My New Dining Table (And Finish Options)

Work continues on the bathroom, but I can’t handle one more post filled with rubble and ugliness on my blog this week.  So let’s talk about pretty things, shall we?

I bought a new dining table! I found it on Craigslist, which is miraculous because the Waco Craigslist offerings are generally pretty laughable.

If you’ll remember, I bought a dining table right after we moved into our house.  When we first moved in, and I was making decorating plans, I originally thought I’d be going with the whole cottage/farmhouse/country/vintage look, so that’s the direction I headed in with my first purchases (table, chairs, kitchen appliances).  This Craigslist dining table seemed perfect for that, so I purchased it and refinished it

Then I remodeled my kitchen and took things in a completely different direction (well, except for the appliances, which I may change eventually, but right now that’s pretty low on my list of priorities).  I considered different ways to de-countrify that table, but finally decided that it just wasn’t worth it.  I’d rather sell it to someone who likes and wants this look.  So I’ve been looking for another one…on Craigslist.  And it took nearly six months, but I finally found one I think will work!

new dining table-1

(Please excuse my dust.  Every surface in my home is covered in mortar dust right now.)  🙂

I bought it for $175, and he even delivered it for me!  It’s 50 inches in diameter, and it’s solid wood. There’s not a single bit of particle board or plywood anywhere on this table.  They guy who sold it to me said it’s walnut.  I don’t know enough about different types of wood to know if that’s right, but I do know it’s not oak.  Or pine.  It’s a clear wood with very subtle grain.

It’s pretty scuffed up in places, so it needs to be refinished.  I had originally planned to just strip, stain, and polyurethane the table.  But then one day when I went to Houzz.com, the very first image that came up on their home page slideshow was this one…

transitional dining room by Dream House Studios, Inc, via HouzzTransitional Dining Room by Annapolis Interior Designers & Decorators Dream House Studios

Other than the complete lack of color, I love everything about this room — the wallpaper, the draperies, the wainscoting, the sconces, the weathered wood table mixed with the upholstered chairs with nailhead trim.  Oh…and do you see the entryway?  This refined, elegant space has vertical planked walls.  When I had planned to do that in my house, I had so many people say that it wouldn’t work because it’s too country/cottage-looking.  But I don’t see anything country or cottage-looking about that dining room or entryway.

Let’s just say that that one picture alone has made me rethink some things.  🙂

But this post is about a table.  I’d love to have that finish on my dining table, but quite honestly, I have no idea how to go about it.  I think it’s much more interesting than just having a dark stained and polyurethaned table.  And I love a mixture of elegant, refined finishes right alongside more casual finishes, and even some worn, aged finishes.  I think when every single thing in a house is “elegant” or “traditional,” things can start to look a bit stale.  A mixture — of styles, finishes, etc. — keeps things looking interesting and fresh.  At least, that’s my personal taste.

I also came across this table, which still has a slightly weathered look, but in a darker finish.  I just think whether a table like that looks country/cottage or not completely depends on everything around it — the style of chairs, chandelier, and other finishes, furnishings, and accessories in the room.

dining table with distressed finish from Simple Details blogvia Simple Details blog

I also really love the look of this 17th Century Monastery Table from Restoration Hardware table.

17th Century Round Monastery Dining Table from Restoration Hardwarevia Restoration Hardware

So I’m not quite sure which direction I’ll be heading in with this table, but I’m almost 100% sure I wont’ just be stripping and restaining it in a dark color.  And if any of you have an idea on how to achieve the finish on the table in the first picture, I’d love some insight!



Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. The first one looks like it’s just raw wood with maybe an oil rubbed on for protection. Like you would do for a butcher block counter. It’s beautiful!

  2. I understand about meager Craigslist offerings. I’m always amazed at what can be found in other places.
    The first table appears to have been stripped then a dark strip painted or stained around the skir. It looks like it was then waxed. It definetly wasn’t coated in polyurethane.
    I haven’t worked with wax but plan to try it on some future projects.
    I will be refinishing our dining table some time this year. I’m not going to wax it because we use it for meals and as a desk and I don’t want to have to rewax it.

  3. Have you thought about stripping the table and using tung oil or something similar to enhance the natural grain/color of the wood?

  4. The first table from Houzz would require a paint treatment to get that look. If this table is actually walnut that is a dark wood. The second table from Restoration Hardware would be more of a white wash. But stripping the table and just waxing it or tung oil would give it a whole new look not the “shiny I’ve been refinished” look.

