Stripping Furniture

It was over 80 degrees here yesterday. Finally – Spring has sprung– it was beautiful. I didn’t get much done, just enjoyed having the fresh air blow through the house and spent the day puttering around enjoying all the bright and cheery color changes I have been adding to the house.

One new change I made is refinishing the wood top on my kitchen table. Some of you noticed and commented about it after seeing it in my Easter post.  Today, I am officially unveiling it for you.  I wanted the table top to resemble the salvaged pine tables that keep popping into my Pinterest boards.


The beautiful day made me want to set the table for dinner to enhance its new lighter look.   To help bring on the Spring vibe into the house, I bought some pale green hydrangeas and then went in search of some vintage napkins that I knew I had stashed somewhere. I found them – and even pressed them – you know I am in a happy mood if I pressed napkins.   I found them years ago at a yard sale.  I call them my Bonwit Teller napkins because they remind me of one of my favorite stores I used to love to browse in.

Bonwit teller Logo

Does anyone remember Bonwit’s and their beautiful logo?  There was one in Jenkintown, Pa, not far from my house.  I remember as soon as I got my driver’s license at 16, I could drive there by myself and browse as long as I wanted. The store was still around in NYC on 5th Avenue when I was in college, but went out of business in 1990.


These napkins will always remind me of the store and how inspired I felt browsing the aisles viewing all the pretty merchandise, color, and elegant style.


If I could buy a new table for my kitchen and didn’t have to worry about budget – this is the table I would like.

PEDESTAL SALVAGED WOOD DINING TABLE from Restoration Hardware.  Price tag $1995.00

Restoration-Hardware-Salvaged-Wood-Pedestal Table

Here was my reality.

table before

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

I bought my kitchen table for $150 at JC Penney’s about 15 years ago. It has served us well.  I like the shape and it is in good condition – a few dents, dings, and many handwriting indentations across it, but well used and loved.

As I am giving the downstairs décor in my home a color lift – the dark orange tone of the table didn’t quite fit in anymore.


I don’t like using chemical strippers, but I knew for the quick change I wanted,  I would have to use it.     I bought a can of Klean Strip Stripper at Lowes.


If you are sensitive to smells and want to use something less toxic – use CitraStrip.  It has no smell and does the job just as well, it just takes more time.  Usually overnight.   I stripped this table with it:  Dining Room Table Makeover


1. Work outside or in a well ventilated room. The smell with this stripper is pretty intense.

2. Place a drop cloth or cardboard under the piece you are working on.  Do not use plastic, the stripper will eat right through it.

3. Put on rubber gloves and goggles.

4. I simply poured the stripper on the table top and spread it out with a metal scraper.


It didn’t take long to see the finish start to peel- approx: 10 minutes.  I used the metal scraper to scrape and shovel the used stripper into a paper bag and then placed in in a trash can I had ready to make clean-up easy.

5. After all the stripper was removed,  I cleaned the table off with soap and water and let it dry.

Restoration-Hardware-Wood-Finish Salvaged Pine

As you can see the stripper did a very good job at removing the original stain and finish. Last weekend, I took the table outside and used fine grit sandpaper on a sanding block to smooth the surface and to remove some of the old finish that did not come off with the stripper.  It only took a few minutes.

I enjoyed reading The Restoration Hardware description about the table on their website…   Rough-hewn, solid finished pine is hand-selected, planed and sanded.   My table is solid and sanded  :)


I cleaned the sanding dust off with a tack cloth.


I then added a very thin coat of soft wax. I buffed it and then added a small amount of liming wash,  about a 1/4 cup for the entire table.  I wanted to whiten the color just a bit so that a faint white would settle into the grooves and imperfections of the wood.  I bought the textured lime wash on clearance at Lowes. I don’t think it is sold anymore. You could do the same thing with white paint and glazing liquid.


The RH table description continued to state:

….Handsomely distressed, our table is crafted of substantial pine timbers.   Mine is pine veneer, but after sanding, I can add… handsomely distressed.

table after


….This item is artisan crafted with meticulous care. Given its handmade and hand-finished nature, variations in the wood are to be expected and celebrated. Each item is unique and no two are exactly alike.

Rough-Hewn- Table Finish Salvaged Pine

…Nicks, nail marks and imperfections speak of the wood’s age and provenance.  My table passes this test.   Check, check, check, and check – hours of homework completed, board games played, endless glasses of milk spilled, many happy memories made around it.

CARE   …Clear furniture wax can be applied to protect the finish from minor spills. Use coasters or placemats to help prevent marks or stains. Avoid mineral oil as its usage could discolor the wood. Wipe the table clean with a soft, dry cloth after each use

Before-and-After-Wood-refinishing furniture makeover

Over the weekend I took a stroll around another inspiring store, Pottery Barn.  I liked the burlap cloths that were gracing all the tables.


I knew I had some extra white burlap left over from a cloth I made for my dining room table, so when I got home, I made a simple table runner for the table.  To learn how to do this, see my post – How to Fringe Burlap.


