Living in Hawaii, we make friends with folks who will most likely end up moving back to one of the mainland states. That is how we acquired this beautiful dining room table. Thanks to the Justice Family who passed on this wonderfully pre-loved piece, we now have our first dining room table to use in our little cottage home.
The wood finish was gorgeous by itself, but since I’m trying to lighten up the rooms to make the spaces feel wider and brighter, this table needed to be transformed. Honestly, I put off this project until I had finished the bookcase, patio set, and French Secretary desk. I didn’t want to start on something huge and possibly leave it unfinished. This table has a built-in third leaf so I pulled it all the way out to work on every piece at the same time.
I approached this piece like the others and sanded every side that was to be primed and painted. I began with hand-sanding, but for something so sturdy (this time solid wood), it took a lot of muscle to get the scratches and art-project paint off. I eventually got brave enough to use my husband’s electric sander – it was fun and so very fast! MUST use this for big projects in the future.
Failed Attempt – Stain
My first thought was to stain the table to bring out it’s original color. “It will look natural,” I thought, “and I will still paint the legs white.” I bought the lightest wood stain, which is definitely oil-based so I would have to get an oil-based finishing coat. I brushed it on and the color did come out very nicely, but even left overnight, it was still sticky, very very smelly, and I was just not happy with the process.
What I Really Wanted
What I really wanted was a light color. So my only option at this point was to remove the sticky film with some acetone and sand the top again. I hand-sanded and painted the legs first with the same cream color at the French Secretary Desk as it didn’t need to be a true white. When that was dry and sealed, I sanded the top, wiped with a damp cloth, and primed with a common white primer.
I referenced colors from the HGTV Rustic Refined Collection on the Sherwin Williams website. This pallet is exactly the style I’m going for in my home, so it was great to have the help to compliment colors without having to guess!
Color and Weathering
I was much happier with the coloring once I saw the legs and the top come together. As I skimmed through different design ideas on Pinterest, I was most attracted to the weathered farmhouse look. This would require actually lightly painting the top with a tan or gray weathered look. For this piece, I chose “Pewter Tankard” an antique looking gray color, but lightly brushed it over the white primer, allowing some of the white to show. Allow at least one hour for paint to dry.
What you want to do at this point is use a medium grit sandpaper to rub away the darker spots of the paint, trying to fade the colors together so you don’t see such obvious paint strokes. See the overhead comparison picture: right side is hand-sanded, left side is not.
Next I used Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish, a water-based clear coat to finish the table. (Important to use water-based materials together, do not mix with oil-based) One or two coats is all you need, could do more if the table top will be used a lot. There are different options for finishes including polyurethane and finishing wax (usually used over chalk paint). Here are some more tips on the difference between polycrylic and polyurethane.
Since this will be our main family table space, I applied two coats of polycrylic and allowed to dry for at least two days until we began to use.
The table came with spindle chairs – so cute and so much character, but so tedious to paint! I had my kids help me with this project, determined to attack all four chairs at once. They helped me sand by hand and slap on the primer to cover every inch of dark brown wood they could see.
Chairs were sanded, painted two coats, and distressed the corners and crevices with a medium grit sandpaper. We wiped them clean with a damp cloth, added the polycrylic clear coat, and allowed dry for two days.
Did my precious children whine? Yes. Did they make up excuses to quit after 10 minutes of work? Most definitely. But as annoyed as it made me to encourage them to keep going, this project turned out to be an awesome learning opportunity to employ the phrase:
You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when you’re finished.
And we finished them. Together. Tired and sweaty, dust everywhere and paint in our hair. We finished.
What we have now is a perfectly beautiful dining room table that the whole family can be proud of. I even found some mint green placemats at Target to give it a pop of color!
Share about a big project that you took on!