Before and After: The Magic of Paint Gives This ’80s Dining Set a Fresh New Vibe

updated Aug 31, 2020
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Hand-me-down furniture is a super welcome gift—but it’s can sometimes be tricky to work with when it’s not necessarily the same style as the rest of your home’s decor.

Exhibit A: Emily (@thelookforless.home) and her husband’s 1980s dining room set, which they received as a hand-me-down from Emily’s parents. The couple used the free orangey oak furniture that didn’t go with the rest of their house for several years before deciding to give it a redo. “Half of the original chairs were broken and we were down to three that weren’t dangerous to sit on, so we finally decided to buy new chairs and make the update to the table and hutch at the same time,” Emily says.

Over about four days, Emily’s husband removed, sanded, and stained the tabletop, giving it a chocolatey wood finish that gives it a refined farmhouse modern look.

Meanwhile, Emily used liquid sandpaper on the base of the table as well as the hutch, and painted both with matte black chalky finish paint. She also painted the interior of the hutch white. “I love that I chose to do white on the interior of the hutch, as it seems to make it ‘pop’ a little more and show off the decor on the shelving,” she says.

In order to do all of that hutch painting, Emily had to temporarily remove all of its doors and hardware. “The hardest part was making sure not to break the glass when handling the doors!” she says.

Overall, the couple spent about $50 on paint and stains, and another $200 for a new set of eight industrial chairs. But the transformative project made it look like they got a whole dining room’s worth of new furniture.

Now the dining table and the hutch both have a cozy yet more modern vibe. “I absolutely love the look of the after,” Emily says—and if she ever tires of it, a new look is just a paint job away.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.