When I do projects like this, that are of an experimental nature, I am never sure how my family will like what I am doing to something that they have gotten used to being a certain way.

Happy to report, they liked it, which of course made me happy that I went with my instinct to give it an update.

Next on my To-do list for the kitchen…  what to do with the chairs and if I will leave the table base black.


To see how I stripped a furniture hutch with glass doors, check out this post: Furniture Stripping Basics


paint stripping tips and tricks

Sharing WithThrifty Décor Chick


  1. says

    oooo – love! I have a round oak pedestal table with an orangey undertone. It’s solid wood – wonder if this would work for my table?

  2. Joanne B. says

    I remember the name Bonwit Teller as well, but i think I was too young and it was too fancy a store for me at the time! Love your ‘new’ table and love the fresh decor you set it with! I think it is just as beautiful as the RH one that cost $1850. more than yours! I think for that much money you could write your own fancy description of your table, which is all the more special because of the history you have with it! We have a hunky solid oak pedestal table that is about 25 years old and if it wasn’t for the size of it- 48″, 2 leaves, the chunky pedestal, 4 chairs- to lighten it up would be a major project that I am just not ready to face. I used to think I will just redo the top which is getting a little worn, but now, after seeing the RH one, me thinks I will leave her just the way she is and embrace her ‘wrinkles and crowsfeet and laughlines’!(the table’s AND mine!) Just lovely for spring!

    • says

      Hi Joanne – I loved going into Bonwits and browsing. I never bought anything – just got lots of free style inspiration :) Your table sounds fantastic – wrinkles and all. She sounds like she will be giving your family a place to gather for a long time to come.

    • says

      Hi Jenna – I usually head down the painting path as I dislike stripping furniture, but wanted that salvaged pine look. Turned out table tops are pretty easy to strip since they are flat. I have a cabinet that I am thinking of stripping next. I will see how hard it will end up being with more vertical surfaces and lots of small details. Let me know how your table turns out.

  3. maureen says

    Love, love, love the table! I’m thinking the base needs to be white – Annie Sloane, maybe. P.S. I also am a Bonwit Teller fan and have an old hat box of theirs that I still enjoy that has the pretty lilac flowers.

  4. says

    Your table is beautiful! Stripping can be so much work but so worth it-the effect looks so expensive. I don’t know if the wax you mentioned to lime wash it is locally available but I did a similar look and got my liming wax through Amazon…also it sometimes helps to enhance the liming to open the pores of the wood with a wire brush before adding the wax. The white than settles nicely into the grain.

    • says

      Hi Maggi – Thanks for sharing this information. The wire brush – smart! My table was pretty smooth and I wondered how some of the tables I was Pinning (Ballard Design one in particular) got all the white into the wood without it being just washed over. I will be trying this soon on another piece. XO

  5. Kim says

    Diane, I love everything you do and this is no exception. Where do you get all your inspiration for projects? You make them all appear so effortless yet I know you put alot of work into each and every one! When I grow up I wanna be like you!

    • says

      Thanks Kim – It is just the way my brain is wired. I am not good at many other things: anything dealing with numbers, technical, science, and academic stuff. That is a struggle for me. My brain works on the other side – visualizing and creating. I don’t have to work at it, I see it – the ideas start flooding my brain – it is the way my brain does math. It says look at this pretty thing – add this to it, oh and then subtract that..kind of thing :)

  6. says

    Fantastic job! Thanks for the tutorial.

    I began stripping my dining room buffet and hutch a few months ago. The hutch is done but the buffet. Ugh! The turned legs are not fun. lol I’ve stashed it away until the urge returns to tackle it again. :-)

  7. Emma says

    Your wonderful napkins bring back memories of my early days, and a dress I loved. It wasn’t too stylish–it was the bunches of violets on a pale violet background that I loved.. I left Boston’s Bonwit Teller (oh, that lovely glass display case out front!) for another life. That place was pure class.
    I adore your napkins, and your ability to lift the descriptions of an overpriced table and apply them to your own table with all its memories.

    Darn, I wish I’d kept that dress, the fabric would make plenty of napkins!!!!

    This weekend I’m working on a stripped and sanded table top that looks much like yours. Hoping for decent weather and no wind. You are so brave to do that stripping job inside. A friend sanded mine down to save the mess of stripping. Just can’t face that ever again.

  8. says

    I absolutely love it!! I have my great grandmother’s dining room suite and while I love it, it has seen its better days. I am debating on refinishing it but I am Hopefully from all the post I have been reading of people refinishing furniture I will feel comfortable redoing mine.

  9. Sue Scanlon says

    Your “BonWit Teller” pattern reminds me of my Mother. She loved the store in Jenkintown. I remember going with her may times. I have an umbrella in a similar print from her collection. As a matter of fact after my Dad died, she redecorated her entire bedroom in violets. Thanks for the memory!

