Neon Ombre Coffee Set – How To-sday

August 14, 2012 separator DIY Tutorial

This tutorial is sponsored by Thompson’s Waterseal, whose exterior stain and water seal spray inspired me to create something outside the box – or the outside the house, anyway!

This project would make a wonderful housewarming gift for anybody who loves coffee, tea, and/or pretty mornings on the front porch. You’ll have to pardon my trend-on-trend explosion here, but I just love the natural ombre paired with the bright, unexpected pop of neon yellow!

This project is especially unique in that it’s all sealed up with a water sealant so that you can leave it outside on the porch. You can leave spoons, packets of sugar, and even tea bags in the canister. The tray is so pretty that it can serve as decor while it’s not being used. Just add steaming hot coffee or tea!


1.   Tape around your canister with the masking tape (ideally, painter’s tape). I started at the bottom with skinny strips of tape and wide gaps in between tape stripes, and then I gradually increased the taped stripe thickness and decreased the gaps between stripes. It’s hard to explain, but look at the picture in Step 5 to see what I mean. I doubled up the tape to make the thicker stripes and sliced it in half with an exacto knife to make thinner stripes.
Do the same thing to the inside base of the tray.
2.   Squeeze a little bit of the stain into a bowl or onto a plate. Dip your rag into the stain, and rub it into the bottom 1/3 of the canister. Go ahead and do two coats of the stain, and really rub it into the grain of the wood. Don’t worry about making a smooth line where the layer ends. You want it to be a little “all over the place.”
* For each step, do the same thing to the tray as you do to the canister.
3.   Rinse the rag out, and wring as much water out as you can. Mix some stain and water about half and half. Stir it up really well.
4.   Dip the rag into the watered-down stain, and rub it onto the middle 1/3 of the canister, again doing two coats.
5.   Add another big splash of water to the stain/water mixture, and rinse the rag again. Dip it into the stain, and rub it onto the top 1/3 of the canister.
6.   Let it dry for a little bit, just until it’s dry to the touch. Peel off all the tape. 
7.   Now you’re going to go over each 1/3 with the stain again. You’ll use the same amounts of stain or stain/water mixture as the first time, but just rub on one light coat. You’ll get the ombre effect, but the stripes will show through, too.
8.   Keep going all the way to the top, and then let everything air out until it’s dry to the touch again.
9.   Tape off the edges of the stained base on the tray so that you won’t get any paint onto the stained portion. Now paint the sides of the tray white with the acrylic paint, and paint the entire lid of the canister as well. Let it dry, adding as many coats as necessary to get an opaque finish. I painted three coats.
10.   After the white paint has dried completely, tape around the edges of the canister lid and the side of the tray. You want only the top of the lid and the top edge of the tray to be untaped, with the rest of the white part covered.
11.   Brush your bright paint color onto the top of the lid and the top edge of the tray. Since I used neon yellow, I had to paint about four coats before the color looked right. Make sure to let it dry between coats, or the paint won’t last long-term.
12.   Peel off the tape, and use the water seal spray to cover the painted portions of both pieces with a thin, even coat of sealant. The stain has a sealant built-in, so you don’t need to spray those parts. I sprayed the inside of the canister and lid a little bit, too, since the whole thing will be outside.
* Note – If you want to make an indoor version of this project, try using Minwax instead, and you can skip the sealant.
Thompson’s Waterseal Elsewhere

* Disclosure – this post is sponsored by Thompson’s Water Seal. All content was produced and photographed by  Shrimp Salad Circus. See my disclosure statement for more information.


  1. Pingback: 20 Caffeinated Coffee and Tea Crafts - Little Red Window
  2. great tutorial! and I love everything abt this site! the posts! the colors! ajdsfahsdkhf :))

  3. This is such a great post. I want to remake this with a fusia accent color!! What a great Tutorial too. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

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