  5. hi its pretty easy to achieve the look…..you will need to sand it down in places not all over ending with a fine grit..then seal!!

  6. LOVE your new table. From the picture it looks like walnut to me. Why not just strip it and then see what you think once it’s stripped? And, I sort of think that may be a striped wall paper in the entry, just widely spaced very pale stripes-sort of like the very pale damask pattern in the dining room. But, I’ve been wrong before so maybe not.

  7. Kristi,

    I love your cerused table. I bought one exactly like it down to the embossing on the apron to use the ceruse technique on. Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with some hand pain for several months and I haven’t been able to do the sanding and painting (nor any projects for that matter.) I wish I lived in the Waco area- if you posted your table on Craigslist I’d snap that baby up! 🙂 When I finally get to it the table will look great in my vintage, shabby chic kind of home. I use those terms but I was a reduce, reuse, reclaim, restore, vintage-y kind of girl LONG before there was a term like “shabby chic” for it! 🙂

    But I love the new table for your space. Can’t wait to see what you do with it though I think I’d go dark. As dark as possible without giving it the “I was just refinished” look.


  8. Well, good morning! How did I know we would not be in the bathroom today??? You are so funny! I am very happy that you got a new table. I really was not nuts about cerused oak. Actually, I do not like oak at all. Way too grainy for my taste. The room and the table that you love is French Country, which I am sure you know. I have very similar chairs and you can often find them in pairs at a good price on some of the design fash sale sites. I do know that Ballards has them in an array of colors. There is another place that has them in solid colors only, but cannot remember right now. Ballards will do any of their fabrics, I think, and they do have a wide variety, although nothing like what you were looking for in your living room, much more subtle, which is really the way French country is. I am trying to change some of my case goods pieces to reflect that style. I am doing it with paint. Anyway, the table top reminds me of a hand scrapped floor finish. Don’t know if you are familiar with that look or not. I would think you would have to strip the table all the way down to the bare wood, then apply a stain and somehow scrape it off in varring degrees of color. I am sure you can find the look. Try googling hand scraped floors and see what you come up with. I love the look of that room, and I think it will go beartifully with your music room.Blessings

  9. Start by stripping it and assess what it looks like then. It might be close to what you’re looking to achieve, then all that’s left is to seal. You’d probably want an oil finish to get that rubbed look. My favorite right now is a combo of Danish oil and wax top coat.

  10. Hi!
    Love the new table! I’m a wood kind of girl so would leave alone. On the other hand, I really like the finish on the first table. My monitor’s a bit wonky but it almost looks like the table started dark like yours and all they did was finish the top. The skirt was left dark as well except for the trim around the bottom of it and it looks like the top. I haven’t refinished wood in many, many years so my knowledge of all these new-fangled products is nil.
    I agree with Mary Anne Looby from just looking at my screen the table is not oak (I’m not fond of oak either) and is likely walnut which is a dark wood (which is what most of my wooden furniture is).
    IF I were to do anything, I would probably strip the top and see what happens and then go from there.
    As for the rest of the room, WOW! I’m with you it is something special! I’m not a huge fan of planked anything but really like board and batten.
    You’ve done an absolutely fabulous job on the rest of your home and don’t expect anything less with this. Can’t wait to see what you decide and what you did to achieve the new look.
    All the best.
    P.S. I really like the small casters that are on the table. Usually that style of table doesn’t have them and given the usual weight of that kind of table the casters will really come in handy.

  11. You could look into chalk paint. Annie Sloan has a sight with lots of ideas. It’s chalk paint with a waxed finish.

  12. I’m not sure but that first table looks like it was stripped and then just had a light oiling/waxing. There’s no shine to it – looks more natural. I really like it and think with the dark walnut the end reult would be beautiful.

  13. The first two tables look to have been stripped and stained then finished with wax or oil. The first one has used two stain colours to achieve the dark/light contrast.

    The RH one looks to me like unstained walnut (or comparable dark wood). I think it likely that it’s been finished with a white wax to preserve the weathered quality and not darken the wood.

