A Sunny Lifestyle

April 23, 2012   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, Decor, Office Space, Sunroom   //  By: Emily   //  16 responses

Nothing spells springtime health like the opportunity to soak up sunny vitamin D while simultaneously getting serious amounts of work done, so I’m transforming the previously empty the 3-season room off the living room into our productive little office.

On warmer days, the sunroom acts as a vibrant little greenhouse making it the perfect little space to set up shop and jam through emails and writing assignments. It’s happiness on work-from-home-earth.

I’ve made one big change to the space a few weeks ago to make it as functional as it is: I found and promptly purchased a 42″ table priced at $25. Thank you, Craigslist. The addition of the table is proving to be a worthy change already, I brought it home around the same time I was working on the new bedroom headboard hexagons, hence their unassembled presence in this photo. High-five.

An empty room becomes useful!

Despite having lived here for almost three years (I’m less than a month away from my home-a-versary), I’m actually a little embarrassed to say that I never once considered adding an actual table and chairs to the room to expand it into a functional space that can be used for everyday working and (best of all) my 3-season dining room. I’ve always thought it would make a great space for additional couches and chairs, which is why in previous years I’ve dumped garage sale wicker chairs and old coffee tables into the room; they were fine for making the room feel used, but we didn’t appreciate the space as especially functional on a day-to-day basis.

The round table with pedestal base was a great price, and even came with an extra leaf which I’ve tucked into the attic for now. With a wooden base and a laminate surface, it was in divine condition too.

New sunroom table with a wooden pedestal base.

Only desirable change? The finish. The neutral brown was a bit lighter than the other dark brown hardwoods I have in the house, and seeing as it would be living its live in the bright sunroom, I decided to give it a coat of paint to lighten it up.

After reading a bit on how to refinish laminate tabletop surfaces, I decided it would be best to sand the surface sufficiently; I used Pete’s multi-tool with an 80-grit sandpaper for this, and followed up by sanding with a higher grit by hand.  Worked like a charm to quickly roughen the surface.

Sanding laminate.

Before painting, I applied a thin coat of primer to the entire table, choosing Zinsser Smart Prime, a durable water-based high-adhesion product for maximum grip (something that I had splurged on when I was refinishing the IKEA cabinet). While I only found it at a specialty paint shop, not at a big box store, it’s been totally worthwhile investment because it bonds with incredible strength to smooth surfaces like laminate, melamine, and plastics.

Using a high-density foam roller is recommended for smooth surfaces. I used a simple paint brush to thoroughly coat the more intricately carved pedestal.

Priming the laminate surface with high adhesion water-based primer.

Before I painted, I let the primer sit and cure for a full 7-days per instructions on the can. Left in the sunroom, it was exposed to both warm and sunny conditions, and we even worked with our laptops and papers on the surface beginning around days 4-6 without seeing any scratches or wear in the single coat of primer.

I’m learning more and more about painting strategies, and because I used a water-based primer, I opted for a water-based latex paint instead of oil-based this time. Just for kicks and experimentation. Oh, and the latex paint was f-r-e-e, since I borrowed from the remaining resiliant semi-gloss Irish Mist that we used on the walls in the bathroom.

I applied two coats of paint, the first of which heavily with a paint brush for good coverage on both the table top and the pedestal. I added the second application two days later with a high-density foam roller to smooth out any brush strokes on the tabletop surface.

Super glossy tabletop.

Glossy white pedestal.

It’s table love at its finest; working in the bright, warm sunroom makes us really happy people. Cody gets better access to the street life too, it’s a good stage for people and mailman watching.

A refinished wood and laminate table.

While we work out there, we pull in two chairs from the dining room table for now, but are still actively looking for a set of 4 clean-lined chairs to leave in the sunroom permanently too. The hunt continues, and more sunroom transformation awaits.

Any springtime space redesigns in your pad over the weekend?


  • Elisa
    6 years ago - Reply

    Such a big change! Enjoying working in your lovely sunroom! Does Cody go paws-up on the windowsill or can he just gaze out from the floor?

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      He can gaze right out :) Spends most of his day running from the sunroom windows to the front door to watch whoever’s in the neighborhood. Back and forth, back and forth.

  • John@ Our Home from Scratch
    6 years ago - Reply

    Emily, that looks incredible! Thanks for the Zinsser tip. That will def come in handy!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Yes! It was only sold as a gallon, so it’ll go a long, long way. Worth the cost to make an extra-durable piece!

  • Mark Winters
    6 years ago - Reply

    Looks wonderful. A lovely room.

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci
    6 years ago - Reply

    Looks great. Still loving the floor in there. You planning on keeping that? Can’t wait to see how this room shapes up! Makes me want a sun room! If it was my room, I’d go with these babies: http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Camden-Dining-Chair-Set-of-4/6198706/product.html

  • Jay Thompson
    6 years ago - Reply

    I LOVE the Zinsser primers. I used the shellac-based primer on laminate with no sanding or other prep and applied latex paint. It worked beautifully. Made me want to paint everything I could get my hands on.

  • Jay Thompson
    6 years ago - Reply

    Oops. I meant to also say that your table looks great. I’m looking forward to seeing what else you do in this lovely light-filled room. Yeah, I’m a little jealous. No such space in my condo.

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Thanks Jay! I’m going to get my hands on some of the shellac-based stuff. In my research, I read that it was a winning product, but couldn’t fully rationalize using it while I still had the water-based in my basement stash. I am happy to know that using latex over it worked out though; I wasn’t sure if mixing formulas like that would have a negative reaction somehow.

  • Marylou
    6 years ago - Reply

    What a nice table…looks really pretty now….I love that room…I’m glad the weather is nice for you to really enjoy it now….I like my “sunroom” breakfast room and without curtains as I have had it for decades…people probably think I should have curtains, but I like the feeling of almost being outdoors that no curtains give.

  • Heather
    6 years ago - Reply

    AHH, this is exactly what I am (now) looking for to put in our eat-in kitchen area! I’ve been searching Craigslist but to no avail (so far). JEALOUS! I even want it to be white–which I assume will mean I have to paint it–too.

    It looks great. Let me know if you come across any similar ones in your Craigslist browsing!

    • Emily
      6 years ago -

      Good luck, Heather! Lots of overpriced and weird-leggy tables out there. If I see anything I’ll let you know!

  • Erin
    4 years ago - Reply

    I was just wondering if you could share how well the table top has held up over time? I am thinking of painting a laminate top table that we would use as our daily dining table, but have read that it does not hold up well to regular wear and tear.

    Also…do you think a shabby chic finish could be achieved with the paint? Could the top be successfully distressed?


    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      It has held up very well! We actually just sold it at a yard sale, and years later it was still in great shape. The only spots we were beginning to see wear and tear were along the edges, where are forearms would rest while working on our laptops sitting at the table.

      I think that distressing would be possible; you’d want to sand it down after painting lightly, so that there was visible wear but not in a way that the paint would be inclined to peel up, then seal it very well with a clear polyacrylic. The primer worked wonders, so if you start with that as the base coat after you prep, you should be in good shape.

      Good luck!

  • Judy
    1 year ago - Reply

    I have a laminate computer desk. The top is rough and uneven from drink glasses being set directly on the top. How can I repair the top so the surface will be smooth again?

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