Monday, July 29, 2013

DIY: How to Refinish a Dining Room Table

I have been wanting to replace my small dining room table with something that can accommodate a growing family in the future, so I decided to tackle refinishing a vintage 1930's dining set. Here are the steps I used, with photos, to help you NOT make the mistakes I did.

1. Locate your furniture. Make sure it is REAL wood, not laminate. You will be in for a rude awakening once you start refinishing it! Here was my befores of the vintage set I got from a friend:

Chairs were dingy but great (real) wood structures to work with

The table had a cherry stain which I hated, this was during sanding...

Underneath the checkered fabric I found the original fabric that had never been taken off
Once I got down to the bones of the furniture I found a few surprises. It looked like there had been multiple stain colors used over the years and the seats had the original fabric underneath the checkered blue fabric. The good thing was that the actual wood for the seats were in great shape so I was able to keep it.


Batting for seats
Spray Primer
Paintbrush (Two types: One large for Stain on table and small for chairs)
Paint- I used Semigloss oil-based enamel since I knew food might get on the chairs and you can easily wipe down

Here is the part that I HIGHLY say to skip..which I didn't. I bought chemical stripper and thought it would be easier than sanding all of the old stain off the chairs. I WAS WRONG. Here was during stripping:

Not only did I feel my skin peeling off (not really but it felt like it was with the tiniest amount on my skin even though I was completely covered head to toe in clothes). I'm pretty sure if I get cancer later in life the doctors will attribute this very moment as the reason for it. It did as it said it would but it was NOT worth the trouble. The stain bubbled up and I had to end up sanding every square inch of each leg anyway just to get this bubbled up stain off. The whole reason for it was so I didn't have to sand! That stuff just scares me to death now. Never again! I didn't get a picture of this process because I was worried more about my health than chairs at this point. I stopped the project for a week and had to regroup...

After my mere breakdown I got back to it. I got the sander out and took it to the large part of the chairs and the table. I got sandpaper and a steel wool pad for the small parts of the chairs and did by hand. I would do a chair a day for my own sanity's sake. It was coming together, although the furniture looked pretty pitiful at this point. This is by far the WORST part of the project but you have to stay patient, it's the most critical part.

After all the chairs were smooth and removed of any stain I took spray primer to them and did a very light coat. Here is one:

I had to move inside because it was so humid. How about Emma overseeing the project behind me?
After spraying each chair with one coat of primer I painted and thin coat of enamel paint on them each day. I did a total of three coats on each. This worked my nerves as well because there are so many tiny parts to these chairs and I felt like I was never going to finish!

The finished product was well worth it. I didn't get process photos of the table because it wasn't nearly as involved. Sand, stain, done. I stained the table a dark espresso. I also didn't get my process of recovering the chairs but here is a great tutorial that I followed. I got three yards of fabric at It was very straightforward and impossible to screw up. The only advice I would give is to make sure your pattern is the right way on all the chairs. I stapled and flipped over a few times to realize I did my chevron pattern backwards and had to redo:/


Individual chair

Up close of the seats

I swore off ever tackling a dining room set again but I'm so happy with the results. Stay patient and don't beat yourself up if you totally drop the project for a week or two. It's better to do that than to rush through it.

Good luck!


  1. VeRy nice, Rachel!! I LoVe the finished product! And your narrative ...I chuckled all the way through :)

  2. I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the sexiest virtual strippers on my taskbar.


A comment, A comment! Oh how I love your thoughts. Thank you in advance, I can't wait to read your message.

I also want to thank you for your visit whether it be your first, second, tenth, or hundredth. I truly appreciate you friend!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...