How an Epic Fail turned into a Win; and why my Entry Table is now green with envy

Before I dive in and show you guys my awesome entry table transformation, I have to take a minute to give a big huge

{Thank You!}

to Sarah over at…

As some of you know, I’m a HUGE FAN of TDC. Her’s is my favorite blog and one of the very first blogs I started reading ‘back in the day’.

On Friday Sarah did a feature about House of Hepworths. I had no idea she was going to feature me, and when I saw it I had to remind myself to breathe and my husband almost had to give me CPR to get my heart pumping again. Sarah didn’t only tell her readers that she likes me, she gave an embarrassingly flattering post all about me. I just want to publicly tell Sarah, “Thank you! I’m *still* speechless about how many compliments you gave me. Thank you.”

Here’s a link to the feature: HoH Feature @ TDC

Now for today’s post!

In November I was lucky and scored the perfect table for my entry way from IKEA for half off! Here it is all spruced up for Christmas:

I’ve said for months that I’m going to paint this table, and a few weeks ago I took on the task. I was picturing a beautiful deep dark stain on the top butcher-block and a bold bright paint or stain on the rest of it. It was beautiful in my mind. So I set out to find the perfect color for the body of it and stumbled on some RED stain from IKEA. Perfect.


I painted it on and gave it a few minutes to sit, then wiped away the excess.


What?! Oh no.


The stain refused to stick in some areas. This table was suppose to be “raw” but after cursing at it for a few minutes I realized that because it was the showroom as-is piece, they had coated it with some type of clear top coat. *&%*$#*!

So I did what I knew I should have done all along; I busted out the sander and went to town on it.


So first off, don’t sand in your house. Srsly. Don’t do it. ESPECIALLY if it’s an electric sander. I knew better, but I was sick and lazy, so I sanded anyway. And now, weeks later, I’m still wiping saw dust off everything. It even made its way upstairs. I have wiped it off counters, railings, baseboards, windowsills. Just don’t do it. Mmm-kay?!

I took a break from the body and decided to tackle the butcher-block (after it was sanded). I don’t know what type of top coat IKEA used on this cart, but this staining business turned into a freaking EPIC FAIL.


Even after sanding, the dark stain would not take evenly. It looked even worse in person.


I stained this thing three times trying to get a nice even surface, to no avail.


Now, if you follow me on my Facebook Fan Page, you’ll know that I was getting pretty fed up with this little ditty. I even threatened to throw the dang thing off my balcony.

Fortunately I was too sick and tired (literally) to even pick it up, much less toss it over my balcony, so it narrowly escaped death.

I lived with the uneven dark stain for a few days trying to will myself into liking it. I just couldn’t get past it though. It was too ugly. Also, I gave the red stain one more go and it still looked horrible so I poked around in the garage and found some tangerine-colored paint I bought two years ago. I said, “What the heck” and threw caution to the wind and tried out the orange.


What is worse than an EPIC FAIL? Because that is what this train-wreck was turning into. A freaking epic fail. This fail was so bad that I was actually sweating thinking I couldn’t even recover it from the mess I had just put it through.

But I took it outside anyway and gave it an even better sanding on top. No matter how much I sanded I could not get that gross clear top coat off. I’m not sure exactly what IKEA used, but it soaked the cart to the bone.

So I had to just throw out the stain idea. This cart could not be stained. Once I accepted the fact that my entry cart’s fate involved paint, I went to my stash and found some that Krylon had sent me (here’s your plug, Krylon).

First, I used Krylon primer (about 2 cans).


Can’t forget the drawers:

(I didn’t paint the sides or inside of the drawers; only the fronts.)

The next day I used this Krylon Satin spray paint in “Avocado”.


I ended up using 4 cans of Avocado paint. Krylon had sent me a few previously as part of a promotion, but I did have to run out to the hardware store to pick up two more.


And finally, the cart was done. It’s a miracle.


It isn’t what I had hoped for initially, but sometimes when you tackle a project you just have to roll with the punches and change it up as you go.


Honestly, I’m glad the stain was a total fail because in the end, I love the green even better than the original vision I had for it.



If I had to pick one word for this project (besides “paininmyass”) I’d pick “adaptable”. When you are working on a project, you have to be flexible and be willing to adapt as the project goes.


And sometimes when you are elbow deep in stain that wont stick and you want to just toss your furniture off the balcony, take a step back, adapt, and come up with a new path for your project. In the end, you may even like your new way better.

I sure do. I love the green. Dare I say I’m even a little happy that my vision was a bust so that I could be lead to a green entry table?

Have you chucked anything off your balcony lately?

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  1. The entry table looks great! I am so happy I saw this. I have stared at that avocado color in the grocery store so many times (once I was in the spray paint section so long my husband called to see when I was coming home). I’ve always been too wimpy to pull the trigger and buy it. Since it looks so good on your table I think I’ll try it on the night stand I have in mind!

