Baby, it's cold outside

Posted by Kacie Haeker on

This winter has already been the craziest, snowiest and coldest winter I can remember in a very long time! Of course the timing couldn't be more excellent as I'm now about 6.5 months pregnant and already a *teeny bit* accident prone (a.k.a. giant klutz!) Needless to say, Mr. G+R prefers I stay inside where I'm [only slightly] less accident prone in this winter weather. Maybe even more needless to say, I don't mind staying inside. This means staying warm, drinking hot chocolate, watching Christmas movies (been on since October this year- thanks, Hallmark!) and finishing up some DIY home projects before we start on our nursery in January!

My absolute favorite DIY project so far has been transforming our dining room table. My parents recently, and deservedly, moved into their dream home. My mom and I originally planned on doing something similar to this project with their existing dining room table before moving it into their new home. Ultimately, they decided to buy a new table that fit the space better. I would be lying if I didn't say I was initially a little bummed that mom and I wouldn't be completing this DIY project we'd talked about doing for a couple of years. That is until I realized... they wouldn't be needing that table anymore if they bought a new one, huh?! Score. This table is sturdy and in excellent condition, with a leaf and 6 chairs that are in equally excellent condition. The only thing I don't love about this table - the cherry red wood made so popular in the late 90's/early 00's. Yeah, not exactly the right look for our farmhouse kitchen.

Kitchen Table-Before


To start this project, I knew I wanted to change three things.

  1. Change the fabric on the chairs from off-white to ... honestly I didn't know until I went to Hobby Lobby and looked at what my options were. I just knew the off-white would clash with my plans for the white-white (is that a real color?) that I wanted to paint the chairs.

  2. Paint the legs of the table and the chairs white

  3. Re-stain table-top to a deep, rich brown

I consider myself pretty good at these types of projects. I've stripped and re-finished smaller pieces of furniture. I've re-upholstered chairs. I may have not taken on a project of this size before, but I was confident that with a little bit of research, and a little trial-and-error, I could definitely accomplish this! Looking back at this project now - I can tell you that the trial-and-error process was longer than any other part of this project! Stripping a dining room table of the existing stain proved to be more complicated than stripping any other furniture I had done in the past. I've since come to the conclusion that this totally makes sense. A dining room table is stained, and covered with several coats of polyurethane to withstand lots and lots of wear and tear! But...I was persistent, I bugged my wonderful father-in-law (who is somewhat of a furniture expert) a few times, and probably drove Mr. G+R absolutely nuts groaning and complaining under my breath from the dining room. Bless these two patient men. Now, I have the perfect farmhouse table and I am in LOVE!

Kitchen Table-After

NOW! I know you're all asking..."How did she do it?!" First, let's talk products used.

  • Fabric - to reupholster the chairs. I ended up finding the perfect upholstery fabric for this project at Hobby Lobby. It was a very similar type of fabric to what was already on the chairs, so I knew it would stand up to all the scooting and wiggling bottoms sitting on them. AND it's a light bluish/green color that just so happens to match my Keurig and Kitchen Aide mixer that sit on my kitchen counters right around the corner. (Eek!)

  • Chalk Paint - Much like going into HL blind for the fabric, I didn't exactly know what color I was looking for, besides white. (Ladies-we all know how many shades of white there are!) I did know I wanted chalk paint. It's pretty much my favorite kind of paint for furniture. I love that I can really manipulate it to make the furniture look more worn. It also sands off the corners/edges easily for that same worn effect. I chose Linen White Rust-Oleum Chalk Paint for this project. I had recently used this brand in a different shade to re-finish some kitchen cabinets for a client, so I knew I loved it. I highly recommend! I don't blog for money, I blog for you - companies don't pay me to endorse their products, so you can take my recommendations to heart. If you do try chalk paint for furniture, make sure you also use the clear top coat to protect it!

    Linen-Chalk Paint   Matte Top Coat
  • Stain - I ended up using a mix of a couple of Minwax stains I use on your projects on a regular basis. Dark Walnut and Ebony are two of my favorites, and I love how deep and rich the end result is when you mix them together. I honestly couldn't tell you how many parts of each I used on the final project. Remember that trial-and-error I was talking about earlier? Yeah...this thing was stained, stripped, stained, stripped, stained, stained, stripped..... you get the idea. I can tell you that in the end it is slightly more ebony than dark walnut.

