Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dana's Table and the Year of the Dining Room

 So this is a post I started over a year ago. And I just finished it today. But I really like where I started and so just pretend that the last post you read from me was this one, the first time I went to the Lucketts Spring Fair and met Miss Mustard Seed.

I have been stripping in the garage lately. And using my pole too. Isn't that just so deliciously salacious coming from an overweight stay at home mom? I have to admit though, I have been stripping in my garage. Sometimes, I even leave the door open so the neighbors can watch. But that is the middle of this story. I better tell the whole thing from the beginning.

When our previous episode left off, Dana and I were driving home from a lovely day of shopping in Lucketts. But Dana was a changed woman. Since she found "The" table, Dana has become obsessed with Craigslist. For those of you who haven't discovered this amazing resource yet, is an online local garage sale of sorts, where you can search for specific things like "wood dining table" and see pictures and read a blurb about the item before you truck to the person's house to look at it. As I was the one who suggested she look there for a table, it was only a matter of time (about 3 hrs after we got home from Lucketts) before she had me obsessing right along with her. I came home that same day and decided to reorganize my whole house. I am now in the process of refinishing a gorgeous mahogany buffet, but that is it's own story.

While I was looking for my stuff, I was sending her links to tables that could be just like her inspiration table. Oh, I forgot to tell you. Dana has an "inspiration room" for the dining room. Check it out here. She has hired a carpenter to make the long shelves with the thick molding that run along one wall. She is trying to decide if she's going to build the buffet table the same way, or get a darker antique or vintage piece. And she is totally married to the table in the pic, although she keeps changing her mind about natural top or dark top. Gotta love a pregnant woman's drive.

This gorgeous room is from The Old Painted Cottage Blog. It's fantastic. You should check it out.

So miracle of miracles, after a month of sending her about 10 Craigslist posts a day, Dana emails me and says, "I think this one might be it...." This is a rather ominous statement coming from Dana as she has a really, really hard time making up her mind about decorating stuff, especially if it involves a large financial or longevity commitment. She just wants to be sure she gets what she really wants. Because, you know, there might be something better next week.....

Anyway, after looking at listings for a month, the stars aligned and we took a lovely drive to Beltsville, MD, which is on the other side of the region from us. And Dana actually committed this table and chair set:

Nice legs, pretty rush seated chairs, solid construction, and the worse varnish job I have ever seen. Seriously. Varnish drips everywhere. Several gaps on the top where there simply was no varnish. It made me wonder if the man of the family tried a little varnish DIY, just to make it really, really shiny. And this table was shiny, like you could do your make-up looking in it shiny. But the price was right. $199 for the entire set, chairs and all. (The lady even gave Dana her $1 bill in change.) And the legs! Those gorgeous chunky solid wood legs had us at "hello".

So I got to work transforming the table. Initially Dana was going to leave the top and try to match the look of this table:

 The Bee Keeper's Cottage, a regular vendor at the Old Lucketts Store

I took the table apart, leaving the top as it was, dripped varnish and all. I started with a coat of French Linen Chalk Paint from Annie Sloan.
This is after one coat on those pretty legs.

First Coat of Pure White over the Linen.

The leg on the right has the second coat of Pure White. 
 I find that I often need two coats of Pure White or Old White.

I am always amazed at how the wax transforms things. Here is what the leg looked like after being waxed with clear wax and then selectively distressed.

Are you as in love with these legs as I am? 
I really, really love how curvy they are. And the finish on them feels smooth as glass. 
Sometimes I even surprise myself with the quality of my work.

I got the whole frame of the table painted and assembled and then I took the cover off the table top and was confronted with this:

This is the exact color of the finish. There is no unintentional yellowing due to artificial light. 

So after much discussion, which mostly involved me telling Dana that this was way too crappy to put with the pretty table I had just spent three days refinishing, "We" decided to strip it.

So here I am, back in the garage, stripping away.

I think I was wearing more clothes than all the other DC Metro Area strippers combined. 
I even have socks on. It was June. I wonder why I was wearing socks? 

In any case, though the process, I learned that I LOVE the gel citrus stripping agent they sell at Home Depot. If you need something stripped, I highly recommend it. It actually smells good! It works really well and fairly quickly. And it's not nearly as toxic as most of the other stripping agents. I covered up, and kept track of my debris, but I wasn't worried about my fingers turning green or shriveling and falling off, which I had been worried about on occasion with other products.

Once it was all stripped and cleaned and put together, this is what it turned out like:

Dana was so happy with the table, she actually sat down and cried. 
No better compliment to the artist than that.
OK, so that was then. Let's fast forward to now.

In the last year, Dana and her very hard working and handy husband Travis have completely transformed their dining room, and the table is the centerpiece of the design.

Welcome to their new dining room!

This buffet was a total gift from the universe. It is solid vintage pecan wood. 
She got in off Craigslist for $100. 

 This is the true color of the piece. I LOVE the handles!

Apparently the people she bought it from had just bought a house, and the former owners left it there. The new people just wanted it gone, so Dana gets to live happily ever after with it in her dining room. 

She has been collecting the white wear ever since Lucketts. I suppose we should say, I have been collecting the white ware for her as I bang around the countryside looking for deals for the barn sale.

This piece, however, she did buy for herself. From none other than Miss Mustard Seed herself. It was cherished and loved, until one day, one of her kids bumped it accidentally. It smashed on the ground into about 20 pieces. She sadly and lovingly put them in a bag and brought them over, asking if I could use broken pottery for any of my projects. It was so sad. So once she left, I opened the bag, and slowly rebuilt the chamber pot for her. Obviously, I did a less than perfect job, but with some Gorilla Super Glue, at least it is in one piece and holding firm.

I couldn't resist posting this one. This is one of my up-cycled coaster bud vases. Dana snapped this one up from me before the 2012 spring barn sale even started. I still can't believe how well those vintage science bottles fit!

As much as I love the table and the side board, I think the piece de resistance in this room is the Family Rules sign.

This is the real McCoy from Between You and Me. This little Etsy company, of Perfectly Imperfect and Thistlewood Farms fame (two of Dana and my favorite blogs), hand-makes the most gorgeous Family Rules signs either of us had ever seen. And we looked at  A LOT of signs together because Dana really wanted that to be a defining element of the room. In the long run, she decided to let this be her splurge. She even had a family council to let the kids weigh in on the rules that would be listed. I was just happy that Dana allowed herself to buy the thing that she most wanted, rather than making do with something lesser.

It just pulls the room together so nicely.

Another hand done element in the room was the wainscoting.  Travis put all of it in himself.

Sometimes I wish I had a handy husband instead of a handy self. 
And then I remember that it took a year for this room to get finished. 

But Travis is unstoppable. 
As I was shooting the dining room today, Travis was bead boarding the bathroom. 
Go Travis!

Here are a few more beauty shots, just for fun.

Almost everything in this room was gathered slowly and inexpensively or made by hand. And yes, it took a while, but I love that every piece in here has meaning for Dana. What better thing could you  surround yourself with, than beautiful things that remind you of the adventures you had getting them and people you loved being with? 

I really do love those legs. 'Sigh'



  1. such a fabulous post marian. i love love love your humor. i loved reading dana's process and i loved seeing your work. fabulous you are!!! hugs your way!

  2. Thanks so much Denise! I can't wait to see what you do in your home next.
    CM Shaw