How To Happy Hour- Faux Carrara Marble + IKEA hack

(Update: Video "How To" is at the end of this post.)

Hello my lovelies! Its cocktail time!
Today we will be drinking Blood Orange Cosmos thanks to my dear friend Nancy Stanley. She is an amazing photographer (and one of my sponsors so check her out!) and she just returned from a week in Vegas.  While there she drank these at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and loves them so much she is planning an entire party around the drink. I love her!
So here are the ingredients...
Hanger One Mandarin Vodka
Salerno Blood Orange Liquor
White Cranberry Juice
Splash of simple syrup
shake with ice and serve

Now to get down to business. We will be "fauxing" Carerra marble on an IKEA Docksta table to make it look more like a marble top Saarinen table. I have been marbleizing my Formica counters all week and thought the Docksta would be a good size for a quick project.
Here is a peek at Phase One of the Cheapest Kitchen Renovation ever... ignore my pot of chicken soup please...
Here is the before (and yes that is my bottle of saving grace sitting on counter, LONG week)...
So to do this technique you will need the following materials...
-First make sure the surface is lightly sanded and primed. I used XIM bonder primer- 2 coats.
-Next mix your  medium gray glaze that you will use for the veins. 
I used 2 parts white primer or flat white paint, 1 part Open Time (or latex glaze) and a few drops of black. I also added just a drop of cobalt blue tint to keep it a cool gray.
-Sip. Believe it or not the alcohol helps you relax and loosen up. You want a relaxed soft hand. You don't want heavy lightening bolt veins.
-In a larger container mix your white glaze...2 parts white with one part Open Time or latex glaze.
Get your brushes, a damp sea sponge, and glazes ready. You can focus on a small area or the entire surface, just be prepared to move quickly.
Have pictures or actual samples of marble around for reference. You will notice that the veining runs the gamut from heavy to almost non-existent. Figure out what you like and aim to replicate that.

-Start by first sponging the area with white glaze, and then start filling in the ground with a large gray drift. This is going to be softened and will fade out, so don't worry about it seeming too dark. Lightly sponge areas to soften and then use your feathering brush to lightly fade the edges. Brush back and forth using an X or figure 8 motion.

Continue to soften and add more gray veins along the edges of this "cloud".

The goal is to build layers and depth. Sponge a layer of white glaze over the entire surface and then feather it with your brush. Step back and look at the area. If you want it darker do the previous steps again. Next you will start to add more specific sharper veins.

You can use either a feather or a piece of thin cardboard torn in the shape of one like I did below. You will now lay in your main veins. Dip it into your gray glazed and with a gentle hand drag and roll it down.

You  don't want to make straight lines.  You want to make them run on 45 degree angles and avoid making "X"s Practice this technique on cardboard a few times until you are comfortable. Gently feather the veins to soften them.

Next use a smaller brush to create the finer veins. Hold the brush like a conductor and gently roll and pull...

You can come back down again and connect areas to give it a fractured look...
Again,  feather these veins. if any seem too dark soften them by sponging over with white and feathering.
Take another break and come back and decide where you are at.
Do you want more veining? Too Soft/ Heavy?
Add or adjust to your liking. You can spend hours playing around, but I recommend stepping away and getting fresh eyes. For example I ended with this...
But went back and added more gray drifts and veins to get this look...

When you are happy and it is dry, clear coat it with an acrylic polyurethane. (Avoid oil-based, it will yellow it.) 2-3 coats is recommended.
 I will try to get a video up soon. It is much easier to show technique that way.
If you have any questions or need me to be more specific please ask. (I feel like there is no way I got all my info in that was on the video.) Happy Weekend and Cheers!
Update & Close Ups:
Hi everyone and thank you Apartment Therapy for posting this! I just wanted to post some close up shots for you guys. Its been almost 3 months since I painted and everything is holding great. I just don't over use Mr.Clean's magic eraser anymore. Its is great to get out stains, but rubbing too much dulls some of the polyurethane's sheen.  No biggy, just recoat.
Here are the requested close ups. I had to use a flash because I'm losing daylight here, but it actually lets you see the subtle "paint" texture. You can't see this at all in regular light, actually looks very smooth but its good to see the extreme...

I have fooled a lot of people with these counters.  Its not until I point it out that they realize its paint.  It doesn't have the cool touch of marble obviously, and if you study it you will notice its painted, but it gives the overall illusion and look of marble... and not in a "marblized laminate" sort of way.
 I actually have a paint splotch that I didn't notice until I was polyurethaning, but I use it to show people its paint. Its near the corner, and I posted a close up farther down...
 Adding layers gives it depth and feathering and softening the veins is key to giving it a soft fogged feel. It just takes practice. I learned this technique in a weekend and have practiced it for years, but have taught several people who have tackled this like pros. Practice, Practice, Practice.

