Tip-Top Table

Let the chaos begin! 

I am ready to let loose some of the top-secret highly classified projects that I’ve been placing finishing touches on…three cheers for me!  Actually we should be cheering for you…because you guys are the ones that told me you come here for the ‘house stuff’ in my blogiversary survey (which by the way, if you are in a bad mood…just read other’s people’s quirks…it’s like botox for the soul). 

Okay…so you know that I have partnered with True Value (aka the ugly home dragon slayer – that’s their ABP official slogan by the way).  And those Master Hardwarians are helping us out with DIY supplies…while we bring the brawn and the brains…or in my case, the Brawny (for when DIY gets messy) and the brain-engine-called-Google.  I created my To-Do list and on said list is this bad boy:   

That my friends is called a mish-mash. 

One yard sale table scored for $18 last summer.  And one golden light fixture with several modern stacking chairs.  Not exactly what I’m going for in this space.  I don’t think any body goes for this look.  anywhere.  in any decade. 

So I decided to start with the table.  I love the two toned look of it…I’m just not loving the tones…or the shape that it is in. 

The top is birchy. 

Birchy like yellowy…not like what I call that woman who cut me off on Highway 78 the other day.  Totally different kinda birch. 

As you can plainly see…this table is a little rough around the edges…the previous owner used it as a craft table….and it shows…

The top is especially bad.  Water rings…stains…divots….

So I whipped out our sander and some gritty sandpaper (60grit to start) and went at it. 

Since there was only a few coats of well-worn poly on it, the entire top wasn’t difficult to strip down.

Time consuming…but not hard. 

If you are planning on doing this at home…make sure you go with the grain.  That is my number one tip.

After you sand down the entire surface, wipe it down of dust and see what you got. 

Here’s mine after sanding with the high-grit sandpaper followed with a medium grit. 

Pretty nice, huh?  Big difference from that hot mess up there.

After my sanding with gritty, medium then fine grit sandpaper…clean the sucker REALLY well.  I wiped down the entire table top with water and then followed up with a tack cloth. 

Next came stain.  I chose MinWax in Dark Walnut. 

I would apply then let it sit for one minute then wipe it up with a paper towel. 

The bits of yellow that are peaking through is where the poly wasn’t removed good enough with my sanding.  I love it though.  I figured that if this happy little accident hadn’t happened, then I would WANT to try my hand at recreating it. 

Next came Poly.  I must admit, My name is Katie and I love oil based polyurethane.  Yes, it is annoying that your foam brush dries before you can do two coats…but it is well worth it.  I love this Zinsser type that boasts that it will warm up your wood.

Oh boy did it?!  See my side by side comparison.  Crazy huh?  The polyed side really does make the wood look richer and more finished…and it got rid of that blue hazy look…

And my finished little table top in tip-top shape.  Please note that the eliptical and baby usually aren’t there for photos.

I must say this…here’s my secret for awesome finishes….sanding in between coats.  If it is a painted piece of furniture – SAND between the coats of paint.  It makes a difference.   If it is a stained piece of furniture (like this one), SAND between the coats of poly.  Use, and watch yourself here because this is hard to remember, use…BETWEEN-COAT SANDPAPER.  So uber clever…those sandpaper-naming-people.

Another gratuitous table shot…this is after three coats of poly as they dry…

So there you have it folks – one little bit of True Value supplies to create an amazing new table. 

Obviously this space isn’t finished though….

I still have the GoodWill bench that I made over:

Oh and my chairs that were handmedowns from Mom….

oh and the crowning glory of our eat-in area…the golden chandelier…Lumiere.  Yeah, I watched too many Disney movies. (note how I used past tense…when really I should use present tense). 

So there you have it – me striking TABLE off my To-Do list….and moving right along.  Have you ever redone a table?  Did you love it after…did you two-tone it?  Any happy accidents?  Spill…(PUNNY!)

“I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”



  1. Stacey says

    Hi Katie! I love what you did with this table and I’m attempting to try my hand at doing this to an identical table I got off Craigslist. Can you email me step by step instructions on everything you did as this is uncharted territory for me and I want to make sure I don’t skip a step. Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you!

  2. says

    This post is exactly what I need! I am going to attempt this with a hand-me-down table I got from my grandma that has seen better years. :) Thanks for this!

  3. Corina says

    I just bought the exact table at a yard sale. I am going to attempt what you have done. Before i begin I want to make sure I get information right… did you apply a coat of Poly then sand and then apply another poly coat on top?

  4. Mary says

    I have the same table that I’m refinishing right now. Going with Dark Walnut also. Did you use a wood conditioner before staining? Every website that I’ve found says to use one for more uniform look but I LOVE the look of your table!! If not, have you ever used a wood conditioner before? Your thoughts? And I know you used several coats of poly but how many coats of stain did you use? Thanks!!

  5. Mary says

    So you didn’t use a wood conditioner before staining? Almost every website that I’ve seen says to use one for a uniform look but I LOVE the look of your table! Have you ever used one? Your thoughts? And how many coats of stain did you use? Thx!!

    • says

      Nope. I know that wood conditioner makes it have a much more uniform look…so that is definitely not something I was going for. Hope this helps. And the coats of stain was like two solid coats but three would have been fine too.
      xo – kb

  6. Nicole says

    Hi Katie, I bought the same table but way worse shape and I spent more for mine :( I just sanded today with 80 grit first because my sander didn’t come with 60 grit. Then I went over with 120 but I did not get the same results as yours? There is blue pen and rings from what looks like hot pots were left on table and they didn’t really come out? Any suggestions?

