Farmhouse End Table

filed under

I wanted to turn these hand-me-down, outdated tables into something more rich & rustic. So here’s what I did:

I used a gel varnish remover to strip off most of the varnish.  The contrasty barnwood look comes from not getting all of the varnish off, whatever is left behind will appear lighter when you apply the dark stain.  After the wood was dry, I lightly sanded the entire table {& heavily sanded the areas I wanted darker}.  I cleaned the wood with cheesecloth, then applied 2-3 coats of the dark walnut stain.  Once the tables were dry, I sprayed them with this clear, satin polyurethane, let them dry & added the new drawer pulls.  It was very simple!

  1. Tracy Suzanne

    December 11th, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    Looks great! Like a totally different piece of furniture. And you enjoy it so much more when you do it yourself, know that no one else has it and saved a ton of money.

  2. Dede Warren

    February 14th, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    This is great to know, and you did a very nice job with the end tables. So many have that outdated finish on our furniture, and prior to seeing this I'd thought paint was the only option. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jen

    March 19th, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    I have these tables! Their dated look bugs me so much. I am definitely trying this look this spring.

  4. Kimiko

    April 21st, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    I found your blog post while Googling options for staining our furniture. I really like how your table turned out. I was wondering, has it held up well? Did you end up doing the other piece of furniture you mentioned in your post? Have you learned anything else?

  5. pbrenner

    April 22nd, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    This is a great makeover! I'm trying to darken/weather several pieces of light/orangey oak furniture at my house, but haven't quite got the color I want yet. I'll keep trying though 🙂

    BTW, I clicked here from your pinterest pin, but got the message "Users have reported that this links to spam or other inappropriate content" I clicked "Show me anyway" because I could see it was just the link to your blog (and there is nothing spammy or inappropriate here). I thought you might want to know 🙁

    Love your blog, and your pins (and your blog name!) .. Have a great Sunday!


  6. Danielle

    June 5th, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    Hi! My husband and I are currently refinishing/restaining an old wood professor's desk (very heavy!), and I remembered pinning your project! My dad told us to strip the stain/whatever is on it now. But he said that we can only apply on horizontal surfaces, which would require us to flip/rotate the desk.. again, it's very heavy and big! Did you have to rotate or flip your end table to apply the stripping stuff? I see that it is gel, so maybe it was able to stand up to gravity? Any and all advice would be great!

  7. Anonymous

    June 25th, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Hi! I did this yesterday to my end tables, they looked just like yours, the color of the wood was the same. I took most of the varnish off, sanded them and then stained them. But mine look NOTHING like yours. They are much darker, and I only did one coat, and they are shiny. Yours don't look shiny at all. Any suggestions?

  8. Marc Griffies

    September 23rd, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Maybe you used glossy type polyethylene or varnish to get the shine instead of clear and satin type. For the color, maybe the wood is the kind that shows botches and uneven stain job to get dark/lighter colors but should have nothing to do with the varnish. Some types of wood react differently like maple which is difficult to get it to accept the stain.

  9. Pamela Bailey

    July 3rd, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    Just curious, were your end tables laminate or real wood?

  10. Anonymous

    September 7th, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    real wood

  11. Jess @ Spool and Spoon

    July 16th, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    I realize this is an old post but I found it through Pinterest. Definitely inspiring me to not immediately cast a glare in the direction of old oaky wood pieces at the thrift store and tag sales. I'm your newest follower right here!

  12. Showit User

    February 13th, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    Thanks Jess! Sorry for the delayed response! I just started digging into my old posts. These are my favorite pieces of furniture in the house, I'm always looking for that golden oak now! Good luck!

  13. Cindy Bryant

    July 20th, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    Have been wanting to do this, since this look is so popular. Have seen them painted, etc., but like the rustic look. Thanks for the directions, can't wait for cooler weather to try this out!

  14. Showit User

    February 13th, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    Sorry for the delay Cindy! Did you end up trying this? I thought about painting them, but I figured stain would hold up better than paint.. I'm glad I did it! My kids are so hard on the tables, but it seems that the more dings & scrapes: the more character it adds to the look, it's perfect!

  15. lipstickandsawdust

    August 17th, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Beautiful job! Love the knob too. Makes a HUGS difference.

    Visiting from:


  16. Showit User

    February 13th, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    Thanks Kristen!!

  17. Kelly

    August 27th, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    I want to do the reverse. I have a too dark dining set that I would like to lighten. I figure I will do the same, sanding it and using a light pine stain allowing the dark maple scars on the tabletop to remain the darker color and allowing it to look weathered and worn.

  18. Showit User

    February 13th, 2013 at 6:32 AM

    Kelly, my neighbor tried the reverse too & it turned out gorgeous! Did you end up trying it?

  19. Sophia Harcourt Photography

    September 6th, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Gah! You are a saint. I have 2 side tables and a coffee table with that exact coloring and ghastly shine(first pic). I stripped one side table but it was not very even and looks messy but your post makes it seem like that will be okay. Did you hand sand or should I borrow a sander? I am worried about getting into crannies or awkward spots. Consider yourself officially "Pinterested";).

  20. Showit User

    February 13th, 2013 at 6:22 AM

    Sorry, I'm just browsing through my old posts now & found your comment! Did you finish this project?? The nice thing about this look is that you don't have to worry about the awkward spots & crannies… Leaving some old stain behind enhances the look!

  21. Adrienne Bridges

    September 6th, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    wow! that looks awesome!

  22. Showit User

    February 13th, 2013 at 6:22 AM

    Thank you Adrienne!

