Friday, November 29, 2013

Dining Table Makeover

A few days ago I was reading a post on Design Sponge about a chest that a woman had stripped of paint and re-finished. The comments were basically positive and people seemed really into the idea of a makeover that involved stripping, sanding, staining and polyurethane-ing rather than simply painting. 

It reminded me of the first time our home was featured on Apartment Therapy. It was a piece about the living room shelves and after it was published, I went to look at it only to find that almost every person hated our painting the wood trim white. That's an understatement.

People. Flipped. Out. 

And for the record, I completely understand.

Had the wood been in better shape, had I not been getting married in three months, had I not been the person I was four years ago...yada, yada, yada...things might have gone differently.
But they didn't and we painted the trim.
Ever since then, I have tread more lightly when thinking about painting wood. Or rather, I have considered the feelings of those poor people in the comments. The damage that I did to some of their eyes that day and I've searched far and wide for a way to make it up to them. I hope this project will do just that.

So this one's for you handsomegrad and ChefSylviaPlath. I hope re-finishing this beautiful table rather than painting it will somehow begin to make up for the white trim that "actually causes you physical pain". 

Without further ado:

Our re-finished dining table!

About a year ago, I asked what I should do about our lackluster dining table...

and told the story of how Conan acquired this Borders Bookstore gem for exactly zero doll hairs.

I asked for suggestions about painting it since I was really not jazzed about stripping the entire thing (especially the legs). Deep down, though I knew that the only solution I would be happy with would be to stain it a different color. So it sat and I sat until last week when I said, Enough!

I started by stripping a small section: 

You can see from this photo just how bad the top of the table looked before. That took about twenty minutes and when it was done, I knew there was no way I was going to do that to the whole table, let alone the spindly, turned legs. 

So I did what any self-respecting diy-er would do. I called my mommy and asked to borrow her belt sander. After about half an hour, the top of the table was completely stripped to bare wood. 

As you can see here, the legs are gone and there are sawhorses underneath the table. My mom suggested we take them off to make sanding them easier. 

I didn't get any pictures of this next step but we bought a tiny, little drum sanding attachment for our drill and used it to sand the curves and turned parts of the legs. It worked really well, and was far less time-consuming than using stripper to get down in all of the little nooks and crannies. The nooks we couldn't get in, we used a Dremel for. It took us about 3-4 hours to get the legs completely stripped. 

I vacuumed the table and wiped it down thoroughly with mineral spirits then came the fun part: 

My mom and I took several tools and used them to gouge the table and give it a little bit of character. Not too much character, but enough to keep it from looking like a brand new table. 

After that, I took really fine sandpaper and went back and sanded all of the gouges and scrapes really well so that the edges were smooth. 

I used a combination of Minwax Wood Stain in Provincial  & Golden Oak  to get the look that I wanted. Not too dark, not all one color, perfect! 

Conan put three coats of semi-gloss polyurethane on the table over the course of three days and by Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving!) the table was complete. 


The color is so rich and varied and the little scuffs and gouges came out perfectly. 

We had dinner on it last night and it was the star of the show! 



I still need to find some chairs and hang some curtains in here but the big, orange-y elephant in the room has been taken care of!

Now, back to the bathroom remodel! Hope the rest of your holiday weekend is totally awesome! 


  1. I frequent Apartment Therapy, but I don't comment. The community is sort of off-putting, and I choose to be a silent reader. I usually prefer unpainted wood too, but some of those guys really don't leave room for anyone else's tastes if it differs from their own. Anyway, you guys know you got a beautiful house and lots of beautiful old wood to play with.

    1. To be fair, the majority of the comments weren't that bad but yeah, I will only go out of my way to log-in and comment if it's something I REALLY like. I don't understand taking the time to say something if you're not into it like they're going to go, "Dang! You're right! Lemme' get to work stripping that table I just painted!" but whatever.

  2. Looks great! My appreciation for your work is especially high right now - I'm stripping some 1940s chairs I got for $3 each...they are adorable, but were probably always painted. Foolish me thought, oh, let me just strip these real quick then repaint for a fresh look. Why oh why didn't I go with the bumpy paint?!

    1. Ooooh girrrrrrl...chairs? With their little, tiny, tight curves and angles? No thank you! But kudos to you for gettin' in there! After this, you will have racked up enough wood karma points to paint anything you want until the end of time! Congrats : )

  3. Hello, where did you get those bottles on your dining room table? Thank you!

    1. Hi! They are actually from my great-grandparent's farm in Tennessee. We picked them up on a trip a couple of winters ago. You can read about them a little here

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