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Abandoned House Dining Table Rehab!

This one’s been a long time coming; those of you who follow me on social media have been slowly watching this process since I started in April!

When I realized I would be needing to furnish a rental (here’s why), I immediately thought of the furniture I’d seen at the abandoned house my brother bought.

Tabletop in garage.

Even under all the dirt, I could tell some of it was decent quality, and this round dining table fell into that category.

Truck full of furniture.

a view of the abandoned house.

Where the dining table used to be. Do you spy the Philco table in the back there?

My dad took the base off so that we could get it out of the house door, and then we moved the base and the top into his garage, where they sat while I pondered a plan.

stained table base in garage.

After poking around Pinterest for a while, I decided I wanted to stain the top, but paint the base.

Then it was time to get started!

The table base and legs

The base was easy; my dad unscrewed it all for me, so I was left with four legs and the main trunk piece to sand.

sanded table legs.

Two unsanded, two sanded

Since I was just painting these, I didn’t have to do a crazy amount of sanding, and I got them knocked out in pretty short order.

half-painted table legs.

Two primed, two primed + painted

As usual, I put on a coat of Zinnser primer, and then several coats of Benjamin Moore Advance paint. I don’t think there are words to describe how great this paint is…it gives you such a nice smooth finish!

painted table base.

One coat of paint

The hardware

Since this table originally came with a leaf, there was some associated hardware and of course, it was rusty. Nothing from that house is in good shape!

rusty hardware.

Luckily, my dad has a little machine that’s good for removing rust…it’s basically a motorized metal brush, and he showed me how to get these pieces all cleaned up.

motorized metal brush.

Here’s a before and after.

Rusty hardware next to polished hardware.

So satisfying!

I also used the same process for the metal feet that screen into the legs of the table.

before and after metal table feet.

Here’s a sneak peek of what the table feet looked like at the end!

metal foot for table leg.

The tabletop

tabletop on sawhorses.

Shew. This thing needed a LOT of sanding. In order to restain a piece of wood, you really have to get all of the old finish off, and that is no small task with a sander.

I started out with an orbital sander, but it soon became clear that we needed something with more power. So my dad got out his belt sander and we went to work.

Kristen using a belt sander.

I had never used a belt sander before and I was surprised at how much work it is to keep that thing from running away. It has so much power!

The belt sander did a good job with the main part of the tabletop, and then I had to use the orbital sander and a manual sander to get the rest of the finish off.

Tabletop midway through sanding.

Preparing wood for staining is so much work; I was reminded why I almost always opt to paint instead. Painting is easier!!

We used the underside of the table as a test for stain colors; initially, we tried a walnut color, but then my dad remembered that he had a can of Jacobean stain and YES this was exactly what I wanted.

an unstained table half next to a stained half.

I applied the stain to both sides, and then we had some wet weather, so my progress got paused. We needed to add polyurethane, but that stuff does not dry properly in humid weather.

My dad kindly took care of this step for me, putting on a coat here and there when there were breaks in the weather and he also reinstalled the sliding mechanism under the table (which allows for a leaf to be inserted).

The leaf

At first, we thought that this table was leafless; I’d been all around the treasure house and seen no leaf.

But then my brother thought to check in the basement. It turns out, the basement was quite flooded, but he did spy the missing table leaf!

Moldy table leaf.

It was in a rather dreadful condition: wet, dirty, warped, and it had fuzzy mold on it. SO GROSS.

My dad kindly reglued and clamped the leaf to try to get some of the warping out, and it did help.

Table leaf repaired with screws.

But the actual boards of the leaf were still not flat, so we attacked them with the belt sander.

half-sanded table leaf.

We sanded off tons of wood (you should have seen the piles of sawdust!!), and finally, the surface was fairly flat.

sanded table leaf, ready for stain.

Once the leaf got all stained and polyurethaned, it was quite unrecognizable from its former self.

If you look closely, you can still spot imperfections, but considering where this thing started out, I’m pretty darn happy with it!

stained table leaf.

The skirt

Last step!

I’d moved into my rental by now, and my dad kindly brought the table over here. I turned the top upside down in my dining room and painted the apron/skirt in the same color as the base.

upside-down tabletop.

I also did a little touching up of the base, and when I looked at it from this angle, I remembered that this base used to be full of cobwebs and dirt. What a change!

gray painted table base.

I screwed the base onto the top, and voila!! A new-to-me table was ready.

upside-down table

The after photos

The table sits in sort of a dark room, which makes after pictures sort of hard. But I did my best!

Round table with a white bowl on top.

I really like the combo of the stained top with the gray base.

the finished table viewed from the side.

finished round dining table.

And I’m very happy with the stain color on the top.

Round table with a vase of pink peonies on top.

How much would this cost new?

A similar table from Wayfair costs $700.

And this Pottery Barn version, which is not even solid wood, costs $799.

This one from Haverty’s is almost $1500!

round dining table.

So…mine was definitely a win in actual dollars. I spent only $30 on supplies, and the table itself cost me nothing.

But my goodness, there were a lot of hours poured into this table between my dad and me.

Kristen in sanding equipment.

a dusty me after a long day of sanding!

If I was trying to refinish furniture and sell it for a profit, I’m pretty sure the hourly wage on this table would have been pathetic.

But on the other hand, we rescued a table that no one else would have wanted (particularly true in the case of the leaf!)

A gray table leg.

And I now have a nicer table than I’d be able to buy if I purchased new; this one has very nice metal rolling hardware for the leaf, and the whole thing is solid wood, with no veneer at all.

Stained wood tabletop.

So overall, I’m really happy with this project. It was a very satisfying redo, and I was so grateful to have my dad’s help and expertise.

Next up: I need to rehab those four chairs I snagged from the treasure house. My plan is to paint them the same color as the table base. And of course, I will show you when I’m done. 😉

P.S. In case you want a supply list, I used:

  • Zinnser water-based primer
  • Benjamin Moore Advance paint, satin sheen, in Westcott Navy
  • Minwax stain in Jacobean

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Wednesday 6th of July 2022

The refurbished table is beautiful! You are so talented at bringing life to otherwise unusable items. Kudos to you!!!!!


Tuesday 28th of June 2022

Holy Cow!!!!! the table is GORGEOUS!!!


Sunday 26th of June 2022

It’s definitely a keeper, great job!

Franci Hoyt

Saturday 25th of June 2022

Kristen, I really admire your attitude to life that I've witnessed on your blog for over 13 years now. Wether it is the weather, or a table nobody would love, or left-overs, you take something unappealing, put a positive spin on it and turn it into something useful or delicious or beautiful. The world needs more people like you!


Friday 24th of June 2022

That looks amazing. What a wonderful, frugal and fullfilling hobby you are developing!!

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