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Colossal DIY Fail…….Or Rustic Dining Room Table Makeover?

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Sometimes you never know if a project is a brilliant success……or a colossal fail. Such was the case with this dining room table I found at the thrift store for–GASP!–only $12.00!
I’ve been working on this DIY reveal for…..oh…..at least several weeks??? And I still can’t tell if it’s a colossal FAIL…………or if I inadvertently created a rustic, “weathered chic” look with the $12.00 dining room table I found at the (most awesome ever!) thrift store near my house. You know, the one I go to nearly eeeevvveerrrry Monday and Thursday when they boast 25% off of everything. 
Anyhow, I digress……
You decide if this is a FAIL or an accidental stroke of genius. LOL




But don’t let that pretty dark wood fool you! LOL. It almost didn’t turn out so nicely! You’ll see why further along in the post. I was at my wits end on how I was going to turn this table around and actually create something I could use in my dining room.

But before I show you how I did it, here’s a list of materials I used for this project.


Materials Used:

Just some of the materials you will need to complete a job like this!
  • Orbital sander
  • Minwax pre-stain
  • Minwax Polyshades

Before You Start

Before you tackle a project like refinishing a dining room table, here’s one bit of advice: do not “jump right in! 🙂
It takes a certain amount of planning so you can be sure how to tackle the project. For example, ask yourself:
1. Am I going to just sand this table, or use a paint stripper first?
2. How long do I want the stain to set?
3. What shade do I want the table to be?
4. How can I make sure I don’t gouge/chip the wood?
5. Do I have enough lighting to see what I’m doing?
My problem is that I “jumped right in” and skipped the stripper, I was left with invisible, spotty patches because the sander hadn’t removed enough of the old varnish. The stain couldn’t penetrate the old varnish, of course, which left me with seriously blotchy areas. Unless I wanted to start over (NOT!), I had to try to cover it up and pass it off as “distressed” and “rustic.” Was I successful? LOL
I did use the MiniWax Pre-Stain so that the color would be uniform. However, when you skip the stripper and rely on the sander to get all the previous varnish off, this is what you wind up with:
A blotchy mess!
This is what it looked like after the first 1-2 coats of MiniWax Red Mahogany, which I first used. HORRID, I tell ya….
Dining Room Table Strip and Stain


 I kid you not– I bought this table for $12.00! I knew instantly that I wanted to refinish it–stain it, or paint it with some Annie Sloan chalk paint, which I have yet to fully test!

Staining won out, and I couldn’t wait to get started since I had never stained a THING in my life. I TRIED to plan according by going to Home Depot and buying all these things I thought I would need.

 I broke out my trusty ‘ole sander and decided to “jump right in” and skip the harsh stripping chemicals. Sanding will work just as well, right??
I thought I had removed all the finish, but once I started staining, I realized that I hadn’t.
I had been left with blotches everywhere from all the parts that were poorly sanded!
Dining Room Table Refinish - 2
*sob sob*
What was I going to do with this now?!
Dining Room Table Refinishing
I ended up sanding out the middle leaf part again, and reapplied the stain. Doing so resulted in the middle leaf staining a bit darker than the other parts of the table. So if you look closely, it’s a darker. Be careful when staining so that all parts are stained at exactly the same time, to ensure even coverage.
After I applied the Pre-Stain, and then the Red Mahogany, I waited 24 hours and went over the body again with the Polyshades in the Antique Mahogany finish, which deepened the color, and helped cover up some of the light spots throughout the body.
I also put 3 coats of additional water-based Polycrylics over the whole table, using even strokes.
I’m actually loving the rich color, and shiny table top!
Dining Room Table Refinishing - New Stain
And just a reminder what this dining room looked like when we moved in, in 2010….ugh, the wallpaper! What a pain to remove. Wallpaper should be banned. Just sayin’.



Dining Room Wallpaper Removal - Thrift Diving

AFTER – In progress

We still have a lot of work to do with our dining room. But when you buy an old house, sometimes it takes 10 steps just to get to this level of “after.” Maybe I’ll tackle this dining room in my next 30-Day Room Makeover Challenge. 🙂

(P.S. The rug was from Home Goods, my favorite place for buying rugs!).




 Dining room wallpaper removal
So, to find this table for so cheap, and to turn it from this…..
Dining room table re-stain makeover
….into this….
Dining room table refinish stain makeover
….makes me happy, regardless of its faults. Next time, I know better. Isn’t that what DIY is about??
Have you ever had a project that almost (or did!) turn out to be a colossal fail? What did you do about it? Leave a comment and add to the discussion now!

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  1. I have a kitchen table with a varnished top and pine legs and chairs that Iā€™m wanting to redo. Would you have any types on how to go about taking care of the varnished top

  2. I so look forward to your posts. You do such a good job explaining step by step . Thank you so much.

    1. Hey, Rachelmary! I’m so happy to hear that! I love explaining things as simple as possible so that people learn in my posts. šŸ™‚ Glad you find it helpful!

  3. Also remember that you should have 3 weak healing
    potions in your inventory. Style of slipcover: Some slipcovers of dining
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  4. Melissa K says:

    AH!!! I love your table! It is absolutely beautiful. I can feel all that hard work and love you put into it, right along with its beautiful look. Very encouraging. After reading your post, I am holding back and will plan my little coffee table project before jumping in. Really great work!

  5. I think it turned out great. I’m currently redoing a 70’s chandelier and love antique furniture so your blog is inspiring!
    I hate wallpaper though. I ripped it out in two bathrooms and am waiting for a finisher to come fix the drywall underneath. I opted to paint over it in the living room and hall (couldn’t live with it and the drywall under was never finished).

    1. Hi Nayeli! Thanks so much on the table. Wallpaper should be BANNED! I had a lot of drywall problems, too, when I removed the wallpaper. But thankfully I was able to skim coat the wall. Did you see my laundry room makeover post? I had to skim coat over the whole wall because it was damaged from the wallpaper. It turned out great afterwards, though! Here’s the post: https://thriftdiving.com/my-pretty-little-laundry-room-makeover/

      Thanks for commenting!! šŸ™‚

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