  14. I recently refinished a dining room table that I picked up for half-price at the ReStore. I love great finds like mine and yours. Anyway, it looks to me that the finish in the first picture is very lightly stained by wiping off quickly or wiping over damp shellac which prevents the stain from penetrating deeply. It also looks like it’s been dinged a little bit to age it and I also see some black spots. If you take your table back to the bare wood, you could wipe some spots with some black paint, then wipe it off so it settles in some grooves but isn’t pronounced. Then when you stain over top, the black will subtly show through, giving the wood some added character. Personally, I hate rubbed finishes or oil finishes, especially on something where you eat food. I elected to use a water-based hybrid (aluminum oxide) satin finish by Saman for my table-top. It’s marketed as a wood floor varnish but can be used on furniture, and It’s safe for people and pets. I did use semi-gloss for the last two coats to give it a deeper shine but nine coats of semi-gloss would have been blinding. The great thing about this product is that it can recoated in an hour. Also, you can buy just enough to do a table. They also make it in a matte finish if you wanted no shine at all. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to find it in the States though, but you can order from their website: http://www.saman.ca/product/431-satin-water-based-varnish

    I’m not affiliated with Saman at all – I just did a lot of research prior to deciding how to finish my table. I researched the Danish Oil, but frankly, it stilled seemed a headache and not at all foolproof. Also, I didn’t want to be spending days finishing. You do have to work quickly, but when finishing you should always varnish vertically one coat and then horizontally the next, so if you miss any spots the first pass, you’ll get them on the next. The real factor for me though was people and pet safety, especially where food is being served – my cats love to sit on the table and beg!

  15. Oops, sorry to comment again, but I completely forgot you said your table was Walnut. If so, it must be super heavy. I’ve had some small Walnut furniture pieces that were quite weighty for their size. Anyway, before I painted my Walnut, I’d thought about stripping it. I remember reading that because Walnut is dark with a grey tone that a lot of furniture refinishers elected to just use a clear varnish or shellac over the wood. You might find that you won’t be able to get the table as light as you may want to but that a clear finish will make it look more like the third picture. You may want to sand off a spot on the underside of the table to see the natural color of the wood before you make any decisions. 😀

  16. The new table is pretty BUT……………. I am very disappointed you will not be using the cerused table. It is beautiful !! If the bottom of the table is too solid white, you could lightly sand it to bring out the designs on the leg, feet and under the table top. Remember the floor in your inspiration piece was cerused and that certainly went with the elegant green cabinets.

  17. I have a pine nightstand that I bought unfinished, lightly stained and then put on multiple coats of Tung oil. While the soft pine did not hold up well to one of my cats years ago, the tung oil has been amazing. Water doesn’t stain, and lotions don’t bother it. And it has no gloss at all, rather just a deep richness. I recommend it highly.

  18. Hi I follow your blog and enjoy it so much. You give me courage!!!! I have a question though. Do you get permits from the city of Waco for your projects? I am planning on turning my covered porch into a sunroom but am bothered by the permits and the semi vagueness of the need for them here in San Antonio. What do you do there?

    1. Nice tutorial, Karen. The result is beautiful! Tried to leave a comment on your blog…but a password for a blog? Just NO! Sorry.

  19. I love your new table, I am sure you will find the right finish for it. As for Craigslist, I call it the land of the ugly couches! Have you ever seen so many ugly couches? What were they thinking when they bought them?

  20. Just a quick question, Maybe you could help me. I found huge large farm table,,, it’s pine, light and shiny, i,d like dark and rustic. can I do anything to this pine Finish. Thanks, and good luck with your quest!

  21. I wouldn’t make that new, gorgeous table lighter. I’d keep it just the way it is. Personally, I think that houzz.com inspiration room would look better with a dark table in it – it would look richer and not so blah. (or, as you said “it has a complete lack of color.”) But, that’s just me. 🙂

  22. Love the new table. Does it have a leaf.? I know that was one of the reasons you were having a hard time parting with the other one. Are you still planning on redoing the wing back chairs to go with the table? If you are I think I would do them 1st & see how they look with the table & then decide what to do with the table . You may only have to redo the top to get rid of the scratches, or exactly how light you want to go with it.

  23. Kristi, I loved the old cerused table, if I was in Waco, I’d snap that thing up! It’s beautiful. I do love the new table, too, and those various wood finishes are all so lovely I’d have a hard time figuring out which one to do. Whatever you do will be gorgeous, I’m sure!

  24. Hi Kristi, I’m fairly familiar with wood as I own a Simply Amish store in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. If the table is indeed solid wood (and I, would triple check this, as veneer is all too common), I would do the following to achieve your desired look:

    Strip the table down to bare, unfinished wood.
    Sand down to natural, if necessary.
    Purchase a hand-planer
    Use the planer to give the top a rough, uneven surface.
    Sand, sand, sand.
    Finish with tung oil, or a very dull/satin polyurethane.
    No stain (especially if it’s walnut).