And here is the "oops" paint splotch...
Thanks for all you sweet comments!
And feel free to email me if you have any questions.

For all you laminate cabinet haters (me included) I finally painted them.
Here is the kitchen all renovated with paint (literally!) 1 1/2 years later:


  1. You are just amazing. Looks great. I can't wait to see the cabinets done.

  2. SO beautiful! I'm totally impressed with your talent. I doubt I'd have your success -- even with a few drinks!

  3. That really looks like marble!! I have nothing to try this on or I would that's a great transformation on that table!!

    Have a great weekend. I'm headed to my MIL's (scary musisc plays).

  4. Um, you've got to stop this, Danika. You're genius projects are adding more to my "to-do" list. Your countertop, backsplash, and tabletop look AMAZING. Happy weekend!

  5. Amazing! Seriously fantastic!!!

  6. That is AWESOME. Even more impressed by the countertops/ backsplash. Nice work!

  7. Whoa! Looks beautiful! I never would have thought to try this. Quite a transformation!

  8. IMPRESSIVE!!!! (it wouldn't let me comment first try so I'm keeping it short!)

  9. holy crap, are you kidding?!? This is like the best painting project ever! I cant BELIEVE you did your whole counters, I'm in LOVE! BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL!!

  10. Oh my! Can you come to my house and do that on everything? I will provide cocktails and keep 'em coming :)

  11. Ok, that is amazing & looks fantastic. Great job!

  12. I'm amazed! Can't believe it's paint. It makes such a remarkable difference!


    You are constantly giving Martha a run for her money. Holy crap I am not easily impressed and you my dear are impressive.
    xoxoxo I am posting this shit right now

  14. Thanks everyone! I worked as a decorative artist for a long while and used to teach classes on weekends. I really hope to be able to get a video up because once you learn the brush techniques it is so easy. XO

  15. You really are too much!!!!!!! This is unbelievablly good. I would need more than just one stiff drink ;)

  16. Gorgeous!!! I am in awe. Amazing.

  17. Incredible!!! You did a fantastic fantastic job!!! And you made it look so effortless...thanks for sharing, maybe some day I'll get the energy to do it! I love to paint furniture, but stick to the simple stuff...solids!

  18. What the What!?!? You make it look so easy it almost tempts me to try it... even tho I'm sure it would be an epic disaster.

  19. so great!! your blog is amazing im deffinally bookmarking it =) i really want to try this out but i have a black color scheme so i was wondering if you would be able to do this with a black background and white marbling?

  20. Wow Danika, spied this on AT, you are an amazing painter, that looks so real! Fabulousity girl, bravo!!!


  21. absolutely amazing!!!....hope you plan on advertising your skills cause this is well done!

  22. I am soo soo soo in love with this! I am trying it tonight on my bathroom from ...Well lets just say its a really gross bathroom. I'll be posting this on my blog and I'll be sure to give you credit! Thank you!!

  23. I've seen some amazing DIY transformations, but THIS just blows me aways. It gives me hope for my yucky kitchen. WELL DONE!

  24. I think this is amazing and want to use this technique on my kitchen countertops.
    A few questions, what kind of paint do you use to paint the the white, grey, and cobalt veins? Is it special paint that you buy at the hardware store or is it simply acrylic?
    How have the countertops held up over time? Is there any discoloration or chips?
    Thanks so much for posting this DIY. It's so exciting!

  25. Your Faux Marble counters and backsplash are amazing BUTI am even more impressed with your striped ceiling- done on the bias! Paint or wallpaper? I can't imagine taping that off to make two colors!

  26. We all want to have neat and beautiful-looking home, especially in the kitchen where we prepare meals for our family. With this, there are times when repairs or improvement need to be done and knowing a bit on construction like that of marble, flooring Houston concrete as well as simple repairs are of great help to save time and money.

  27. The guide books really help to opt a good design in furniture.That is good idea for furniture purchasing.

  28. I just want to THANK YOU for this wonderful tutorial! I finished doing our counters a few weeks ago and I'm so happy with how they turned out. You were a HUGE help! I posted about it here if you're interested: Thanks again!!

  29. Can you do this on laminate counters that are not white to begin with?

  30. Just stumbled upon your blog! This is amazing!!

  31. What a fabulous project. I'll be linking to it on our Small Spaces, Big Impact pinboard. Check it out at Thanks for the inspiration !!!

