Tuesday, October 9, 2012

make it: a farmhouse table

a few years ago i spotted this beautiful table on stylizmo and fell in love.  i loved the casual feel of it, it was light and modern and i dubbed it my table soulmate. but the husband saw those ikea legs and said heck-to-the-no.
we are quite a funny diy team, him and i. he likes dark, rich wood, i like white paint.
he likes to use the highest quality materials he can find and take as long as it takes to make sure what he builds could last through a nuclear bomb. i slap it together as quickly and cheaply as i can, and do the bare minimum to make sure it looks good and will hold up for the job it needs to do.
 he wants heirloom pieces to keep forever, while my taste changes with the seasons. what i'm willing to sell my soul for one week is old news the next.
this might seem like diy-match-made-in-you-know-where, but it actually helps us tremendously. we balance each other out. i keep projects more affordable, he makes sure they are quality. i update them, he makes sure i won't hate it in a few months. it works, you know?
so we started talking about what type of a table we would both love, and i started seeing images of farmhouse tables popping up in all my shelter mags, favorite blogs, pinterest, you name it. (photos like this, this, and this.) classic tables with chairs that could be switched out when i grew sick of them. the perfect solution. so we decided: when life settles down, we're building a farmhouse table. so we did.  
i don't have step-by-step instructions for building this table. there are TONS of those out there if you want them, and they are all very similar. the closest thing to what we built is this plan from ana white.
here are some differences in ours:
-we used 4x4s for the legs instead of 2x4s. this made the legs beefier and more authentic.
-we made a smaller skirt, using 1x3s instead of 2x4s.
-we used 2x8s for the top and breadboard pieces. i like bigger, chunkier pieces on top.
-we used dowels to hold the top boards together as tight as possible. you can find instructions for that here . 
-we used the kreg to screw on the the tabletop as well as the skirt. this allows you to screw in at an angle, so it's strong but invisible from the top.
-oh, and we had the cutest little helper in fireman jammies:
he is very serious about his drilling. you can see the little holes for the dowels in this picture. that's what my little guy was trying to help with :)
once the table is all assembled sand the heck out of it. you want this puppy to be smooth like a bebe. we used 60, 80, 120, and finished with 220 grit sandpaper. i told you, my husband is very thorough. this is where his thoroughness comes in handy though, because the wood is so smooth. all that sanding helped to keep the top perfectly even (no wobbling plates or cups on uneven boards) and my sweet little guy can seal-crawl across the top without any worries of scratching his belly. it's a win-win.

so then we were left with this. a great, solid table made from brand new wood. in some parts of the country you can find authentic barn wood for cheap, or even for free, but in my neck of the woods people know the value of such wood and you pay like crazy for it. this is where the hardest part of the project came in: staining the table. i wanted that old barn look. not dark at all. but not blond wood either.

i did a crazy amount of googling/pinteresting to find the perfect finish for my table. every time i saw a picture and shouted with glee, that's it! i've found it! i would read a little further and find the wood was bought from a farm and buffed or sanded a smidge. boo. so i perused my local hardware store and found this stuff. varathane weathered gray. it seemed like what i wanted, but after one coat i knew it was a no-go. waaaaaaay too dark and incredibly orange on my wood.

this is what it looked like after a bit of sanding. most of the orange was gone, but it was still way too dark.
so i sanded it back to blond the best i could with a single tear running down my cheek. i had such high hopes for weathered gray.
then i tried a natural stain we had on-hand (no picture, sorry). and yuck. so i sanded her back down again.
then i tried the old soak-some-steel-wool-in-apple-cider-vinegar-in-a-glass-jar trick and that was the jackpot. you literally put steel wool in an old glass jar (spaghetti sauce jar in our fam) and pour in vinegar until the steel wool is covered. let it sit overnight, then paint on your wood. let that sit overnight, and you have wood that looks old and weathered.

the wood also needs another good sanding, so we used the higher-grit paper (100 and 220) for it this time around.

i reeeeally like the finish of the table (it's a little lighter than the picture shows), but still wanted a lighter look, so i made a little white-wash with some water and a tiny bit of white paint, painted the top, and that seemed to do the trick. it lightened it just a touch, but enough that i was happy to call it done.

finding a top coat that wasn't glossy/thick/yellowing/scary was also a task. we finally settled on a satin poly by minwax, and did two thin coats. enough to protect it, but not enough to look like lacquer. after the minwax was completely dry, we sanded very lightly with 1000 grit to smooth out any bubbles.
we've been using the table for a few weeks now and everything washes off with ease, liquid balls up and doesn't penetrate the wood, but you can barely tell there's a topcoat on there. it's perfect.

all that sanding/restaining was the worst part of the project, but it ended up being a happy accident. there are parts of the table where we couldn't get the stain off no matter how hard we tried, but those are the parts with the most character. they look like real, old wood, and i love it.
the chairs are these chairs from overstock, and i couldn't be happier. (the booster seat is this one. i forgot to move it when i took pictures:)
so there's the story of our farmhouse table, we love it and plan on using it for years and years and years. maybe my husband got his heirloom piece after all? :) 


  1. perfect! i've been wanting to tackle this same project.
    can you tell me more about that awesome light fixture??

    1. Thanks Lindsay! The light is the Polyhedron Pendant from West Elm. I can't seem to find it online anymore, but this light from Restoration Hardware is similar, I actually think I like it better!

  2. It looks like all your hard work paid off. The table is awesome. Plus your house so gorgeous. I'd love to see more. :)

    1. Thanks Heather! I'll have to put together a little house tour soon, just for you! ;)

  3. Gorgeous work and detail! I love my retro kitchen table but I'm thinking outdoor table under our covered pavilion..hmm :) Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Wow, even in the picture, it shows how smooth it is. And the finish is so beautiful, and has the antique look that I’ve always loved.

  5. That wood stain is great!i love that you made this table, and I love even more that you can change out the chairs and pair any type of chair with this table!

  6. Where did you get your grey chair. They are perfection! And your farmhouse table is beautiful.

  7. oh just simple styles and make people feel can visit get some info about real Designer Embossed Sheepskin Leather Coat you can get others diffrent inspirations!

  8. didn't you use a wood conditioner first? Seems like the dark streaks could have been avoided with a good wood conditioner. I have used that color before and never had those results.

  9. Curious how the chairs are holding up?? And are they at all comfortable? We have a 5, 3, and 1 yr old and are getting ready to purchase new chairs.


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