About 6 months ago I took on a pretty major, month-and-a-half-long DIY project: 
I bought a damaged farmhouse style table on Craigslist with 6 chairs, for $100 that was begging to be repaired and refinished.

Over several weeks in summer, I stripped off its old finish, removed its damaged veneer, prepared and laid down new veneer, stained and poly’ed it, then repainted, distressed, and reupholstered its chairs (as well as an unfinished wood bench I found along the way).
 It was kind of a lot of work.
Did I mention my baby was 1 month old when all this was goin’ down? 
I know it’s not normal.  But this table had such potential.  And it was so cheap.
And we had been squeezing our growing family of 6 around a tiny breakfast table meant for 4 for WAY too long.  

Ok, so it was still a little overly ambitious.
But ya’ll know how much an infant sleeps that first month or two, so I had this window of opportunity to work and get it done. 
So for days that turned into a few weeks, I just plowed right through, basically living in my garage while the kids played out in the front yard and the baby snoozed.

Some of you will remember that I shared each step of this interesting process with you blabbed on about all the boring details here on the blog while it was happening…but then I never did an official before and after post to reveal the finished product!
One reason I never shared was that I finished it just in time for our new homeschool year to begin, and once we got going with that new routine, I just didn’t have a lot of extra time to do a big before-and-after post.

That sounds like a great excuse anyway.

But here’s the real reason: 
I was TIRED of the whole project by the end. 
 Just really pretty burned out from it (do you blame me?). 

And while I was totally thrilled to have a table our family of 6 could finally fit around, as well as a place we could spread out and do our formal school stuff, I was seriously just so over it, and I swore I’d never take on such a big project again, even though it really DID turn out so lovely, as you will see.

So today my table gets its well-earned feature-post.  
She really is a BEAUT and I am mighty proud that I stuck with it and got this thing done. Definitely my biggest DIY yet.
So, without further ado, here are the pics.

.:. before .:.

Here is the table as I first saw it on the Craigslist ad.  

I had been hunting around and pricing these tables up, and as soon as I saw it, I knew immediately that I wanted it.  
But I also knew that the lovely sunshine streaming in was doing a good job of hiding that dark fuzzy spot towards the back, which the owner described as “a burn mark.”

She wasn’t kidding.
Here it is up close and personal:
{note to self: do not attempt to perform hibachi style cooking on top of a wood table}

And again:
And one more before shot:
It’s amazing to look back and see it in it’s original state!  
Wow, was it ugly and so very ORANGE! 
 Poor thing.  I’m so glad we rescued it.

 And now for the big reveal–are ya ready?

.:.  after .:.

The new table color is very dark, and I used a combination of 3 Minwax stains to get it looking like this.
I loved the red and yellow undertones that came through from the Puritan Pine and Early American stains, and then the richness of the Dark Walnut.

It’s probably not normal to use 3 different stains on a tabletop, but I had to because my brand-new, never-before-treated wood veneer needed layered with multiple colors before it even remotely matched the wood on the rest of the table.
This part was a bit nerve-wracking to be honest, and I would advise if you ever find yourself doing something like this that you
a) use a wood conditioner on your untreated wood so it doesn’t blotch
b) start light and gradually go darker rather than the other way around which doesn’t work, 
c) apply your stain on a test-piece first of course!
These are all things that patient and non-impulsive DIYers would do.
The rest of us just learn from our mistakes.

It all worked out in the end, and I was thankful that I was going for the rustic look.  
I think it looks beautiful in its imperfections.  
Oh, and speaking of–I had great fun with my kids, hammering, banging up, and scratching the table before I stained it. 
Then I put down 3 coats of polyurethane because this thing is gonna have to withstand some major beating over the next several years.  So far, it’s holding up great, and I love that when it gets dented or nicked, I couldn’t really care less–it just adds more character.

The small drawers on each end of the table are probably my favorite feature.  They looked so lovely all distressed, with the tiny antique-looking knobs I added (recycled from an old dresser set).  
And those things are handy too!  I think every table should have a drawer or two. 
We store napkins and placemats in them for mealtimes. 

