How to Update an Old Dining Room Set

how to update an old dining room set

Your dining room space is an important part of your home. Do you realize how much time you spend there? Take a minute right now to think of your favorite memory that you have in your dining room space. It probably involves people you love, a special day, or an amazing spread of food. Your dining room is a space where you can sit down with family and friends to do life together.

Your dining area is also a space where memories and conversations happen, so making sure you are keeping the space maintained is crucial to having a warm and welcoming home. Coming from experts in the dining set industry, we would love to give a little insight into the best ways to care for this space and how to update an old dining room set that you may already have. Proper care and maintenance help your dining set to last you for years to come.

Options For How To Update An Old Dining Room Set

how to update an old dining room set sanding

When thinking about how to update an old dining room set, you have several options to choose from. You can keep the current dining room furniture you have and repaint or refinish it, or you can look into getting an entirely new dining room set. You can also update some of your furniture and restore the rest. Or you can just restore each and every piece of furniture yourself! Let’s first take a look at how to update an old dining room set by buying a new one.

how to update an old dining room set purchasing

Update A Dining Room Set By Purchasing A New One

When it comes to the first option of how to update an old dining room set, it doesn’t get very complex. Simply purchasing new dining room furniture can help create an entirely new space for you. You can purchase each piece individually or choose a dining set that all seamlessly fits together. If you do a quick search for dining room sets, you will see options like “Home Depot,” “Ashley Furniture,” and “Overstock” come up. These options may be good for your wallet, but in the long run, the quality is inferior and won’t last as long as locally-made products. Maybe for you, it is also important to buy locally. How do you know where to buy the right dining room furniture?

According to the NY Times, it is most likely in your best interest to begin with the table. The table decides the needs, shape, and look of your new dining room. We are going to work through the options with the example of the table. You have the choice of picking chairs or other furniture that matches in the end or taking each piece of furniture through the process below!


how to update an old dining room set bar style
A Bar-Style Feel

To begin the process of how to update an old dining room set, think through the fact that choosing something trendy isn’t always the way to go. We want this dining set to last you for the next 20+ years.

Imagine if you were stuck wearing the same clothes from 20 years ago or the same hairstyle from 20 years ago. Picking something that is classic or timeless may not seem like the “fun” option now, but it will serve you well in the long run. Here are a few of the many styles to begin thinking about before choosing the details of your updated dining sets.

  • Formal – While not around much today, this elegant style can be elaborate and generally includes artwork and china.
  • Family – This style gives a more intimate feel with a rounded table that is less abrupt. You can also mix and match furniture items with this style.
  • Beach – With this style, your colors can be vibrant and vivid. A beach-style dining area usually represents the area where your beach house is located.
  • Rustic – A rustic style uses muted colors with a lot of natural wood. It can be used in cabins or homes and generally includes darker stains on some furniture pieces.
  • Bar-Style – This style recreates the feeling of eating out. High-top tables and chairs along with other restaurant-themed decor make every dinner feel like an event. A bar-style dining area is generally smaller and provides seating for 2-4 people.
  • Modern – Modern style doesn’t have extra pieces or clutter. White is often the color of choice for the furniture in this dining room. A unified color theme and distinct look that no one else has set this style apart.
  • Farmhouse – Farmhouse style often includes a rectangular table with a bench for seating. Amish-made furniture is popular with this style. Antique pieces and signs of wear on the furniture are not out of place here.
how to update an old dining room set modern family
A Modern Family Look


When you have a style in mind, the next part of how to update an old dining room set is finding the shape you want. In this case, we’re talking about the shape of the table. 

  • Rectangular
  • Square 
  • Round
  • Oval
how to update an old dining room set rectangular

These are the main 4 shapes that a majority of people will choose from. Of course, there are other unique shapes; however, you’ll mostly find these four shapes in a furniture store. The shape of the table will be based on your style and opinion, but also the dimensions of your room.

Are you able to fit a large rectangular table in your dining space? Is your dining room connected to another room? Maybe you would benefit from a table without straight or sharp edges. Take a measurement of your room, and scope out which selection fits your style and your area.

how to update an old dining room set round

Base Type

You may not have realized, but there are a lot of different ways when it comes to how to update an old dining room set. When it comes to the base of your table, there are 4 main options:

  • Legs
  • Pedestal
  • Cross-Legged
  • Trestle
how to update an old dining room pedestal base
Pedestal Base

Each base design can potentially fit with your table-top style but remember to continue to think stylistically according to your needs. What are you using the table for? For example, If you want to be able to fit a lot of people around your table, you should choose a cross-legged base option because there aren’t a lot of places where people will hit their legs.

how to update an old dining room trestle
Trestle Base


When it comes to the material of your table, there are more than six options you can choose from. Our list may not include all, but we are focusing on the materials that will stand the test of time! These materials will be key as you continue to think about how to update an old dining room set in the best way.

how to update an old dining room set wood table

Wood – This is probably the most common option. From custom farmhouse tables to dining tables from Ikea…everyone enjoys a beautiful wooden table.

