modern farmhouse table makeover

Let me start by saying this:

I am NOT an expert at refinishing furniture, nor do I claim to be. I have an obsession with yardsale-flea market-hand-me-down furniture. I rarely buy anything new for two reasons. First, I’m cheap. Really cheap. Especially when it comes to home pieces. And secondly, I’m picky, and rarely find anything new that I like ‘as-is’. So I take anything my family doesn’t want, or anything I find a good deal on, and envision it as a stripped piece of furniture that I can make brand new (to me). 

I spent several years googling ‘how-to’s’ and watching videos, finding I never had the right tools, or the right help to create the looks I saw. So instead, I do what I can do. Not as an expert, but as someone who has little experience, money, and time. 

With that being said, I’d like to think of my ‘how-to’s’ more as a ‘what worked for me’, or ‘mistakes not to repeat.’

When we set out to build our house, I knew I wouldn’t have much spending money to buy new furniture right away. And one thing that I had just dreamed of for my new house was a farmhouse kitchen table. I have always wanted one. So I started casually browsing the web for ideas. I found several plans to build farmhouse tables, and considered giving it a try, but neither Ben nor I have the expertise to do something like that right now. And I would hate to spend all of that money on lumber and such, and then ruin it. Then I looked at buying one, and quickly saw that wasn’t going to happen, as it was wayyyy out of my price range.

So then I turned to my bfff-ffff, craigslist. He’s never let me down. I browsed for several days when I came across this:

It was described as a ‘farmhouse table’, with 6 matching chairs for $200. The picture on craigslist was a small, grainy cell phone photo. I called about it, and asked to come look. Up close, the table had lots of dings and scratches, and the chairs had shiny black leather bottoms. That doesn’t scream ‘farmhouse table’ to me. Plus, the color was way too dark for my preference. When I think ‘farmhouse’, I think rustic and worn. And although this was worn, it wasn’t a ‘rustic/worn’ look. It was a ‘we bought this straight from the manufacturers, and the our kids and cats demolished’ worn look. I asked her if she’d take $150, and she met me in the middle at $175. So we loaded her (the table, not the girl) up, and took her home.

Once we unloaded her, I hugged her and squealed with excitement, as this ‘skeleton’ was exactly what I was looking for. And then I started her makeover.

I started with the table first, and began by sanding the whole thing down.

This was messy. And time consuming. I used my palm sander (pictured on top of the table) and went with the grain of the wood. I did every square inch of the table, and then I vowed to never sand again.

Once I finished, I wiped the whole thing down, really, really good. I used a shop-vac to vacuum the cracks in the wood, too.

Next, I put a wood conditioner the table and let it soak in and dry. I then started staining the top. I used Minwax Special Walnut, and used 2 coats, letting each coat dry 24 hours before I added anything else.

Once the tabletop was dry (a good 24 hours after the last staining), I used a wipe-on poly to seal it. After some research, I decided on the wipe-on poly because it seemed to get good reviews as far as durability and high-traffic. And of course, a kitchen table is going to have high-traffic and lots of wear and tear. I was very pleased with the end result using this.

I used 4 coats of poly in the end, and after each coat was dry, I lightly sanded the top with 200 grit sand paper (I didn’t do this to the last coat).

Next, I started on the legs. I painted one coat of an antique white color (the name escapes me right now) on the legs, and then I lightly sanded the edges, and rubbed a bit of the stain on the freshly sanded edges to create a bit of a worn look.

I let everything dry overnight, and wiped it all down, and this was my end result:

I’m very happy with the final product. No, it’s not an ‘authentic’ farmhouse table, and the top planks are more like pressed wood, but I got a good deal on it, and made it my own.

It came with six chairs, and I will say that revamping the chairs made me question my sanity. I removed the chair pads and started by sanding one chair. It took over 3 hours to get it completely sanded.

That was 3 hours of my life that I will never get back.

At this point, I was kicking myself for doing this. I had a great table, but no chairs to match. So I went to Lowe’s and bought some paint stripper. It was an orange, thicker material and was fairly easy to work with. Once I let the stripper set for a while, I scraped it off. But even after I did that, I still needed to sand it down a bit.

I would hate to think about the time I spent refinished those dern chairs.

But in the end, they turned out fine. It was incredibly time-consuming though, and I imagine there has to be an easier/better way.

So that’s it. My $175 ‘modern/revamped farmhouse table’. I’ve always worked with older pieces, that had chipping paint or no finish at all. This was my first time taking a ‘modern’ piece and making it into something of my own. Other than a few ‘sanding’ nightmares I had while I was working on it, I’m pretty pleased!

And I’m happy to say that craigslist and I are still ‘bff-fffs’.

Have a blessed Monday!


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