We started school back up last week. And I built two new tables. The two go hand-in-hand. We had a cute 4 person table and 4 cute kids doing school work around that table. It was only a matter of minutes before the elbow shoving and arguing over space began, so it was time for a bigger table. Our kitchen table seats 8. We are a family of 7. I’ve wanted more table room for when we have company over for dinner. A little while back my mom picked up some Lerberg Trestle table legs from IKEA for me and we finally got around to building our very simple tables.

We used two pieces of plywood cut down to 3ft x 6ft and some boards for trimming the edges.8.4table-028.4table-04

The table legs do not have holes to attach them to the wood. Instead of drilling holes, we just made simple little braces to hold them in place. This allows us to take the tables apart quickly if we need to move them outside or just stack them against a wall for more space. Next, we added boards around the edges to finish it off.8.4table-05

A little wood putty & sanding.8.4table-06

I decided to go for white chalkpaint. I use DecoArt Chalky Finish Paint and have always been pleased with it. FireCracker is always nearby if painting is involved.8.4table-08

After I painted, waxed, and sanded the table I decided it wasn’t quite right. I painted the trim boards pink – random decision. Knowing me I’ll repaint it before the end of the year.8.4table-09

We can comfortably fit 12 when the tables are together. 16-20 when we pull the tables apart. Now I have to find more chairs!


We were going the most affordable route, so I knew I would be painting the table top. I also knew we needed a very smooth top with no cracks for art stuff to get stuck in by the kids. I wanted a white table top for pictures….I take a lot of pictures and I sure like white! The more white the better.8.4table-12

See, isn’t that white background just perfect?!8.4table-14

I don’t have detailed step-by-step instructions because it was a pretty simple project. Cut the boards. Nail them together. Fill the holes. Sand and paint.

Have friends over and enjoy dinners with more space around the table!

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Debbie C - I love your huge white (and pink) tables! Lots of space for creativity is a must. I have an old Ikea desk/table that my hubby wants us to give away so we’ll have more room but I refuse. I like to spread out when I work. :)

  • Brandi - We are going to be a family of 7 soon, too, and this idea is incredible! Pulling the tables apart for company seating…just love it!

  • Andrea - Your new tables are beautiful.

  • Katie - Your studio space amazes me each time that I see it! The new tables are simple and sweet – and very family friendly. Great call with the whitewashed tops – perfect background!

  • Sprite - Oh, how perfect! The tables are lovely!!! Your studio shelves are organized so beautifully, too. Every time I read your blog I’m inspired to organize or decorate my space. :)

  • Diana - I totally agree about needing a white table top for pictures! I take waaay less than you but I still think I need one. Table looks great!!

  • Natalie - You should build a couple long benches for the ends!

  • Lisa M. - So funny! I am literally sitting in IKEA contemplating picking up a pair of these legs! After seeing your post though, it’s a no-brainer! Thanks for sharing your beautiful tables with such perfect timing!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Just perfect!

  • kimberly oyler - i knew you’d go with white. smart decision. annnnnd you know i have to ask. what chairs are in the kitchen now? so much change!

  • Chiara M - It’s so exciting to have enough seating for guests and big get togethers. I hope the tables inspire some great gatherings. I’m just wondering about the shelves in the studio. They look like Ikea, but I would love a source. I really like how they’re a combination of book shelves and cupboards. We’ve got a long wall in our new house I want to fill with shelves, but it would be nice to have some cupboards to hide things in too.

  • AshleyAnn - Chiara – Thank you. Yes, the shelves are from IKEA. You can purchase the doors (wood and glass) from IKEA too!

  • AshleyAnn - Kimberly – no chairs in the kitchen when we need to use them in the studio! We carry them back and forth until we can find affordable ones to have enough for both rooms! Chris did pick up two more school chairs for $10.00 each today. Only have to find 10 more affordable chairs!

  • danielle - Those are great! We are starting next week! Eek! I can’t believe summer is almost over.

  • Jamie - Great table!
    I would love to see a couple ‘home school’ blog posts. I am starting to home school with my Kindergartener this year. Good luck to both of us!

