'm so glad I took a chance and decided to paint this piece, do some (scary) math, make some wood tiles and turn this bedside table into something I LOVE.

If you have any questions about the process, let me know and I'd be glad to answer them!

Other projects featured in this post:


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  1. Love this project, Chaney! It's so cool that you were able to use something you already had, but use inspiration from a pricey piece! Love the balsa wood tiles...so clever! :)

    1. Thanks April! If I can repurpose something, I definitely will! :)

  2. what an awesome idea, chaney! LOVE this! pinning!

  3. What a transformation?! I am so impressed. You would never know that is the same table and I love the wood tiles {I don't know there is anything from West Elm that I don't love}. So happy to be part of this challenge with you. I look forward to following you on social media!

    - Tasha @ Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

    1. Thanks, Tasha! I'm glad to be a part of this challenge with you too. Love finding new blogs through different people!

  4. Love this! Such a great idea with great results!

  5. It's so pretty! And it totally looks like it popped right out of West Elm's collection! Why pay full price when you can get amazing results like this?! LOVE! Thanks so much for sharing, Chaney!

    ~Abby =)

  6. It looks fabulous Chaney! It is often easier to just live with something we don't totally love then go to all the effort to turn it into something incredible- I bet you are happy that you pushed yourself to do this project because it turned out so custom looking and high end! I love it!

  7. Wow, your table really got an upgrade! It looks fabulous and I love that you were able to do it without power tools.

  8. Your table turned out lovely!!! Love the texture the tiles bring!

  9. I love how this turned out! The white table really creates the perfect place to display your gorgeous wedding photo! Can't wait to join you at the Be Bold party!

  10. Your table looks great! Such a creative makeover! I love it!

  11. This looks awesome. And so simple!

  12. Love it!! I have a very similar table. I might have to try this out :)

  13. What a great refinish!! It looks awesome! Found you via Remodelaholics!

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