Back when the hubby and I were poor, starving college students, his great-aunt gifted us a dining room table. Actually, I think it was more of “here you guys take it because no one else has room and she’s going to ‘the home’”, but we love and cherish it in any regard. Who could hate free furniture? Especially quality furniture? Even if it is a bazillion years old…
Okay, it isn’t that bad. But it is a light maple color that we’re not fond of, and it doesn’t match anything. We’re working hard to rid ourselves of all the mismatched pieces, cause nothing screams “poor, starving college students” like mismatched décor. We’re going more for the “well-fed, slightly stable young professional/grad student” look. Which means, instead of spending all of our hard-earned money on a new table, we’d rather spend a little on fixing it up. This also seemed like a great idea because the table that we wanted to buy probably wouldn’t fit so nicely in our apartment. Not to mention, a quick redo helps out the environment by not creating new waste or new packaging (although I’m sure the carbon footprint of toxic stains didn’t help much…man, you can’t win, can ya?).
Let me back up. I said “quick” redo. Haha. Ha. Haha. I have to admit this was one of the worst projects we’ve taken on yet. The reason all comes down to getting started. We didn’t start right. Let’s recap:
Me: You ready to get started?
Eric: Nah. I’m tired.
Me: You ready to get started?
Eric: Nah. I’m tired. Let’s go shopping.
Later That Day (try 4:00pm)
Eric: You ready to get started?
Eric: Yeah, come on, if we start now, we’ll be finished by Sunday night. (It was Saturday…)
Shopping at Lowes (5:00pm)
Me: I really think we need a power sander…
Eric: Nah, sandpaper and stripper will work.
A Little Later That Day (8:30)
Me: Well, at least we got half a chair done…
Eric: I poured stripper on everything. Let’s sand it off.
Me: I think we need a power sander.
Eric: Nah, come on. We can get this knocked out today.
This is what the table looked like after getting a stripper bath. (hehe) Clearly, it make a HUGE difference. Please note the sarcasm. So, not only did we (Eric) waste money on stripper, time waiting for it to work, and energy, we also made a very stinky mess. We undertook this project on our patio. With close neighbors. I had my super-duper mask, but the neighbors did not. Whoops.
Thankfully, I was able to gently coax Eric into agreeing that we needed power tools. Enter our very resourceful, more than helpful friend, Scott. He brought his over, along with extension cords, and even picked up some sandpaper and went to work sanding those damn spindles. When it began raining in the late afternoon, Scott even loaded the table into his Jeep and lent us the use of his garage. I think he regretted this a few days later. Yep, a few days…We worked on the table Monday-Thursday, but then we had to go to Cincinnati for the weekend. So it took up space in his garage all weekend. Although, I don’t think he had too much to complain about. We fed him every night. Good food, too. With cookies. Actually, I think that’s why it took so long. We spent more time eating than working. We finally figured out on the last two days that if we worked then ate, we got more done. We would never have gotten it done without him, his power tools, humor, wit, and knowledge. Oh, did I forget to mention that he grew up refinishing furniture with his grandparents?! So did he. Would have called him Day 1…Actually, it was his perfectionism that set us back. I’m usually the perfectionist in the group, and he outdid me. That says something.
Overall, the table turned out well. It will get us through another year, and after that, it will make an excellent craft table or Craig’s List sale. I have to admit, halfway through I had my doubts. I thought it went from 1957 to 1977—not quite the modern look we were going for, but it looked better after a few coats of polyurethane. Also halfway through, I decided that it was going to be complete fail. It even gave me the idea for a new blog-DIY Fails. Cause I know everyone has at least one. Something you started and never finished? Something that ended up sooo not like it was supposed to? Send me your FAILS! We can relish in the hilarity of it all together.
Things I Learned During This Project
1. Do not nag the husband, even when you’re right. Gentle coaxing may take longer (too long almost), but it does not lead to fights, and he’ll be happy to help the next time you ask for it.
2. Do not undertake projects on a patio. With no electrical outlets. With neighbors close by.
3. Be sure to stain and poly in an indoor, yet well ventilated area. We ended up with bugs landing on the table. Let’s not talk about having to get those out. I swear there’s still a few bug legs trapped…
4. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. This includes NOT starting a project if you’re not 100% up to it.
5. Find all resourceful friends ahead of time. Have plenty of cookies on hand for bribes payment.
6. Be sure that all participating members are on the same page about the best way to complete the project. I knew we didn’t need stripper, and that we needed power tools. Had both of us been on the same page, we would have saved time, energy, and money.
7. Things look differently in different environments. Outside, I hated the table. Inside, I think it looks great!
So, how do ya like it? And don’t forget to send me the stories of your failed DIY attempts.