  • Russett - I keep meaning to ask you about your floors and although your post is about the tables, I’m asking now – is there any type of stain or paint on your cement floors (they are cement, right?). I love them and hope to achieve the same look in our basement.

  • Bethany - Hi! Just wondering what color is on your walls? I’m looking for a nice white in my kitchen and this looks like just the ticket!

  • AshleyAnn - Russett – they are just poured concrete. We haven’t sealed or stained them. We probably should, but it just hasn’t happened yet!

  • Rhonda - Looks awesome!!! I love this space!!!

  • Melinda - I love the art supply tray. Is that DIY or did you buy it somewhere?

  • Sarah - Have you shared yet about the great bookshelves/storage system in the background of these photos? Ikea?

  • Sarah - Oops, just saw that someone already asked. They look great!

  • Andrew - I know this is old, but how sturdy are the ikea table legs? I’ve been thinking about getting a pair for myself.


  • {bits & pieces} - […] What I love about Under the Sycamore is Ashley Ann’s hacker vibe. Everything is pretty but she doesn’t make me feel like doing her projects would be impossible or expensive. If you need some work tables fast, here you go! […]

  • Se7en's Fabulous Friday Fun Post #236 - se7en | se7en - […] never thought I needed a school room, but I have to say… Under the Sycamore’s new table is just so […]

My friend Shannon is a phenomenal photographer. Over the weekend she held her second workshop for photographers and I had the honor of hosting. When Chris and I started building the big extra room I affectionately call my “studio”, we did it with the hope and intention of sharing with others often. It made me so happy to watch Shannon share her talent and wisdom in my home. What a gift she shared with my family by letting us host.


During the workshop, I  spoke briefly about blogging and social media. I feel like I was all over the place. Hopefully, the ladies walked away with something! Later in the afternoon our mutual friend Loren came to prepare our model. Loren is the sweetest. On a semi-regular basis she cuts off all my split ends and tries to teach me how to fix my hair. The girl is so patient. My oldest daughter LOVES Miss Loren. When she found out Loren was doing hair and makeup – she was there.8.4imagovita-03

My trailer was made all cute for the practice photo shoot!8.4imagovita-048.4imagovita-05

Flowers everywhere. Flowers in tins everywhere!8.4imagovita-078.4imagovita-088.4imagovita-098.4imagovita-10

Shannon is surrounded by so many friends that love and support her. She has built a successful business, but she has also built so many beautiful relationships within the industry. The two go hand in hand for Shannon.  I’m so thankful to call her my friend. I’m a better person because of the influence of Shannon in my life. She is a treasure (with crazy awesome hair).

Imago Vita Photography

Contributors to the workshop:

Jessie Leigh Photography

Happy Situated

Ann Bennett Photography

Robyn’s Flower Garden

Livi Lee’s Daylight Donuts

Little Big Photography

The Vintage Comb

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • natalie - ashley, oh my word! this is such a beautiful event. what a gift to open up your space to teach & host others.

  • Michelle Hill - Your trailor is a dreaaammm!! such beautiful scenery for photos :)

  • Ashley E - Such a fun group of girls! My daughter loves Loren too…especially whatever candy treat she has at the end of the haircut. ;)

  • Izzy - This looks like a such a helpful and practical weekend. Love the flowers everywhere!

  • Amy - I love the shot of the flowers on the chair. The vintage tins are such a neat idea! Your idea and arranging?

  • Jennifer - Absolutely beautiful! Wish I had just a smidge of the photo talent you ladies have. Gorgeous!

  • Ujjaini Lahiry - I love the tin plant pots. Beautiful!


  • Mrs. H - I have that same Ladies Home Journal tin! Dewey, OK is even where I bought it. It’s current use is for cookie decorating sprinkles.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh those flowers in tins! It makes me want to run out and buy flowers and decorate :)

  • Shannon Phillips - Oh my word Ash! You bless me so! Thank you will never even come close to an appropriate response for all you did and for all of your kind words. I love you sweet friend. Thank you for sharing your home and your wisdom with all of us.

