How This Lemonades-From-Lemons Situation Became My Most Favorite DIY EVER

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Ok, I’ve just completed the most beautiful lemonades-from-lemons situation and I am currently more in love with myself than Kanye loves Kanye.

Let me tell you how this all came about.  

About a month ago I sent off our kitchen table and chairs to a lady in town who’s refinishing them, and we’ve had to move our dining room table into the kitchen in the meantime.

Last week I was tired of picking at the last bits of gel on my nails, so I did what I would end up murdering my own children for doing, if they were ever so dumb as to do what I did: I soaked my nails in a small bowl of acetone right on my dining room table top.

Like a damn fool.

When the gel was removed, I lifted the bowl off the table and gasped at the perfect ring of removed varnish from its otherwise shiny, smooth surface, cursing profusely at myself, but then stopped short and bent down to get a better look at the ring and in a whiplash-inducing mood swing, I went from being horrified to being elated.

This had to be the new color of my dining room table.

I googled the best ways to strip varnish from wood and all the best ways to refinish dining room tables, blahblahblah, but then I figured, Hold up: I know what acetone will make this wood look like, BECAUSE I JUST DID IT so I’ll just pour acetone all over the top and voila!

Except, I knew it wouldn’t be quite like that, just because if I poured the acetone over the top, it would run down the legs of the table, which I didn’t want to ruin (the legs are painted black and lightly distressed, and I want them to stay that way), and I was afraid that being sloppy with the acetone would make the “bleaching” effect splotchy, so I wanted to be really careful.

Here’s the before and after:

I know, right??

Ok, I’m going to share with you how I did it, but I want to say something really important first: if you follow DIY blogs or google ways to refinish furniture, please do not compare my process to those you’ll find from professional, real-life people.

Mine is not a tried-and-true, “this is how it’s done” method.

If you’re new here, I should tell you that I’m all about rigging things up, finding leftover supplies and tools in the garage, using vague and incredibly loose measurements, and hoping things come together in a way that looks less than halfway like a crack house.

And it worked out in this case.

So  if you follow someone like Joanna Gaines - who I’ve begged to adopt me, but she doesn’t return any of my calls - then you’ll see how very different my process with DIY’s (and with life in general) is to hers.

Here’s how I updated my dining room table in an afternoon and less than $20 (because I had most of this stuff in the garage. I only had to buy acetone and Polycrylic. Yay!).

Materials Needed

What to do:

1. Put painters cloth underneath table to protect your flooring.

2. Wear chemical-resistant gloves and goggles

3. Dampen white terry shop rag with acetone and rub carefully onto table top, following the grain of the wood. As the varnish and stain is removed, you will need to change to a clean cloth because I found that when my cloth was saturated, I started wiping color back into the wood instead of removing it.

NOTE: You are going to get high as a kite on a March afternoon in Texas. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation and, for God’s sake, don’t drink alcohol while you’re doing this project! Afterwards, however… most definitely.

4. Lightly sand out any scratches or rough areas

5. Wipe table clean with tack cloth or with a clean shop rag to remove dust

6. Paint a thin coat of Polycrylic along the wood grain - do not overbrush! You’ll see brush strokes, but don’t worry, we’ll get those out.  Allow the coat to dry about two hours.

7. Lightly sand the entire surface and wipe clean with tack cloth or clean shop rag.

8. Paint second coat of Polycrylic, just like before, and allow to dry about two hours.

9. Lightly sand the entire surface again and wipe clean with tack cloth or clean shop rag.

10. Paint third and final coat of Polycrylic and allow to dry overnight.

11. Wearing latex gloves, use a clean shop rag and scoop out some of the finishing wax. Rub into the surface of the wood, while also wiping off - like you’re waxing a car. Allow to dry about 20 minutes, then buff out with a soft, clean cloth (an old t-shirt is what I used).

12. It’s safe to gently use the table after 24 hours, but the wax takes a good 30 days to fully cure, so don’t go sliding stuff across the surface or dance on top of it for at least a month.

Also, I’ve been on an organizing frenzy, and you know things get worse before they get better, right? At least that’s what I’m telling my family, as they’re stepping over stacks of acrylic bins I bought from Amazon but haven’t found their new home, yet.

I’m aaallllmmost done with the IKEA faux built-ins - post on that project coming soon! Here’s a sneak peek pic:

Let me know in the comments if there’s something in your house you’re wanting to DIY and what’s holding you back. I’ll see if I can drum up some mojo to send your way!