Chalk Painted Children’s Table

Are you looking for inspiration to make your children’s play area a little more unique? This custom chalk-painted children’s table will give them a beach vacation every day. Feeling a little jealous? Me too!

This project was a custom request from a family that absolutely loves the beach. Their one request was that the waves not be “curled” or stylized like in a cartoon. They really wanted this piece to be something that would work with pretty much any room decor.

This is where we started, with a table that had already been well-loved. There were some deep gouges to go along with the scratches and crayon marks. But the piece is also solid wood with beautiful spindle legs. Are you ready to see how I customized this sweet table into a statement piece that will grow along with the little ones?

children's table with chair - before painting



Tools and Materials

Cleaning and Prepping

Thoroughly prepping a piece before painting or sanding sets the stage for a successful project. This piece had some deep gouges as well as some scrapes in the factory finish. I opted to sand all of the areas smooth with my mouse sander instead of trying to fill them.

Hindsight is 20/20: I probably should have filled the gouges instead. The factory finish was THICK and therefore provided great protection for the wood underneath. Filling the gouges would have also saved me a ton of sanding time.

Once the tabletop was smooth, I used a medium grit Rad Pad to sand all those beautiful details on the legs. These sponges are great because they are able to conform to curves and get into all of the tiny crevices. After vacuuming off all of the dust, I then filled my bucket with White Lightning mixed with water and gave the table a quick scrub with a non-abrasive sponge. To be sure that all of the dust and residue were gone, I rinsed the table with fresh water and let it dry. Then, I wiped down all of the surfaces with a tack cloth.

children's table with white lightning cleaner and a scratch resistant scrubber

Whew! It’s a lot of work, but it ensures a clean solid foundation. Now it was time to apply the paint base. Since the factory paint on this table still felt a little slick and I had exposed wood in some areas, I applied a coat of Slick Stick, just to make sure that there wouldn’t be any problems down the road. This is a children’s table, after all, so I’m expecting some use and abuse over the years.

children's table after one coat of slick stick

With all of the prep work complete, the table was now, quite literally, a blank canvas.

Painting the Children’s Table

Painting the Base Coat

The first coat of paint that I applied was a soft white chalk paint called Fluff by Dixie Belle. This is a great white, not too warm, with just a slight hint of gray. It’s the perfect neutral white. After painting the entire piece in one coat, I let it dry overnight. The next step involved taping off the painted surface, and I wanted to ensure that the painter’s tape would not peel off the paint when I removed it.

children's table prepped and ready for painting

Painting the Ocean Waves

The next day, I pulled up my inspiration photo, a gorgeous picture of the ocean with very prominent sunbeams. I studied the picture, the lines of the waves, the colors, and the shadows. I was so nervous about painting freehand, but I figured if I messed it up, I could always sand it down and paint it again.

Just to boost my confidence, though, I also pulled up a couple of painting tutorials on YouTube.

With my confidence boosted, I applied a strip of painter’s tape to divide the ocean and skyline. Then I applied a coat of chalk mineral paint in Dixie Belle’s Vintage Egg Blue to create the base for the ocean.

chalk painted children's table sectioned off with painter's tape and beginning to paint the ocean

With the ocean in place, it was time to make some waves! I grabbed a rescued pie tin for my painter’s palette and added dollops of Dixie Belle chalk paint in Caviar, Fluff, and Fench Linen. I misted the pie pan and paints with a light spritz of water, just to help moisten the paint and blend the colors smoothly.

Pro Tip: Always mist your brushes before you start painting. It helps keep the paint from adhering to the brush and makes for easier cleanup.

Dabbing colors into each other and across the table, I began creating waves in the Vintage Egg Blue. To create the blended effect, I used a dry medium oval brush. I wiped the excess paint off onto a paper towel in between blends. It was a process, add a little here, blend a little there.

chalk painted children's table with the ocean painted and adding waves

I continued adding a little color here and there until I felt that I was starting to add too much, then I stopped.

chalk painted children's table with dimension added to the waves

I immediately removed the painter’s tape as I was still concerned that it might peel up the chalk paint underneath. Luckily, it didn’t, and I was ready to start on that beautiful sunrise.

