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July 09, 2015

Finishing an Unfinished Kids Table & Chairs

This past Christmas, Santa brought Emma a set of tables and chairs.  I'm so glad he picked this particular set because I'd been searching all over for a children's table that would feel right in our new house.

I am not a big fan of factory finished furniture and it seems the Children's Furniture industry is filled with it.  I remember looking for Emma's nursery furniture and feeling like every nursery in America looks exactly the same and it is an easy hole to get sucked into.  I had held out on purchasing a pre-finished (options being white or pink paint... or espresso brown...) to hold out for something that felt old - but wasn't a rickety antique.  I'd hoped to find a solid wood, real farmhouse looking table that was scaled down for kiddos.

Santa did a great job!  However, I think Santa ran out of time during the very busy and hectic Christmas season and didn't get a finish put on the table. Or maybe Santa knows how particular I can be and knew I'd want to select the stain/paint color myself?

Emma loved it exactly as it was (as this was the way the elves made it) and was very reluctant for me to change it in any way.  After a little coaxing and promising she could help, we put on a Natural Walnut stain and a Satin Polyurethane finish.

I found the exact table and chairs Santa brought us.  They are almost half the price of the finished versions available at Pottery Barn, etc., but you do have to finish yourself.  It took Emma and I about 1 hour to stain, then I put 3 spray layers of polyurethane over the course of 24 hours.  It was very little hands-on time.

This is the table post-stain.  Before I stained it, I did a light sanding with fine sand paper.

I brushed it on with a bristle brush and wiped it down to remove excess.

Spray Polyurethane (satin) is a must for any furniture that has turned legs or spindles.  Such a time saver and a much more even finish.  I recommend 3 coats with a couple of hours drying time in between.

Minwax Satin Poly
Old Masters Natural Walnut

These are the chairs mid-stain, pre-spray.

Now the table is all finished and lives between the hearth room and the kitchen.   You can see it is almost the very same tone as the big dining table.   It appears lighter in the photo, but they are almost the exact color, giving the room great balance.

Emma eats her breakfast here, watches TV, colors, paints, does play-doh and puzzles, all right here.  

The extra chairs have found homes throughout the house - this one Emma uses as a step-stool in the powder room.

This one is tucked under the counter for her to use when we're baking.  Instead of an eye-sore, the chairs add a little bit of charm wherever they are.  They work great as a step-stool for me, too : )

For me utilitarian beauty is all about making every single corner of your house functional and atheistically pleasing.  

So, just because this is the kids table, doesn't mean it can't be as charming and full of character as the rest of the house, right?

Emma's already set several tea party tables here.  I can't wait to set it for holidays - I can already envision the Thanksgiving paper turkey (or sugar cookie?!) placecards : )


  1. I wish I read this post years ago when I searched high and low for a table and chair set for my girls!!! I ended up spending the money for a Pottery Barn Kids table which still was not exactly what I was looking for!! Who knew how hard it was to find the perfect kids table, nobody understood what the big deal was but of course the blogging community would ;) Love the set for Emma, it's perfect for her and your new home!!!

  2. Anonymous3:28 PM

    Nan, Odessa, DE
    As a great grandmother, a table and chairs is the best gift for any 1st birthday!
    Next on my list would be a small trunk to use as a toy chest. Both items can be used in the child's home as a newly wed!!!!!! All our children have used MY table and chairs. Our first great grand child is waiting for more cousins to join her at the kids' table. I have used this as a coffee table setting in between the generations. Glad your daughter got to help with the finish. Enjoy!

  3. Hey Jenny-where did you purchase your powder bath sink? I absolutely love it!


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