At last! DIY Table – Before and After

September 23, 2008

Last summer upon being gainfully employed, I set out to claim my stake in adulthood.  A key component to becoming an “adult” is to own a dining room table set.  Unfortunately, with limited monetary resources, I was confined to either A) IKEA or B) Craigslist.

I went with option B.  After a couple of weeks of searching I found this –

A table set fixer-upper.  The legs and table-top were solid cherry.  The table would need to be stripped and refinished.  The chairs were unfortunately not cherry, and they needed to be re-glued, reupholstered, and one chair had to be completely rebuilt.  Workload aside, the price was definitely right.  And after talking to the nice owner, I decided to go see the table set first hand.

The table set had nothing but potential, and the owner told me that the set had been in her family since the great depression.  After years of being well loved, the set needed a face lift, and she was just happy to give it to someone who would enjoy it as much as her family had!

I think the most surprising feat was that I was able to fit the whole set into my Ford Taurus.  As soon as I got home I set up shop in my asbestos laden basement, and tucked in for a fun summer of inhaling paint stripper fumes.

Below is the table after being completely stripped of laquer –

And now – after 8 coats of polyurethane matte finish –

After finding out that the table wasn’t solid cherry, I decided that I would paint the chairs black and use black accents on the table to tie them together visually.

Once the table was finished, I was faced with a certain doom of finishing the chairs.  Outside of needing paint and varnish – the table was in practically perfect condition.  The chairs on the other hand, needed a lot of love.  Anybody can paint – furniture repair is another story.  My mom was awesome, and took the one completely broken chair to her boys at DeLeuw lumber, they fixed the chair up good as new.  The other three chairs needed to be completely disassembled, and re-glued with pressure straps so that they would keep their shape they glue dried.

At the end of the summer I took a week of vacation and vowed that I would finish the chairs.  At this point they had been re-glued, but they still needed to be sanded down, given two coats of paint, and reupholstered.  I picked up the upholstery fabric at IKEA; the paint is a Benjamen Moore matte acrylic for metal and wood.

After a lot of cursing, painting, and stapling, I finished the chairs 🙂

And now – the great reveal!

a closer look at the chair

After all the work – I couldn’t be happier with the finished project!

Cheers, Sweatergirl



  1. You go girl! Don’t submit to that Swedish DIY superstore monster 🙂

  2. holy crap, I love your blog.

  3. you did a truly amazing job! i mean, i’m in awe of the table!!!

  4. OMG You finished it! It looks great!

  5. I was googling looking for information on refinishing an old dining room table and chairs. I love the way yours turned out. I just had a couple of questions hoping you could answer. What did you sand the chairs with sand paper or just rough them with steel wool? Did you prime the chairs and if so with what? You did 2 coats of paint but did you use spray or a brush to apply the finish coat? Also is the color black or dark brown?

  6. Beautiful! Can I add to my Pintrest board?

    • Yes, of course!

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