Time for the fun part!
Remember this table when I started? I still think it looks like a public library table from the 1970s. The wood is a little too orange and the legs are a little too modern for my taste.
So, I sanded the heck out of the top of the table, and my sweet husband replaced the old legs with these cottage-looking ones. Now, it's on to the rewarding stuff: making it pretty again!
Choosing a stain color can be overwhelming. That's why in Part I of this series I recommended that you go out and look for some inspiration photos before you head to the home improvement store and have a breakdown because there are too many colors. (The guys at Home Depot generally don't know what to do with a woman sobbing in the paint aisle.) Sometimes a little direction and inspiration can go a long way!
I have had a lot of luck with Minwax stain, but I know there are others out there that work well too. For this piece I used Minwax Dark Walnut, which I also used on my dresser. Just use a foam brush and brush it on in a thin layer, going with the grain of the wood. I prefer foam brushes because I am lazy and they are cheap and I can just throw them away when I'm done!
Let the stain sit and soak into the wood. If your piece of furniture is really old, or really dry, it will soak it up quicker. So I would recommend wiping the stain off (using toilet paper or an old rag) fairly quickly, just to check the color. If it's the color you want, great! If not, brush on some more stain and leave it on for longer before you wipe it off the next time.
Here's my table after about 15 minutes of soaking. I wanted it to be pretty dark, so I left it on for longer than I usually do. Let the stain dry overnight before moving on to the polyurethane.
Depending on how durable you need the piece to be, plan on adding 2-3 coats of protective polyurethane on top of the stain. I added three coats to this table, since it will take a lot of wear and tear. I am using a Clear Satin, which will give it just a little shine. You can go with just a Flat if you want it to be more casual, or with a Gloss if you want to be a little more fancy (at least that's how I rate them!). Just brush on with another foam brush, and allow it to dry for a day or two before you use the furniture. Also, it is good to sand the piece in between coats of polyurethane. Sometimes bubbles form when you use a foam brush and the sanding just gets rid of them. Just be sure to do it very lightly!
The last part of this series is coming up in a few days! It'll be all about painting and "antiquing" your furniture. See you soon!