Warp Speed Table Transformation

My friend Marty had a problem. She hated her kitchen table, but didn’t want to buy a new one, since there was nothing “wrong” with the dining set, except wear and tear and, well, some ugly. I was due for a visit so I packed up my tools and drove over on Friday after work. We relaxed on Friday night, caught up, played with the kids, and got working Saturday morning. I always underestimate things – how much primer we will need, how long the project will take, how much it will rain, how many blisters I will get, how hard a child can work, etc. We had to sand the table top down to bare wood, prime all of the chairs, paint all of the chairs, prime the base of the table, paint the base of the table, stain and polyurethane the table top, and reupholster the seats of the chairs. In a day and a half. Yup. We were attempting to complete a 4 day project in less than half that time. However, another thing I underestimated was how much we both wanted to finish this table, so we made it happen. We started by taking the seats off of the chairs and dragging them into the backyard, where we sanded them to scuff them up and started priming.

Marty Table

Marty Table

Aaaannnnddd then it started drizzling, so we moved the party to the garage and started sanding the table top. Here is what we started with:

Marty Table

Marty Table

Marty Table

Of course, I forgot to take true “before” photos because I was eager to get down to work. However, I stopped early on in the sanding to document the depressing state of this table. Also, you can see how much priming of the chairs we accomplished before the weather intervened. It became pretty clear that we were gonna need help.

Marty Table

Child labor laws? What child labor laws? Marty’s son and his friend did a great job and followed my instructions perfectly. They might have even had a little fun. Maybe.

At some point we stopped working to take a trip to Home Depot and also to Joann’s Fabric to pick out some material for the new chair seats while primer dried. The rest of the day involved a LOT of sanding, priming and moving chairs in and out of the cover of the garage as it rained off and on. We finished sanding the table top and got two coats of stain on before bedtime. While relaxing a bit and watching TV in the evening we re-covered a few of the chairs. Not a bad first day.

Marty Table

The lighting in the garage made all of the sections look different shades - but they are not!

The lighting in the garage made all of the sections look different shades – but they are not!

Marty Table

Sunday morning was a little slower. After a cup of coffee or two (or eight), we ventured back out and managed to get a coat of paint on all of the chairs, which took FOREVER. We also flipped the table over onto a tarp, taped it off around the edges, primed the base, got one coat of paint on it, flipped it back over, and put one coat of polyurethane on the top. It was a lot of hard work, but it was really exciting seeing everything come together!


A few regrets: over-eager sanding which went through the veneer in one spot (it took stain pretty well and isn’t too noticeable, but I still feel bad about it – I can’t even blame it on the kids!) and OIL-BASED PAINT. I understand the benefits of oil-based paint. I really do. But it is NOT worth it when you are painting with a brush into a gazillion cracks and crevices. It was like trying to spread bubble gum onto every blade of grass in an acre using toothbrush. Maybe that is an exaggeration – but not much. Plus, clean up is a losing battle with oil-based paint. We threw away the brushes, and I went to work with paint on my legs for days. I have still a few streaks in my hair too, but I figure I will just look like I am aging gracefully until it eventually wears off.

In the late afternoon, we finished re-covering the seats, and then I had to head home. Marty was on her own! She put finishing touches of paint on the chairs, sanded the top of the table and put the second coat of polyurethane on, and re-assembled the chairs. She did a fantastic job! I am impressed that she got it done so quickly, and by Tuesday I had the “ta dah!” photos I had been waiting on.



Marty chose to alternate the fabric on the chairs, and although I was skeptical at first, I really love how it turned out. Best of all, she is thrilled with the results and has vowed to stop using her table as a storage and dumping ground. So far so good, right?

I have to end this post with a picture that is oozing with adorable:

Marty's husband, baby, and the neighbor's puppy. Cute overload!

Marty’s husband, baby, and the neighbor’s puppy. Cute overload!

I thought this project would make Marty swear off furniture refinishing, but it had the opposite effect. I am slowly converting people, one at a time! No one is safe … who is next?

Mobile POS – Bathroom Light Edition

A friend in need is a friend … who better have beer and pizza.

Having “mastered” electrical wiring, it became obvious that The Girl and I needed to share our gifts with the world (a/k/a use someone ELSE’S house as a construction zone for once).

Our friends Joey and Christine recently renovated their bathroom. It looks very nice, and they are quite happy with the results. The only problem is that during the demo phase, the wires to the ceiling lights were cut and taped off in the attic. This also caused an unanticipated problem of disconnecting the light to one of the walk-in closets in the master bedroom, which is obviously on the same circuit. The family was using a tiny table lamp on a chair to have light in the bathroom, and Christine was wearing the same few outfits for weeks since she couldn’t see in her closet. The Girl knows how much I enjoy spending time in attics, so she quickly volunteered my services as an electrician.

Hutchings Bath 1 Hutchings Bath 2

DISCLAIMER: I know VERY little about electrical. What I do know, I learned from a summer science class (taught by my mother) and from Miguel. Recently, I called my mother with an electrical question – she promptly told me that she had no idea what I was talking about, and not to mess with electrical wiring in the house where The Girl, The Dog, and I were living. Bah. Miguel said go for it.

So, I showed up one evening to our friends’ house and promptly got to work in the attic.

Hutchings Bath 7

Four hours later, and VERY frustrated, I left with my head hung low and covered in sweat and fiberglass. I hate fiberglass.

Several days later, The Girl joined me in another trip to the house. I thought I’d had an ephiphany, but judging by the results, it was probably just indigestion. I climbed back into the attic, hauled up all the tools, and spent another three hours sweating and cursing.

Hutchings Bath 6

Meanwhile, The Girl broke out the cordless drill and started putting holes in the walls so we could run electrical wires from the attic down the walls and into the wall sconces that our friends picked out. This would have worked out just fine if there hadn’t been a 2×4 running through the wall at one point which I couldn’t drill through.

Holes in the wall? Yeah – that’ll happen when you “hire” your friends to do weekend electrical wiring. The Girl abandoned the previous “one light on each side of the mirror” arrangement and moved to the “one light on top of the mirror” arrangement.

Hutchings Bath 4

Except, yours truly couldn’t figure out the wiring. Cause I’m not that smart, and probably shouldn’t be wiring ANYONE’S house, let alone the house of a couple we both LIKE, who have two kids under 3. Stupid electricity. Day 2 ended with a minor success: I managed to get the master bedroom’s closet light to work, and the fan in the master bathroom working. Score: minor victory.

Day 3. Yes, another day. In the attic. Doing electrical work, for which I am COMPLETELY unqualified.

OK, it is the same picture. But this is what I looked like again!

OK, it is the same picture. But this is what I looked like again!

Except this time I called Miguel on the way over. THIS time I explained the wiring to Miguel. THIS time Miguel said “Oh, just wire it like this.”

God bless Miguel.

Turns out the light was wired “switch-leg” at the switch. Once explained to me, it made a LOT of sense. I only had to spend about 15 minutes in the attic this time.

Hutchings Bath 3

Holes for two sconces? What holes?

View the splendor! Behold the majesty! Honestly, this was one of the most rewarding DIWhy Not moments I’ve had. Mostly because I was working for someone else, and at the end of the day, I wanted to make them happy with what I’d done. They were super encouraging, provided consolation in the form of beers on the days I was unsuccessful, and congratulations for the last day’s triumph – also in the form of beers. The Girl supported me the whole time, and even joined in on the fun. One lesson learned is to bring your own tools, because not everyone has an entire two car garage full of random tools scattered everywhere. The Girl asked for pliers, and was given these:

Hutchings Bath 5