The Communal Table

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One thing about living in a rented apartment is this: you never want to invest in nice furniture as you know you are only in a temporary living situation.  This held true for most of the furniture that we had previously owned and moved into our new house.  However, you get to a certain point in life where you just don’t want to settle for crappy college-grade furniture anymore.

We had owned an expandable kitchen table from Ikea for as long as I had lived in New York.  The great thing about this is that it was dirt cheap (I think it was under $50) and it could be either teeny-tiny to fit into our first apartment and seat two people, or it could expand to fit into our second apartment and fit up to 6 people if you pulled it off of the wall.  However, it was starting to show signs of wear as the laminate was beginning to pull off the edges and you could see wear spots in the center of the leaves where we had placed items over the years. Upon moving, we just up and moved this table with us because it was still in decent working condition, and to be honest, we needed to buy beds first as we were lacking in those.

Well, we had decided to host Christmas dinner this year since we have been remiss in all hosting of holidays for the past decade or so, and we needed to buy a new table so that we would have enough places for people to sit.  We figured that we would just buy a new kitchen table since our old one had seen better days and really wasn’t ideally sized for the kitchen in either of its sizes.  We looked at a lot of options: round, square, rectangular, etc. and kept coming back to a rectangle.  Unfortunately many of the tables were either too heavy in the base (the space is quite small so it needed a more delicate look) or the lighter base tables were extremely expensive.  Since this is just the kitchen area and didn’t need a fancy dining table, I didn’t want to spend too much money.  So where did we turn?  Ikea of course.

I can’t believe that even after all this time, sometimes Ikea just has what you need.  We ended up purchasing the Ingo, which is a raw wood table.  We wanted a more muted finish so we ended up whitewashing it and then sealing it with some satin polyurethane.  The final product is quite nice!  The whitewashing is extremely easy.  I forgot to take pictures but the instructions are below:

1. In a plastic container, combine 1 part water and 1 part white paint.  You may want to adjust this depending on the level of opacity you are trying to achieve.

2. Place your wood pieces on a dropcloth or newspapers.  Using a paintbrush, paint on the whitewash mixture in long even strokes.  Using a dry paper towel, white off the excess.  The longer you let the whitewash sit on the wood before wiping, the more opaque the finish.  Also, the more layers you do, the more opaque the finish will be.  We just wanted it not to look so yellow and raw.

3. Once you are happy with the level of opacity, let it sit overnight to dry.

4. Apply 1 thin coat of satin polyurethane to all visible surfaces.  Let this dry for a couple of hours so that it is no longer tacky.

5. Steel wool the surfaces to get out any air bubbles and smooth the surfaces.  The table’s wood is not a great grade so it is a little rough.  The steel wool will help with this.

6. Wipe down the surfaces to remove all the steel wool dust.  Let it dry completely and apply 1 more thin coat of polyurethane and let it dry completely.  Assemble the table and you’re done!

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