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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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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.

91 replies
  1. ROR
    ROR says:

    Ok, 1) I can’t believe you found the table I WANT by a dumpster… well played. 2) You just affirmed me in my desire for a CRV. My number one question has been “would I still be able to haul random stuff?”. Clearly the answer is yes. 🙂 and 3) Distressed is queen. The end.

    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

      I’ve had my CRV for almost 10 years and it can haul a lot of stuff! We have the older version with the pop up back window (which is a must for hauling long boards.) Honestly the only thing it can’t fit is all the random stuff that a family of four and a dog needs for a week at the beach. For those such trips we have to use a car top carrier and even then we are crammed. I foresee a minivan in my future ;-D.

  2. Aundrea
    Aundrea says:

    What a transformation! I’m still torn between the runner look and the whole top being stenciled. Both are amazing! I love the color you added too. Simply Amazing!!!

  3. Melanie Royals
    Melanie Royals says:

    Wow Brittany. What a find! What a score! What a great stencil project for the lovely Lisboa Tile….and are you willing to hire out that assistant?? You’re right, the stencil DOES look great as a table runner, but I LOVE the allover distressing treatment and it looks SO FAB in front of that salvaged wood wall. Thanks for a great project!

  4. seansmom
    seansmom says:

    Hey Brittany! That’s the very same table that I picked up for my son! I got mine for free too from a neighbor whose son got it from a friend’s mom who was throwing it out. Ok…that sounds a bit weird.. ha ha!
    I’m going to show my son what you’ve done with yours and see if I can talk him into letting me try something similar. Thanks for the great inspiration!

  5. Jane Louis
    Jane Louis says:

    Oh my gosh!! That is gorgeous, I so want one, thank you for sharing, you make it look so easy it give me the confidence to give it a go :)) x

  6. Jaime Costiglio
    Jaime Costiglio says:

    Brittany it’s beautiful. I’m not one for stencils because they remind me of the 80’s but you’ve taken it to a whole new place, truly breathtaking. And the distressing is the cherry on top, really a nice piece and so fresh to see posts about something other than turkey crafts.

  7. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    Brittany you really are very clever and artistic and so good at handywork. I would love to be able to do the restoration and renovation like you did to your boys’ room with that great cupboard space that you built. I am pretty handy too as I lived in New Zealand for many years, but you sure are amazing.

    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

      Jenny, thank you for your sweet comment. I bet you could do it too. I have to say most of it is believing you can do it. And if you are already handy, I know you can do it. Allow yourself to take a leap of faith and recognize that there may be a bump or two in the road, but you’re smart and can figure it out ;-).

  8. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    Thank you Brittany! I have a table exactly like this. I put a very pretty white lace tablecloth on it and I love the look, but we have to take it off every time we eat….messy husband. I had just come to the conclusion last week that I would paint the whole thing with chalk paint, and make the top look more like lace with a stencil! I could not quite picture it finished, and then I saw your post on MMS. Thanks for giving my idea a concrete look that I can relate to. I love the distressing, it is a must with actual live people using furniture, and that stencil is fab! Great job, will be doing my table soon now!

  9. Deenie
    Deenie says:

    I love this project and your entire site which I stumbled on about midnight and fell asleep still exploring after 3am sometime! lol My question is why did you use chalk paint? Does it stencil easier or was it just an affect you wanted? I’ve never seen it before and am curious about it. Thanks!!! Keep on creating!!

  10. Liz D.
    Liz D. says:

    Oh my goodness! You are the DIY Diva! I love this table and all of your step by step instructions! Thank you for always sharing so much helpful information! I love coming to your site!! You are truly an inspiration to so many of us!

    Liz D.

  11. Pam
    Pam says:

    How long did you let your paint dry before you distressed it? I taped off my edges to paint the center portion of the table and when I pulled the tape off, a lot of my paint came with it. Yikes!!! Now I’m a little afraid to sand it for fear my paint is going to roll off. 🙁 I fixed all the edges and will stencil tomorrow… What do you think?