The main types of wood used to make tables are:

  1. Walnut – This comes in varying colors from light coffee to dark chocolate. Walnut has a higher price than average but will go with your other accessories while being a beautiful standout piece.
  2. Oak – While being one of the most durable woods, it can also be tough to get smooth and flawless. Available in colors from light to dark, the density of this wood pays off in less damage to your table over the years.
  3. Cherry – One of the more expensive woods, cherry tables are generally reserved for fine dining. If you have been in a beautiful old mansion or home from the ’70s-’80s, chances are it there was a cherry table in the dining room. Cherry wood is harder and more durable than pine while also giving the room a rustic feel.
  4. Maple – This is a light and tough wood. Cheaper than cherry wood, maple has that smooth texture that seems to be unavailable in oak. Remaining at the higher price point, it can still be cheaper than cherry.
  5. Pine – One of the softest woods that is also light in color. Pinewood gives you the option to stain it to any color to match your other pieces. Since this wood is soft, it is the least durable of all of the options and thus the least expensive.
  6. Hickory – The most durable wood, hickory is darker than pine while also having color contrasts in the wood. This can give a little bit of a hunting cabin feel. Because it is so dense, it can warp because it is moisture-driven, changing with the temperatures.
how to update an old dining room set glass table

Glass – These table tops have a classy striking appearance. The open look that these tables provide contrasts. With these tables there is the potential hazard that they can be easily broken. Glass is also easy to clean, generally yielding stains to good scrubbing.

how to update an old dining room set laminate table

Laminate – This is generally more affordable than wood options, but it can be tough to determine the good vs. the bad ones. You can find $300 table or $1,000 dollar tables. The other upside would be the ability to easily care for and clean this type of material. 

how to update an old dining room metal table

Metal – While mainly being used for base materials, metal can also be used as a tabletop. This is going to be one of the more industrial options. It can clash if your room is not designed to fit it. Metal is sturdy and easy to maintain, so it can still make a good option if you want a more modern and sleek look.

how to update an old dining room marble table

Stone – Tables that include real stone, marble, or quartz are extremely durable. Generally used in countertops, stone has some downsides. Some types of stone are pricey and very easily get stained. Marble is be easiest to maintain and is also resistant to stains, but you’ll pay more for it.

how to update an old dining room set patio table

Plastic– These tables are generally used for the outdoors. Some can seem to have a beautiful appearance but still clash with the look and durability factor of your home. We wouldn’t recommend these unless you are designing your table for a beach house or something similar.

Leg Types

We found an exhaustive list of the 16 types of table legs that you can have on your new dining room table. With that, you can also have the option to match your chair legs as well. Check out this list to find the right fit for your new table and chairs!

Double ScrollReversed ScrollWalnut PeriodTurned Twist
Double TwistCabrioleStraightAdam Style
FlutedTurned FlutedSheraton TaperedMarlborough

Update A Dining Room Set By Refinishing

To start off, we want to be clear about this section. If you have an old table not made of wood, chances are you won’t be able to restore it to its former glory. Chips in glass or stone can’t really be replaced or fixed.

When the plastic strips off your cheaper laminate or outdoor table, it isn’t worth trying to fix at that point. And unless you have welding experience, fixing a metal table will be very difficult! Here are the steps of how to update an old dining room set when it just needs a little love!

how to update an old dining room set sanding finishing


Because the next step in the process of refinishing tables is sanding, you want to make sure that you have a clean surface to work with. If you forget to clean your surface, you will be sanding and pushing all of the dirt and oils into your table. This causes damage to the wood that will be visible even after you refinish it.

how to update an old dining room stripped wood

Strip The Surface

Whatever is on your surface after the dirt and oils are gone needs to go next. Whether that is an old finish, paint, or varnish, it is time to sand it off. You can use a chemical stripper and a putty knife, or you can use sandpaper.

If you use a chemical stripper that you purchased from a hardware store, make sure you let it sit on the tabletop for the recommended time. You can then go down the grain of the wood to take off as much of the surface as you can without damaging the wood. At the end, make sure to wipe down the table with a brush or steel wool. This can be an option for refinishing a table without needing to sand. 