  23. Rose

    September 7th, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Hi Mallory Jane, I just found your post on Pinterest and had to come check out this cute little table. I wonder if you could tell me the technique you used for removing the gel stripper. Old sock, putty knife, steel wool??? I'd love to try this on my old oak tables!! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Showit User

    February 13th, 2013 at 6:30 AM

    Hi Rose, sorry for the delay! I used a putty knife for some, and an old rag for some… I'm not an expert, but steel wool probably would've worked out best! I wish I would've thought of that! Thanks for stopping by!

  25. Jill Olsen

    September 28th, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    When you're stripping off the gel I have found that using a cut up milk jug works great. I just cut it up into 4×6" pieces and by bending the top I get a good hard edge for stripping the gel/finish. Then I scrape it off into a garbage can a few times then just toss it and get another piece of plastic.

  26. Sarah

    October 2nd, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Just did this with 2 end tables, and a coffee table, that were the SAME color and shine as your "before" pic, TURNED OUT GORGEOUS!!! Thank you!

  27. Showit User

    February 13th, 2013 at 6:25 AM

    Awesome Sarah! Do you have pics? I'd love to see them! [if so, my email is hayseedhomemakin@hotmail.com] Thanks so much!!

  28. Babs

    October 31st, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    I can't wait to try this. I have 2 Ashley end tables that are in perfect condition still but they just don't go with my living room makeover. I can't wait to get some supplies and try this. Thank you so much for the great idea!

  29. Kim

    November 22nd, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Very nice!

  30. Leslie

    December 6th, 2012 at 5:34 PM


  31. kevinjt

    December 18th, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I have tried to strip wood before, it wasn't as easy as i thought, or am i doing it wrong.

  32. Showit User

    February 13th, 2013 at 6:27 AM

    Sorry for the delay! Stripping wood is not always easy! I find it very time consuming & frustrating! But, the nice thing about this technique is that it doesn't have to be perfect! In fact, it's best if you don't get all of the old varnish off.

  33. Muhammad Amjad

    January 16th, 2013 at 6:17 AM

    Before was beautiful but you give it original like wooden color after that is so nice look and use great piece of wood.
    Hotel furniture

  34. Katrina Burnett

    January 25th, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Has anyone tried this with success?

  35. Elizabeth Mayberry

    April 3rd, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    I am hoping to do this to my kitchen cabinets! I just love the look – and right now they look like that yellow wood! pinning this!!!!!!!!!

  36. dshamblin

    May 10th, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    Did you do this all in one day? Hoping to get my tables knocked out tomorrow 🙂

  37. Dear Emmeline

    May 13th, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    Very pretty! I love weathered wood too.

  38. Unknown

    August 6th, 2013 at 3:27 AM

    Hi! I came to your blog via Pinterest. I was wondering what grit sandpaper you used during your project. Thanks!


  39. Marc Griffies

    September 23rd, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Good job!!

  40. Kellie

    July 21st, 2014 at 1:13 AM

    I love the way it turned out! I know this is an old post, but thank you! I have several pieces of furniture that need a refreshing. 🙂

  41. Ethan Smith

    August 16th, 2014 at 5:39 AM

    Buy and sell new and used modern, outdoor, office, bedroom and home furniture.
    Choose from a great selection of gently used furniture for every room in your home.
    More here link

  42. Missy Shedd

    September 7th, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    Finished my table this morning. $24 in supplies and I have a brand new coffee table. I read comments above about stain being dark. I did two coats of dark walnut and then lightly sanded off some this morning after it dried to give it a more weathered look. Great directions! Next week I will do the end table.

  43. Jen

    May 29th, 2015 at 9:20 PM

    I have a question for you. I noticed you used separate stain from polyurethane. Do you think using a 2 in 1 combo will yield the same results?

  44. Lady E.

    August 9th, 2015 at 8:41 PM

    I love your results from this project! I am hoping to do something similar for a coffee table that is, presently, a more red-tone wood, but I want to get that dark walnut look. I was reading on other wood stain pinterest projects that it is best to use a Prestain Wood Conditioner to ensure a more even application of stain. Do you think that would be best to do? I noticed you didn't use a prestain wood conditioner.

  45. Anthony

    October 26th, 2015 at 10:20 PM

    Excellent review! I found this post to be very informative and helpful. I will have to recommend you to my friends. toolsadvisors

  46. Anonymous

    November 22nd, 2015 at 5:44 AM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE! this is my next project! i used the weathered gray on the table in my eating area and every day it makes me happy! i am DYING to sand my farmhouse table because it IS the orangey color…and shiny! Yuck! did you palm sander not make a ton of dust inside the house? it looks so great!
    steven hunt

  47. Ashlyine Brooke

    February 3rd, 2016 at 4:14 PM

    I'm also visiting this site regularly, this web site is really nice and the users are genuinely sharing good thoughts.a fantastic read

  48. Farmhouse Dining Table

    February 12th, 2016 at 10:37 PM

    Excellent job!I love weathered wood.Thank you so much.

  49. Ross

    October 4th, 2022 at 6:30 AM

    Hi! I came to your blog via Pinterest. I was wondering what grit sandpaper you used during your project. Thanks

  50. nancy lee

    October 19th, 2022 at 7:19 AM

    I have a question for you. I noticed you used separate stain from polyurethane. Do you think using a 2 in 1 combo will yield the same results?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

the shop

our farmhouse

top finds


Between starting my own shop, and decorating my own home, I love antiques!

- view all -



our farmhouse

in the home


Follow along as I explore DIY decor, gifts, tablescapes, and much more!

- view all -






Throwing a good party has never been easier. Explore my posts on entertaining!

- view all -


farm life

marriage + Family

health + beauty


Here, I share everything from marriage and motherhood, to life on the farm. Enjoy!

- view all -






Here, you can explore posts by season! I love sharing new decor ideas, and more!

- view all -



our farmhouse

food + cooking

country + Farm life

Explore posts all about life at home! From decor to life on the farm - it's all here.

- view all -