Reduce, reuse, recycle, refurbish. There are plenty more “re” words to add to that list, but those four cover the works. While practicing minimalism I’ve been trying hard to reduce and reuse in whatever ways I can. I think long and hard before making a purchase and never go shopping without a list. However, when it came to some of the large purchase items in my home, I was at a loss.
As our house has transformed since our wedding and become a much more sophisticated place, if I do say so myself, my dislike of my dining room table set only grew. I had painted it after college in hopes of adding some fun with a chalkboard table and different colored chairs, but as I’ve started finding my aesthetic, it no longer served me.
I realized the cost of replacing them for something I’d love and use for years was nowhere near our budget for this year. My options became slim. I look at estate sales in hopes of finding something I’d like at a low price, I could wait until our budget allowed a new purchase, or I could get creative. For less than $100 and $25 of that from a gift card we won over the summer, I could have the table set of my dreams.
I chose to refurbish. If I sanded down the old table, getting rid of the paint, I could then stain it a dark color to match the rest of our house. Through heavy Pinterest research, I fell in love with farm table style and realized that it would ease some of the pain of having to thoroughly sand every nick and cranny. The whole process of this redesign took about 30 hours, a lot more than I was expecting but still not as bad as it could have been; I had considered hand-sanding the whole thing until a coworker offered her sander.
The chairs were by far the hardest part of this transition and reinforcements were necessary in order to get all the old paint off. What sanding couldn’t get off paint remover did, and while the chemical is messy and toxic it does do the trick. I’d keep it as a last resort though in any of your own projects. Figuring out where to put the used solvent and cleaning it off the chairs was a headache. (Mineral spirits is key here!)
Once everything, paint, and varnish, had been removed it was time for the fun part. I chose an extremely dark stain and found out that my sanding job was a bit uneven creating a discoloration on the wood. This could have been huge problems and forced me to start over but it turned out to be an effect that I liked, making the wood almost look like it had been burned. While I waited for the stain to dry I went ahead and painted the legs white. They would need a solid 2 coats of paint and I wanted to be able to add the polyurethane to everything at the same time. The important part here is to do the paint after the stain. I did the chairs in the reverse order and had to do a lot of white touch-ups.
Here’s what I learned with polyurethane. Go slow, keep it thin and do 2 coats if you have to. I was ready to be done. I was tired and exhausted and just wanted my dining room to look put together. While the table came out fine because it lays flat the chairs have a few flaws. The poly built up in areas and dripped along the back of the chair. I thought I’d be able to sand it off once it dried but It quickly sanded the stain too. So lesson learned. Go slow. It’s a detail that mostly I notice, and from a distance, you can’t see at all. It’s by no means the end of the world, but I am a bit of a perfectionist even though I also have to realize this was my first rodeo.
There are flaws in this table. But I’m still in love with it. I’m so proud to tell people I made it myself and the look matches the style of our home so much more. I learned a lot from this project, both in what I could do if I put my mind to something and in slowing down for the process. This table is a reminder that with some creativity and a lot of work you can make something beautiful, you can create the home you’ve always dreamed of, even if it isn’t 100% perfect. And the truth is, it won’t ever be 100% perfect.