  2. Congratulations on the big feature! I love the green, so pretty and fresh!

  3. I love the color! I’m glad you didn’t throw it off the balcony, although I know the feeling. I have a coffee table that has been giving me similar fits. I’m hoping it will eventually turn out as good as this did!

  4. I love the green! It looks fantastic!
    I always like it when people share their not-so-great moments, shows that we’re all only human! And it turned out great in the end!

  5. I have an entryway piece that needs to be painted. I was leaning towards a turquoise, but now avocado green is in the running. Love your blog.

  6. LOVE the way the table turned out!!!! 🙂 You know I love me some green! 🙂

  7. Glad you stuck with it, b/c the green looks great! I just brought home an old nasty stinky little porcelain topped cabinet to use for a tiny island in my kitchen. Cleaned it, now trying to figure out what color to paint it. Even though the porcelain is chipped, I want to leave it as is, but the paint on the base is in really bad shape. Ideas? 🙂

  8. That looks fabulous. I can’t imagine the stain could have looked better. Isn’t it funny how sometimes you have to just go with the flow to get something spectacular. Love that green!

  9. I really appreciate how you shared your initially failed project! Sometimes I run into a “bump” in my project and wonder if anyone else has problems. It’s nice to know that sometimes it doesn’t go as smoothly as it looks online! It really turned out great and I love that pop of color that it provides!

  10. It turned out beautiful! Sorry it was such a pain – I definitely know how you feel!

  11. I think the green looks frickin awesome! Maybe you’re lucky you couldn’t stain?

  12. Gasp! You’ve made avacado stylish again! You are ‘da wo-man! I lurve the green.

  13. This was one of your most entertaining posts ever – thank you for being honest and showing what a wonderful painintheass process this was. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only idiot out there screwing up my projects so I assume I MUST be doing something wrong. Good to know I’m in good company!

  14. Hey, found you through Sarah’s post over at TDC. **LOVE** her. Looks like you have some great ideas on how I can tackle all those projects my husband doesn’t have time to do. Look forward to reading more. And I’m with you. The green is WAY COOLER. Great job!

  15. Can I just say this…no matter how big your ‘freaking epic fail’ is…I’ll always come back because I love the way your write! And…besides…in the end it was anything but a ‘fail’! I love the colour and I love the reminder to be adaptable…that applies to more than just DIY makeovers.
    Thanks for the smile:)

  16. Congrats on the TDC post! I just saw it!! wooot!

    you are too funny. There have been times that I’ve also tried to “will” myself to like a color or something…but then I decided NOPE, and I do it over. We do a lot of things like this (paint do overs, etc.)

    looks great!!! what a great piece, lots of nice storage.

  17. you crack me up with every blog post! seriously! you are hilarious!

    glad you stuck with the table, it looks beautiful green!

  18. Love that color, looks great (even if it was a “paininyourass”)!

  19. That feature rocked! You lucky girl…it was well deserved 🙂 I love this littel table, and that color is awesome! Way to adapt girl 🙂

  20. Wow, I would have given up on that table after the 2nd try. Congrats on sticking with it, cause it sure looks cute now!

  21. I absolutely love your entry table! The green looks fantastic…and it’s so true that sometimes you’ve just got to adapt. If I had a balcony, I would have been tempted to throw a few projects off of it myself. 🙂

  22. Beautiful!!! You cracked me up the whole time! lol. Nevermind the fact that you were sick AND still crafting stuff.

    You have a beautiful home! I love the clock in the picture on the right.


  23. Confession: when I saw the can of paint….I was thinking “egh”. Avocado…seriously? But, it looks awesome…totally feeling it!!

  24. I wonder if the initial clearcoat product was oil based (and subsequent coats of ‘fail’ stain, water-based)? This would also explain the splotchiness, and also why the Krylon went on so well (since it’s oil-based as well)

  25. Looks great. I am a big fan of nice paint job vs. staining.

  26. “Lurve” the green!!!

  27. “roll with the punches?” Heck! You were sucker-punched! I would’ve ditched it on the first go-around!

    But, kudo’s to you for sticking with it. I can’t believe Avocado is actually back in style (yes, I’m THAT old), but I’m loving it this round.

    Congrats on the feature! Wowza! I’m headed over to check it out!

  28. Love the green! It turned out great after all that work! I read your post and felt your pain. We just painted our previously sponge-painted front hall and after much sanding (to remove the texture), 3 coats of primer (to cover the pattern) and 2 coats of paint… I hated the colour! I may have cried… a little. After a pep-talk from my hubby we decided to keep going with the plan and see what it looked like all painted before we made any rash decisions (although I already had new paint chips taped to the wall)… and now I love it! Sometimes it’s just “wait-and-see” sometimes it’s about “adapting” I guess. Great job, and I’m glad it turned out for the better.

