Ode to Secondhand: Refinished Kitchen Table and Chairs


This is the first post in a series called Ode to Secondhand, in which I regale you with the wonders of Craigslist, the online resale feast that has supplied much of our furniture (and fodder for refinishing projects).

It was a glorious day when I discovered furniture shopping on Craigslist. Granted, I was living in a major metropolitan area whose inhabitants were selling anything I could ever want.

(The pickings are a bit slimmer here in Farm Town. Not that we aren’t willing to drive 2 1/2 hours to buy a hardly used double stroller).

Yes, for a young family trying to piece together furniture for our first real house, Craigslist of Dallas-Fort Worth was a veritable wonderland of bargains. 

One of my favorite finds has been our kitchen table and chairs. Here’s the 411.

Not a fan of CL or lacking one in your area? Garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, and antique shops can also supply a bounty of quality pieces that you can spruce up with a bit of sandpaper and paint.

The Inspiration Pic

From Pottery Barn, circa 2011
From Pottery Barn, circa 2011

The Before

Table and chairs in our old home, in their original state
Table and chairs in our old home, in their original state

The After

In its new home. The handmade moss ball/topiary thing on the table is particularly captivating to men and small children.
In its new home. The handmade moss ball/topiary thing on the table is particularly captivating to men and small children.

How I Did It

1.) I lightly sanded everything.

2.) Then, I primed the base and legs of the table ONLY. I don’t like extra steps so I won’t prime unless I think I have to. The base was a dark blue and I knew it’d take too many coats of white to cover it well, so I spray-primed it with this, then painted a couple coats of white.

3.) I painted everything with at least 2 coats. (white = Behr Magnolia Blossom, red = Martha Stewart Barn, yellow = Behr Feather Gold, green = Behr Marsh Grass, grey = Behr Ashwood)

4.) I sealed it all with a spray polycrylic.

5.) Then I rubbed some Rub ‘n Buff (from Hobby Lobby or Joann’s) on the edges and nooks of the table and chairs to give it a bit of an aged look. (This was before I discovered chalk paint and waxing, but 2 years later, I’m still happy with the way Rub ‘n Buff worked out).

6.) Finally, I removed the chair cushions (by unscrewing them) and recovered them with new fabric (from Joann’s with 40% off coupon*) and a staple gun.  Seriously, recovering dining chair cushions is soooo easy. Do not be intimidated to try it with your own if you’re wanting a new look!

*Bargain tip: Upholstery/home dec fabric is usually 54″ wide, so you won’t need as much yardage as with regular fabric.




Total Cost:

  • $100 for the table and chairs
  • $25 for the fabric (estimating here…it’s been a little while)
  • $55 for 4 quarts of paint at Home Depot (I already had a gallon of magnolia blossom)

Total = $180 For a kitchen table and chairs that expands to seat 6

What I Learned About Secondhand Shopping from this Project

1.)  Have a pretty clear idea of what you’re looking for.  I was hunting for some Napoleon-style chairs and the Pottery Barn pic inspired me to paint them different colors.  I knew a round table would fit best in our kitchen at the time and I wanted it to have a removable leaf so it could expand as we had guests. So, I could easily filter through the stuff that didn’t fit my qualifications.

2.) Be patient. In a large city, I’ve found that most of what you’re looking for eventually comes up if you’re willing to wait. If you’re not in a large city but are willing to drive a bit, check listings nearby.

3.) Look for “good bones.” That is, look past ugly fabric and finishes you don’t prefer. A little paint and some new fabric covers a multitude of sins, but you can’t change how well something is constructed. Choose solid wood pieces with lines you like.

4.) It’s not a good deal if you’re not in love with the piece–or don’t have a vision for changing it into something you could love. The chairs that originally came with the table were good quality but not the look I was going for. So, I resold them and scouted for the Napoleon-style ones.

Do you buy secondhand stuff? If so, where?

About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, dinner guests, elevenses, and proper apostrophe use.

  • brenda venable

    Quite a transformation from DWF to FT. Love how you showcased “my” chair. It surely has the best location/position to enjoy both little ones.
    I shall return.

    • You’re welcome any time, Mom 🙂

  • I am impressed. That is a beautiful transformation. My latest project on the go is to repaint frames from a garage sale for our gallery wall. I love the idea of having an inspiration picture and making it come together. Those chairs are gorgeous!!

    • Oh, like the sound of that gallery wall! Might you do an “after” pic on your blog? 🙂

  • This turned out fabulous! The colors and fabric are so fun. You need to try out the Ralph Lauren glazes on a project!!

    • Amber, I owe all of my refinishing endeavors to you! 🙂 I think I got my start back in ’08 with those Ralph Lauren glazes you mentioned–after seeing a piece that you did.

  • Catherine

    Love it!! I’ve been dying to recover my dining room chairs…perhaps after the baby is here and the dust has settled. Do you ever get nervous having strangers come over? I haven’t yet had a bad experience with Craigslist, but it makes me a little nervous perhaps with the kids…

    • Well, most of my CL experience has actually been me going to pick up pieces from other people, so that hasn’t come into play much. (Although I can remember taking a friend with me on a couple of pick-up trips).

      I can understand that feeling, though. The couple times we’ve sold items, I’ve made sure Ryan would be home with me. We’ve also met people in public places like a local McDonald’s parking lot, too.

      Send pics if you do your chairs! 🙂

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  • Wow! That looks lovely. Wonderful job by refurbishing it. Good colors combination along with some creative stuffs.

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