Woodland animals IKEA Latt table hack

A few months we got Ale his first table and chairs. I had many beautiful (and expensive!!) children furniture pieces bookmarked in my Pinterest boards. But considering what children’s possessions can go through in their exploration of the physical universe I knew that in the real world I needed some furniture pieces which Ale could comfortably sit on, eat on…draw on, bang thing on, climb on, spill things and so on and so forth 🙂 So IKEA Latt table + chairs set was a perfect choice. Just $25!! And it is made from solid wood, with the exception of table top and chair seats, both of which you can replace with real wood to eliminate any off-gasing ingredients.

And while functionally (and price-wise) this set was spot on it was rather plain and so I wanted to make them a bit more charming. And with my love for animals a Woodland Animals theme was the most natural choice!

I think the chairs turned out really lovely and Ale was very excited seeing his little woodland buddies inhabit the chairs.

This was my first attempt at using acrylics and once you get some of the basics of it the whole project is quite easy and very enjoyable. 🙂

What you’ll need

  1. A basic set of acryclic paints.

    You can get a small set like mine or buy few separate tubes of selected colors.
  2. A few good paintbrushes for acrylic paints.

    I really only used 4 brushes. So instead of buying a whole set I would recommend buying just 3-4 individual brushes. This way you’ll be getting only the brushes you will need and can invest a bit extra on those particular brushes. You will definitely need a very nice skinny brush for fine lines, otherwise painting little details will be quite a frustrating struggle. I used this one and it worked very well. I also made a close up photo showing the other few brushes that came handy.
  3. Transfer paper

    This is also called chacopaper. I really liked using this one. I’m not sure what’s with all the poor reviews on Amazon, as it worked really well. It leaves white lines that are easy to see on dark backgrounds and easy to remove without smudging or mixing with your paint.
  4. A ceramic flat dish or blank tile

    You will need some ceramic dish or some left over blank tile where you’ll put and mix bits of your acrylic paint
  5. Small jar for water

  6. Paint/palette knife

    To be honest I used a basic cheese knife for scooping up the paint onto the tile and mixing it. But owning a real paint knife would be nice as it is flexible and make mixing paint easier.
  7. Small spray bottle

    This is helpful to keep the paint from drying too fast, especially if you live in a dry climate like we do
  8. Paper towel

How to

  1. Trim furniture legs if needed

    Before you embark on your Michelangelo adventure check if your chairs are the right height for your baby. Ours were a bit too tall for Ale as his feet weren’t touching the ground. So I trimmed the legs off one of the chairs so his feet were comfortably planted on the floor. I then also trimmed table legs so that it was balanced hight-wise with the chair.
  2. Paint the furniture in the colors of your choice

    I used green as main color with dark blue as the background for my woodland animals designs as I liked how the animals popped against the dark background. But now I think I would use yellow instead of green while still keeping dark background for the part with the painting. Anyhow… 🙂 We used zero-VOC paint from Benjamin Moore, but I do not recommend it. It was very expensive, but not easy to work with. This company claims to sell truly zero-VOC paints, next time I’ll give them a go instead.
  3. Transfer your design

    Place the transfer paper onto your furniture surface, place your printed design on top of it and carefully tape the paper to the furniture so it stays put while you tracing your design. I used juts a regular pen to trace my designs.
  4. Paint away!

    Start painting elements from RIGHT TO LEFT. The reason for that is when you paint from left to right your hand will rub onto the trace lines which erase easily. Painting from right to left preserves the transferred design. Do make sure the acrylics are fully dry before you move to the left, fortunately acrylic paint does dry very fast! Often faster than you wish 🙂 Mix a desired shade by scooping little bits of paints onto the tile or ceramic dish with your paint knife, mix them into a desired shade with the knife and then start applying it to the design. See the next section on few tips and tricks I learned in the process.

Tricks and tips

  1. Don’t leave your brushes sitting in the jar with water AT ALL. I ruined a very nice brush like that, even though I left it sitting in the jar for only short periods of time.
  2. When you are mixing different colors to make a custom shade it is better make more than less. If you run out of your custom color it isn’t always easy to make a new mix matching the color exactly.
  3. Use a small spray bottle to occasionally mist your paint on the tile as it dries very fast (at least in our very dry Colorado air)
  4. Don’t worry to much if you made a mistake – you can use a damp q-tip to wipe off the wrong bit or you can paint over it when it is dry!
  5. I found it is easiest to paint the light parts first, that way if you need to adjust the edge you can simply paint the darker paint over it when it is its turn.
  6. When you have a small dark bit to draw inside a larger light area, such as the owl eyes on my painting, fill the entire area with light color and then simply paint dark on top of it.
  7. If this is your first acrylic masterpiece definitely chose elements with larger pieces rather than very delicate ones. It takes a bit of practice to draw fine lines neatly especially the curly ones.

I hope you find this useful. I wish I had some step by step photos…but may be next time. I have IKEA’s Tarva dresser that I plan to paint with a forest theme one day. That’ll be my next IKEA hack 🙂

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