Saturday, June 13, 2015

Upcycling: Our "New" Dining Set!

When Justin and I lived in Indiana, we had a very small apartment and didn't have space for a dining room table.  For our wedding, my grandparents got us a small table with two stools that actually had to go in our living room since we were so limited on space.  It worked for us during our two years in that apartment and gave us a place to sit and share meals together, but we have a much bigger living space here in Ohio.  We have a dining room that we've turned into an office area for me and a music area for my husband and a breakfast nook in the kitchen that we use as a dining area.  Whenever we would have people over for dinner, I became increasingly annoyed that we would have to sit in the living room since we only had room for two people at our small table.  This led Justin and I to start looking for a new dining set for our new home in Ohio that would seat at least four people.

One weekend while we were visiting my family in Indiana, we went to an antique shop near my parents' home.  There was a booth at the shop filled with beautiful furniture from a vendor called the Repurpose Room.  This vendor specializes in upcycling furniture - they take old, scratched furniture and refurbish it by sanding it and painting it with bright colors and designs.  There was a wonderful dining set there that I really wanted for my home...until I saw the price tag.  Upon further investigation, we found out that the Repurpose Room had an entire shop downtown where they sold refurbished furniture, so we went the next day with my mom and my brother's girlfriend to see if they had anything that was more in our price range.  They had beautiful furniture and dining sets, but we still thought they didn't fit our budget.  But Justin and I were inspired.  Why buy a new dining set or one that has been refurbished by someone else when we could refurbish our own dining set and customize it with colors and designs that we wanted?

So that's what we decided to do.

Here's the table from the Repurpose Room that inspired our project:

I loved everything about this table - the color, the arrow design, the shape.
I loved the set of chairs, too - the black paint, the distressed look, the vintage feel.
Unfortunately, the table alone was $300.  Also, it didn't have a protective coating on it and the arrow design looked poorly done. 
The set of four chairs was $295, which would have made the dining set almost $600.  The chairs also seemed a bit unstable for such a hefty price tag.
If you know me or have read my blog before, you know my husband and I love to thrift shop.  We decided to start looking for a secondhand table that we could refurbish.  Over Memorial Day weekend, Justin and I took a mini-vacation to Indiana/Michigan and decided to look for a table we liked while we did some thrift shopping there.  We ended up finding the perfect table at Goodwill.  The table was in great condition, but the four chairs it came with were falling apart.  They were asking $49 for the set, but we talked them into letting us buy the table for $39 without the chairs.  We had a $25 gift certificate from making so many donations to Goodwill before our move to Ohio (and it was only good in the Michiana area), so we put that toward our table for a total of $14 for the table.  (Somehow we managed to get it in the back of our Scion and get it home to Ohio!)  We were still on the lookout for a set of four chairs. 

The table before it was sanded.
When we got back home to Ohio, I was looking for something in the garage and came across a set of four wooden dining chairs (two had a flower design, the other two had a harp design).  I wasn't sure if they were left by a previous tenant, so I texted my landlord to ask.  She said they actually belonged to her, but that we could have the two harp design chairs if we wanted them.  She wanted to keep the flower design chairs, but said there were two other chairs in the basement they didn't want if we wanted them.  We jumped on the opportunity and had our four chairs for our "new" dining set project.  (We have two chairs with the harp design and two chairs with a different back design, but since we were sanding them, repainting them, and reupholstering the seats, we thought they would look fine together once the project was completed).  Best of all, the chairs were free!

We have two chairs with this design.  It already looks black here, but the paint was chipping to reveal a coat of red paint underneath. 
We have two of these chairs, as well.  Our landlord had reupholstered all four chairs with this fabric, but we planned on changing the fabric once the chairs were repainted and sealed with a protective coat.
Once we had the table and chairs, it was time to sand.  My cousin, Kurt, let us borrow his orbital sander, but we took a trip to Home Depot to get some sandpaper and two quarts of paint for around $30.  Since we were following the design from the original table we saw at the antique shop, we got black paint for the chairs and the underside of the table.  Instead of turquoise for the tabletop, we decided on a bright, happy lime green.  We made a stop at Walmart for some paint brushes, paint tape, a sanding block, and a quart of polyurethane for a total of about $25.

Justin spent all afternoon one Friday sanding the table and chairs on our front porch.  Afterward, we laid down a drop cloth in our breakfast nook and transferred everything in there so I could paint.

The sanded table.
Our four sanded chairs.
I ended up using three coats of paint on the tabletop with 24 hours between each coat for drying.  I painted the legs and the underside of the table black with two coats and 24 hours between each coat, as well. 

The painted table before I added the design on the tabletop.
Painting the underside of the table.
I  wanted to do an arrow design on the tabletop like the one we saw at the store, but I wanted it to look more professional.  I hand-made an arrow stencil out of cardstock and Justin helped me measure out the middle so we could get the arrows looking perfect (we wanted three of them).  I traced them with a pencil and then hand-painted each arrow black.

My homemade arrow stencil.  It took awhile to get this just how I wanted it.
The first painted arrow.
Pencil outline of the last two arrows.
Two down, one to go.
The arrows were finally finished.  The table was ready for the first polyurethane coat.
After the table was painted, Justin put a protective polyurethane coat on the table (he ended up doing two coats on the table and each of the chairs with adequate drying time in between).  I started painting the chairs.  Each chair took two coats of black paint with at least 24 hours of drying time in between each coat.

After the chairs were painted, Justin put two polyurethane coats on each one and they were given time to dry.  Yesterday, we went out together to pick out the fabric for reupholstering the chair seats.  We visited three different fabric stores and couldn't agree on which one we liked best, but we ended up with a design that was very different than what I originally had in mind, but I love it!

This fabric fits our style perfectly - colorful sugar skulls with green accents the same color as our tabletop.
For reupholstering the chair seats, we spent about $10 at Joann Fabrics & Crafts on fabric and replacement tacks for the bottoms of the chair legs and about $15 for a staple gun and staples at Walmart.  Once the fabric was on, Justin reattached the seats to the chairs using their original hardware and screws. 

Total time to find table/chairs, sand, paint, apply polyurethane, reupholster, reassemble chairs, and clean up:  two weeks

Cost of furniture:  $14 for table at Goodwill, chairs were free (from my landlord)
Cost of supplies:
     Orbital sander:  free (we borrowed it)
     Paint and sandpaper:  $30 at Home Depot
     Paint brushes, paint tape, sanding block, polyurethane:  $25 at Walmart
     Fabric and furniture tacks:  $10 at Joann Fabrics
     Staple gun and staples:  $15 at Walmart

Total cost of "new" dining set with custom color and design:  $94
Total cost of table and chairs from Repurpose Room:  $595
Money saved:  $501

Now, I LOVE the Repurpose Room and their gorgeous furniture, and after doing this project, I definitely understand why they charge so much for their refurbished furniture - it is A LOT of work.  But if you are on a budget, I encourage you to do a project like this yourself!  Not only did my husband and I get to choose the design, color, and fabric, but we spent some great quality time together working on this project.

Here are some "before and after" photos and some photos of the complete dining set:

Before and after - the harp chairs.
Before and after - the brown chairs.
Before and after - the table.

I had a lot of fun working on this project and am a bit sad that it is over, but now Justin and I can enjoy our "new," upcycled, customized dining set!

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