DIY Table Fail (and My Plan “B”)

Not all of my project end with great results, and that could not have been more evident on Friday.  My project for the day was to make a new table top for this breakfast table, which originally had a cheap laminate top with a wood grain design on it.

dining table makeover before

My idea was to remove that top, and purchase a new table top at Lowe’s.  Only one slight problem…the largest table top that Lowe’s carries is 36” in diameter, and I needed 42”.

It wasn’t a major ordeal.  I just ended up making my own table top out of a 2” x 12” piece of lumber (instructions on that later).  That part turned out fine.  Here’s a picture of it before I did any sanding to smooth out the top and round the edges.

How to make a table top out of 2" x 12" lumber

What didn’t turn out fine was the stained finish…

DIY table with stained top and black base

That table top doesn’t have any polyurethane on it, but I can already tell it’s just not going to work.  It’s not how it looked in my head, and this table will be much too dark in John & Alice’s breakfast area, which already has horrible lighting.

DIY table with stained top and black base

And the heavy grain is really an issue for me.  I’m not sure what I expected.  After all, this is pine, and that’s just what pine does when you put stain on it.

So it was a bit of a disappointment after working all afternoon on this table.  In my exhausted and frustrated state of mind on Friday, the only think I could think of was to keep adding stain to see if it would even out.

Clearly that wasn’t the solution.

So at about 7:00pm, I finally decided to pack away my tools for the day and give my mind and body some time to rest.  And Saturday, I thought of the solution!

I realized I was going about this all wrong.  I mean, if the room is too dark and the lighting is horrible, why am I painting and staining this table dark?!  DUH!!  And that’s when I remembered Layla’s gorgeous table transformation, which went from this…

laylas table before

…to this…

dining table with pickled and whitewashed finish

Beautiful, right?  That amazing pickled/whitewashed finish with a hint of grain showing through is just what my table needs!  And she even gives the instructions for how she did this.

I’m on it!

Here’s hoping that my results will be equally as stunning!




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  1. I think the dark stain with heavy grain is beautiful but it doesn't sound like it will work in the space at all. The whitewashed table is FAB! Can't wait to see pics of the new table top! Also, do you dampen the wood before you stain? I've found it results in the depth of color I want with fewer applications of stain. 🙂

  2. I'm sure that the table will look awesome when it's done! Great idea! Sometimes it's best to just walk away from projects for a while. Can't wait to see the finished project!

  3. I don't really like it either! I'm not a big fan of the heavy grain in pine. What about a bright white? I see a lot of farmhouse tables that are white top with dark legs, and I love them!

  4. The results are beautiful and I can see great potential for it but you are right. It isn't right for a dark area.

  5. Kristy, I agree with you and think the whitewashed finish will work the best for this space.

  6. I have been staring at my lovely old dining table and chairs for weeks, wondering if I should paint/stain it in a light colour?  I am SOOOO tempted and this just makes me want to do it even more!  

  7. I def didn't like the heavy grain…the dark stain didn't help. :o( I love Layla's table and hope you can get that beautiful look on your table.

  8. Ugh.  I hate pine.  I'm trying to refinish my antique oak woodwork, and it was looking like your table top.  And then I found out that my "oak" woodwork is actually PINE!  HATE IT!  I may end up painting it instead. 🙁

  9. I stumbled on your site while scouring the internet for instructions on how to make a round table top out of lumber.  Love your table, but I can't seem to find the instructions on how you assembled the top.  Would love a tutorial on what you did!