Summertime Picnic Table

Last spring, there was a wholehearted attempt to create a beautiful outdoor oasis on the concrete slab in our back yard.  You know, a budget-friendly replication of those those gorgeous outdoor spaces with a barbecue grill and dining set for cozy alfresco dining, modern cozy sofa and chairs for intimate conversation and a fire pit made for marshmallows.  And lights! Lots of beautiful twinkling lights.

Working with a non existent budget, I purchased a faded green plastic Rubbermaid table from Idaho Youth Ranch for $8.  I decided I would spray paint it a neutral gray color and it would be perfect with some brightly colored chairs.


Except it wasn’t.  Six cans of gray spray paint later and I still had a table that looked like a splotchy mess.  Some parts were glossy and some were matte, and bright sunlight only emphasized each flaw.  Luckily, the legs and edges turned out okay, so when the top had plates of food on it, you couldn’t really tell how bad it was.  I was disappointed though.  My inexpensive ‘fix’ wasn’t amazingly beautiful and it was turning out to cost more than I planned.


I have since discovered that an initial coat or two of spray primer probably would have made all the difference in my finished product.  The table top had weathered enough that it was just absorbing all of the paint, and a primer would have sealed the surface first.  In spite of its imperfections, the table was well-used last summer before being stored in the garage for winter.

Most people would probably call it quits on the old table and say ‘lesson learned.’  On the other hand, I was determined to keep a perfectly good and sturdy table from the landfill.  I brought out the gray table this week and decided to see what I could do with it once more.

I don’t know how well this will hold up, but I primed the whole table with indoor/outdoor primer, then painted it with two coats of leftover gray exterior house paint.  I will keep you updated on how well it holds up, but I am happy with how smooth and even the coverage is.

I love gathering ideas on Pinterest and noticed some cheerful stenciled and geometric patterns on table tops.  I decided to use painter’s tape and some leftover paint to make my own design on the top of our patio table.  I sketched up an idea on paper first.


Then I measured it out and drew it on the table with a pencil.


To make things a bit easier, I traced the design onto the front and back of parchment paper (like a ‘carbon-copy’) and then transferred it to the table.


Then I taped it off with painter’s tape.  I sealed the edges of the tape with a quick coat of gray paint, to keep the colored paint from seeping under the tape.  worked like a charm!



Next, I painted several coats of acrylic craft paint on the taped-off shapes.  For the circles, I had just traced around a cup, so I did my best to paint inside the lines.


When I took off the tape, I had nice crisp lines!


I could have left it like this, but it felt a little ‘flat’ to me, so I added a few hand-painted details.  My husband laughed at me, because I had taken so much effort to make crisp lines, and then I painted over them.  I just ignored him. ha.


When all of the paint was dry, I coated the entire table with a water-based outdoor urethane to protect it.

IMG_3002As far as thrift store furniture makeovers go, this particular project cost more than I anticipated.  Still, it came in under $50, and when you consider the cost of a brand-new table, this one doesn’t seem so bad.


Paired with an outdoor rug and brightly painted chairs, I think we are well on our way to a fun outdoor dining space.


Bring on the sunshine, cheeseburgers and icy lemonade!



2 thoughts on “Summertime Picnic Table

  1. Love how this turned out, Becky! Way to save it from the dumpster and be happy with it too! I guess we sometimes get to learn the hard way about prepping stuff. I’m terrible about this because I just want a finished product NOW!

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