  29. Jodi Behrens says:

    If it makes you feel better I have NEVER had luck with staining IKEA pieces. Its just like they aren’t made to do that…but luckily for you your piece looks great in green. LOVE IT!

  30. I love the green. It looks amazing. Hope to see you over at DIY Home Sweet Home. I am having a link party today and every Monday so be sure to stop by and see all of the great projects.

  31. I found your blog through TDC, and I’m lovin’ it! I like the green paint a lot! It looks so fresh and springy. I haven’t chucked anything “off the balcony” yet- I just bottle up the pain and give myself an ulcer!!

  32. I love the way it turned out. The green is so fresh and fun for spring! Thanks for your honesty and sharing of the process. Many of my projects include mistakes, or “a new direction needed”, along the way. Congrats of your feature. You go girl!!! 🙂

  33. Love Love LOVE your green table!!! It’s my favorite color. I just wish I had a piece of furniture in my house to use that

  34. I saw your post on TDC and thought is was AWESOME!! Congrats Momma!!! I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOOOOOOVE the table. It’s FABULOUS!!!!

  35. For future reference, may I suggest wood conditioner before stain? It’s worked for me in the past (to nix the splotchiness) – especially with more porous woods, after sanding if they’re already coated with something.
    Great save, though – I LOVE the color!

  36. That’s something I def need to learn: adapt. My plans never go as planned and it drives me nuts!! But the green totally looks great!!

  37. How could you not love Sarah at TDC and spray paint for that matter! 🙂

  38. Kelli Ushakov says:

    I”m glad you shared about the stain! I had the same thing happen, but on a larger scale…my kitchen cabinets! We sanded them down (we thought, well enough) and tried to apply a dk green stain,only the stain would totally cover (I mean totally) in some places and not cover at all in others. We re-sanded, and still could not get it to work. I was heart broken. Had to adapt. That was about 7 years ago, and I am so over the dark kitchen cabinets and am wanting to repaint (no thoughts of stain here!). Anyway, I can totally feel your pain! I also love the green you chose! 🙂

  39. Even though it wasn’ t what you originally envisioned, it turned out beautifully! My dining room table caused me about the same kind of grief so i can fell your pain. Luckily, I did what you did and kept at it. Btw, I am guessing that your table is made from Birch which is really hard to stain. I use my Paint-A-Stain technique


    when I am working with this type of wood or a piece in which I can’t remove all of the previous stain.

  40. It looks great!! I don’t think I would ever try to tackle a stain project, I’m much to impatient!! 😉 Spray paint is my addiction..haha 🙂

  41. First of all, I love that you showed how things didn’t work out at first (as they often don’t for me), but you kept with it. And personally, I LOVE the green!!

  42. Wow, I love the green. I am sure your original vision would have been great, but this green is awesome. Woo-hoo that you didn’t throw it out.

  43. Oh I love it!! There are so many projects I’ve wanted to take on but am afraid they’ll be an epic fail……but, if I can come back like you did with that table, I don’t know what I’m waiting for!!! It adds a perfect pop of color there – I absolutely love it! Great save!! =)

    Mara @ Super Savings

  44. We had a problem like that. I bought a giant armoire from a garage sale. My thought all along was to sand it and stain it a darker color. I went to Home depot and picked out the color. I came home and started my project. Well that stain was more cherry so I took it back and the guy that worked there talked me into getting the stain and polyurethane together in one can. I thought perfect. He forgot to tell me stir don’t shake. The very same thing that happened to your entry table happened to my giant armoire. My husband took over. He spent many days sanding that thing down to the raw wood. I went to Home depot again and bought JUST stain. Guess what. Same thing happened. If I could have picked it up I would have thrown it in the street. Again …my wonderful husband sanded for days and this time primed and painted it an espresso. I love it!!!! Only thing is it wound up costing more to get it to the color I wanted then the 150.00 I paid for it. Lesson learned. 🙂

  45. Don’t know if anyone mentioned this but Ikea may have waxed the piece with a beeswax polish finish protective product they sell. Or it could’ve been almost any of that stuff they sell in the paint aisle for unfinished wood that turns it into a turtle shell. Glad you didn’t give up on the table, it looks awesome!

  46. Hi Allison… where did you find the avocado spray paint? I’ve looked for it and found ivy and pistachio, but no avocado – and it looks like it’ll make my guest room duvet perfectly!
    Thanks for the tip!

  47. This came out really nice!

  48. I love the table! Super cute!

    Have a question about the process. After you figured that stain was not going to work did you re-sand the piece before you put the primer and paint on it?

    I just started a project for my soon to be born babies room and the stain I chose for his dresser is not brown it is what I would call coal black and blotchy… As I am sure you can imagine, It is not working real well. Any ideas on how to lighten it up?


  1. […] this color look familier though? It’s from a looong time ago when I painted my little entry way cart (another huge disaster epic fail that I was able to […]

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