  32. DUDE this is AWESOME. You rock. Are you so proud of yourself?! Because you should be!

  33. I am so obsessed with this post, you have no idea! It is so on my next DIY home project list! :D Thank you, thank you for the inspirations...keep 'em coming! (I'm also thinking I need a new craigslist project for a good excuse for another Overlay's purchase;)


  34. What a great idea! I have the same table I got in the As Is section and it's been showing it's age, this will bring it back to life, and if I screw up I can just buy a new one. Though I think I'll drink a Mai Tai while I work! :-)

  35. Wow superb! Nice and detailed steps you have posted. Thank you so much for posting this idea. And your kitchen was really attractive. granite worktops.

  36. I love your blog. This is a cool site and I wanted to post a little note to tell you, good job! Best wishes!!! CARRARA MARBLE MOSAIC

  37. Okay, I have been desperately looking for a treatment for my ugly countertops and this just might be it! Thanks for the tutorial! I love the way it turned out Great job!

  38. Thanks for the post, used it and a link to your sight in my recent post.

  39. This is a wonderful tutorial! Thank you! Can you tell me what kind of brush you are using to blend and smooth the paint? The flat wide soft brush? As a painter I know that the tools are really important.....

  40. Hi Keltie,
    I used a 3" softening brush made by Purdy. The word Symphony is printed on teh base of the handle. Here is a link for it:

  41. How do you clean this? Also does it wear if you put things like cans on it? My kids tend to open cans and leave them on the counter, would we have lots of rings?

  42. This is so amazing! I shared on my facebook page.

  43. I love the marble look! I went for a white granite and never posted such an in-depth how to before but was so excited with the results I had to share :)

    We've lived with ours for nearly 6 months now and they still wipe off great! We used Envirotex Lite as the sealant after all our research and for the commenters who mention preferring laminate - my old laminate countertops were such a pain! they were white and even stained with a water condensation ring from a cup! I prefer the new shiny coating much more it saves me so much time when cleaning. And my friends love how it turned out so much I've already got three begging me to do their kitchens as well! Maybe I will be able to take a video how to during the next one :)

    Thanks for sharing these!

  44. Hi Danika!

    I just wanted to thank you for your amazing tutorial and let you know that my friend used it to paint her kitchen countertops and then let me blog about them! You can see your tutorial in action here -
    I'm planning on using it asap too on the laminate tops in one of our bathrooms! It's awesome! :)

  45. OMGnss, you are just crazy good. I used to draw and paint when I was um.... very young(^&^) but I am SUPER NEW at DIY thing and I found your blog. I am loving it so much. I bought IKEA VITTSJO coffee table and shelves and I thought of doing marble on the bottom shelf on coffee table. Thank you so much for the video. It is so much easier for me to understand. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!!

  46. It's me again, sorry. Can I ask you where you got "opentime latex extender"? I've been searching for it but I can't find it even online. Please help me. :-)

  47. Aloha. Found your post on Pinterest. This transformation is amazing. I know nothing about papen and refinishing. What is texture like in the end? Mahalo for your time.

  48. Hi Danika,
    I am just in love with your work. I have a question about the backsplash. Is the faux finish painted directly on the wall or on a laminate sheet mounted to the wall?

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  58. Love this effect, thanks for the wonderful tutorial!

  59. Hi! I’m an editor for and am writing to request permission to use one of your photos from your tabletop tutorial in an upcoming post. We would like to feature this in a round up and would include a backlink and clear credit to you.

    Additionally, we routinely publish round-up style posts on our site and if you’re willing to allow us to use one photo from other posts you’ve done, we would love to add you to our directory of sites to feature. As a bonus, your site would then be on our radar for possible Facebook shares as well.

    Please let me know if this would work for you. Thanks for your consideration!

    1. Hi Kimberly,
      That would be great! Thanks so much!

  60. Just want to say thank you! I just finished my kitchen counters and they look absolutely wonderful because of you. Wish I knew how to upload photo so I could show you. Thanks again.

  61. Thank you so much. My kitchen island looks great. Used a buffet from a consignment shop that had been in my kitchen for years. Painted the legs and other parts a deep gray. Made the top MDF part the marble.I did not do well with brushes and sponges but that feather gave me the veins that I was trying to paint. The feather painted a much better natural look.

  62. I just did the faux marble ikea table top. I came out great; thanks for your tutorial! One issue I had a bit of trouble with was the feathering brush loosing hairs, and having to pick them out along the way. I got the same brush you used, but it did shed more than I would have expected. I 'd post a photo of the finished table but don't know how.! Jackie


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