DIY Upcycled Side Table + Planter

DIY Upcycled Side Table + Planter - offbeat + inspired

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I wanted to start upcycling my deck furniture and accessories. While procrastinating, I secretly hoped the upcycle genie would come in the middle of the night and redo everything for me. Alas, no such magic occurred, so I finally went to work cleaning, sanding, priming, painting and staining.

Planter Close Up

After spending hours searching online and in stores for ideas, I found an outdoor pillow that would be the perfect inspiration piece for my deck decor. Unfortunately, those pillows are on backorder, so you’ll just have to wait to see how all my crazy colors tie together (I promise they will!).

The first project I worked on for my deck was a side table my father-in-law snagged for me at a garage sale. I knew this little table had potential, but my procrastination left that thing kicking around the house for a year. With summer peeking around the corner, I found myself craving a colorful, inviting outdoor space where we could entertain (sangria in hand) all season long. As I started planning this project, I knew this previously purposeless table would make an ideal accent piece for the deck.

Side Table Before

1. I started by cleaning off the dirt, grime and bugs. Then I sanded it down, making sure that I had a smooth surface to repaint. I knew I wanted a rustic look, so I didn’t worry about sanding down to the bare wood – I wanted the dark paint to show through a bit in the final project. Word of advice? Get a power sander. I bought a relatively inexpensive one last year ($30-$40) and it has saved me a ton of time and energy.

After sanding, I wiped it down again to make sure I got rid of any residual dust or dirt. Now, on to the priming.

Side Table Sanded

2. When my husband and I initially moved into my house, I bought two of the world’s largest buckets of primer. (I think I was a little overambitious in my DIY plans.) I applied the primer with a brush, but to make the job go a bit faster just use a spray paint primer.

3. The fun part – adding color! I used Rust-Oleum’s Ultra Cover Satin Finish Spray Paint in Paprika from Home Depot. This is a rather bright color and I didn’t want to be blinded by orange, so I painted it on unevenly, making sure that the white primer showed through in some spots.

Side Table Spray Painted

4. I still felt like I was staring into the core of the sun. I knew I wanted orange, but it needed something else to tone it down — to the dungeon of paint supplies I went (aka my basement). I grabbed Minwax Wood Finish in Early American that was leftover from a previous project. I very lightly applied some of the stain all over the table to help darken the orange a bit.

Side Table Wood Stained Close Up

5. Once everything had dried, I sanded down the sides, corners and a few other spots to make it look worn. I also tried to make sure I sanded where the spray paint was lighter and had caused that speckled paint look.

6. I wiped off any residue from sanding and sprayed the entire piece with a protective coating of Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane in Clear Satin that I purchased at Home Depot. I honestly don’t mind if it gets weathered a bit since that’s the look I’m going for, but I thought a little protection would probably be a good idea.

7. The basket was the easy part. I simply spray painted it with Rust-Oleum’s Ultra Cover Flat Finish Spray Paint in White and finished it off with its own coat of Helmsman Spar Urethane protective finish.

8. I suppose you could just use the drawer of the table for storage, but after seeing these super creative planter ideas on Brit + Co., I had to make it into a planter. I added potting soil and pansies, since pansies make good container plants. (I also think it would look great with some type of vine.) The drawer already provided drainage for the soil, so I didn’t have to worry about drilling holes in the bottom of the drawer.

Flowers in Soil

This whole project took about 2 hours of active time, including all the cleaning, sanding, priming, spray painting, staining and sanding at the end. Just make sure you’re patient enough to wait for the various coats of paint to dry, at least to the touch. It’s worth the wait! I’ve learned the hard way that rushing only leads to repainting!

Side Table Finished Vertical

I love how this table adds a pop of color to my deck and I’m looking forward to it developing even more character over time as it braves the wind, rain and whatever else the Chicago weather brings our way.

I can’t wait to show you the great pillows and other accessories that match this piece! Stay tuned for additional photos (especially of the table actually in its spot on the deck) as I reveal more outdoor decor and upcycle projects!

Do you like bright colors like oranges and yellows, or are you drawn to neutral and soft tones?

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  1. What a neat project! Love it–love the color of the pansys against the red table.

  2. So pretty! Now if only I can keep my black thumbs from killing everything! 🙂

  3. Rosanne says:

    Very nice!

  4. Looks like a fun project. I am sharing this on Pinterest


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