    Thanks so much,

    • says

      Keep sanding. Eventually you will get to a point where all the marks will come out. If you need to get more up, you can always sand by hand too :)
      xo – kb

  7. Nicole says

    Thanks I think a lot of it has to do with the sander I have not a belt sander! I am now onto staining and only one coat so far. I decided to use wood filler so now I am just hoping with a few more coats I will not see my wood filler! My Dad says I just need to be patient and take my time…crossing my fingers it will all work out!

    Thanks Katie :)

  8. Kate says

    Love the table!

    I’m seriously contemplating striping the top of my ($75 on Craigslist a few years back, woo!) black table and staining it. I actually like it black, but the factory finish is a bit beaten up (from my previous owners plus a few more years from us) plus the black finish turns white when it gets wet – and it stays permanently white if the wetness is left too long! Not good for two clumsy adults plus a toddler who will be out of her highchair in not too long!

    My only hesitation is that I don’t know for sure if it’s solid wood on top. However, it’s from World Market originally and it seems like all of their tables say they’re solid wood. I guess if the worst happens and it’s not solid, I can always paint it again!

    How has your poly held up on the table?

    • says

      Ours has held up well…we do have a few marks where Jeremy bears down on the table really hard to write a check or something like that…but those minor indentions aside, it still looks pretty new and cleans up well.
      xo – kb

  9. Dovey says

    OK….I love what you did..and think I might try on our dinning/kids craft table….

    But first can you tell me what brand/type of sander you are using….I am compiling a list of supplies needed.

  10. Danielle says

    Hi Katie!

    I have this exact table (pretty sure anyways) and I’m looking to refinish it as my very first DIY project! I’m wondering if you have any idea what’s underneath the white paint? Thinking of refinishing the entire table that beautiful dark walnut color if it’s all the same wood underneath – otherwise I’ll most likely reprint the white since it’s very old and chipped.


  11. Stephanie says

    Hi there,
    You say you sanded in between poly coats, did u wait for it to dry? Did it take a while for the poly to dry? Thanks super excited to do this. Also is your table 60in. Long?

    • says

      Yes. You wait for the poly coat to dry (usually about 24 hours) and then you take a 400 grit sand paper to it, wipe clean, tack cloth it, then you can recoat.
      And yes…I think it is.
      xo – kb

  12. says

    We have the same table and are copying your look. Love it. Two questions: 1) did you spray paint or paint the legs? 2.) we have the chairs that match and the seats are the same light wood would you recommend sanding those down as well and staining dark? Thank you

    • says

      I just painted the table legs with a regular brush. The chairs might be harder to refinish dark…so yes, if you have a ton of time on your hands, go for it but if you don’t, I would just paint to match the bottom of the table or mix it up with a bright color.
      xo – kb

      • says

        I’m a newbie at this so I apologize for all the questions. Would you sand the legs of the table first before painting them? Also I do not have a lot of time so a color on the chairs would be a wonderful idea. Would you sand the chairs first then spray paint them or use a brush? The seats are exactly like the table top and the back and legs of the chairs are white! Thanks again!

        • says

          I would rough up the legs a little bit with sandpaper and definitely make sure they are clean. And I would probably use a brush on the legs.
          xo – kb

  13. Jenn says

    I am going to attempt this project this weekend. I have a very similar table and chairs to match. Wondering your opinion on staining chair seats to match top of table? Or leave all white? Thank you so much for the step by step directions by the way!!

  14. Erin (Pridemore) Wood says

    Hi Katie,

    I’ve come across several of your posts (initially from Pinterest I think) as I try my hand at my first refinishing project (a 70’s dining room table, chairs, and hutch (solid wood that I originally thought was laminate before my first trip to Home Depot, dang it) that was my husband’s grandmother’s. Anyways, in prep, I kept reading several of your posts for instructions, all the while thinking you look really familiar, but I really don’t think I know you. And then I came across a post where your family was helping (paint your basement I think) and I knew them! From way back…I was the same year at Heritage (was only there for two yrs) as your brother Tim and played basketball with your sister Lori, and your dad was our coach. Ha, small world it is! Anyways, this has been really helpful – thanks! Here goes… :)

  15. Mary says

    Hi! This is a great post and thank your for the between coats sanding tip! I was going to refinish my table two toned as well.. but the bottom of mine is not already painted… should I sand everything then paint the under side or can I just paint over the remaining finish on the table? Thanks!

    • says

      I would sand because it makes everything stick better. If you are planning on painting, then it just needs to have a grit to it to help the paint stick. If you are planning on painting, sand to make it feel like you want it after it’s all said and done (more work).
      xo – kb

  16. Jordyn says

    Did you sand the round sides of the table with the electric sander as well? Or did you do it by hand? I have the exact same table and I love what you did with it! I’m in the middle of sanding mine and will take your advice. My table is scratched and stained as well so looks like I need to go get 60 grit sand paper.

  17. Lorena says

    GREAT tutorial!!!! I have the exact same table but I also have the matching chairs!!! I’m so doing this to my table and the chairs as well!!!

  18. Jennifer says

    I have this EXACT same table and I was hoping to do a similar dark stain finish. I bought it from Craigslist and it was in pretty decent shape so I ended up just steel wool-ing it and giving it another coat of Poly. Good to know it will be beautiful if I ever get around to tackling it the way I want it. Very impressive!!

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