    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

      Pam, did you lightly sand your furniture before adding the chalkpaint? I probably waited a day, but not sure. Also, it could be the tape you are using. Try ScotchBlue delicate surface paint. Otherwise, you did the right thing by touching up the boo boos. Sometimes that will happen in DIY, just roll with it 😉

  12. Pam
    Pam says:

    I did “lightly” sand my table top – not overly, though (hate sanding and had read I didn’t need to do too much). I used blue painters tape… It seems to look ok this morning although I can sort of see where the paint is thinner on the edges. I think I’ll touch that up again so the paint is thicker. I am nervous about distressing it. No guarantees, right! Oh well, we will see!!

  13. 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?


  14. 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!

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. Jackie Sorich
    Jackie Sorich says:

    Love the table, the stencil and your excellent assistant. Great job to both artists! I have an old piece to re do and now I AM convinced that Annie Sloan paint is for me.
    Thanks for a great site and wonderful ideas.

  20. Vanda in NM
    Vanda in NM says:

    This is amazing! I just found the perfect table and am anxious to try this. Love Chalk Paint! Did you have any problems with the intricate stencil pattern not being perfectly flat when taped to the table and ready to roll on the paint? Mine has some places that are slightly bent/raised and I’m concerned about the paint seeping under the stencil when rolling it on. Did you have any problems with this or hints? Thanks! Just discovered your website. Can’t wait to dig into it!

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Vanda, the less paint you use on the roller the better when you have a bent stencil. Try your best to bend it back to flat, but you will probably be okay. You can also always go back to touch up any bleed.

  21. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    I think it looks amazing. I distress everthing, buy old cheap furniture and distress it to give it a new lease of life. I recently got an old table and chairs for only £50.00, excellent condition and solid wood. I knew I was going to distress it but was unsure of what to do with the top to make a mark, now I know. Tomorrow I’m off to the DIY store to buy a stencil and do mine. Thanks for this tip, it is amazing.

  22. Julie
    Julie says:

    Hi Brittany, your table looks amazing! I love the colors you chose. How do you apply the Minwax polycrylic sealer? Do you have any tips for it to dry smooth? The sealant I use for acrylic paint is tricky to get a smooth finish. I do wet/dry sanding in between coats to help ease the imperfections but it doesn’t look smooth like yours. How do you get yours so smooth?

  23. Julie
    Julie says:

    I love your table! The colors and stencils look amazing! How do you apply the Minwax polycrylic sealer? How do you get it so smooth? I have hard time getting the sealant I use to dry smooth even though I use a sponge brush.

  24. Lindsay
    Lindsay says:

    This is pretty freaking cool!!!! Thank you for the tutorial, I’m going to re-vamp a piece of furniture my husband built with this look.

  25. Skaytn
    Skaytn says:

    Just fabulous! I will definitely pin it. Am I to understand you merely asked the Royal Designs company for the stencil and they sent it to you? If your response is already posted , I could not find it in the comments. Do you repaint items and resell them? Love the table!

  26. Skaytn
    Skaytn says:

    fabulous. Am I to understand you simply requested the stencil from Royal Design and they sent it you? How doesw that happen? I looked in the comments to see if someone already asked you about the stencil, but to no avail. I apologize if you covered it. Do you repaint then sell furniture? I am wanting to do that!

  27. Savannah Jordan
    Savannah Jordan says:

    Hi, I know this is an older post but I have a question… What do you do about the pencil lines you marked? I am in the throes of a similar project and I am reluctant to mark the table because I think they will be visible still.

  28. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    Hi! I’m an editor for and am writing to request permission to use one of your table photos in an upcoming post. We would like to feature this in a round up and would include a backlink and clear credit to you.

    Additionally, we routinely publish round-up style posts on our site and if you’re willing to allow us to use one photo from other posts you’ve done, we would love to add you to our directory of sites to feature. As a bonus, your site would then be on our radar for possible Facebook shares as well.

    Please let me know if this would work for you. Thanks for your consideration!

  29. Dee
    Dee says:

    I’m 75 yrs young and just starting doing the modern diy’s I’ve started a large end table project and wasn’t sure how to stencil the top and what to seal it with
    I love you’re table and has given me the confidence to complete mine tkx


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