table and chair details

last week, i posted the big picture shots, but let's talk about that table. blood, sweat, and tears went into gussying up that bad boy. lots of tears, actually. i think the Lord had a lesson for me in perseverance—and finishing things i start!

once the kitchen was "done" (structurally), we pulled out a folding table (which is a bit short) and used that with a tablecloth and folding chairs my parents have been "lending" us (lending for like three years!). this is the way things were for a while.

the kitchen is such an important place. we spend a lot of time there! so much of life centers around food and sharing meals. ben and i want our home to be a comfortable, welcoming place to host friends and family. and i envision this spot being a place where our kids will spread out with homework and we'll put down newspaper and do crafts until we are blue in the face.

so i wanted a dining table—bad. a real one. one that was the right height. and a big one that would seat eight people. but real wood furniture is expensive. so speaking of eight...

the table was a garage sale find for EIGHT dollars. eight. amazing. and it's real wood—ash, perhaps? i still remember the phone call i got from my mom telling me she found the perfect table for us. (i got the call at like 6:30 in the morning and was relieved to find out it wasn't a family emergency!) that was last may.

this is the best "before" picture i can find. i loved the shape of the table—especially the legs—but it was just a touch smaller than what i wanted. it also had a big black burn mark from a candle on the top. so i pondered. and measured. then i took action.

over the summer, i paid the woman who i bought it from (she's my parents' neighbor and i've known her forever) to strip the table for me. then it sat in the garage for a long time while i planned and pondered some more.

this fall (seriously—how slow am i?) i asked our friend bert, who is great with woodworking, if he would consider making a new top for us. he said yes. i planned some more. i bought the planks at menards—a bit thinner than i would have liked, but a good price and the right size. they are oak. he built the top by gluing the six planks together. the old table top was 60" by 36"—big enough to squeeze in six—and now it is about 72" by 44"—big enough to squeeze in eight and put things in the middle of the table.

i sanded, and sanded, and sanded! hours of sanding i tell you. but once i got the top and legs satisfactorily smooth, it was time to bring it in the house for staining.

i'm going to spare the full details of the day we brought it in the house and it got all dripped on by snow melting off the roof. let's just say i shed some tears as i wiped off the first coat of stain and saw dark drip marks all over the top. lesson: do everything you can to prevent untreated wood from getting wet!

i didn't know what color of stain to use—we have oak floors and the walls are already dark brown, so i wasn't really wanting to introduce yet another brown tone. i just took the easy route and finished up a can of stain we had used on the stair rails. because of the roof-dripping mistake, i had to go a little darker than i wanted. actually, a lot darker. and of course, one of the planks was not staining as dark as the others. :)

do you see that on the left? i was about to pull out my hair. but a trip to sherwin-williams brought about a rather outside-the-box solution from our favorite paint mixer that involved this:

and would you believe that it worked? the stain turned out nice and even, although very, very dark. the table pretty much blends in with the brown walls. darn.

so white chairs were the obvious choice. these chairs were ones we could agree on—not too big, not too small, very comfortable, not too modern, not too traditional. they don't make my heart go pitter patter or anything, but i think we'll be happy with them for a long time. plus, the backs match the three stripes on the curtains i made.

but of course we needed more color with all that brown on the walls and table! the chairs came covered in tan microfiber. i searched and searched for the perfect aqua fabric.

i finally covered the cushions a few weeks ago. and yes, yes, that is an octopus. classic amy move—when i saw the sample in the store, it was smaller and i pretty much fell in love with the color and what looked to be a modern, polka-dot motif. when i tried to find the fabric online (its a sturdy outdoor fabric from calico corners), here's all i found on their site:

i kept thinking, "oh, it's just like that fabric except not octopuses." yeah, and the fact that i ordered a fabric called "octopoda" didn't tip me off. oops. i kind of wish i didn't have octopuses on our dining chairs but oh well. i like how they turned out!

if you're still with me you deserve a medal. here's where we are now!

i finished it in a fairly matte poly. it gleams, and cleans up like a breeze! you can see the seams where the boards are glued together, and even though the stain is dark, the grain is visible. i think these things give it character and keeping it from looking like something generic.

we had family over for lunch last sunday. we look forward to many meals at this table with friends and—someday—kids. when i look at it i feel happy, because even though it took me a long time, i finished what i started. yes!