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? Think right now of your favorite memory that you have in your dining room space. It probably involves other people, a special day, or even an amazing meal. Your dining room is a space where you can sit down with family and friends to do life together.

It is also a space where memories and conversations happen, so making sure you are keeping the space maintained is crucial to having a nice and welcoming home. Coming from the dining set industry, we would love to give a little insight into the best ways to care for this space.

Options For How To Update An Old Dining Room Set

how to update an old dining room set sanding

Now when thinking about updating an old dining room set, you have options to choose from. You can keep the current dining room furniture you have and repaint/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 take a look at the pros and cons of purchasing vs restoring.

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 it by item or by set. If you do a quick search for dining room sets, you will see options like “Home Depot”, “Ashley Furniture”, and “Overstock” come up. Maybe for you, it is important to buy locally. How do you know how 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 can decide your needs, shape, and look of your new dining room. So 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!

Style

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 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 abundant today, this elegant style can be elaborate and generally includes artwork and china
  • Family – More intimate with a rounded table that is less abrupt. You can also mix and match furniture items with this style
  • Beach – Your colors can be vibrant and vivid. Often represents the area where the beach house is located
  • Rustic – Muted colors with a lot of natural wood. Can be used in cabins, or homes and generally includes darker stains on some furniture pieces
  • Bar-Style – Recreates the feel of eating out. High top table and chairs along with other restaurant themed decor. Generally seating for 2-4 people
  • Modern – No extra pieces or clutter. White is often the color of choice. Unified color theme, with the knowing that no one else’s dining room that you know, has this new look
  • Farmhouse – The rectangular table includes a bench for seating. Other furniture included is often of amish make. Antiques 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

Shape

When you have a style in mind, the next piece of how to update an old dining room set is finding the shape, in this case, 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 always the outliers…however, that is why the first step is making sure you are picking a style that lasts. 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 purpose. What are you using the table for? For example, If you want the most people around your table, it could make sense to go with the cross-legged base option because there aren’t a lot of places that people will hit their legs on.

how to update an old dining room trestle
Trestle Base

Material

When it comes to the material of your table, there are actually 6+ options you can choose from. Our list may not include all, but we are continuing to keep in mind 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.

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. Has a higher cost than average, but will go with your other furniture while being a beautiful standout piece.
  2. Oak – While being one of the most durable woods, it can also be tough to get smooth. 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 finer dining. If you have been in a beautiful old mansion, or home from the 70’s-80’s, chances are it was a cherry table. It is still more durable and harder than pine, while also giving it a rustic feel.
  4. Maple – A lighter, tough wood. Cheaper than cherry wood, it has that smooth texture that seems to be unavailable in oak. Remaining on the higher price point, it can still be cheaper than cherry
  5. Pine – One of the softest woods, that is also light in color. Pine wood 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 the potential hazard they become as glass 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 can be tough to determine the good vs the bad ones. You can find $300 tables, or $1,000 dollar tables. The other upside would be the ability to 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, it can also be used as a tabletop. This is going to be one of the more industrial visual options. It can clash if your room is not designed to fit it. Sturdy and easy to maintain, it can still make a good option.

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, the downside to some types of stone is the price and the ability to stain. Marble would be easiest to maintain, and resistant to stains…while higher in price.

how to update an old dining room set patio table

Plastic/Man-Made – 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. They are:

Reversed ScrollStraightWalnut PeriodTurned Twist
Double TwistCabrioleReededDouble Scroll
Adam StyleFlutedSheraton TaperedTapered
SaberTurned FlutedSpadeMarlborough

Update A Dining Room Set By Refinishing

To start off, we want to be clear about this section. If you have an old table that is not made out 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.

When the plastic strips off of your cheaper laminate or outdoor table, it really 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

Clean! Because the next step 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 may cause 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, without damaging the wood, as you can. At the end, make sure to wipe down the table with a brush or steel wool. This can be an option of 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! 

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 wood the way that it is currently.

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. Not to 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, 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 2nd coat. Generally, always do a 2nd coat of primer because these tables 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 that 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 2nd 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 is to buy a clear coat finish. You have the choice between polyurethane, tung oil, or polyacrylic. 

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

Conclusion

how to update an old dining room conclusion

Well, that was a lot of information! Thanks for reading through until the end. To ultimately figure out which option is best for you, begin thinking about 2 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 may be the option for you. We can sometimes treat old furniture like antiques, when in fact, it is antique trash.

If you are looking for new 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. Whatever option you choose, we know you will now have an updated set of dining room furniture that will last for a long time. Your kids will certainly thank you for the gift when you pass it along!

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