This has been a long time coming, but we are finally finished re-finishing our coffee table. And by finished, I mean, we will never re-do this table - ever again!
I won't mislead you and say it was such an easy job - straightforward, yes, easy . . . nope.
This is what our coffee table looked like after we had given it a makeover the first time. It came into our family as a Craigslist purchase for $25 when my husband was in law school. We had painted the top and bottom with a nice navy blue paint, and left the rope trim around the edge the original orangey-pine color. I really didn't mind the navy - I loved it at the time we had painted it, but after a couple of years of boys using it as a race-track and banging surface, it was beginning to look chippy in a bad sort of way.
The other reason I grew tired of the navy blue paint was because I felt like color schemes automatically had to coordinate with it. I like being able to change things up, and craved a more rustic wood-toned look.
I thought the job would be fairly simple and cheap (I already had Citristrip on hand as well as stain). I wasn't sure about what to do about the crevices around the edge of the top, but figured I would see what I could do as I went along.
The Citristrip worked pretty well on the flat surfaces, but things got a little frustrating in the crevices. I moved the coffee table out to the garage to work on it when I could, but because we had one lone lightbulb out there and cold weather, I had a hard time staying motivated to work on it during the evening hours I had available. Eventually, I got most of the paint off, and started to sand it with our power sander. But even that proved to be frustrating, and eventually, I asked my husband if he would help. I was grateful that he didn't mind sanding (I hate it, by the way!) and spent a few hours on a weekend getting the wood down to the original grain.
Once we got it stripped and sanded, we moved the table down to the basement where I could work on staining it. Each step felt like a leap of faith - painting the lower portion white was not hard, just tedious with the rope trim and working over dark paint. Then came the decisions about stain. I decided to do an initial wash of Minwax Weathered Oak, followed by a mixture of Weathered Oak and English Chestnut. After that, I did a light wash of gray paint mixed 50/50 with water and made sure to wipe it off as soon as I painted it on, and then I did a final coat of English Chestnut on its own to darken it up a little. I finished it off with a couple of coats of Minwax Polyurethane finish in semi-gloss, didn't like the gloss or the brush marks, and then did a final coat of Minwax Wipe-On poly in satin.
Working under the fluorescent lights made it hard to evaluate how the stain actually looked. I mean, what ever looks good under fluorescent lighting? But once I had done that last coat of poly I knew I was done with it, and we brought it upstairs this past Sunday.
Once in place, I was really happy with how it turned out. We have been living without a coffee table for a couple of months now, and it made our living room feel like a living room again.