The Table that Made me Decide to Blog

craigslist table before and after

The real title of this is ”The Table that made me decided I wanted to blog . . . decided not to blog . . . .oh, wait maybe I can do this . . .Nope . . . .yep. . . .How Not To Be Married To the Picture Inside Your Head.”

You know how right before you graduate with a MBA, you decide maybe you should do something that didn’t require the MBA in the first place?  Oh wait, is that just me?

I was planning on going back to work as a project manager after taking the last  10 years off.  I figured an MBA would help pad my resume.  About ¾ of the way through the program, I made a joke on Facebook that I should totally scrap the MBA thing and just help people with renovations for a living (I thought the name Over Educated Renovator was catchy) .  I am totally type A though, so there was no way I would quit school.  Right before I graduated, we sold our home and bought our new house.  As I started the various projects around the house, people kept asking me “are you sure you want to go back out to the working world?” or “why don’t you renovate houses or teach people to change there old things for a living?”  But I had a vision of myself going back out to the world and being a high-powered corporate woman.  You know the thing about visions is, they are not real.  They are a cool idea, something to work for, an inspiration even, but they are not reality.

I started looking for work and simultaneously started trying to accomplish way too many projects at once because “I won’t have time for this as much when I start working.”  During this time, I was also helping friends with ideas for their houses.  I also was thinking about how much I would miss doing this stuff when I went back to work.  Then it dawned on me, just because I got my MBA with the idea of going back to the corporate world, it doesn’t mean I can’t do something else.  The MBA taught me how to run a business, why not use it for running a business doing what I love.

About a month ago, I noticed my kitchen chairs needed to be fixed – AGAIN!  This reminded me to look on Craig’s List to look for some similar chairs as the ones I had gotten from my Grandmother’s house that I had given to my mother for her breakfast room.  I have don’t this from time to time with no success, but then jackpot, here was just the listing I was looking for.

craigs list table and chairs before
Photo from the original posting on Craig’s List.

I talked to the woman selling them.  She did not want to sell just the chairs, but agreed to knock off $50 if I took the table too!  I got the husband to go buy it and pick it up for me.  I figured I could try a new refinishing technique on the table.  There was nothing to lose since I didn’t really need a new table anyway!  I went to Pinterest for inspiration and found this great tutorial from Pearl Girl Creates (link here).

I decided light weathered grey Restoration Hardware-esqu finish with a duck-tail blue antiqued base would be lovely and I would do the chairs to match the base!  I could see it sitting in my yet to be renovated kitchen, serving as a focal point for all of the changes I wanted to do!

I started sanding and dreaming about how fabulous my stained top, antiqued bottom table was going to look.  I’ve refinished plenty of things.  I had just finished re-staining my bathroom cabinets and another staining project.  My confidence was high!  This is when I got the idea to start blogging all of these DIY projects.  I started documenting the procedure and things were going great.

I followed my usual steps for stripping and getting wood ready to be stained.   I used Citrstrip and plastic bags to get all of the layers of sealant and some of the stain off.  I scraped the old layers off and then sanded down the table top to the bare wood.  I used a combination of my palm sander and hand sanding from a rough grade to a fine grade.  It was all very textbook!

Stripped and Sanded. Everything is looking good!
Stripped and Sanded. Everything is looking good!

The table was sanded and ready to stain.  I was slightly concerned that the veneer seemed thin – like it might have been redone before, but hey, I could always paint it if the veneer had gotten too thin and wouldn’t hold the stain (the bottom glue soaked layer of veneer will not hold stain).  I started working with a stain color I had never used before, Minwax Weathered Oak.  And here is where things went wrong – I got a bad can of stain.  It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.  Even though I shook and stirred the can, the color never fully mixed into the stain.  The stain wasn’t taking, but it didn’t seem like the times before when I had come across glue soaked veneer.  I got to the bottom of the stain and figured out that there was a huge non-mixed clump of stain coloring, which tainted the whole project – Yikes!  Since I had already killed one section with this coloring, I figured I would try to make it work and coat the whole thing in the coloring and wipe it off.  Guess what, that does not work!  But hey, I can lightly sand, get a new can of stain, and move on.  I did just this!

I also decided to try my technique on a test piece of wood.  I did that and everything looked fabulous.  Back to the table I go.  I did the Minwax Weathered Oak, and then a coat of Minwax Whitewash Pickling stain.  To say it looked bad would be an understatement.

poorly stained piece
It all went terribly wrong!  Truth be told, it photographed better than it looked.

I swear I did some better refinishing work when I was 14!  My mother and a friend both said, “oh it can’t be that bad,” only to stop by, see the table, and take back their statement.  So, back to sanding again.  I was pretty positive there was no way the veneer would hold up.  I was right!  My new options were to re-veneer the top, or get a new vision.

I had redone the kitchen cabinets in my old house with Annie Sloan’s chalk paint in French Linen and decided that would look good with the blue chairs and blue base.  The more I thought about it the more I hated the idea of a two toned table.  While ASP is lovely, I don’t like the price and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of using it on a table top with wax and two children ten and under.  I decided Sherwin Williams ProClassic Enamel like finish was the way to go!  I found the corresponding colors to ASP in Sherwin Williams colors and went to my neighborhood store.  Where of course my daughter and I vetoed the colors I had thought I would use and picked similar but different shades.

after paint before glaze
After two coats of Pro Classic paint and before the glaze.

