FriYAY Family Fun Idea: give old furniture a wicked awesome makeover


For this WICKED AWESOME Family Fun Idea we decided to give an old wooden picnic table a really psychedelic makeover- Here's what we did & how we did it...




For the past several summers (4 to be exact) Eric, the girls and I spent a large amount of time up at the family cabin in Northern Minnesota (FUN FACT: the cabin was built in 1902 by Eric's Great Grandfather). Every summer, the girls would add a pop of personality to the otherwise masculine and rustic ambiance by painting giant stones in an array of vibrant colors. The stones were transformed into little animals with eyeballs, lips and snouts adorning the screened porch wall with a unique and colorful pet rock farm.


(four of our MANY pet rocks at the cabin)


As the girls got older, it seemed like the painting of rocks had become more of a tradition than an exciting and new activity. One day, while watching the girls play in the backyard, I saw the worn wooden picnic table fading in the sunlight. We knew we would be experiencing heavy rains for the next few days, so I proposed a rather ambitious project...

This year, why don't we paint the picnic table instead of stones?!

We would create a masterpiece that not only would keep us busy and entertained during the anticipated downpours, but also one to be proud of and would create a conversation piece for anyone who joined us at our table.


And so, off to the home improvement and craft store we went...


Here's What We Used:

  • - 80 Grit Sandpaper (a palm sander is recommended)

  • - Tack Cloth

  • - Paint (we used craft store acrylic, but outdoor grade is preferred)

  • - Paint Brushes

  • - Clear Polyurethane, oil based, outdoor grade

  • - Large paint brush, 1 1/2 in. or larger (for polyurethane)


Simple enough... okay, onto the 'How To'


(if you look closely, you can see our little animal rock farm on the porch ledge)


How We Did It:

  1. First, we cleaned the entire table with some soap and water, sure to get all cracks and crevices and clear off any dirt, debris or spider webs. After a good scrub down, we let it sit and dry.

  2. Once the table was completely dry, we sanded all edges of table that we planned on painting, ensuring that all splinters, bumps and lumps were smoothed out to prevent cracking.

  3. Once we sanded the table and benches down, we wiped the entire surface area with tack cloth to remove any residual dust or debris.

  4. After the table was wiped with tack cloth we were ready to paint! For this project each girl took a bench and I took on the table top. The instructions were as follows: You can be as creative as you want. This is your bench, make it your own.

  5. As I am a huge Beatles fan, I chose to do an 'Across the Universe' theme for the table top. A real life mermaid, Kylie chose to do a beach scene for her bench, and Krista, the doodle lover that she is, undertook a wildly energetic collage of fluorescent shapes and whimsical patterns.

  6. I instructed to each girl that they needed to paint at least two coats of paint for every design they had, to create a more vibrant and lasting finish. They had to wait for each coat to dry before applying a new one, which wasn't exactly the most exciting news for them to hear. However, they headed my advice, and their benches were turning out beautifully!

  7. The painting took several days and lots of One Direction songs playing over the loud speaker to keep us motivated, but we eventually finished!

  8. As soon the table top and benches were completely painted and 100% dry, I began clear coating over the entire painted surface areas with clear oil-based polyurethane. Because this is an outdoor table, I knew it was going to require several coats, and once again, I had to ensure each coat was completely dry before applying a new one.

*Oil based paint is extremely smelly and sticky and does not clean out of a brush easily. A little trick I learned to preserve a paint brush without having to wash it between coats every time is to wrap it really well in tin foil and stick in the fridge between coats. As long as it's not in there for days at a time, the paint shouldn't crust up on the brush. Another thing to keep in mind is proper ventilation, as the fumes can be overwhelming at times. Also, be sure to stir the can of polyurethane before each use & if you don't want sticky gunk attached to your hands for days on end, use gloves!!!


3 coats of 'clear coat' later & our little wooden picnic table is now a majestic work of art!


What do you think?


I hope you enjoyed this Family Fun Idea as much as we did! Not only was this great bonding time for me and my step-daughters, but it also gave us a creative outlet during our cabin rainy days. The girls are quite proud of their work, but, to be honest, I think I'm THE MOST proud because they truly outdid themselves with their creativity, patience and dedication!


*names have been changed to protect the innocent