My dining room table started out looking like this
It had brown plastic chairs which I bought from a consignment shop along with the table when I moved into my last apartment during my senior year of undergrad. I forgot how much they all cost, but I know the table wasn't more than $30, and I think the chairs were only a few dollars a piece. They weren't the most beautiful things to look at, but they weren't awful either, and they were solid and functional. I believe the table came to the consignment shop from a hotel, which is kind of interesting. Who knows who sat at this table before me!
I decided to switch out the chairs while I was making strawberry cupcakes. I glanced out the window, and saw these chairs sitting next to our apartment complex dumpster:
They were dirty, the finish was mostly worn off, and perhaps most unfortunate was their smell. They reeked of cigarette smoke. So much so that even after sitting out on our patio for several hours, you could still smell smoke as soon as you walked outside around them. I had no idea if I would be able to get rid of the smell, but I decided to give it by best effort, and if they still smelled, I would take them to the salvation army. Better there than on the way to a landfill, as the previous owners had sent them to!
My first mission was to de-stink the chairs. I read online about a lot of chemical options, but I prefer to use more natural products, so I decided to use a method I read about here, where you scrub the furniture with a hot water and vinegar mixture. Since there was still a small amount of finish left on the chairs, I did the scrubbing with a stripping pad, which is essentially like a really rough sponge. I was surprised at how much of the finish was removed without ever using sandpaper.
It seemed to work in getting rid of most of the smell. There was only a faint smell left, so once I was done scrubbing them, I let them both sit out in the sun and fresh air on our porch for several days. That did the trick! They were stink free thanks to vinegar, a stripping pad, and some sun+fresh air. I wanted to make sure they stayed that way and that the original wood color didn't show through, so I primed them both with white tinted primer.
Around this time I realized I was going to have a LOT of primer and paint left, so I made a spur of the moment decision to paint the table as well. I googled "how to paint furniture" in hopes of finding some useful tips. I was excited to find that the first listed result was a tutorial from one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love! I followed their recommended steps from start to finish with both the table and chairs. Their steps include (1)sand, (2) prime, (3) paint, (4) cover with two coats of Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic Protective Finish in “Clear Gloss”.
I'm so glad I decided to use the polycrylic. While my paint was a gloss and it alone left a fairly glossy surface, the polycrylic gave a really professional looking finish. Especially since the surfaces are ones that could very easily have spilled food or drink on them, it's nice to know there is an extra layer of protection.
I am amazed at the transformation that a few coats of paint can provide. It took quite a few hours of work, but it was easy work, and it was well worth it! I'm in love with the glossy white finish and brightness it brings to the whole space. I never noticed how much the old, dark version of the table blended in and darkened the dining room. Now it pops! Plus, I am so happy I saved these chairs from the landfill. Here are the before and afters:
I have a few details to finish up in the room before I share the full "after". Check back sometime tomorrow to see the whole room put together!