DIY Dining Table Makeover - Before + After

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The first time I can remember holding a hammer I was about 7 or 8 years old. And I would sit for hours in our garage with a box of nails, and a pile of wood/sheets of MDF, and just build things. My poor thumbs got a bit of a bashing, but I just loved it so much.

And thankfully Dan loves building things as much as (but probably way more than) me.

When we first moved in together, we picked up this dining room + chair combo from a garage sale for $60.

It was pretty ugly, and so, so yellow. I never intended to keep it as long as we did. But we’d been looking at new dining sets for years, and they’re freaking expensive! We couldn’t find anything we liked under $3,000 and we’ve always had better (and more important) things to spend our money on. It never really bothered me too much though, until we moved into our own home and it was sticking out like a sore thumb (and oh man, those chairs were so uncomfortable, not to mention wobbly).

We had never sanded it back because I didn’t love the legs enough to put in the effort required, but a few months ago it occurred to me that if we pulled them off and replaced them with square legs, and stained the whole table something lighter, it’d come up a treat.

So that’s exactly what we (well, Dan) did. Dan also wanted to trim the curved edges off the table top, so it matched the new legs.

 
 

Dan sanded it back to it’s original state, and then we made a trip to our local Bunnings to figure out what we could turn into legs. We ended up purchasing a long length of structural pine that was roughly the same size as the legs where they attached to the table, and cut it into four equal lengths. Voila, legs! Dan spent a few hours trimming them and working his magic so they’d attached to the table top.

Choosing a stain to finish with was the trickiest bit for me. We have a lot of light coloured oak/beech furniture in our home, and I wanted it to match in terms of colour. It's really tricky though, as pine is very yellow and goes more yellow as it ages, and when exposed to the sun (which our table is).

Obviously, I wanted to avoid that because part of the reason I hated our old table was because of how yellow it was.

I turned to Dr. Google and learned that:

  • oil stains have a yellow base, especially oil based varnishes which also yellow with age and when exposed to the sun.

  • water based stains / polyeurethane have a water base, and are the preferred finish.

  • you can have an oil based stain, and coat it with a water based polyeurethane (which is what we ended up doing).

If you’ve ever looked at the stain samples on pine, you’ll understand me when I say that they all sucked. All the light colours were so yellow, or alternatively the colour was way too dark.

So after spending hours on Google, and in the stain aisle of Bunnings, here’s what I ended up purchasing:

Oil stains usually bring out the best colour + grain of timber, but because they yellow with age some peope end up going with water based stains. I never really found anything on the internet that confirms this theory, but I’m hoping that the water based polyeurethane will protect the table from yellowing/sun exposure (*fingers crossed*).

We started with a base coat of the Liming White, to remove/reduce the yellow colour in the pine timber. We applied a thin coat with cloth (rather than painting it on) as I wanted it to be quite opaque.

The Colour Reducer can be mixed in any amount with the Prooftint Stains from Feast Watson, and I had a feeling that the Old Baltic colour would come up really nice and light if it was reduced a little. I tested a few recipes.

 
 

Here are the different stain recipes that I tried (pictured above, left to righ):

  1. Liming White (1 coat)

  2. Liming White (1 coat) then Old Baltic @ 100% (1 coat)

  3. Liming White (1 coat) then Old Baltic 50% + Colour Reducer 50% (1 coat on the top half, 2 coats on the bottom half)

  4. Old Baltic 100% (2 coats)

  5. Old Baltic 50% + Colour Reducer 50% (1 coat)

  6. Liming White 50% + Old Baltic 50% mixed together (1 coat). I don’t recommend this approach, even though it dried similarly to #2, it was really milky during application, and didn’t dry as clearly as sample #2 did.

We ultimately chose sample #3 to use on the table, but after we had applied the first coat, we decided not to apply a second as we didn’t want to darken it further. Now that we’ve finished it, it could maaaybe have used the second coat but I still love it as it is.

Dan sanded the table lightly stepping from 180 to 320 grit in between each application of liming white / stain / polyeurethane.

We kept the drawer so we didn’t have to replace the frame under the table that attached to the legs. But I purchased a new matt black handle to match our new dining room chairs.

And holy heck I am IN LOVE!

 
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When we went looking for chairs, we spent a lot of time just sitting in Amart, testing them out (I think we sat in them for 30+ minutes) so we could get a clearer idea of how comfy they are (very comfy in case you’re wondering). It was impossible to find wooden chairs that matched the new colour of the table, and we ended up with something completely different to what we had envisioned but I completely love them. You can find the chairs here.