DIY: How to Make Barb Blair’s Gold-Flecked Side Table

Whispers of autumn are in the air; cozy times with sweaters, fireplaces, and mugs of tea are not too far behind. Chillier days ultimately mean more time spent indoors, so as you’re gearing up for cooler months ahead, reinvigorate some of your staple furniture pieces in your home with a little sparkle for winter. We turned to Barb Blair’s Furniture Makes the Room for a little inspiration, because nobody knows how to spice up an oldie but a goodie better than Barb. 

We’re sharing her Cassiopeia Gold-Flecked Side Table project, along with her favorite recipe for chai, so that you can not only enjoy a nice cup of tea this fall, but also have a beautiful place to set the cup.

Cassiopeia Gold-Flecked Side Table

Barb Blair's DIY shelf from Furniture Makes the Room

I purchased this side table as part of a bedroom set from a woman who was moving. I loved the whole set because each piece was flat and straight, with modern lines and details. It was the perfect blank canvas for trying a new technique. My inspiration for using this technique was a white-and-gold-flecked shirt I found online. Isn’t that crazy? Inspiration comes from many different places, and I could not wait to try my hand at some paint splatters on furniture. I chose liquid gold leaf for the flecks because I wanted the final result to resemble a starry sky.

Featured Technique: Paint Flecking

  1. Remove old hardware using a screwdriver or cordless drill. Fill any old hardware holes with wood filler and allow the wood filler to dry completely before sanding. Sand down the piece with a fine/medium sanding sponge to ensure that it is smooth and ready to accept paint. When finished sanding, measure off and drill your new hardware hole if needed. You can reuse the existing hardware; I usually prefer a fresh new piece of hardware to complete my designs, so I usually have to measure and drill new holes on all of my pieces.
  2. Vacuum and wipe down the entire piece to remove all dirt and sanding dust. Lay down drop cloths.
  3. For the base color, paint the furniture piece, using a paintbrush to cut in all of the tight corners and detail areas and a foam roller to roll all of the flat larger surfaces. I applied two coats of paint to this piece with about 2 hours of drying time between coats.
  4. Once the paint is dry, you can begin applying your flecks and speckles! This is a messy process, so be sure that you have the work area masked off with either kraft paper or drop cloths and duct tape. I even covered the walls for this one, due to the amount of paint slinging! Take the time to completely protect your work area so you will not be worried about slinging paint where you don’t want it.
  5. Pour the liquid gold leaf (or desired paint) into a tray. (If your brush is small enough to dip into the jar, by all means go right ahead!) Make sure there is a good amount of paint on the end of your brush—not dripping, but saturated.
  6. Stand 4 to 6 feet back from your piece, loaded paintbrush in hand. This distance is important! If you are too close when you sling the gold leaf, it will create “line” patterns across the furniture. Standing back far enough from the piece ensures that you get a beautiful constellation-type pattern. It is a good idea to test your technique on drop cloths or kraft paper. Practice makes perfect!
  7. To fleck, flick your arm, over and over, both vertically and horizontally to ensure even coverage. Turn the piece when you need to start on a new side, and complete each side as you did the first one.
  8. Once the flecking pattern is exactly as you like it, let the piece dry completely! Be careful not to smudge your perfect little paint flecks. I allowed my piece to dry overnight.
  9. Once the paint flecks are dry, apply a light coat of stain over the entire piece to seal it and add a little bit of depth. You do not have to add stain, but you will want to use a clear sealant over the liquid gold leaf. Gold leaf needs a sealer to keep it from tarnishing. If you choose to use paint for your flecks, you can seal your piece with stain, wax, or water-based polyurethane.
  10. I chose not to sand or distress this piece at all (for once!). You can distress your piece if you wish, then wipe it down and vacuum it out, line the drawer with paper, and apply the new hardware.

This beautiful end table can find a place in many rooms throughout the house.

In the Bedroom

Barb Blair's DIY shelf from Furniture Makes the Room

A bit more predictably, the side table also works great beside the bed as a nightstand, perfect for holding bedtime reading and a morning cup of coffee.

In the Living Room

Barb Blair's DIY shelf from Furniture Makes the Room

The side table simply glows… Mixing styles and eras is one of my favorite things to do. Distinctive, unexpected looks emerge—this type of risk-taking is crucial in good design.

In the Foyer

Barb Blair's DIY shelf from Furniture Makes the Room

While it may not be the first spot you think of, a little side table fits perfectly in a foyer or entrance.

Once your gold-flecked side table is ready to go, brew a cup of delicious chai (recipe below) and snuggle in for a cozy afternoon or evening at home.

Chai Concentrate

Makes 6 cups concentrate or 12 cups prepared chai
(Adjust the spices to personalize the chai to your specific tastes.)

6 cups water
1 ginger root (about two inches), grated
4 whole cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
10 whole peppercorns
1 vanilla pod, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon allspice
8 cardamom pods, cracked
10 bags of Darjeeling (or other black or green) tea
1/2 cup honey or other sweetener, if desired


  1. Add water and all spices to a medium saucepan. Over high heat, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Your house will smell amazing!
  2. Remove from heat and add in the teabags. Let steep for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove tea bags and add sweetener.
  4. Using a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, strain into a glass container. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
  5. To make a cup of chai, mix equal parts concentrate with equal parts milk of your choice. Heat or serve over ice. Enjoy.

For more easy-t0-learn DIY projects, check out Furniture Makes the Room here

Barb Blair

Barb Blair is the founder of Knack, a brick-and-mortar retail shop and furniture design studio. Her work has been featured on dozens of top design websites. She is the author of Furniture Makeovers and lives in Greenville, South Carolina.

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