let’s give thanks.

OK, maybe it’s a little early to start thinking about Thanksgiving.  Although obviously this year I will be giving thanks that my sister and niece live here in Minnesota now and will be celebrating with me!

give thanks 1

 But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, this post is about giving thanks that the next step in my dining room makeover is complete!  The table.  Here’s a reminder of how it looked before.

hutch 2

Mr. Q made this table about 20 years ago.  At the time a co-worker of his was selling some 4″ x 4″ cedar boards so Mr. Q decided we needed an extremely heavy, indestructible table.  He’s added several coats of shiny poly over the years to make sure it remained impervious to damage.  I’ll be honest, this has never been my favorite piece of furniture (sorry hon!).  If you’ve read my blog, you’ve seen my style and probably realize that this isn’t exactly ‘me’.  But one has to make compromises in marriage, and this was one of mine.  It wasn’t until I started my recent dining room update that it occurred to me that even though Mr. Q is quite fond of the table, maybe he wasn’t ‘married’ to the finish.  Eureka!  How did this not occur to me sooner?

So I asked him how he felt about me giving it a fresh new look.  Turns out he was on board (pardon the pun)!

The first task was stripping all of that poly off.  Egads.  It took 4 passes with the citrus stripper to get that stuff off.  It was a messy and time consuming process.  I probably could have sped up the process by using a more heavy duty chemical stripper, but since I was doing this inside the house I didn’t want to add toxic fumes to the mix.  Once it was stripped and then cleaned with buckets and buckets of fresh water, I sanded it down a little to get a smooth surface.

Meanwhile, in between passes with the stripper, I dug out some scrap pieces of the original wood from the back of the carriage house and tested some possible finishes on them.

I started out by purchasing two different shades of grey stain.  I really didn’t like the way the stain went on, something about it just felt off.  It was partially the sheen, partially the colors, and partially the streaking that I couldn’t seem to get rid of.  Honestly, staining just isn’t my forte.  I’m sure that there are expert woodworkers out there who could have achieved the look I was was going for with stain, but I’m not one of them.

So I went back to the drawing board.  I gave some more thought to what I was hoping to accomplish.  I wanted to tone down that orange color of the cedar, maybe get a sort of sun bleached look, lighten up the entire piece and give it some more ‘age’.  I didn’t want to entirely cover up the grain, but I wanted to minimize it a little.  I did some more research on pinterest looking at many different approaches to faux-aging wood.  And finally I realized that I should just stick to what I know, paint!  I decided to pickle the wood on the top of the table, and then just paint and distress the base (there was no way I was going to attempt to strip the base!)

There are a myriad of choices for pickling methods out there!  There are even special products made just for pickling.  I stuck to the basics.  I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old White, and diluted it about 50/50 with water.  I wish I had diluted it even a little more for a more sheer look, but hindsight is 20/20.

pickle 1

As it turns out, pickling is incredibly simple.  I applied the watery paint with a brush and then wiped it off with a paper towel.  The paper towel probably breaks some official rule that requires a lint free cloth, but it worked for me.  I’d use caution with that if you use a darker color.  I worked board by board because I didn’t want to have any weird overlap lines.  I wiped off quite a bit of the paint, and I really rubbed and smoothed with the paper towel to get rid of any streaking and to work the paint into the wood, frequently changing to a fresh paper towel.  I did just one coat.  Once it was dry, I went over it with my palm sander and some fine (220 grit) sandpaper.  Then I waxed with Miss Mustard Seed furniture wax.

pickled table top

Well?  What do you think?  An improvement over the shiny cedar look?  I really love the new look, it is almost exactly what I was picturing in my head for the table top.

For the table base, I just sanded the original finish lightly and then painted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint in French Linen.  Once dry, I distressed and then waxed with my custom blend dark wax.

table base

I’m really not sure I like the way the French Linen on the table base is playing with the Fusion Linen on the inside of the hutch or with the bamboo rug.  It’s funny because I would have called both of these colors a ‘greige’, or warm beige/grey.  But when you put them in the same room with each other the Fusion Linen has a warm green undertone, while the French Linen has a cool blue-ish undertone.  I debated using the Fusion Linen on the table base, but I thought that would be too ‘matchy-matchy’.


Maybe I should have just stuck with the Old White on the table base?

Well, water under the bridge.  After nearly cramping every muscle in my body while crawling around under that table to paint the base, I just don’t have it in me to change the color just now.

dining table 2

I’m choosing the live with the colors for now and see how they grow on me.  I’ll be honest, this table still isn’t going to make it to the top of my favorite furniture list, but is is vastly improved.  And Mr. Q is happy with it too!

There is still one more big project that I’ll be tackling in the dining room, plus a few smaller tweaks here and there.  But I’m checking things off one by one, and before you know it, I’ll have this project completed!