    For a great video on Simply Amish’s distressing techniques, see this video:


    Thanks, and great blog. I’m a huge fan and daily reader.

  25. My previous home was historic (built in 1848) and the front door was walnut covered in years of paint. We stripped that door and used a satin finish rather than a shiny polyurethane. Even with it’s 150 years of imperfections, it was gorgeous because of that warm, aged walnut. The warmth of old walnut alone will give your table an aged feel. The style of your table tells me the walnut is old already. You can’t get that look in a new piece of furniture today. I think it would be a shame not to let the beauty of the wood itself say “age”. It doesn’t need aging because it already is. Just refinish the top with a nice non-shiny finish. I wouldn’t even refinish out every nick and scratch either as that will also leave the character intact. I think you table already “has” the look you are going for without an overhaul turn it into something its not. Not everything has to be “made over”. The style of the table is classic and the chairs you choose, accessories and decor of the room will dictate the look. I also think the vertical plank walls in your entryway would also be classic and not country unless you decorate the room to be that way. I adore the Houzz dining room and the style seems to be right in line with the direction you are going with your decor minus of course a little more color. Just my two cents.

  26. I’ve done more furniture than I care to remember but I don’t go the stain route simply because it isn’t my forte, I don’t enjoy it and the thought of stripping furniture makes me put the project off and off..and off. In my mind you can create a combination of inspiration photos #1 and #2 with paint and glaze or Aqua Finishing Solutions Stain & Seal, which is almost like paint. I think mostly you can achieve inspiration photo #2 with this, I truly do. I think if you sand this table enough for it to accept paint, you will be good. I’d sand it good, wipe it down super well and then you will probably need a solid basecoat to begin, followed by glazes of greys and browns to create a free spirited woodgraining of sorts. Have a wad of cheesecloth at the ready to lightly blot areas that need mottling. Magic, I tell you; pure magic that cheesecloth. With the Stain & Seal it may be possible to brush on a combo of colors to achieve a nice look too. I feel a little more in control with paints and glazes but thought I’d mention the other, for an alternative. Around the table top skirt part you could paint or stain that a black, much like the banding in inspiration photo #1, and even add decorative nailheads. I can even imagine a strip of leather to create that banding, with nailheads. Too crazy? Hmmm.

  27. Love the empire table and I think you should restore it and not refinish it. I believe that as it is, the table will bring a richness to your breakfast Room that you have been searching for

  28. I achieved something similar by stripping off the old stain/poly and staining it again. Then I used oil on it, and the final step was a tinted wax. It’s nearly indestructible.

  29. Hi Kristi, you can get a similar look by striping and using Porters Lime Wax, or really any lime wax, that one Has a good track record though. It is a super easy process.
    Happy transformation can’t wait to see it. I have a table in my dining area that is very similar to yours that I am working on and doing the same thing.

  30. Love the new table! The wood (walnut any day of the week over oak for me), the color and the style. I think it’s a great choice for your room and btw, your appliances look great in my opinion. I wouldn’t give them a second thought because they tie in beautifully with your counters and subway tile. As for refinishing the table my only word of caution is that if you give it a waxed finish make sure it is going to be durable. I refinished a dining table that we use daily with a hand rubbed wax finish because I like that look, but I have to baby the heck out of it. In hindsight I wish I had gone with a penetrate super hard finish like tung oil.

  31. What a beautiful table you bought! As for the one in the first photo you found, it looks to me like the top and the bottom lip of the skirt are just stripped and left bare with maybe an oil finish. Every 6 months or so, you would need to re-oil to keep them in good shape and not let the wood dry out too much. The skirt and base of the table are still stained in the dark finish. I love that look of mixed finishes as well. I don’t like anything too matchy – matchy in my house. I think you create more interest that way. I’m also like you in the fact that I love that room except that it is devoid of any color – I have to have color! You really won’t see white in my house except on the trim. Anyway, I think if you stripped the top and bottom lip of the skirt, you would see where you need to go from there. Good luck!

  32. Strip it down and then use tung oil. gives a soft matte finish and is sturdier than wax. I did this to a cypress table years ago and absolutely loved the finish.

  33. FYI- there are quite a few, very elegant new ‘modern farmhouses’ in my neighborhood and vertical painted siding is a very popular component of the design. It’s not ‘country’ in the slightest and is often paired with very contemporary furnishings. If you want some photos search Culligan and Abraham Architects on houzz or Google and see if they show their use of it in their Hinsdale IL homes.