A Dining Room Table Makeover

Last week is a bit of a blur – husband and daughter both had the stomach flu, and then I was out of town Thursday-Sunday.  Suffice to say, my plans were a bit blown up as a result.  But, I thought I’d share a dining room table makeover that I did for a customer, as it’s something a bit different than my normal painting jobs.  I get a bit stressed about custom pieces, and I’ll admit, that trend held true on this piece as well.  I enjoy finding and refinishing pieces to my own taste, where people can take them or leave them.  But redoing furniture to a specific look is definitely more stressful because I want it to be what the customer wants. So, let’s take a look at this dining room table makeover – you might be able to learn from my stress.  This post contains some affiliate links.

The Before

This table has great lines and detail, but just needed a little bit of love, and the homeowners were just looking for a more current look – think Restoration Hardware – a washed sort of look.

Dining Room Table Before

Dining Room Table Before

Whitewash Tutorial

Dining Room Table Whitewash Tutorial

The Inspiration

I asked the homeowner if she had any photos of the finish that she desired for this table, and she sent me this photo.  So, a sort of gray washed finish was the goal.  I took on the job because I have done a couple of other projects that are similar to this look. My Pottery Barn Lamp knock-off was one, and I also did a console table that has a similar look.

Dining Room Table Before

The Process

With the other pieces that I did, I did a dry brush technique to achieve the finish I wanted, but I soon discovered that working with a large piece, like this table, it was going to be more difficult to do it that way.  Larger area = larger area to notice mistakes. I just wasn’t liking the look, so I decided to go in a new direction – doing a wash technique on this table.  What is a wash technique?  Basically, you’re diluting the paint with water and applying it with a brush and then wiping it off to give it a washed look.  I used this technique on this table, in multiple coats with different mixes of paint, and it gave it a layered look as a result.

I did prime this table (because I almost always prime everything), and used Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Coco as a base coat for the entire piece.  From there, I began the layering process with the wash.  This is where you have to play around and experiment to get the look that you want (which may include repainting the entire piece and starting over again).  

I started with a 50/50 mix of Annie Sloan’s Coco and Old Ochre and added the same amount of water to create the wash.  I worked in small sections, as you need to be removing the wash with a rag to create the look.

Whitewash Table Process

I wanted the final look to be darker, so in the next layer, I used less of the Old Ochre in the paint mix – you can see the difference in the layers here.

Whitewash Table

Once I got the desired look with the wash, I applied a two coats of poly in a matte finish using Minwax Polycrylic Matte.  I know many of you will say this is an unnecessary step, but with it being a dining room table, I wanted that extra layer of protection.  However, that’s not where the process ends.

I still wanted to add some more warmth to this piece and I have used dark wax in the past to add some more depth to furniture. However, before you use dark wax, you need to use clear wax.  So, I added a coat of clear wax to the table first, and here you can see how the dark wax warms it up even more.

Table with Clear Wax

Table Waxing

Here you can see the difference that dark wax gives in comparing the two table legs.

Dark Wax vs. Clear Wax

In the interest of transparency, I need to share how sometimes dark wax can go wrong and can get uneven.  I’ll admit that I had a mini panic-attack when this happened.   I think the problem was two-fold.  1) I don’t think I let the clear wax dry long enough, and 2) I went too heavy handed on the dark wax.  But the big question – what do I do??

Table With Dark Wax Splotchy

I invested in the help of my friend Kayla at Painted by Kayla Payne, and she told me that the dark wax would come up with the help of mineral spirits.  It seemed too good to be true – just mineral spirits?  And I won’t have to redo the entire thing?  I trusted her, and she was right!  I was able to remove the splotches and even out the finish.

Dark Wax Removed with Mineral Spirits

The Finished Look

The homeowner was kind enough to share pictures of the table all decked out for Thanksgiving.

Gray wash table finish

Gray Wash Dining Room Table After

So, while custom furniture pieces stress me out, I do appreciate experimenting and learning new ways to get the look that I want when it comes to refinishing furniture.  So what do you think of this dining room table makeover?  Do you like the look of a wash when it comes to finishes?



  • Reply
    Calypso in the Country
    January 22, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Great job! I am sure your clients were thrilled!

    • Reply
      January 22, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks so much Shelley.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 22, 2018 at 11:44 am

    It looks fantastic Jenny. And agree, I jump in with both feet when it’s something I am doing for myself. But am quite hesitant when doing it for others.

    • Reply
      January 22, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      YES! I would have been way less stressed if this was a project of my own!

  • Reply
    January 22, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Beautiful!! When you say it was a “wash” of two paint colors, does that mean you also added in water to the mix of two paint colors? You put clear wax and then dark wax over a coat of polyacrylic? Interesting! I didn’t realize that could be done.

    • Reply
      January 22, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      Jill, yes – the paint colors were mixed and then I added water to the paint to create a wash. It’s one of those things that you just have to play with until you get the look that you want. And yes, you can wax over poly! I know, I’m a weirdo in that I like having that extra layer of protection.

  • Reply
    January 22, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Beautiful finish! Need to tackle my orangish brown dining room set now!

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