In person and on this blog, I am frequently asked about how I get my kids to not run from my camera or be bothered by it. I share several tips in both SnapShop courses about this topic. I thought I would post one of those tips here today. I’ve mentioned it before – I lead by example. What I mean by this is if my kids have an idea for a photo or if they ask to take one of me I try my best to say, “yes.” This scenario played out this week while I was working on building some new tables. I thought I would share with you what it looks like with my oldest daughter….

She always wants to help me build or craft. As I was taking a few tutorial shots for a future blog post I looked across the table and she was playing with my drill. I snapped this shot:


Immediately she asked to take a photo of me. I set the camera on the opposite end of the table (it was a little heavy for her to hold). She told me to pose like this:8.14intheshot-02

When she saw the photo she took, she was frustrated it was blurry. My focal point was set to the center, which was too high to focus on me when I was squatting down. I moved the the focal point to the bottom center position while she demonstrated the next pose she wanted me to do, but with the nail gun and drill.8.14intheshot-038.14intheshot-04

Then she gave me another pose, but she didn’t want me to hold the drill.8.14intheshot-058.14intheshot-06

Finally, I asked her if we could use the timer and take one together.8.14intheshot-07

The whole thing took about 3 minutes. I was in the middle of something else when she asked, so it would have been easy to say, “in a minute” or “not right now” when she asked to use my camera. Often that is how I respond. But really….3 minutes is not a big deal. 3 minutes doing something together that was her idea and grows her love for photography. 3 minutes that help her see what I enjoy when I am the one holding the camera. I need to say “yes” more often.

flourishSnapShopsEnrollment for the final SnapShop courses of 2014 is currently open.

Click here for more information on my intro to photography online workshops.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Sarah - I love these pictures! Right now I am also trying to say yes more and it is so rewarding. Thanks for the reminder and photo tip.

  • Christin - Such a wonderful tip! Thank you

  • Jamie - Love this post. Agree, 3 minutes means so much to children.

  • Ashley - Followed your blog for years… will you please tell us what you do to your hair now that you don’t straighten it as often? I am dying to quicken my morning routine and our hair looks very similar. I can’t seem to shake the straightener yet.

  • allie - I feel like the days greatest treasures are in those “3 minutes” when we choose to say “yes”. like our kids know we are in the middle of something, but instead chose to do what they wanted and they totally relish in that! thanks for encouraging us to be “yes moms”!!

  • Jenny - The pictures you take of your kids always look awesome, no matter what you all are doing! :)

  • Cassie - I love this! Great advice!

  • Jules M - I love that you did this. I love that she was patient to work through some photos until she got the camera to get what she was envisioning. Thanks for taking those 3 minutes.

  • kimberly oyler - girl you are so tan. and i love these pictures.

  • Carrie Owens - what a great reminder, I love these images :) and I love that you got one of the two of you together!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Great job, Firecracker! I really love the one of your mom at the table with her arms crossed! And the one of both of you makes me smile!

  • Christine - Wonderful tip! I’m going to try it this weekend!! Thanks!

  • Sarah - I started a 365 project when my oldest turn one, for every day that she’s a one year old. We’re a little more than half way through and for more than a month now she runs when she sees my camera come out. Most of the photos have to be done on my phone when she’s not looking, because she’ll immediately stop smiling or get out of the way if she can :(. Hopefully it’s just a phase and she’ll get excited about photography when she’s big enough to understand it like little Firecracker.

  • Ruth - You are awesome :)

  • elizabeth H - BEAUTIFULLY BEAUTIFULLY said Ashley!!

  • Zulejka - Somehow you always inspire me to be kinder, more creative and more loving to my kids. Actually, you make me want to have more of them (i have two);) I also love your decorating style!

  • Crystal - Geesh, I almost cried on this post!! :) so good.

  • Janna - Seriously…those pix are so cute I could just about cry!! (Yes I am pregnant, why do you ask?? ;) ) Makes me really want to have my camera out more. I absolutely LOVE your blog and all the color and uniqueness about your house and life. So fun! Thank you for sharing with us!