Monday, January 30, 2012

Fashion a Farmhouse Table

Ah, the harvest table; or "Farmhouse Table" as we've come to know it in modern society.  What was once a staple in 19th century America for the lowly purpose of sorting produce has become a chic statement piece commanding attention in dining rooms everywhere.  Far from its humble beginnings as a simple work surface, these tables are now commanding a high price tag at popular retailers everywhere, and for good reason.  Not only can it blend seamlessly with a rustic interior, but it can also hold its own in a shamelessly trendy loft.  Also, with many design philosophies now focusing on the blending of a wide array of textures rather than colors, this rustic table always delivers in a big way.  But most of us can't afford to go drop $2000 when we already have a perfectly good surface on which to consume our meals.  To search for a good farmhouse table, here is a pretty good example of what you might find: 
This little nugget from our friends at Layla Grace will set you back a cool $1500 once you include the cost of shipping.  And these selections from Pottery Barn and DWR exceed even that price tag:

Fabulous, yes.  Affordable, no. 
So what to do?  

Make your own of course!!

Well, not make it...but find a cast-off table with good lines and transform it into the farmhouse table of your dreams!  The process is simple, and this specimen that we created only cost around $100 to make.

Here's what we did.  First, we checked out local thrift shops for the right table and ended up finding this one at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $40 (a GREAT resource for all kinds of old, fun finds).

It was initially painted all white, so we had to strip it.  Yes, we are well-aware than even the most die-hard DIY'ers can be scared away at the thought of stripping paint.  It is time-consuming, stinky, and tedious.  Well lucky for you, it's fairly simple in this case!  

Problem Solver #1:  We chose "Citristrip" stripping gel because it has no harsh fumes and is even safe for indoor use.

Problem Solver #2:  We decided to paint the base of our table, so that required absolutely no stripping!  Layers of paint are acceptable and even welcome when it comes to antique-inspired furniture.  And for the top, while we wanted to get most of the paint off, we figured leaving a little bit would only add to it's character ("character" sometimes being another term for "convenience").

Now for the color.  To create the look of layered-on paint for the base of the table, we considered the already-existing white our first layer.  For the next layer, we dug into our paint closet and picked out some extra black paint leftover from a previous project (PLEASE do this for under-coats, as it saves money, and random colors peeking through only add to the interest of the final piece!)  For the final (and primary) color, wanted something that would be a close replica to paint shades that were used in 19th century America, so we chose to use paint line "Old Century Colors".  Their meticulous dedication to developing colors that mimic those from colonial times always makes these paints favorites for us!

From this palette, we chose to use #2018 Plymouth Blue since, let's face it, every interior space could benefit from a little turquoise. 

After having our layering of all three colors in place, we took the medium-grit sandpaper to random areas on the base of the table.  Some areas we just let the black peek through, other areas the white, and in some spots sanded all the way down to the wood.  Yes, you can get into using crackle medium and all that jazz, but we wanted this project to be simple.  The more "mediums" and glazes come into play, the more your project is going to cost, and that takes the fun out of the "This table only cost me..." stories that you will be telling at your next Thanksgiving get-together.

Now for the piece-de-resistance: the top.  What screams "Farmhouse" more than seemingly-salvaged planks?  Nothing.  Sooo, since this $40 table of course did not have a plank top, we decided to simulate one with our good-old-friend The Skill Saw.  We set her to a depth just deep enough to score the surface without weakening the wood.  We "sawed" two lines down the length of the table to create three equally-sized "planks".

And now the fun part:  beating the bejeezies out of it so it truly looks like it came straight out of 1800's.  We used hammers, nails, screws, chains, saws; pretty much everything we thought would olden it up!  This is something that is at its most fun when there is anger and frustration to let out.  Not that we have any of that, just sayin'.  

After the intense beating, we used a Minwax stain that we had custom blended at Home Depot using a grey tone with a little bit of golden tone thrown in.  This created a warm, weather-beaten hue that was perfect for this tabletop.  We then finished the whole top off with a Finishing Wax from Minwax that lent an almost sheen-less protective coating.

Our final little touch was to purchase an amber glass knob for the drawer from Hobby Lobby for $2.48 on 50% off day!

All-in-all, it will set you back a weekend.  But the "where-did-you-get-that"s will be totally worth it, especially when you hear the gasps after revealing your cost!