If you choose to sand it all off, start with a low-grain paper and move up as you go. The general rule of thumb is…

  • 60-80: Coarse
  • 100-150: Medium
  • 180-220: Fine
  • 320+: Ultra Fine

You can choose to do this with an electric sander or by hand. As you move up the grit, make sure to wipe your table down in between. 

You can also choose to do both sanding and stripping as well. Stripping the surface is generally thought to be easier because the chemical does the hard work for you. Note that sanding very old tables that have used lead paint could fill the air with things that you do not want to breathe in. So take caution and wear the proper protective gear.

how to update an old dining room set colors

Apply Your Oil, Stain, or Primer

If you like the color of your wood and you just want to protect your surface, oil could be the way to go. Oil helps give your table moisture if you are in a highly humid area to prevent warping. It also enhances the natural qualities of the wood.

On the flip side, staining the wood is a great way to choose your own color. Stains add a sealing layer to the wood, protecting the new color and adding to the longevity of the look. The 2 types of stains are water-based and oil-based. The oil-based stain should not be confused with the wood oil from above. 

  • Water-based stains stay near the surface and get the job done quickly. 
  • Oil-based stains dive deep into the wood and dry slower but tend to be more durable.

Primer should be used if you are planning to paint your table. Treat primer like staining. Do one coat, wait for it to dry, and then sand it with fine sandpaper. Then proceed to do a second coat. Generally, you should always do a second coat of primer because your table will get used a lot. Be aware that primer and paint are less durable than oils and stains. 

Make sure you get in all of the cracks or crevices with whichever option you choose. Wipe off the stain as you go so it doesn’t soak for too long. The longer the stain soaks, the darker it will be. After your first pass, run the ultra-fine sandpaper over your stained table to keep the smoothness. Wipe away the dust, and (if needed) go back over and stain the table for a second coat.

how to update an old dining room set finishing

Apply Finish (If Needed)

If you went with the wood oil from above, you are already done! Congrats! If you chose primer or stain, then keep reading!

The next step in the process is to buy a clear coat finish. You have the choice between polyurethane, tung oil, or polyacrylic. 

  • Polyurethane – This comes in water base and oil base. It takes longer to dry but tends to be the better choice for frequently used materials. Polyurethane is generally more tolerant to water.
  • Tung Oil – This finish is non-toxic. You can rub it on the surface simply with a cloth. Tung oil takes longer to dry, and you may need to do touch-ups throughout the year. 
  • Polycrylic – This is a water-based product that is less toxic than polyurethane. Polycrylic dries quickly but does not hold up the best in high heat. 


how to update an old dining room conclusion

Well, that was a lot of information! Now you should be an expert on how to update an old dining room set. To ultimately figure out which option is best for you, begin thinking about two things: time and price. If you have the time and you want to refinish your table, chairs, and other dining room furniture, it will save you money. You can finish each piece with the same oil, paint, or stain, and you will have newly refurbished, matching furniture. 

On the other hand, if you have dining room furniture that is unable or would take an eternity to refinish, purchasing is the best option for you. We can sometimes treat old furniture like antiques when in fact, it is antique trash. Just because something is old doesn’t mean that it is valuable.

If you are looking for new home furniture, we would love to help. You can reach out to us anytime for guidance in creating a space that will provide you with countless memories over the years. Whether you choose to take our information on how to update an old dining room set and do it yourself or you decide to buy a brand new set, we’d love to help you in any way we can. Remember that a dining room table is more than just a piece of furniture. It’s the hub for making lasting memories with friends and family!

four winds store catalogs

Download A Free Catalog

Looking to get your hands on new indoor or outdoor furniture, or a building? Download a free catalog and check out our products before you buy. We have a wide selection of different styles so that you can find the right piece of furniture or building for you.

Stop by Our Furniture Store Today!

We offer a large selection of indoor furniture, outdoor furniture, buildings, and accessories. Check our inventory online or visit us to find exactly what you're looking for!

four winds furniture store bowling green ky square

Quality Home Furniture in KY & TN

Visit our store today or shop our handcrafted furniture online to find your next home furnishing. We offer Amish-made furniture throughout Kentucky and its surrounding states. Never settle for low quality furniture, ensure your next indoor and outdoor furniture lasts!

2761 Louisville Rd
Bowling Green, KY 42101


Closed Monday
Tuesday-Friday 9-5
Saturday 9-2
Closed Sunday