Another couple shots (before the chairs were reupholstered)
And above you can see the darling bench I scored online, with a free shipping coupon, for a mere $78.  Great deal for a solid wood bench, and since it arrived unfinished, I was able to match it perfectly to my table.  
I debated about getting that bench for a while.  
I mean $78 is a great deal, but it definitely took the whole cost of my project up considerably (table AND 6 chairs for $100 vs. bench alone for $78). 
But can I just say this: 
Heck, both adults in this house love that bench.  
It’s so stinkin’ easy to just slide in and sit down.  
The kids eat every single meal there.  
We do homeschooling there.
My hubs sets up his laptop there when he works from home.  
To be honest, I’m thinking of getting a second one for the other side we love it so much.

Here’s my dining room looking all cozy at Christmas this past year.  
This room went from being a hodgepodge, no-real-purpose space to one of everyone’s favorite places in our home.
A little burlap runner, a pitcher with some sticks, and an Ikea lantern make the tabletop look even more rustic and inviting.  

And my table this past spring…

We’re a little tight when we’re all 6 gathered around the table, but I don’t even care.  
Close is good.  🙂
No one currently sits in that back chair because it’s squished up pretty close to the back wall.
Oh. The chairs.
Almost forgot about them.
I reupholstered them of course, since this was hideous and unacceptable.

 I had never done this before but I heard it was pretty easy.  
It was.
{all except for the choosing-of-the-new-fabric part which took me for.e.ver and like 4 trips back and forth to JoAnn’s returning the fabric that didn’t look right once I brought it home, and all this with 4 kids in tow which was great fun (wink, wink)}.

But seriously, if you can use scissors and a staple-gun, you can reupholster a chair cushion.
Per the advice of the gals at JoAnn’s, I did not even remove the original fabric (though I did remove the plastic-y covering which was YELLOW, ew). 
I just stapled my fabric right on top of the existing cloth.
I’m not gonna say a lot about this since there are a bajillion DIY tutorials out there on the internet and youtube if you are interested.

You do this:
 Then this:
Then this.
Turn it around and it looks like this:
 Then re-attach your seat {read: have husband do it for you}.
 5 minutes per chair?  Ok, no–I lie. 10 minutes.

And if you end up hating the fabric, or your taste changes in a couple years, it’s about a $60 project to re-do all 6 chairs with a nice, quality, wearable fabric (less if you are not as picky as me).

Well, friends, that’s it for the big reveal.
Hope you’re inspired to try a refinishing project of your own.
I lost track of my grand total somewhere along the way…

But here’s a basic breakdown:
Craigslist Farm Table and 6 Chairs: $100
Bench: $80
Chair Re-upholstery Job: $40 (I only did 4 chairs)
New Wood Veneer for Repair: $30
All other stripping, sanding, painting and staining supplies: $150

Which puts the grand total somewhere around $400 when it was all said and done.
Not too bad considering the price of a new dining room set.
Actually a DIY project like this will cost you the most in time, but you will end up with a one-of-a-kind piece when you’re finished, and of course, the satisfaction that you did it yourself. 

See you next time!


**A very special thanks to Bob, at the The Ole Craftsman for so graciously answering my amateur questions along the way, and instructing me calmly, via email, regarding such things as the corners of my veneer coming unglued (!!!), blotches in my wood (!!!) and getting new wood to match old wood when staining (!!!).  If you love farm tables, you must pay Bob a visit.  He does absolutely beautiful work.**

6 thoughts on “Refinished Farmhouse Dining Room Set: The Official Before-and-After Pics

  1. Mary Damron

    This is so beautiful!! I am in the process of purchasing a gorgeous light oak farmhouse table and 4 chairs for $100 on a facebook garage sale page that someone started to refinish and ran out of steam, I can’t wait to get my hands on it and I hope it turns out just like yours!!

  2. Mary Damron

    This is so beautiful!! I am in the process of purchasing a gorgeous light oak farmhouse table and 4 chairs for $100 on a facebook garage sale page that someone started to refinish and ran out of steam, I can’t wait to get my hands on it and I hope it turns out just like yours!!

  3. Crafty Homeschool Mama

    Thanks Justyn. I feel the same way…besides, this table had good “bones” and for $100 I figured I couldn’t go wrong trying. I am glad it turned out well–it’s the most-used piece of furniture in the house for sure. 🙂

  4. Becki Lewis

    Looks great! I need to redo my dining room chairs. I’m ashamed that I’ve never done them in seven years of having them (second hand and looking bad!)

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