Creativity manifests itself when the mind is clear. Working in a creative field it’s sometimes hard to force yourself into a creative mindset five days a week for 9 hours (ha) at a time. It’s downright impossible to stay inspired for that amount of time doing the same thing.

Over the last week or so I’ve started looking at wood. Yes, wood. I’ve never had any interest in wood working, furniture restoration or really anything in the spirit of “do it yourself” until just recently. I felt really inspired when I spotted a mid century coffee table for sale on Craigslist.

Virginia Maid by Lane coffee table

There she was. What a BEAUT! Along with my cat’s tail. It measures 56” × 19” and sits pretty low to the ground. The style of 50s and 60s furniture is so easily identifiable and yet I’ve never encountered one of these bad boys in real life. So I did my homework, found out what it was, did more homework about how wood works. Before I knew it, I was obsessing over having this and making it new again. Buuuut I’ve never refinished furniture before and I’m not sure I’m going to be any good at it.

But it’s fun. And now I’m thinking up more crazy DIY projects that Caitlin and I can do.

I got the table, watched some YouTube videos and made a supply list:

  • stripper
  • latex gloves
  • cheap paint brush
  • coarse steel wool
  • extra fine steel wool
  • random orbital sander
  • Danish oil in medium walnut
  • Staining pads
  • Finishing paste

Applying the chemical stripper was just nasty. That stuff is so toxic, but I couldn’t find an eco-friendly type at any local stores. I globbed it on with my cheap paint brush, fully decked out in gloves so as not to burn holes in my skin.

The first picture is how it started. Cute. The second is after I applied the first bit of the chemical stripper and I removed what I could with the coarse steel wool. I wasn’t quite aggressive enough to remove all of the previous finish, but I didn’t want to mess with the gunk again and there was only a little left.

I used my new random orbital sander to take it down to the barewood. I was timid using it at first because a: I’d never used one before and 2: I read that the wood veneers are super thin and it’s easy to sand right through them.

I made it work, I built some courage and got after it. The toughest part is the edges of the table but it worked out.

After I inhaled enough dust, I gave the table a wipe with a damp cloth to get rid of all the excess dust. I was so stoked I peed a little. The natural color really started to come through! It’s so beautiful!

Virginia Maid by Lane coffee table

But then it dries and it kinda just looks like unfinished wood again. So now it was time for the scary part: applying the Danish oil. I picked medium walnut because I thought the color would be a little more modern than the typical “Golden Oak” that so many older pieces of furniture are sporting and I’m so happy with my choice. First coat goes on and

Virginia Maid by Lane coffee table

I peed again. I love the contrast of the little oak “bow ties” against the rest of the table top. Other than two chips in the veneer (I bought it that way), this thing is in pristine condition.

That’s all I’ve done so far. Next up is making sure the color is where I want it, finishing the legs, and then applying the finishing wax for a little protection. I cannot wait to finish this and find a place for it or find it a new home.