Old Table, New Leaf : Updating My Dining Area

A few weeks ago, you may remember me posting some updated kitchen/dining/living room photos along with asking some advice on my current dining set. I’d purchased the set at a consignment shop and painted it and reupholstered the seats. I loved it, without a doubt. But I wasn’t too sure I was in love with it in this space.

With some great input from you guys (seriously, thank you!) I decided to go ahead and sell it in favor of a solid wood table. When I offered to build my sister a new dining table, I had ulterior motives in mind. I wanted hers. It was a hand-me-down from my parents that we actually used growing up, so there was sentimental value. Plus, I loved that it was a solid wood, honey-toned oak pedestal table. The problem? It looked like this.

A 4 seater. Considering we’re currently a family of 3, working on our 4th, and regularly have my family over to eat, I wanted a 6-seater table. Yet there was hide nor hair of that leaf anywhere! It must have gotten lost in one of its several moves. No worries though, but I”ll get to that later. Lets focus on the damage, shall we?

Cup rings, dry splotches, and gunk. I saw one of those Pinterest tips about restoring wood with vinegar and olive oil, and figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot. Can I just say, WOW! What a massive difference it made. I used 1/4 C olive oil and 3/4 C white vinegar, and applied it with a rag. I let the first application dry, then repeated it two more times for a total of three passes. It really hydrated the wood with absolutely no chemicals, horrible smells, or messy work. Just a rag and some pantry items in 5 minutes passes.

Wow, right? And as a spoiler, this is an image of the table with the new leaf. The original section is on the far right. Barely a ring or dry spot to be seen. Now, lets get to the good stuff, the leaf!

I pulled out the table and measured the maximum amount of space I could spread the top before it started getting unstable. I decided on 24″. Then I measured the table diameter, which was 47″.  I hopped over to Lowes and picked up two 1x12x48″ oak boards for $20 each, so $40. I also grabbed two 1x4x2 boards for the aprons, making my total so far $50. Originally I had planned to use a router on the edges, but the table scared me out of my wits and kept throwing oak shrapnel everywhere and I didn’t want to impale my unborn building a table leaf. So we went the simple route and grabbed a piece of oak quarter round to finish off the look.

The construction was incredibly easy. I cut the boards to size at 47″, then used the Kreg jig to join them together. If you don’t have a jig, glue & clamps along with some straight brackets should do the trick just as well. Once that was done, I drilled out holes where the pegs are in the table, not for support, but so I could get the leaf as flush to the original table as possible. Then I used four straight brackets (seen above) to keep the leaf in place and the table sturdy. I measured the apron and made the cuts (as you can see, they aren’t exactly perfect, but it was close enough that I wasn’t going to buy more) and used the jig to attach them to the leaf. I used the table saw to cut a shallow groove to match the detail in the original aprons.

Once the leaf and apron were in place, I cut the quarter round to size. It needed a trim on the table saw, and you can see that it’s not a perfect match to the original round shape. But, it fools the eye, and looks really good in person. Minus the fact that my nail gun had waaaay too much oomph and cracked it in spots. If you are doing this for your table, skip the gun and use a regular hammer and nails. You can also see that the grain is a bit different. That’s because I found out the hard way that this table isn’t solid oak! Nope. It’s veneer over plywood and pine. Shame, shame. Oh, well, at least our leaf will be nice! And this table has held up very well for over 20 years already, so I’m not too concerned.

 

As far as the stain goes, I completely lucked out. I had planned on using a can of oak stain, but when I opened it I saw it had congealed. So I grabbed my sample of Old Pine that QLine finishing oils had sent me (a no-VOC, natural finishing oil product that is FANTASTIC and I need to order in every color) and it was perfect. Like, breathtakingly so. I can’t even tell the difference! Serendipity was certainly on my side that day, because I had mentally prepped myself for the colors to be different and be happy with the two-tone effect. The only difference is in the grain, because the natural is a lot stronger than the fake. But whatever, I love it!

It pretty much looks like any other table with a leaf. And it seats six comfortably. Oh, and maybe you’re wondering about the chairs?

They’re the Carlisle dining chair from Target, and they’re pretty awesome. It’s $100 for two, so it’s a steal compared to how much these metal chairs run at other retailers. And they’re a good solid metal, and really easy to assemble. It’s just popping on the back and putting in 4 screws. They’re very comfortable, and I like that they have a low back so they no longer obstruct the view of those amazing windows like the old high-backed chairs did. I flirted with finding some retro 50’s style diner chairs for a while, but my search didn’t pan out at all. I do feel guilty about buying new, because I’m trying very hard to be more mindful and responsible when it comes to our family’s consumption. But since I salvaged the table, and sold the other set at a fair price locally, I gave myself a pass. But I’m forcing myself to keep them a minimum of 15 years and consider them an investment and not get stuck in the habit of constantly cycling through material things.

Now I can finally say that I am done with the kitchen and dining room. I’m very, very happy with the look of everything and it just feels “finished” to me, whereas before I was unsure. Plus, with 3 coats of poly on the table and metal chairs, it’s super easy to clean up. I had problems with the old one because the wax would come up when I cleaned any grease, the chair fabric would pull a bit and stain, and Charlie liked to try and poke holes in the caned backs. So after living with things for a while, I can say that the first table was just not a good fit all around. So far this works much better for us. And if you still need a little convincing, here’s the view of the painted set with the painted cabinets…

And the wood/metal set

The metal chairs mimic the island top and the chandelier, and the wood pulls from the oak butcher block countertops. For me, it just fits.

So there you have it, six million words on why I changed our dining set, how I added a leaf, and the spiffy new chairs to finish it up. And now I’m off to mop those dirty, dirty floors!

 

 




  1. I LOVE it! I thought it looked good before, but this is a million times better – love, love, love. And your leaf looks fantastic – I never would have guessed it wasn’t the original!

  2. Seconded. The first set was pretty, but maybe a bit overwrought? This is clean and organic and much less fussy.

  3. Help! I am doing something similar. I have stained the table top but the new leaf does not look shiny and the rest of the table does. Do I add more stain so it looks shiny? I am afraid the color will be darker on the new leaf. Why does the rest of the table look shiny and the new part does not? Scared!

  4. Hello, I just stumbled across your blog, and noticed that your original painted table looks identical to one I just picked up. It doesn’t have a leaf, or chairs, and I was wondering if you knew the brand so that I could try to find it’s corresponding items? Thanks! I think I’ll be trying your leaf making ideas soon! :)