Telephone Table Makeover - to Hide Those Unsightly Cables

12 Materials
2 Hours

I purchased a little vintage telephone table to house our landline telephone and modem. It functioned perfectly for our needs, albeit a little drab and worn looking. But my biggest issue was all those visible cables!! So I decided to give it a little makeover.

Yeesh - all those cables!

The first thing I did was look around my garage for something to attach to the back. I found an old cabinet back panel that would be perfect! (And if I didn’t have one on hand, I’m sure these are inexpensive to buy.) 

I measured the space between the table shelves and cut a piece to fit, using a jigsaw. The first cutout was a little crooked so I tried again. Second time it was perfect! The rough edges around the cuts were very easy to smooth out using my orbital sander (a sanding block would work too).

Cutting to fit

Then I drilled a hole in the piece – near the bottom – for the cables to feed through. I used a hole saw, attached to my drill.

Cutting a hole for the cables

The next step was to paint everything. After much thought, I chose a light grey colour. I took the table apart so I would get a smoother finish on the shelves. It was super easy to take apart.


For the bottom legs, I poked the screws through a cardboard box. For the little spindles on the top, I poked screws up through a piece of cardboard so the spindles would be easier to paint and let dry.

Spindles & legs ready for paint

I gave the 2 shelves a very light sanding. Then I painted all the pieces, using a flat brush for the shelves and a precision brush for the legs and spindles.

The next morning I decided to glaze the legs and spindles, but as soon as I wiped back the glaze the paint came off too! I forgot to wait at least 24 hours before glazing. Oops.  (Sadly not the first time I've made this mistake!)

Glazing gone wrong

So I repainted everything with a second coat of grey. I decided I really loved the way it looked, so I decided not to use glaze after all.

On the top shelf, I did a little stencil pattern in white. I used a sea sponge to dab the paint on, to give it a textured look.  


When it was dry I applied wipe on poly to the two shelves. This stuff is so easy to use! Just apply it with a damp rag – similar to dusting!

I replaced the drab drawer pull with a sparkly one I found it my tickle trunk of “knobs & pulls.” And put all the pieces back together and fed the cables in through the hole on the new back panel. 

Once it was together, my plan was to glue the back to the legs. But the fit was nice and snug and it stayed in place, even while I was feeding cables through it, so I decided not to use the glue. If it ever falls off I can glue it then.

Hi Charlie
Well hello again, Charlie!

I really like the way this piece turned out. There’s a lot of brown woods in the space, so I like how the table kind of blends in with the watery blue walls.  

I didn't spend any money on this makeover, but used about $5 worth of paint. And if I remember correctly, that glass knob was around $5.


For anyone else struggling with open shelving and cable chaos, this is a very quick, easy and inexpensive solution! 

Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page. More info

Top Hometalk Projects

Use Your Old Corks For These 25 Clever Ideas
30 Fun Ways To Keep Your Home Organized
22 Ideas To Make Your Terracotta Pots Look Oh-So-Pretty
Easy DIY Ideas To Add Some FUN To Your Office Space
3 Simple Green Ways To Clean In Your Home
Step-by-Step Painting Techniques You'll Want to Try!
15 Home Improvement DIY Ideas You'll Want To Copy This Month
The Easiest Ways to Grow a Bumper Crop of Tomatoes
30 Essential Hacks For Cleaning Around Your Home
Get The Party Started With These Perfect DIY Decor Ideas
15 Amazing Things You Can Do With Paint Stirrers
15 Awesome Projects To Get You Ready For St. Patrick's Day
25 Christmas Wreath Ideas You Don't Want To Miss This Year
18 Adorable Bird Feeders You'll Want To Make Right Now
Transform Tuna Cans Into Gorgeous Lighting In 10 Simple Steps

Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • N. G. Londonderry
    on Aug 31, 2019

    Table looks good BUT what keeps the back in place?

    • Valerie Burge
      on Sep 1, 2019

      It's wedged between the top and bottom shelves, behind the legs. The cut was so snug that once I pushed it in, it stayed perfectly in place. But like Marlene said, I would have used hot glue and glued the panel to the legs if it had been necessary. :)

Join the conversation

4 of 38 comments
Your comment...