A two tone color table design lightens up the chunky legs on this antique 1920s dining table. The top was refinished using General Finishes Java Gel Stain while the base was painted General Finishes Antique White for a timeless, elegant look.
This post is sponsored by General Finishes and contains affiliate links. You may read my full disclosure policy here. I received free products for this project; however, all opinions are 100% my own . I would never use or endorse a product that didn’t meet my high standards. Please remember to read all directions and follow safety precautions for each individual product #sponsored #generalfinishes
How It All Began…
The beginning pictures are grainy but bear with me. The makeover pictures will make up for it!
In January 2015, I came across this table and chairs on a local selling site. It was love at first sight.
The top had been refinished at some point but never clear coated, and it didn’t match the bottom or the chairs at all. The top was much lighter but it had a red tint whereas the table base and chairs were plain ole brown.
But I still loved it. I saw the beautiful lines and an elegance of past gone days.
My sweet husband picked it up and brought it home for me, even though we already had a dining table. (Yes, I collect furniture like other girls collect shoes. Everyone should have a hobby, right?)
After getting her home, he tightened up the bolts on the legs and I cleaned her up…
And then we promptly left her sitting there for a year before deciding what to do with her.
As you already know, I like dark stained wood but in this case the top had been refinished and didn’t match the bottom which really, really bothered me.
And then there was the dark stained buffet…
The dark stained server…
And the dark stained parlor tables… to go along with the brown rug and the oil rubbed bronze chandelier.
There was way too much brown going on for my liking; however, I was still reluctant to paint.
I would look at the other pieces of furniture in the room, wondering if I should paint one of them instead. Each one of those pieces had been built in the 1890’s and I couldn’t bring myself to paint any of them either.
Then one dreary winter day I woke up and decided I need color in my life.
I was tired of the grey skies outside and all the brown furniture inside, and since I couldn’t control the weather, it looked like the dining room table was finally going to get a makeover.
And so the transformation process began.
The Paint Details…
Since I was going to be painting white on top of an old walnut stain, I started out with two coats of a tannin blocking primer to prevent bleed through.
I used a foam roller wherever I could and then painted in the remaining areas with a foam paint brush.
I didn’t take any progress pictures while I was painting the table legs, but I can assure you it was a long tedious process with all of those grooves, turns, indentations, and cut work, and I have to admit I still wasn’t convinced I had made the right decision on painting her.
What can I say?
I’m a wood purist at heart and it’s hard for me to paint over a true antique piece.
After the primer had dried over night, I painted the base of the table with General Finishes Antique White milk paint.
I love, love, love this color and this paint.
General Finishes milk paint is not a true milk paint. It’s not casein based and it doesn’t chip like a true milk paint. It’s adheres really well, is self-leveling (good-bye brush marks!), and by far it’s the easiest paint I’ve ever work with. For medium use it can even go without a clear coat.
You can see my other General Finishes sponsored posts to see the versatility of this paint: General Finishes China Cabinet Makeover, Beach Themed Bathroom Makeover, DIY Painted SURF Sign Using Letter Trays As A Canvas, and Oil Rubbed Bronze Chandelier Makeover.
By the time I was finished painting the table base, I was sold on the new look. Now I could see all of those pretty details that had been hiding in that previous sea of brown.
Although I love a “clean” paint job, I decided to distress this baby to make the details pop more. Yes, I had to take a deep breath and say a prayer or two before starting the distressing and yes, it took a lot of elbow grease and time to distress through 4 layers of paint, but it was worth it in the end.
Tip: When I distress in small areas, I tear the sand paper into something about the size of a stamp (or possibly 2x’s the size) so that I’m not making any “scratches” in the other areas.
For this job I used very coarse sand paper (80 grit –4 layers of paint to get to down to the stain!), but I generally start out with a finer grit sand paper and move towards coarse grit if the fine grit isn’t cutting it.
General Finishes paint adheres really well which also means it’s harder to distress in my opinion.
For flat surfaces I use a sanding brick or sand paper wrapped around the brick so that it distresses without causing scratches. Make sense?
Look at how those details pop after I distressed the legs!
Since I really like stained furniture I thought I would leave the chairs as they were, but as you can see it was still too much brown going on.
So the chairs were treated to the same service as the table base. They received two coats of primer plus two coats of General Finishes Antique White milk paint.
I was much happier with the white chairs and I couldn’t wait to stain the top to make it darker for more contrast.
General Finishes Java Gel Stain and Arm-R-Seal Top Coat
I did two coats of General Finishes Java Gel Stain and then left it sitting for about a week or so. At times I thought it was dark enough and then at other times I thought I wanted it darker.
This is what it looked like after two coats. I did end up adding a third coat of stain before finally top coating it.
On the left side of the table (below), you can see where General Finishes Arm-R-Seal had been freshly applied and was still wet.
Again I would like to say General Finishes top coats are easy to apply and look fantastic when dried. The more coats of the Satin finish I applied, the glossier it looked.
Many of the reviews I read stated the same. I was good with this since I wanted some sheen without it being a high gloss.
For the best results, follow the directions on the can and wait the suggested time between applying coats, sanding in between, etc.
Don’t rush it!
If you’ve put this many hours into refinishing a piece, you sure as heck don’t want to mess it up at this point.
The Table & Chairs Are Done. Now What?
After all the painting, staining, and top coating had been completed, I went into “analysis paralysis”. I couldn’t make a decision to save my life. I had a new rug and I was having a very hard time finding a coordinating fabric for the seat cushions. I looked in local stores and online for hours and hours, and finally purchased a very pretty, expensive fabric… that ended up not working. Anybody need some good fabric??? I have some!
Back to the drawing board I went looking for a different fabric…
And so my table sat like this for about six weeks.
The good news?
The top coat had plenty of time to cure and I had plenty of time to take pictures of those pretty details…and to paint a chandelier…and to redecorate… all the while thinking I would never find fabric to go with my new fun, but very busy rug.
And then one day…
I found some fabric I could live with for the time being. Will I keep it on the seats forever and ever? I’m not sure, but for now I’m happy with it.
The fabric is a subtle mix of all the colors found in the rug.
And I love how it looks with the distressed wood. And I love that the chairs finally have seats! It’s the small things people…
The Big Reveal…
Are you ready to see the entire thing put together?
I’m just in love with this room.
I love the soft blues and the distressed white.
The contrasting dark stained wood…
The pretty chair backs…
And those legs…
Doesn’t it look soft and feminine? Which is much needed in a house full of boys!
An old eyelet table runner, a silver relish tray holding small ice cream sundae glasses filled with fresh hydrangeas…
The chandelier was made over with General Finishes Antique White milk paint and an easy no sew burlap chain cover. You can read the full tutorial here.
Simple Southern elegance…
I hope you enjoyed my long winded dining room table makeover. Next time I’m going to share the complete dining room transformation and I promise it will mainly be pictures.