Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Beacon Hill Table

Sometimes you just don't know where a project is going to take you.  We picked this table up off the street in Beacon Hill four years ago, and it's been taking up room in the basement since. 
If you're not familiar with Beacon Hill, it's a charming, historic section of Boston with brick sidewalks and narrow streets and many wealthy residents and lots of tourists.  I imagine that a small dog sat perched atop this table in front of a window every day for decades, awaiting its owner's return home.  That's the only way I can explain the damage to the table's surface.
I had no idea what I was going to do with this table.  The truth is, I wasn't even sure I wanted it.  But then when the living room was starting to feel too crowded, I thought I would try painting it to replace the larger table in the corner.
So, I took the orbital sander to the top to smooth it out for painting.  I used an 80-grit disc, following the direction of the wood, keeping the sander moving.  It took about 20 minutes.

And when all the finish was removed from the top, I had revealed this.

Oh, no!  It's kind of beautiful.  How can I paint over that? 

So, I had to revise my plan.  I would stain the top, and paint the legs.  It was a compromise, because removing the finish from the legs would have required days of stripping and sanding, and I wasn't at all interested in restoring the entire piece.  Did I mention that I wasn't even sure I wanted this table? 

I used a walnut gel stain for the top, applying it liberally with a rag, and then wiping off the excess with another clean rag after 3 minutes or so.  Here's a photo half way through.  I wound up doing two coats.

And for the base I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Country Grey.  I'd be the 800th blogger to say how great the paint is (you don't have to sand or prime, you can leave the lid off and the paint just gets better, and you can make a beautiful wash by diluting the paint, too), so I'll just say that, like the wax, it has a little more texture, a little more something special I can't quite put my finger on.  Quality, I guess.  In the end, it's just nice paint. 

It was difficult to get into all of the little grooves in the legs with a brush,
so I left some areas uncovered.  I tried applying dark wax to the crevices to age the look of the last table I painted, and I figured I'd just be saving myself a step, and a whole lot of wax.  I did apply clear wax to the base once it was painted, and three coats of matte polyurethane to the table top.

See how smooth the clear wax makes the finish look? 
And, you might have noticed that, at least for now, the table is not in the corner, but right next to the door.  I felt like it deserved a place a little more front and center. 
So for now, the living room is one table more crowded than it was before.  It's all part of the process, I guess.  More changes to come!


Tam said...

This is such a great piece - you did an awesome job! I'm going t o do some more exploration on your projects... thanks for sharing.

J said...

Beautiful end result! I'm inspired :)

J said...

Beautiful end result! I'm inspired :)