    Dark Walnut StainEbony Stain
  • Stripper - Let's just agree to skip the trial-and-error part of this DIY tutorial. I tried several that I've used successfully in the past. I won't bash those products...they work. Just not for this. As I mentioned earlier...this table was made to withstand a lot of wear and tear. My father-in-law was over helping move some heavy stuff around the house, so I sought out his expert opinion on this. He recommended Formby's Furniture Refinisher. This is apparently used to re-finish a lot of antique furniture - it's tough enough to do the job and gentle enough not to destroy the integrity of the furniture. You can pick up Formby's at Wal-Mart if you're interested in trying it. I, however, went to Home Depot. They don't carry it (not at my local store, anyway.) I could've driven the 60-90 seconds it would've taken to get to Wal-Mart, but I didn't want to. I spent more than that amount of time in the aisle at HD doing research on my smart phone. Let's not talk about that. I ended up discovering a product that seemed to be very similar, Watco Furniture Refinisher. I can't help but wonder if this project would've been easier if I'd driven to Wal-Mart, but we'll never know. Watco ultimately got the job done.

Watco Stripper

Step-by-Step (Reader's Digest Version)

  1. After collecting all my supplies, I started with the easiest part. I took off all of the chair seats, and recovered them with the new material. (You know, the one that matches my Keurig & Kitchen Aide mixer?!)

  2. While the chair seats were off, I painted the chairs with the chalk paint. Even though the grain of the wood doesn't show through the paint, I still use that as my guide for what direction the paint goes on. Start with an even, light coat of paint all over the chair. Then put it on thicker in random spots, blending it in with the thinner spots for a worn look. I keep doing this until I'm satisfied with the look. Every once in a while, I'll take a sanding block or a small piece of sand paper and rub a corner or edge. There's no rhyme or reason to why or when I do this. If you think about it too hard, it will look patterned, not worn!

  3. I applied the clear matte top-coat & reattached the seats. Chairs done!

  4. After the chairs were done, I started the [seemingly never-ending] process of stripping the existing stain off the top of table. I waited to paint the legs of the table because I didn't want the furniture refinisher to drip on it ruining them. I followed the instructions on the back of the bottle of Watco pretty closely. Since this is the first time I've used this product, I didn't want to stray too much. Therefore, I don't have many tips and pointers for you. I can tell you that it's about the consistency of water, so when pouring it on your steel wool, don't actually POUR it or you will have it all over. I'm not speaking from experience or anything. *sarcasm* I will stress the importance of doing this in a well ventilated area. It is a little fume-y. Because we're currently expecting our first little one, I took this very seriously. It may be freezing outside but I bundled up wore a high quality mask, opened our windows, our back patio door that's literally right next to the table, turned on the ceiling fan in the kitchen, ran the box fan and took a lot, a lot, a lot of breaks so I wasn't exposed for long periods of time at all. I also cheated and asked Mr. G+R to take turns with me, so I could get it done quicker.

  5. The most grueling part of this project is finally done. If you're taking on this project and following these instructions, congrats. The rest is going to seem like a piece of cake. Unless you're table has wood grains going 187 different ways like this one does. Ha! This actually didn't make this project any harder. It made it more time-consuming, but still I felt so happy to actually be staining and not stripping. I just followed the grain of the wood with the stain on a paintbrush, and then used a paint rag to remove the excess.

  6. After the stain dried on top, I painted the legs of the table with the chalk paint, using the same techniques I did on the chairs. Put the matte top coat on. Scooted the chairs up to the table. DONE!

*I do plan on putting a polyurethane layer or two on the table top. Honestly right now...we don't eat at the table much, so I plan on to do that this spring. Until then, we'll be careful if we do eat there. I may have to do some touch-up work if we scratch it.*

I put the leaf in the table but if I'm being honest with you guys, there are still two more chairs in my garage that need refinished and upholstered... For now, I'm just pretending they don't exist and that this project is done. What do you guys think? Is this something doable for you? Have you done anything like it before? I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment!

Kitchen Table Complete


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