Painting the Sun and Sky

Continuing with my pie plate palette, I added more Dixie Belle chalk paints, this time in Daisy, Lemonade, and Haint Blue. Starting against the waterline, I began by creating the sun ball with Lemonade and the skyline and darker rays with Daisy. I added a few streaks of paint from the ocean blend to create the impression of sun rays.

chalk painted children's table with painted ocean and beginning to paint the sunrise

Using the dry brush, I blended in more highlights with Lemonade, adding hints of reflected light on the waves. Towards the top of the sky, I blended in Haint Blue and then began adding light gray puffy clouds.

chalk painted children's table with ocean, sunrise, sky and clouds

To add a little bit of extra shimmer, I lightly stroked in a bit of metallic gold paint in Dixie Belle Gold Digger. It’s a subtle hint of gold that has to hit the light just right before you see it. It’s the perfect hint of special!

adding gold metallic accents to the table top

Finally, to smooth everything out in preparation for the next step, I used a 220 grit sanding sponge on the legs. I also gave the tabletop a gentle swipe before rubbing everything down with a finishing pad. The finishing pad grabs dust and gives the surface a nice buff. It was time to add the final details!

Adding Custom Transfers

A custom transfer is such a sweet way to personalize a piece of furniture. If you’re new to DIY custom transfers, I have this post describing the process that I use to create and print transfers. For this piece, I switched things up a little bit by using Dixie Belle Clear Coat in Satin for the transfer medium.

transfer added with clear coat

I think I may have not pressed as firmly as I should have to adhere the first transfers to the piece, because a lot of the ink rubbed off when I removed the paper from two of them.

damaged DIY transfer

Luckily, I have my favorite dual point permanent pen from The Paper Studio. The 0.4mm tip is perfect for touching up thin lines or creating edges while the 1.0mm tip fills in large gaps beautifully. These pens are great, working on a variety of surfaces without hesitation. They’re a staple tool in my toolbox.

permanent pen used to fill in transfers

And see how pretty the transfer is now?

repaired DIY transfer

Adding Dark Wax Details

Those lovely spindle legs were begging for a hint of something to help them realize their full potential. I grabbed the Dixie Belle Petite Brush and a container of Grunge Gray Dark Wax. Dipping the brush into the wax, and giving it a little swipe, I then brushed a coat into and around the indentations of the spindles.

applying dark wax to accentuate table legs

Using a clean rag, I then wiped away the excess. This left just a hint of detail on the legs so that they don’t fade into the background against the tabletop.

corner view of the table with transfers and gray wax applied

Sealing the Children’s Table

Because this is a children’s table, I expect a lot of banging and beating to occur during its lifetime. To seal all of this work in and protect it from tots and their toys, I used the Mini-Angle Brush to apply two coats of Dixie Belle Clear Coat in Satin.

adding clear coat to the children's table

The satin clear coat sheen is so subtle that it’s barely discernable, but it provides excellent protection.

Painted Children’s Table Reveal and Takeaways

Here is the final result with a view of the before and after. The ocean waves and shimmery sun definitely have me yearning for a trip to the beach.

This project contained some fun challenges, especially when the transfers were falling apart. Luckily, the longest transfer did not require as much touch-up. I think that’s probably because I spent more time pressing the paper transfer against the seal coat. It’s a good tip to remember for next time.

final view of the children's table with painted top, bible verse transfer, and waxed legs

So, what do you think about this project? Do you enjoy freehand painting or stencils and transfers? Let me know in the comments and then sign up to receive an email so that you don’t miss any of the misadventures.

This table called for a little more than a simple clear coat to protect it. In this post, I show you how I added a resin topcoat for food-safe, kid-friendly protection!

Until next time, have a lovely and blessed day!

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Don’t forget to sign up so you hear all about the next misadventure! Until then, you may also like to see the final finish that I decided on for this table or the fate of the ladderback chair!

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  1. These are adorable! You did an amazing job. I especially love the scripture on them. I found you over on Sundays on Silverado. I’d love to have you come share on my newest link party, Crafty Creators, at LifeasaLEOWife.com. I think my readers would love these as much as I do. The party is open Thursdays at 6am CST thru Mondays at 11:59pm. You can also share on my veteran party, Happiness is Homemade, while you’re there.
    Hope to see you soon!

  2. What a BEAUTIFUL JOB you did Becky!!
    A LOT of work, too! When I first saw the sea…I was thinking you could probably do a great graphic of marble! I love the transfers you add! The girls’ names & Scripture- just lovely!!