DIY a Coastal Themed Table

6 Materials
8 Hours

Hi Liz here from the DIY & decorating blog Simple Decorating Tip.

This pair of coastal themed end tables are fun and pretty darn easy to create!

Here's what I did...

I found a pair of 1980's tables at a yard sale for around $15 each, they were the perfect size for what I needed, and super solid and sturdy, but... oh that oak finish... not my favorite. Time to get out the paint brush and see what I could come up with... After a little bit of sketching, and painting here's how I created a DIY table with a coastal design... (well actually 2 tables) and the steps to get there are super simple!

So I gotta admit, at first I passed on this pair of tables at the yard sale... You know how it is sometimes? You are surrounded with a bunch of junk and just aren't using your visualizing skills to see what it could be, or could look like in a different setting? Or it's the end of the morning, and you're more hungry and tired than energetically looking for projects? But, darn, once I actually got back to the cottage, and ate some overdue breakfast, I kept thinking about them... and how perfect their size was... I'd been looking all summer for a pair of nightstands, so what in the world was I thinking to not buy them?! So, off I went again trying to wind my way back to the sale, (and out on the coast of Maine, let me tell you, they are WINDING roads for sure!) Whew! I was actually able to find the sale again! and the tables were still there! By this time of the day, the sellers were totally ready to bargain too, so I got them for a great price!

With just using a couple different colors of latex paint and a little water-based poly to protect the top, this project is super cheap and easy, and if you happen to have the right colors of paint leftover from prior projects to use for this, great! I, however did not... because at the cottage there isn't the stash of leftover paints like at home. But no worries, at HomeDepot they have those handy dandy small sample pots you can get for a few bucks and it's more than I needed for this project. Also, the paint I used was with the primer and paint together, otherwise you'd want to prime the table first to be sure the paint sticks well.So starting with the soft gray color, I painted the whole table. The legs received 2 coats of gray, the top only one coat... to start with.

Then on the top of the table I penciled in the wave pattern I wanted. This will give me an idea of how much to paint the gray down. In retrospect, I could have just painted the entire top two coats of gray, and then proceeded from there... oh well, at least it gave me a chance to firmly decide the wave pattern. I painted one coat of the blue waves on to see how I was liking that look. I decided it was good, so moving on with that plan...

The gray top section got more coats of paint,

2 more coats to cover the oak and grain completely.

You can see how I carefully feathered the edge out onto where the blue waves were going to be so that I didn't wind up with a bump of an edge of the gray. It is important to bring the gray beyond the blue border so that you have plenty of painting grace when you're painting the blue waves... that way, you won't need to carefully match the edge, you will create your new edge on top of, instead of next to, the gray.

Once that gray was all done, and totally dry, (and you can see how I brought the gray down over the edge of the table top as well, for a bit more painting grace for when I paint the edge contrasting color)

he waves were re-penciled onto the gray. See? At this point I had plenty of room to create my new edge with the blue waves.

To get a good clean edge it's imperative to use a good brush!

Sorry, picture is a little blurry... hard to take a picture with your left hand while your right hand is painting an edge. :/ Regardless, you can see how I ever so carefully just go slightly over, covering the pencil lines and paint into the wet blue paint.

After 2 more coats of blue for the waves,

and a salmon-y pink red edge... that's was after I first tried the blue matching the waves for the edge detail, but decided it needed more oomph, so I tried a dark navy blue, nope, still not right, then I tried this salmon color, which happens to coordinate with the quilt on the bed these table will be next to, I really liked that fun 'pop' of color edging the table...

the tables are done with this phase. If you wanted you could stop right here and be done.



I wanted an aged, softer look... hoping that the next steps didn't ruin all my work to this point. But I've learned over the years, not to fret. If it's a complete disaster, you can always sand a little and repaint them.


with some 220 grit sandpaper in my sanding block, I gently sanded the edges to create a worn look on the paint job.

Hard to see in this picture, but

this is one of the tables after the light sanding. It's just enough that the edges and a bit on the top, especially the top of the waves, really do look a bit worn.Now onto the next step: glazing!

There are so many different approaches to create a glazed effect. But for me, the easiest and oh so cheap way is to

simply mix about 50/50 latex paint and water, creating a super watery paint.

At this point to get it onto the table, you can use a rag or brush. I chose a cheap paint brush, and quickly slopped it onto the top.

One thing to note, you do need to wipe it off, or most of it, before it dries. So don't do it in the full sunlight where the paint will dry instantly and don't do too big of an area where you can't wipe it off fast enough before it dries.

So after I painted/slopped the watery paint onto the top section, I immediately grabbed the rag and wiped it off, leaving

a soft aged look.

Then doing one side at a time, I completed the entire table, leaving more of the latex paint 'glaze' in the grooves and details of the legs.


You can see in this picture how the grooves are darker, emphasizing the details.

Again, at this point you could be done, but just for a little extra protection for the table top, once the glaze paint was fully dry, I gave the top 2 coats of a water-based poly.Now that the tables are sporting this whimsical DIY coastal design, which is a great fit for two dated tables with cute lines but an ugly wood finish, they'll be perfect for nightstands in a coastal cottage.

Click here to read more of our Coastal Cottage in Maine, including decorating and traveling around getting tons of coastal inspiration.

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Liz at Simple Decorating Tips

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Gwen Barham Loftus
    on May 16, 2020

    Would you have to put a glaze on it? I like them better without the darker tint for what I have in mind. Could you just use clear polyurathane instead?

    • Gwen, Suellen's answer is totally correct. Do what you like best. The paint I put on was a durable finish in itself, I was just going for an aged look.

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