Dear Beautiful Table, your scandinavian antique beauty has us mesmerized. What’s your story? Did a family of four sit around you and talk about the day’s adventures on the farm? Or were you an antique table brought over from Europe and passed down for generations?  Or were you simply an ugly table left by the dumpster of an apartment complex in Raleigh, NC? {insert record scratch sound bite here} Yup, would you believe that a few short weeks ago, this beauty was sprawled in pieces by a dumpster? All the pieces (including the leg bolts) were neatly in a plastic baggy and secured to the table. This is one of the best pieces of furniture I’ve ever found in the trash (well next to it to be exact.) I didn’t have to do any structural repairs, just reattached the legs. But, it looked like the below photo when I picked it up:

It wasn’t in horrible shape. A few gouges in the top. But, the green and honey top were dated in style. No doubt the previous owners were moving and didn’t want to haul the dated table to the new digs.

Luckily I didn’t have the boys with me, so I was able to wrestle the entire table into my CRV.


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The table had lots of knots. To prevent them from bleeding through the paint, I used BIN primer (a shellac-based primer) to seal the knots. I also added a little wood putty in some of the deep gouges and grooves, but left some alone to keep the distressed look.

When the primer and wood putty had dried I lightly sanded the entire table.

Flip the table upside down and paint one coat of Annie Sloan Chalk paint in duck egg blue on the legs and skirt of the table. So now, notice that I didn’t have to prime the entire table?! That’s the beauty of chalk paint, no need to prime and only one coat covered the green.

After that flip the table over and paint the top with two coats of old white paint. (Two coats have better coverage and will stand up to distressing better.)

After the paint dries, tape off the edges of the table with ScotchBlue painter’s tape.

Paint duck egg’s blue chalk paint inside the tape lines.

You can lift up the tape as the paint is drying. Ooooo, clean sharp line:

Measure the table length and width and mark intersecting center lines in pencil.

Line up the center of the Lisboa stencil with the center crosshair. Check that all the stencil points are lined up on the center lines as well.

Tape the corners of the stencil down with painter’s tape.

Pour some Annie Sloan Old White chalk paint into the paint tray. Enlist an assistant (curious six year old boy) to roll paint over the entire stencil. Less paint and multiple passes is better than too much paint.

Lift off the stencil to admire the design. Then, wait a few minutes for the paint to dry.

Position the stencil up to the corners of the first print. (The corner circles will overlap and repeat with the first print.)

Your assistant will likely be eager to roll paint again.

After three tiled passes, the table looked like this. I was tempted to leave it as is because the stencils make a stunning decorative runner.

But, I had bigger plans. Next, line the stencil up with the edges of the pre-painted pattern. Gently support the stencil edge that isn’t on the table and roll paint over the stencil.

The table took nine placements of the stencil. But, it looks AH-maze-ing!

To add some added dimension, tape around the center leaf pattern and the corner design on the stencil.

Using the stencil brush, pounce cream chalk paint into the center and corner areas.

The cream is a very light yellow, but it immediately adds some dimension to the table top. Then continue moving the stencil around and painting the taped off areas with cream chalk paint.

Finally use a small flat artist brush and paint some small leaves and dots with versailles green chalk paint.

Finished painting. She’s beautiful isn’t she? But, she’s missing her story…

…I had to abuse her with the orbital palm sander. Sand down through some of the layers of paint. Sand along the table edges and a little bit on the table legs.

Wipe the table with a damp rag. Lightly brush some of my aging antique glaze over the table. Wipe off any excess.

Apply 2-3 coats of Minwax polycrylic sealer.

And let the fun begin. The kids have been using this table for drawing. And I’m not going to stress about any stray marks because the table is distressed and busy enough to hide them. AND, we’re making stories of our own on the table.

I know the distressed look isn’t for everyone, but I love how the table looks old and weathered. But, you knew that about me anyway.

She’s beautiful, isn’t she? I painted four unfinished wood stools from Wayfair with the different chalk paint colors to match the table.

Do you think I’m crazy for distressing the table? Heck, you probably think I’m crazy for hauling a table from the trash.

Have a great rest of your week y’all. And safe travels.

Disclosure: Royal Studio Design sent me the Lisboa stencil per my request. I was not compensated for this post, nor was I told what to write. All ideas, words and photos are my own.

92 replies
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  1. Linda Weeks
    Linda Weeks says:

    Boy that really frosts my cookies when stuff this cool is simply thrown away! Have you ever visited a landfill where you see all this stuff that could have been upcycled tossed into the bins? Well thank goodness you scarfed it up in time. I live near a landfill which is very busy, and everytime I go in, I see a ton of stuff that someone could have used! Just glad you had the vision to pull that bad boy outa there. Good work!

  2. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    I LOVE this!! Painting old furniture is one of my hobbies. But how long do you let things dry before taping off, or sanding, or sealing? I haven’t figured that part yet. And have had some disasterous results, which meant basically sanding off everything and starting over.

  3. Tara C.
    Tara C. says:

    Hi, Thanks so much for your info! I just completed my first ever chalk paint venture . I used the plaster recipe with behr paint and the old desk I inherited from my mom turned out great! My question is do you think I should use wax or polyurethane to seal it? I did stenciling on the top and side panels and fear that the waxing may smear it. I am a newbie to all of this and don’t want to ruin the hard work I put into refinishing the desk. thanks!

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Tara, the wax won’t smear dry paint. My rule of thumb is if it will take a lot of abuse (like a kitchen table, coffee table, etc.) then I polyurethane it. If it won’t take much abuse (frames, hutches, vertical surfaces) then I wax it.

  4. Tara
    Tara says:

    This is beautiful! I’m about to start a painting project, but I’m not sure how much chalk paint I’ll need to cover 2 end tables. How much paint did your project require?

  5. Tanya
    Tanya says:

    I just have to say that this table is beautiful, I love it, I have been looking to revive an old table and have been a little unsure of what pattern stencil to use, thank you for the instruction and the inspiration…awesome!

  6. Janel
    Janel says:

    My husband is not totally sold on painting our table. I would like to do blue legs and and white top but he is concerned (even with a distressed look) that it will show every water mark, scratch, etc and will be very hard to clean. Have you run into this problem? If so, how do you solve it?



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