Good Questions: Advice for Transforming this Table?

Hi Everyone, We bought this oak table off of Craigslist for Thanksgiving. Neither my husband nor I truly like the color and the wood, but 2 days before having guests over for Thanksgiving dinner, we still did not have a table and a quick search on Craigslist did the trick! So now more than half a year later, we still have this table. It's solid and adds great function to our home (it also has a leaf). BUT we just don't like it that much...we want to try painting or staining it so that we would like it...

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Just don't know which to do or how to do it. Do we have to sand it down first before we do anything else? What grade of sandpaper? What products do you recommend for staining (to match the chairs?) and what products do you recommend for painting? The end product does not have to be perfect — in fact, we like the slightly flawed look. One last thing, but HUGE — we live in an apartment with no outdoor space so whatever work we do will have to be indoors. Thanks all!

Anyone? Who has advice?