  10. says

    Oh what a fantastic makeover!! I am a new follower of your blog thanks to Cristy….from 11 Magnolia…
    I went to her blog re kitchen update and she hi lighted your section on adding trims.
    Love the beautiful kitchen remodel.
    I’m in the process of doing mine……

    Now I wonder if hubby would let me strip our oak table…..

  11. Jennessa says

    Hi Diane

    Your table came out so nice. I just recently got the urge to sand down my table top and I actually stained it with a color stain called Aquarius from Sherwin-Williams. It came out very nice and I am very happy with it. Ive had several compliments when people come over and visit. I love your website and you have some great ideas that I like to try out. Thankyou for the inspiration to get things done.

  12. Sheryll & Critters. says

    Hi Diane,

    Of course it is beautiful. Everything you redo or make from scratch is gorgeous. If I was rich I would fly you here to do little things for me… seriously.

    I love those linens.

    Oh, I have a question. Have you washed your burlap yet? Does it wash? I used to manage the Drapery & Upholstery Dept at Hancock Fabrics in Atlanta and everytime I had to cut burlap for someone, I could not breathe the rest of the day. My nose just went nuts from the fibers.

  13. says

    Wow, a lot of work, but it turned out wonderful! I have some furniture that needs help, and I plan on painting all of it, but seeing this has me rethinking…maybe I should stain some? I’ll have to think on this.
    Debbie :)

  14. says

    Thank you very much for sharing this. I really love the table! It was such a fantastic makeover!! I am also inspired to do that now. That will be my project for next month. Again, thank you for inspiring me.

  15. Kat says

    Thanks for the dining table primer! (No pun intended…) I too have a JC Penny table with nice bones I’d like to strip and lime. My table surface seems a wood-look plastic or laminate, though…Did yours? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Kat – My table has a wood veneer, not a laminate. If yours has a laminate or wood look plastic you won’t be able to change it except with paint. Did you test a small section to see if it is wood or not?

  16. dorcas says

    sheryll, about washing burlap, i made curtains for my sisters livingroom out of burlap. i wanted to get the yicky smell out of them and googled about washing burlap. most every blog said do not wash, but i talked to the fabric people at joann and they said that you can. so… before i ever cut it, i turned both ends under twice and sewed them using larger stitches. i had to wash the stuff three times before i thot it was good enough, then dried it in th dryer. i had to iron it and of course it was not totally as smooth as original it was wonderful. i have used the extra on little projects and it is great. so, yes, you can wash burlap without a huge mess. there was only a tiny bit of fiber like stuff in my washer, and th lint filter had a little bit on too. when ironing, you could try a damp presscloth, that mite help alot too. but everyone compliments her curtains.

    • says

      hi Katrina -You can strip paint or a finish off of most anything. If you want them to look natural oak with no liming, just strip the liming wax off. It may take some good chemicals and some muscle to get it out of all the grooves in the furniture, but it can be done.

  17. says

    Your table is lovely. I am out in the garage today trying to strip a solid oak trestle table that I found on consignment. I’m having some trouble with it, so I came in to google for some ideas and came across your post. I applied two coats of Citristrip (the orange stripper) from Home Depot. Several areas have stripped clean, but there are many orangey, gummy areas where it is being stubborn. Tried sanding, but those areas just gum up on the paper. Maybe I’ll get the chemical stripper you used…I wonder if it’s stronger and can cut through the “gunk” better? Anyway, just seeing your gorgeous table is motivation to keep trying! Thank you for sharing. You have a fantastic blog!

    • says

      Hi Michelle – How long did you wait? You may have to re-coat a few times until it all comes of. You can try using a wet steel wool pad or an Brillo Pad to get more of the gunk off. If it won’t budge, a regular stripper will do it. KleenEZ I think is a heavy hitter. You can get it at any home improvement store. It will burn your skin so wear skin and eye protection. It smells awful,too. Maybe use the spray can of it. Easier to apply and since you will be spot treating, it won’t be so messy or smelly. Best of luck with your table.

    • says

      I like Fiddes & Sons the best. I use the clear or natural. You can buy it on Amazon. I have used Johnson’s Paste wax with excellent results, too. Johnsons is less expensive, but does need to be buffed harder to bring up the shine. Fiddes & Sons buffs to a shine right away.

  18. Jodie says

    Beautifully finished table, well done you have done an amazing job! And your table setting is divine, what are the flowers called? They are super pretty :)

  19. Sheila says

    Hi – Great table! Have you used clear furniture wax without the liming? I have a similar table and want the look of resto’s. Thought I had to stain it clear first but looks like I don’t. First timer so thanks in advance!!

    • says

      Hi Candace – I have used many and have never been disappointed by any of them. Valspar and True Value are two that I am currently using. In most home improvement or stand alone paint stores have a faux finishing area/aisle. You will find the glaze there. Ralph Lauren used to make one that I used a lot. Craft store brands are good also, but they usually come in small size bottles. As long as it is a creamy white color and stirs easily – it will be fine to use.

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