Refinishing a Pottery Barn table

firstmmoFebruary 27, 2010

We bought a Pottery Barn table 15 years ago and it went perfectly with our old French/Tuscan home. It has a medium dark stain and looks slightly yellowish now over the years.

We are moving into a more modern home and the wood in the new home is slightly lighter and grayer. Luckily the legs and the whole shape has straight lines, so I think it can still "go" with the more contemporary style.

I would love to refinish this table to make it more "driftwood colored", but am scared to take some sandpaper to it--it looks like it has a varnish or some waxy finish on it.

Should I leave this for professionals? Or should I just do it?

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I have sanded and stained two dining room tables and they came out fine.

The first one was an oak round pedestal table that had some curves in the pedestal and a kind of wavy edge to the top, so those curves required some hand sanding. The other table was an IKEA table that was all straight lines, so I did that one all using an electric palm sander.

I would do the same again.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 10:24AM
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Funny, I just finished applying the 4th coat of varathane to my table this morning!

It is not at all difficult to do, just take your time. The most important thing is removing all the original finish and stain. Since you are thinking about a new colour, you can experiment with stain on the underside of the table before you tackle the top. For a flawless, smooth finish, make sure to sand lightly between coats using a high numbered sand paper, and you'll be really happy with the end results.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 12:12PM
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If you can get the March 2010 issue of This Old House, on page 22, there is an article with pictures on 'Everything you need to lime a table'.

When you mentioned a driftwood look, that article immediately came to mind. I think it may be what you are looking for. It gives step by step instructions and the products used. The table they picture is a straight lined table that may be similar to yours, too.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 12:26PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

It has been years since I refinished furniture, but I used to do it a lot. If I am remembering correctly, you shouldn't try to refinish a veneered piece, so you might want to check. It seems that a lot of the Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, etc. furniture is made with "hardwoods and veneers).

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 2:19PM
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Thanks everyone! I am worried about what cyn mentioned, the "veneer". Here is the table--found it in my files.

From [Misc photos](

I am using this for inspiration. Will have a large black drum shade over it, with white oak floors. Black wings on order and haven't toally picked the side chairs or if I will go with a bench.

From [Misc photos](

Any further suggestions? I figure I might as well try it. While it was a wedding present from my mom and dad, I know that even if I mess with it, if I need to bring in a professional, they can probably do something to either fix it or totally paint it and give it to my sister (hee hee!).

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 12:15AM
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Your table looks like it is solid wood. Love your inspiration picture! You could probably get a finish similar to this with a white wash, or "pickled" stain, which was quite popular several years ago. I'd say go for it. I don't think you could do much damage, in fact more likely you'll do a fabulous job, and one you can brag to your guests about!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 12:30AM
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Shellsmom: Thanks for the encouragment and the suggestion about using the underside. I remember when pickled was "in". I think I might not go all the way to white washed but might experiment with de-yellowing it some and lightening it. We are moving from a Tuscan inspired home to a modern home so we need to tweak or buy a lot of new furniture.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 12:53PM
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Firsthouse, I know what it is like to move into a new home, and want to update your furnishings. We are in our 6th house, and over 26 years I can't tell you how much we've spent on paint, mouldings, flooring, eavestroughs, new driveways, central vac, finished basements, landscaping, etc etc etc, and just when its time for new furniture, we seem to move on. I'm living with the same living room set I had before we were married. Over the years I've learned to "tweak", or update with accessories and fabrics. And now with a daughter just finishing 6 years college, and a son starting next year, I think my new living room furniture will be a few years down the road.

My apologies ... I am rambling on!! Have fun with your dining table, and know that it will be a project you will take pride in down the road.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 1:16PM
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