Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home

Refinishing A Dinette Set

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In order to offset the cost of our new mid-century kitchen table and chairs, we decided to list our old table on craigslist.  But, as it usually goes, we had some work to do first.


When we were looking for our first kitchen table, we wanted something that was simple and something that was cheap.  The discovery of these chairs on Craigslist (which were not only the exactly same chairs as our dining room set but were also paired with a decent $75 dining set) sealed the deal.  We have a large extended family and always have to ask guests to bring their own chairs when we host everyone for holiday dinners.  We both thought that it would be pretty cool if we could pull in matching chairs from the kitchen when we needed them. So we drove over an hour to grab them from their Craigslist seller before they were gone.

We shouldn’t have been surprised that the table was in pretty rough cosmetic shape.  It’s sturdy as hell, but the owner had a large dog and — judging from the large claw marks and scratches on every surface — he apparently liked to eat his meals at the dining room table, too.  These pictures are very forgiving, but trust me,  the chairs were a mess.



But you guys know me by now right?  “Oh, I can refinish that!” I said.  Right.

Well, six months went by and I never got around to it.  But then we bought this new mid-century table and chairs and we wanted to list this old set to try and recoup some money.  It seemed like  good idea to put a little bit of effort into refinishing it in hopes of actually making some money on its sale so one day I grabbed a sanding block and away I went.

Fixing up the chairs went pretty smoothly.  I won’t go as far as to say that I refinished them, but I certainly gave them a nice refresher.  I scuffed them up with the sanding block and wiped on a dark stain I found in the garage that looked to match their existing color well enough.  The chair below has been lightly sanded and you can see I’ve started to wipe on fresh stain along the back.


The scratches aren’t 100% gone now, but that wasn’t my intent on this project.  I just wanted to diminish them the best I could with only moderate effort.  After all, even though they match our dining room table, we don’t really have a place to store these chairs so we’re planning to sell them with the table.


Look how they shine now!

Unfortunately, I didn’t examine the table very closely before making the decision to attack it, too, with sandpaper.  It was soon apparent that refinishing the table wouldn’t be so easy. For one, the table top is not real wood.  I don’t even think it’s veneer.  Although, I have to say, it’s a really nice looking faux wood table.  Totally fooled me.  Truth be told, I still don’t know what it is…faux plastic veneer maybe?  All I do know is that when I took a sander to it to try and buff out some of Logan’s fork stabing marks, the area turned completely white.

Oh boy.

I didn’t take a photo of this disaster because I was in full on panic mode.  Instead I quickly grabbed a quart of dark stain and slathered it on thick.  Then I left it alone for a week and let it cure.  I figured if someone could make this plastic table look like real wood once, than I could damn well make it look like wood again!

Side note: Only crazy people stain furniture over white carpet.  Now you know which camp I’m in.


Once it dried, the once white spot looked like this.   Now, I know this looks bad, but I wasn’t panicking anymore.   Once I knew that the stain would adhere to the table top I knew I was in the clear.  Yes, this spot is a bit darker than the rest of the table, but that was my intention.  There was no way I could have repaired the damage on the first go so my pan was to go back and blend, blend, blend.  One more coat of stain and another week to cure and we had this.


A shining gleaming table ready for resale.  Is it perfect?  No, but it’s pretty.  Hell, I’ll even go as far as to say that it’s even nicer than when I bought it.  Which is why I have no qualms listing it for a bit more than $75.

Boo yah.

Author: Olivia @ Mid-Century Modern(ization)

I am a wife, mother, and writer. I am also a crafting, furniture-refinishing, home-designing nut.

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