Refinishing Our Secondhand Dining Room Table

Decor & thrifting

Before moving last December, we sold the farm table we built for our old dining room. Unfortunately, it was too big for the new house and the style felt a bit off. We considered building a new table, but in the meantime I kept an eye out for something secondhand that I could refinish.

Finding a table

After 8 months of casually searching, the perfect table popped up! The listing was for “solid wood furniture” and showed a cropped shot of a dining room table. What caught my eye was the drawer! I’ve always loved the look of antique pine farm tables with drawers and delicate turned legs inspired by English cottages and farmhouses. This table felt like it had potential. I scrolled through the rest of the furniture in the listing, found a wood cabinet I liked, too, and offered $100 for the pair. Turns out the table was handmade which made it that much more special.

Removing the finish

The table was in perfect condition, it just wasn’t our color preference. I got right to work sanding, knowing that would be the bulk of the job. As you can imagine, the table top and flat surfaces were fairly easy to sand down with the orbital sander. The legs and drawers were the most tedious. With the combination of a micro sander, sanding blocks, sandpaper and a contour scraper we were able to remove about 98% of the finish from the crevices (and that was good enough for me!) I finished the table top off with 220 grit to ensure the surface was buttery smooth before applying stain.

Choosing a color

Figuring out stain combinations is one of the things I really struggle with. I have an idea of what I want the color to look like in my head, test several samples, find one I like, then stain the whole piece and feel instant regret because it wasn’t quite what I was picturing. To avoid that feeling this time, I tested larger swatches and color combinations on one of the table leaves and brought it inside to see the color in the proper light. Oddly enough, the color combination I was leaning toward I liked better without wood conditioner as the base layer, so I decided to forgo that.

Applying the stain

To achieve a neutral, sandy color with a warm gray undertone I first white washed the entire table. This meant wiping all of the surfaces with Varathane White Wash, and then immediately wiping the excess off. By doing this, I was able to cut a lot of the yellow undertone that is common in pine. Next, I applied a layer of Minwax Early American. Because the white wash had only just been applied, as I applied the Early American it sort of blended together and accentuated that warm gray undertone. Like the white wash, I wiped the excess off as I went. To protect the whole piece, I applied two coats of matte water-based polycrylic.

Before & after

Pine is notoriously challenging to stain. Aside from some subtle blotching here and there, the color came out beautifully. It took me a little time to come around to liking it because I think I was envisioning a slightly warmer color. As the room started to come together I became more pleased with the color and the imperfections. After all, I wanted it to feel weathered and old, so the color variation, dings, cracks and knots all added to the look I was going for.




Adding decor

To finish the room off (for now) we added some black modern windsor dining chairs and the CLJ x Loloi Polly Antique/Mist rug under the dining room table. The cabinet we bought from the same seller as the table fit perfectly between the windows, so I tucked that in with a few little knick knacks and plants.


I’m growing quite fond of this room. The light in here is some of the best in the house and it’s a wonderful place to sit and work, entertain or do crafts. Surprisingly, our home feels bigger because what was once a space we used to store miscellaneous things is now serving a purpose. All it took to start was a $50 table and some elbow grease!


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