When we first moved to Seattle two years back, we had little time for deliberation — and even less money to spend – on apartment furniture. Of course, we did have taste, but it was definitely limited by these constraints. We moved to a new apartment in February and realized it was a good time to shed some of the items that we were not fond enough of to warrant loading up and U-hauling across town. Case in point: dining set. We said goodbye to the round glass ensemble that fit so nicely into a nook in our previous apartment, but that just wouldn’t fit into the dining area in the new place. With time on our side (or so we at first thought), we made do with our patio café table and two mesh folding chairs for the interim while we hunted for something a little more unique and “us”.
We scorned every ready-to-buy dining set within our budget, and eventually began considering tables and chairs separately – if only because it gave us more options. Our discovery of Ikea’s unfinished pine Ingo Dining Table opened us up to the possibility of staining a table to our desired color. The table fit within the dimensions we had to work with AND our budget, so we scooped it up and headed to Home Depot to scope out wood stain options. We went with MinWax Polyshades one step stain and finish. We loved the richness of the Bombay Mahogany shade and…. we’re a little sentimental about Bombay . Staining new wood turned out to be a fairly easy process. Our 8 x 3 ft. balcony was a tight but sufficient worksite. After three coats of stain over 48 hours, our table made it’s grand entrance into our dining nook. It looked spectacular – except for those patio chairs!
We soon began trolling Craigslist for the perfect chairs. After several weeks of this, we found a posting on Craigslist with a photo of a chair sitting on the grass on a front porch of a house. Since the color orange features prominently in our décor already, we crossed our fingers that the orange and plum upholstered chairs would be as perfect as they looked on Craigslist. We headed to West Seattle and met the chairs and their owner, learning that the solid oak set of four had belonged to his late mother. We estimated they were at least 50 years old. Beautifully crafted and as irresistible a find as they were, some restoration was definitely in order.
It was at this point that we began to wonder whether too much HGTV might have elevated our confidence level for DIY to an inappropriate high. After a bit of research on stripping and refinishing wood, we set to work. We started out with CitriStrip, which was supposed to be less noxious than traditional chemicals used for this purpose.
After three rounds, about 75% of the previous stain still remained. We headed up to Capitol Hill’s own hardware store, Pacific Supply Co., and found a comfortingly smaller selection (to novices) of stripper choices than Home Depot. The Do It Best All Finish Stripper gave slightly better results, but it became obvious after three coats that we had some sanding ahead of us. That’s where the elbow grease came in!
Finally came the time for staining the chairs to match the table. This took about a week total, as we fit in a coat between work schedules and blowing rain.
It was quite a journey for a couple of apartment dwellers! We picked up a host of new skills, had a great time, and are really proud of the finished products. Now for some equally creative meals to put on that table!