21 thoughts on “let’s give thanks.

  1. I have always liked white washed furniture and what you did to the table looks great.
    Softened the table a lot
    One thing I learned from redoing the log cabin, which is supper dark inside,is to use color. I have large amounts of Apple green and just added hot pink. All the brown soaks up so much color nothing look to bold.


  2. I know you are happy to have that behind you. Much prefer this incarnation to the previous look especially with the chairs and china hutch. So what else have you got up your sleeve for this space?


  3. I love the new lighter colors in your dining room as they give it such a bright feel. Love the photo with sunshine streaming in the window; a bit ethereal. The whitewash of the table top is perfect. Though you are not sure of the color of the base playing well with the other colors, it could be that you are more sensitive to it than we are since you did it. Over time it may not stand out as much to your eye, blending in to create pleasant little contrasts between everything. Kind of a casual, quasi-French effortless thing. Q-uasi-French??


    1. Yes, you might be right Kim. I’m more sensitive to the color since I did it myself. And really, since it’s under the table, it’s really not that noticeable to anyone but me. I’m having a difficult time getting good pics of the room because when bright light is streaming through the windows, it makes the dark shadows in the corner appear even darker. I may have to work on my photography skills and get out the tripod when it’s time to do final ‘after’ photos of the finished room. Q-uasi-French! Love that!


  4. Maybe it’s early for you…but a post just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving preparation. So another decorating inspiration would be in order for us! I like that you lightened up your dining room as it was very dark. Love that table top Mr Q built…and regarding the colour? How often do we see the legs. It will be a blessed gathering with your family and friends. Another great job.


    1. Hey! I always forget that you guys have an earlier Thanksgiving than we do! Lightening up the dining room is the main goal of my makeover. I have a couple of friends who are lobbying to get me to paint the barnwood paneling, but I’m just not sure I can do that. So I’m seeing how much change I can make by lightening up everything else! Despite the fact that this room faces south, has a skylight and a french door, it still is rather dark.


  5. Now I get it! When you first showed pictures of your dining room I thought what is that heavy weight table doing in there. It didn’t fit in. The fact that your husband made it makes it understandable to want to make it fit in. It was a work of love and it would be a safe place to sit under in a severe wind storm. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.


      1. The story behind the table is that I have a lot of big friends. Several are ~6’5″. One gentleman in particular is nicknamed Mongo (in H.S.) and is a great guy, but not really an indoor pet. He is always breaking things, brushing against walls and careening off pictures and sconces and what have you. I wanted to build a table that was Mongo-proof. So I built this trestle table out of red cedar 4X4’s and had him stand on top of it. Then I had him jump up and down and try to break it. It held and I judged that it would be sufficient to withstand hours of evening gaming with my buddies. 😀

        When I built the table I didn’t really consider whether or not I would be able to get it in the house! It took myself and several of my big friends, as well as removing the front door and a closet door, to get it inside the house. A couple of months later I decided it wasn’t big enough to hold the board and player’s aids for one of our fav games du jour CIVILIZATION by Avalon Hill. So I added a 4X4 on each side making it even wider. That was over 25 years ago, If I got the guys together now and we tried to get it out of the house…Well, somebody gonna break a hip! 😉 We determined that if we ever sell the house the table is going to be part of the package.

        I was raised with a deep reverence for wood and the natural woodgrain look and Q has brought me out of that 70’s reverie. My accident taught me that nothing is permanent and when I lost everything, even my own identity, all that remained was a few good friends and my greatest gift, Linda’s love. The table is just a table.

        Oh, and I have a number of very high IQ friends that I game with, but every time we convinced Linda to play CIV with us, she kicked our candy butt’s! (I’m serious!)


  6. The whitewashing looks really great! I agree to leave the base, you don’t want the matchy set. As Joyce said, a safe haven during a storm, ahaha! My only question, WWJD? Can’t wait to see what’s up your sleeve…


    1. I wish I could say that it’s painting the walls! But it isn’t! Still haven’t managed to talk myself into that. But I think Jo would approve of the project I’m tackling next 😉


  7. Way better than the shiny cedar top.
    Have you considered a larger complimentary chair at the head and/or the end of the table to conceal the bulky base a little? Perhaps you would be a little more fond of it then.


    1. Brilliant minds think alike Diane! I have been keeping an eye on craigslist for two chairs (one on either end) that have the look I want. I have to be careful with chairs that have arms though because they tend to be too high to fit under this table. I’d love two big wing back style chairs upholstered in grain sacks, but until I learn to do serious upholstery myself something like that might be out of my price range.


  8. Your whitewashing turned out great — love, love the table top! p.s. I think I know what gray stain you’re talking about — had the same problem — ended up almost “painting” on the lighter stain over the darker gray to get some movement in the wood — you were so smart to stick with paint. 😀


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