Dark Stain or Colorful Paint for IKEA Norden Table?

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Q: My boyfriend and I just signed the lease on a new apartment in New York City. It's a nice, cozy (read: small) two bedroom, one bathroom in midtown Manhattan, with lots of sun. We are taking all of my furniture (dark woods, etc.) and are inheriting a few pieces from friends and the previous tenants.

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One piece in particular is this very basic (read: boring) Norden table from IKEA. It serves a great purpose but is a definite eyesore against the landscape of dark wood and iron that currently populates our living room.

We want to brighten things up and bring some more color and life into the room without eventually getting too tired of the forced color. Originally I thought to stain the cafe table the same shade as some other pieces in the room, but soon thought of another idea — painting the table and its accompanying chairs a bright, contrasting color that would lighten up the room and provide some much needed life in our living room. Here are some pictures (one of the boring Norden table, then one of our couch and one of the Prime Media console we use as a coffee table). Any suggestions on colors? Opinions on staining vs painting?

Sent by Daniel

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(Image credits: Daniel)

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.