September 6, 2013

My BIG Summer Project

Usually when summer hits I have a long list of fun projects I'd like to do as well as a list of summer activities. This year, since I was so sick most of the first part of the year, I think I was making up for lost time. I put a lot of the project plate and when all was said and done some projects have moved to the "fall project" list. I managed to finish one really big (to me) project on my list though and our family will benefit from it for years to come. Yay!

One of things I have been wanting and looking for for quite a while has been a school room table. It couldn't be too big or too small. It had to be the right shape and durable. It also had to fit the decor in the school room. I looked and looked and the tables I was finding were either too much money or not exactly what I wanted. I tend to be pretty picky with certain things. This was one of them. I ended up going to some thrift stores and that gave me the idea to buy a low cost table and refinish it.

Bright idea right? I thought so. I had never refinished anything like that in my life. I have built a full size bed frame out of wood before (of course with my Dad's help) but never stripped paint, sanded and repainted a piece of furniture.

I thought that this would be a quick two week project and really that it would take no time at all. I mean after all I saw pinterest ideas everywhere and it only took them two weeks to do a project like this right? No way. I was deceived!

I purchased the table from a person off craigslist and I think it is actually an antique drop leaf table. It also came with four chairs. I will tackle refinishing those in another lifetime! No really I will try and get that done in about a year. No rush on those. Here is the table before. (I had already started disassembling it when I realized I needed to take pictures.)

 These puppies will be getting refinished at a later date. I just could not do them this summer. It would have taken me 300 more hours. I picture these to be the same color as the finished table with fluffy red tie cushions on them.

I started by stripping the white paint off the bottom portion of the table. Easy job right? NO! It took forever. The person who painted this table before painted over dark brown paint that was already there. Because there were two layers of paint I essentially had to go over the table two times with jasco paint stripper, a putty knife (for a scraper) and steel wool. To strip the paint off this portion of the table it literally took me over 40 hours!  The little rings on the table legs (that are decorative) took forever because I had to get into every nook and cranny to strip it otherwise the new paint would show the imperfections. I realized after stripping the first portion of one of the legs this is no two week job! Part of it is my fault too because I just can't do a half done job. I couldn't have painted over what was there. The finished project would have been cheesy. I felt like this truly was an investment and wanted to do it right.

Here is the beginning of the table being stripped of it's paint. Many, many hours went into sitting on the concrete floor of the garage with goggles and mask on stripping away at the yucky white paint.

Thankfully, my husband was feeling physically up to helping me sand the tops of the tables. He has previous professional experience restoring Corvette's so he knows all about sanding as well as refinishing. He did an excellent job sanding and I am so glad. I tried it once when I discovered a section that needed to be done and stunk at it! He helped me out soo much. I was praising God that his back was feeling up to that kind of work too.

Once those were sanded and the table was stripped of all paint, then I had to take tack cloth and get all the fine debris off so it wouldn't get into the new paint.  I knew the colors I wanted to paint the table because I wanted it to match our school room and the shelves I made covers for last year.

One of the funnest parts was picking out the paint. I had never done that before either. I learned A LOT. I was so grateful for my Dad's help (who was a general contractor most of his career and is an expert in all things building and more.) He guided me through what I would need for this project. He also helped me to choose paints that he knew would be durable (for little boys sitting at a table and doing school work on it almost every day) and wipeable. I know marker or paint was bound to get on it and I wanted to make sure I could just wipe it down with a damp cloth and it would not be ruined.

I started the project in May and finished it one week before school started at the end of August! I didn't work on it every single day but pretty much every week of the summer I was doing something with the table. I learned a lot and it felt like a wonderful accomplishment in the end. For the red I had to paint three coats on everything and the blue needed two coats. It really required some perseverance and there were many times I was thinking, "What did I get myself into?" However, now, we have a sweet table we can use for our school room for years to come and when the school season of our life is over I can use it for a craft table. I don't think I will ever get tired of the colors because blue and red are my two favorite colors. I also really love the drop leaf part of it. It works so well in our school space because we can make the table big or small.

Here I am putting the table back together in the school room
Cody was really excited and being the builder that he is he helped my put all the screws in. He's good at it too. His dexterity at 3 amazes me sometimes. I realized as I was putting it together that I forgot to paint three of the bottom portions of the table. I plan on doing that in the next few weeks in all the spare time I have (right.)

Here is the finished table with both side leaves down 

The paint is latex enamel and it is truly really strong and I think it will last for a long time.
I love the size of the table too. With one leaf up we can all sit at it and have enough room. With the other leaf up it will be great for bigger projects. I am so pleased with the finished product. So if anyone ends up pinning this or trying this, know that a refinishing project is truly a blessing but it is A LOT of work, especially if you are going to have to strip paint off first. I knew if I just spray painted over what was there it would peel off in 6 months or the minute it got scrapped by one of the boys.

Here are the before and after photos:


Thanks for reading! Sorry for the sarcasm but I really did think this was going to take two weeks. I am a bit cynical after it taking the whole summer. I am grateful though because through hard work comes blessings.


  1. Love it Jenn! You have tenacity for sure!
    By the way, same thing goes for replacing grout in a shower. I thought it would take me a few hours. It took me 3 days! It was just our tiny shower in the condo. Only one line across the top of the tub under the track for the doors took me tedious amounts of time to scrape, let dry then re-caulk. The mold still came back within a few months......never again. Lol

    1. Ooh, Grout! That does sound like a yucky job. That takes more perseverance :-)

  2. That is an awesome project. Great job on sticking with it and the table looks amazing. Great example of how God works with us sometimes. We have a lot of layers of old "paint" that he strips away... even in the cracks and crevices. He takes his time and picks out just the right colors and then uses use to show His handy work. Yay God... :)

    1. Jeff I never thought of it that way. I love the analogy! It is so true. Thank goodness for his patience because the crevaces in my life have lots of layers!

  3. Hi I'm Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! Heather.vonstjames(at) Thanks!!


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For any and all health advice/suggestions and/or posts on this blog, I do not assume any liability for you. The posts and comments on this blog are not meant to be a substitute for your own practicing physician's care in your life. These posts are based on my experience and research in my own healing journey and are placed here to encourage and help those ailing with their health. We are all individuals and there is not ONE pat answer or resolution that applies to everyone across the board.