Blog: Finding My Voice

Paint It Black!

Posted on October 6, 2011 at 10:50 AM


My dining room table was old and worn, a nightmare to look at and an embarrassment when we had visitors. It was originally part of a set owned by a second cousin’s mother-in-law and ended up in my cousin’s garage after her mother-in-law passed away. In the garage the table and chairs became the favorite resting place for cats. By the time my sister acquired the set, the table was in relatively good condition, but the legs of the six chairs were scratched and the seats in tatters. When I moved into my home, my sister gave me the dining room set. The chairs were dipped to remove the finish and I recovered the seats.

      Over the years my family has had a love-hate relationship with the table. We always considered it to be a temporary addition to our home until we could find a more suitable replacement. As the years passed by, we grew "accustomed to its face." The table was the location of all of our family meals, evening homework, and playing games. I used the table to lay out and cut patterns for Halloween costumes and to iron one item when I was too lazy to set up the ironing board. My children used the table to work on craft projects and as a temporary resting place for items when they didn’t have enough time or the inclination to put them away. The table played a role in every birthday, holiday, celebration, and party that we had in our house.

All of the use and abuse took its toll. At some point the table became an eyesore. The finish on the top became worn, scratched, and discolored. The legs were compromised when some of my poorly housebroken dogs decided to use the table as a makeshift fire hydrant. I tried to hide the ugliness with long tablecloths and started searching for a replacement table. However, none of the tables within my budget could compare with the one I was trying to replace. My table was manufactured by RWAY Northern Furniture Company sometime prior to 1950. It is constructed from mahogany and expands from 64 inches to 100 inches with the insertion of  four solid wood leaves that store under the table.

     One day I was flipping through channels on the television, trying to find some sort of entertainment while I ironed clothes, and came upon the Nate Berkus Show. One hour of viewing turned me into a fan. I soon discovered, with the help of Nate and some of his guests, that painting the table was a viable option. I searched online and found a blog that gave me step-by-step instructions to get the job completed. Clover Lane - How to Paint Your Dining Room Furniture -

I see my red door and I want it painted black

No colors anymore I want them to turn black ...

I look inside myself and see my heart is black

I see my red door, I must have it painted black

     Paint It Black lyrics - Songwriters: Mick Jagger, Mick; and Keith Richards


     Selecting a color to paint the table was the first hurdle I had to overcome. I kept vacillating between white and black. Taking a suggestion from “Nate,” I looked at my choice in clothes (primarily black), the color of my car (also black), and the "things" around me that I love (four of my five dogs are black). The decision was made...I decided to paint the table black.

     It took me a few weeks to get up enough courage to actually paint the table, but one day I got out the sand paper to start the prep work and there was no turning back. The table soon became a family project. My son and I sanded the table and then applied two coats of primer. I painted black oil base paint on the legs, while my son worked on the table top. The initial results were not what we had expected. Instead of a flat surface, the top of the table showed brush streaks. At some point my husband decided to get involved. He resanded the table, thinned the paint, and applied it with a foam brush. The results were better, but still not perfect. My husband purchased a foam roller, sanded again, made the paint even thinner, and reapplied the paint.

I now have a dining room table that no longer has to be hidden under a tablecloth. I think the table looks beautiful. I stop to admire it every time I pass through the dining room. Like many things in life, the finish isn’t perfect. The top has a slightly bumpy texture and, if you look close enough, you will find a dog hair here and there. My husband never really liked the table, but recently I heard him tell one of our children, "Your mother's table looks good." I now have a “new” table and all of the memories associated with the old one. Unfortunately, the chairs to the set can't be transformed with a coat of paint. The dipping process and many years of hard use have caused them to weaken and break. I think I will start haunting second hand stores to find "new" chairs and paint them black!

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.  ~From the television show The Wonder Years



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