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Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Dining Room Table Fable...Not really, it's a true Story

When I moved to California in June of 2003 I had no dining room table.
No big deal, my roommate had one.
When she moved out, I had no dining room table.
No big deal, Ikea was nearby!
A little wooden table around the size of an average coffee table (with longer legs) became my dining room table. In true Ikea form, there were 'accessories' to make the table larger. Two half round ends became flanked the china cabinet my grandfather made and attached to the ends of my 'dining table' with rubber tubes in the event of extra company. Ikea...so innovative.
In typical single-Meagan-unsure-of-her-style-in-love-with-color fashion...(side note: my Pasadena apartment had two coral walls and two purply walls, a red book shelf, a white vintage 50's style, slightly falling apart, sleek leather sofa, an 8 ft random mural painted on a sheet of corrugated tin roofing, and rice paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling), I painted the table in crazy colors. Purple sides, blue legs, and a grass green top...eventually it was to become a football field with appropriately scaled down Georgia endzones.
That crazy-unfinished table became our dining room table when we got married. It was tiny- usually enlarged with a folding card table on one end a small half round on the other- oh, and the card table didn't match the height of the wooden table so we threw a big white table cloth over the whole thing and hoped for the best.
In 2006, when I was about 6 months pregnant with Big Sister, an old friend of Breadwinner's called and said he was getting a new dining set and wanted to know if we wanted his. He said it was a standard dining table size, had 4 chairs, was solid wood....we stopped him there. SOLD!
A REAL dining set? And it's FREE?
He loaded it into the back of his pickup and drove it over.
For some reason Breadwinner wasn't home when he arrived, so I-my six months pregnant self...I may have actually been 7 months pregnant...let's say seven- it sounds more dramatic....stood on the ground at the back of the pick-up holding one end of the table while our friend lifted the other end down from the bed of the truck.
Then we carried it into the house together.
After we got all said and done he said- "Hey- you are pretty pregnant, right? Should you have been lifting all this stuff?"
A little late for THAT realization. Hey, I wanted a new 'big girl' table and chairs.
And so began the upgrade.
The Ikea table made it's way into the garage where she became a store all (until we moved here- now she is my garage craft table- because I pretty much need a craft table in every part of the house).
The honey oak with slight white wash and green fabric seats was just fine. It went perfectly with the rest of our hand me down, hodge podge decor.
Shortly before Little Sister arrived (two years after we upgraded to our fantastic and free table and chairs) I decided our little rental dining room (referred to as the gathering room because it was as big as the living room, had a sofa in it and was the area where everyone congregated in our house) needed some updating. The wood paneling on the walls was scratched, even gauged in several places from the previous wild tenants and the blah paint color was starting to drive me batty. Dirty cream doesn't work for me. Instead of sanding down and re-staining the paneling (friends- this was an old, old, rental house, remember?) I decided to paint it white. Well, Glazed Pear to be exact. Then I chose a Waverly fabric from the offerings at my local Joann's, found a dark khaki-ish color I liked in it and chose a paint color to match for the upper wall color. Creamy pear, dark khaki, brown, and red....not so great with the green fabric on our dining seats.
The table was always a little awkward in it's placement in the room. Because the dining room was a pass-through from the kitchen to the rest of the house and because of the bizarre features like a small built in bookshelf on one wall, a penninsula bar on another, a stone built up corner in yet another (presumably where a wood burning stove sat at one time based on the poorly patched ceiling above it), and a large window on yet another wall- there really was no good place for the table.
This re-do was my chance to change that. Since our family was about to grow to 4, and we only had 4 chairs I had an idea to make the table into a bankette style seating arrangement.
After searching online for the perfect benches (Breadwinner was not on board with making our own), we found some that would work at Ikea.
I recovered the seats with coordinating fabric to the new curtain fabric (two of the chairs were recovered with cloth napkins from Potterybarn ubber clearance that completely worked with our new pattern!
We moved the table into position with the benches, moved one chair to a corner with the baby seat, and viola! Total transformation....

This photo was taken the week before we moved out of our old house and into our new desert oasis. Little Sister was 'helping' me pack by climbing onto the table. Oh- and no, we don't usually have a slide in our dining room- they got it for Christmas and it never made it's way outside before the move. Winter is rainy season in southern California so we left it inside so the girls could use it to slide into piles of boxes while I packed up the house.
The table and chairs were in great shape as you can see from the photo, but the honey oak was just not for me (or for our friend, which is why he gave it to us and purchased a new, espresso set for himself!)
Moving to our new, giant house makes it lots easier to tackle big projects.....like refinishing large pieces of furniture for example....
With that in mind, I decided to start refinishing this set one chair at a time.
Here is the 'sort of' before: (this was actually taken after-obviously, but you get the idea)

In the desert house we use one bench along one side of the table, (the other bench is in the laundry/mudroom). When we got here, I fell in love with a fabulous lemon fabric and decided to use it as an accent color in the bright and funky kitchen decor.
Two of the chairs now have the lemon fabric on them, two have yellow, swirly fabric. (These are the same fabrics used in my laundry room curtains)
Here is what the chair looked like before (with Little Sister running around in the front yard behind it)

And here is what it looks like now:

I know, I know- who taught me how to take pictures?! Really? INTO the sun? Sorry for the poor pics. Frankly, I was just too lazy to drag my chairs outside to try and re-create the fabulously sunny day pics.
I started by sanding...a bunch...then Valspar white spray primer, then Valspar Churchill Hotel White (I know- who comes up with this stuff?) spray paint. I was unsure whether I wanted to keep the chair a solid paint or distress so I did a nice, solid finish on the paint.
Then I found a drip mark and decided- light distressing it is!

So, I hit the chair with the hand sander again lightly in a few spots.
I prefer to sand when the paint is still slightly wet. I totally dig the look it gives me.
You might hate it. Trial and error, my friend. Trial and error.

One chair down...three and a bench to go.
Then the table.
I have big plans for you table.
Big, big plans.
When all is said and done there will be a big reveal- and everyone is invited to dinner! (Three at a time, please- this table doesn't have leaves to grow, either.)
**not sure what happened here. This post was published this morning but now seems to be gone- our internet has been acting up with the storms here**

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