I came home and started the process of prepping the table to paint it!  Everything went great again!  Got the table prepped, painted and glazed.  I went to polycrylic the table and all was going well.  I noticed one little bubble came up on the top – it happens to the best of us.  I figured no problem; this is what 220 grain sand paper was invented for!  So, I went to get rid of the bubble and because this table was sent to test me, the glaze sanded right off.  Then I went to spot fix that.  It looked terrible.

I have been doing these types of projects forever!  After some swearing, I remembered this stuff happens when you do this kind of stuff.  No worries.  So, I painted a larger amount with the base paint and glazed it once again.  Well, it still did look right; there was a blob in the middle that was darker than the rest of the table.  I spent a little time trying to convince myself that no one else would notice it, but I knew I would.  I went to figure out how to fix it.  While I am used to researching and working on a solution, sometimes you just wing it.  I dry brushed my base color across a large strip of the table, let it dry, and then used some of the antique glaze I had mixed up and did a light coat of that.  Now, we are back to being able to poly again.

table after glaze
Finally, ready for poly again!

I am used to the world of DIY being challenging and things not always working out how you planned them, but this table gave me more challenges at me in one project than the last 10 projects I did combined!  But here is the morale of the story. If you don’t like the way a project is headed, don’t stick to the idea you had in your head, just keep trying until it turns into something you love and are proud of.   I love the table now more than I loved the original vision in my head!  It is perfectly imperfect.  I know that many of the projects I love the most were vastly different from what I first imagined for them.  I am hoping that this is going to be true for my career plans as well.  While I envisioned working outside the home doing project management in a corporate environment, maybe that isn’t what I was meant to be doing.  Maybe I am meant to help people learn how to do these projects, to help them prioritize their own home renovations, or even to do some hands on renovating for others.  For right now I am going to assume that my career path vision is just like the vision for my table.  It was a lovely possibility that morphed into an even better reality!

table finish
I love the way the finish turned out.

Step by Step Tutorial for painting a Kitchen Table and applying an antiqued glaze

  1. Prep the table by following my 6 steps for prepping painting furniture.
  2. Paint 1 coat of Sherwin Williams Pro Classic water based enamel in Semi-Gloss Finish (I used Dorian Gray – SW 7017). For this table, I used a brush for the pedestal, and sides, but I used a 4” high density foam roller for the top.  I found for large flat surfaces you get better coverage with a mini roller.  Check for drips frequently!  It is so much easier to clean them up when they are wet instead of sanding after).
  3. Wait 4 hours to overnight for the table to dry (4 hours is for optimal conditions according to the package).
  4. Check for rough spots or drips and sand with a 220 grit sandpaper if needed.
  5. Apply a second coat and wait another 4+ hours.
  6. Mix your glazing medium with the paint for glaze. For this one I used 2 parts Ralph Lauren Antiqued Glazing Medium, 1 part Behr Black paint, and 1 part Behr Broadway paint (these were the paint samples I had lying around from a previous project – in general, I would suggest 1 part medium and 1 part paint since it will be easier to mix more glaze if needed).  Make sure you use clean out the measuring cup in between parts, so that you can get the exact mix if you need more glazing medium mixed later).  You can use any disposable container, but if you think you are going to need the glaze for an additional project, find a container with a lid (I use a gelato container with a screw on lid for this and refrigerate it in between use).
  7. Work quickly and in small sections. Use a brush to paint on the glaze and then wipe off immediately with cheese cloth or a rag.  You are going to want a lot of rags on hand for this!  I have also found it helps to use the same kind of rag for the entirety of the project.  It is remarkable the difference you get with different types of rags.  Make sure you get in the nooks and crannies.  That will highlight the designs and give it a more authentic look.
  8. If the glaze looks too heavy, just glaze over it again before it dries and it will remove the extra glaze. If that method does not work, you can wet the rag and it will easily remove the glaze.
  9. This is the hardest part. Wait a few days for the paint to cure.  Latex paint can take up to 30 days to fully cure.  I don’t wait that long, but I do try to wait three days or so.  This is one of the rare times it pays to procrastinate.
  10. If there are any spots that need to be sanded, do it super lightly with the finest sandpaper you can find. Truthfully, I try not to sand much at all after glazing.
  11. Vacuum the table with a brush attachment and then dust with a slightly damp rag.
  12. Apply poly. Since I wanted the color to stay true, I applied water based polycrylic.  Note – Poly is not paint.  Shaking the can, wiping off the brush, working the poly back and forth, or heavy coats will result in bubbles.  Most people suggest using a high quality Purdy brush, but I still seem to get bubbles unless I use a foam brush – use whatever works best for you.  I apply light coats.  I go in one direction with a light coat the width of the table and then overlap each stroke as I work my way down the table.  I also check the table from multiple angles after each stroke and then again after the full coat.  For this table, I applied 4 coats to the base of the table and 8 coats to the top.  I waited a minimum of 4 hours between each coat.
  13. Follow directions for use. Once more keep in mind the table needs to cure.  You have 2 options here either a.) Wait 48 hours and then use the table lightly, making sure that you clear it off completely after each use or b.) Realize that option a will never actually happen and leave the table in the garage for a week or more.  Either way, baby the table for about a month and then it should be able to take the usual amount of abuse your family heaps on the kitchen table.
Table-chair-redo
Overhead view of table
glazed table side view
I love how the glaze really highlights the carving on the table sides.

Hope you feel ready to tackle this long but totally doable project!  Let me know if you have any questions along the way and I would love to see your final outcome!

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