Upcycled Dining Room Table
Wow, I cannot believe I am finally writing this post and sharing photos of my FINISHED dining room table. And it’s going to be a long one, so if you just want to look at the table, scroll down to the end.
The saga of a dining room table for our new house has been 2 years in the making. It started with an old dining room table that was much much too much too small [and not really our style anymore, anyway]. So it got sold on Craig’s List to a lovely family who intended to use it for their kids’ playroom. Perfect; I love CL!
With the funds to procure a new table burning a hole in my design fund, I promptly went about searching for one. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted–wood, rectangle, expandable to seat 10, possibly weathered finish, likely a trestle table with a rustic/farmhouse style….but not too rustic or farmhousey. And not too expensive, as we are not really the fancy-dining-room-dinner sort of family. I wanted to be able to use it and enjoy it, and not worry about the kids scratching it. I didn’t want a matching set, so chairs were completely out of the picture. Just needed a table. The Right table. To seat at least 10. For under $1,000 [commence wild raucous laughter]. Seemingly impossible [I have expensive taste...]
Finally, I found one that I liked. That my husband liked. That even the kids liked! It fit the criteria, was good quality without costing an arm and a leg. Was real, solid wood–not veneer or particle board. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it would certainly work. Yay! I ordered. It was due to arrive from the manufacturer in 4 weeks. The waiting = death! But after nearly a year in the new house, I could wait a few short weeks more. And then, the day the table was due to arrive, the store called me. The table was delayed at the manufacturer–it would be another 2-3 weeks. I should call back then and verify that it had arrived before coming to pick it up. Fast-forward 3 weeks–they tell me it will be another 2-3 weeks delay. Fast-forward 2 weeks–yet still another 2-3 weeks…they hoped. They had no way to know for sure–it was delay at the manufacturer and they weren’t in control of that. WHAT?! Sadly, with no real view on the horizon of when this table might actually arrive, I cancelled my order and received my refund. I was relegated to start the search all over again. Womp-womp.
Since I had already been through every table known to man, at every manufacturer and store available to me before finding the last table, I started thinking maybe I should look for an old table to upcycle instead. After all, that’s kind of my thing anyway. And like furniture serendipity at its finest, I stumbled upon an old oak table and set of of 4 chairs at my favorite Goodwill store. I thought about them for a couple of weeks, discussed with Nicolo [he was not a fan of buying something that needed work, what with the busy life we lead]. I reasoned that if they were still there at the store in a couple of weeks, it was meant to be. He finally relented [he is a good, patient man to put up with my BS, really he is] and we set off with his truck to purchase.
As luck would have it, unbeknownst to me Goodwill was having a sale that day. Which I found out when I went to checkout. “Well, its’ 50% off today, so that will be $60, ma’am,” the sweet gal told me. WHAT?!?!? I just got a solid oak trestle dining table and 4 chairs for $60? As I’ve said so very many times before, Holy God, I LOVE Goodwill.
This fugly 80’s country oak table was just one good strip job away from rustic-farmhousey-young trad-upcycled goodness. And I knew just what I wanted to do to it, too: weathered gray stain with limed wax finish. White high-gloss on the chairs and a fun young fabric on those old stained seats. My steal of a deal even meant that I could buy fresh new foam for the seats, really turning this set into brand new again! Yay!
So the top got stripped pretty quickly and easily. Since I was pregnant, and I prefer to use low-VOC and environmentally-friendly products in everything I do, I stripped with my favorite Klean Strip Green. It worked like a charm on the top; the pedestals were another story altogether. With all of those little facets and angles, they were a real bitch to scrape. So I got one mostly done…put the stripper on the other one, got pulled away to some family need or another…and there it sat for a couple weeks. I half-heartedly started on it again…got pulled away. Several months went by. My belly grew. The garage was cold. The kids needed me. I had work-work and client work that took precedent. I had a nursery to decorate. Whoa, I had a baby! And FINALLY a few weeks before I was due to go back to work off maternity leave, I got those pedestals stripped and sanded. My fantastically wonderful daughter Mimi was the biggest help. In fact, if she hadn’t helped me get down and do them, they might still be unfinished….
Well, with the stripping done, it was a breeze to get it finished. I used a gray Minwax stain. ***AND IF YOU GET NOTHING ELSE OUT OF THIS POST BUT THIS ONE TIDBIT, THEN HERE IS MY MILLION-DOLLAR TIP FOR YOU: the real secret to getting colored stains to come out more translucent and less paint-like is to have them mix the color into a clear base, rather than the white base that they would normally use.*** Write that one down, people cause it makes all the difference in the world.
I applied the stain and almost immediately wiped it off on the tabletop. [I did the same for the pedestals, but decided that I didn’t like how it looked and went back and added a super-thick solid coat of stain to them, which I didn’t wipe off at all. This gave me a more paint-like finish–though you can still see the grain through it–which I like better.
I still need to go back and add the liming wax over the tabletop which will lighten it up and also give it a bit more of the RH-weathered vibe, but since it is pretty stinky stuff, I want to wait until the weather is cooler so I can open windows and air the stank out. So I will post a final-final pic when that step is done, as it will lighten the top considerably. But here’s how it looks today, and I do like it. And it was so freaking cheap that I am almost embarrassed that it looks so good. Almost.