For most apartment dwellers, a dining table is one of the most important pieces of furniture in the home. It’s more than just a space to share meals with your friends, family, and loved ones. A dining table can also double as an area for you to take work calls, a space for the kids to complete their homework, and—let’s be honest—a catch-all area for mail, packages, and other assorted household items.
A dining table is often one of the most important focal points of the home, and the most frequently used for that reason. This is particularly applicable in an apartment, as the dining space often helps connect and integrate the kitchen and living room. If you’re in the market for a new dining/kitchen table, the investment should be well thought out. After all, you don’t buy a new dining table every 6 months. A good table should last many years, so it’s important to invest in a piece that will withstand the test of time—including kids, pets, spills, and overall wear and tear!
1. Consider Refurbishing an Old Piece
If you currently have a dining table that has seen better days or are open to buying a discount piece from a used furniture store, Craiglist, or Facebook Marketplace, consider using your DIY skills and furbishing it. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds.
To start, visit a local used furniture store or explore pieces online. In addition to Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, check out recycled furniture companies such as Kaiyo, AptDeco, and Chairish. Used furniture stores will often sell older dining sets for as cheap as $30, bringing the entire cost of the refurbish project (with materials) to under $100, so this is a great option if you’re decorating on a budget.
When selecting a piece, bear in mind that ornamental furniture is going to be tedious. If you’ve never refinished a piece before, stay away from pieces with too many carved details or tight corners.
To begin the process, visit your local hardware store or Lowe’s/Home Depot and purchase the following:
- An all-purpose cleaning spray, such as Method or Windex
- Cloth or paper towels
- 60-, 120-, and 360-grit sandpaper
- A block sander or an orbit sander
- Tack cloth
- Stain, primer, or paint, depending on your project
- Paint stripper
- Putty knife
- Rubber gloves
- Long sleeves
- A mask (preferably a KN95 if you have it)
Step 1: Thoroughly clean the table and chairs to remove any dirt or grease. If you skip this step, the debris will grind into the wood as you sand, giving the finished product a bumpy appearance. You can use a standard all-purpose cleaner and cloth or paper towels to clean the piece.
Step 2: Before beginning this process, wear rubber gloves, a mask, and long sleeves. You’ll also want to be sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. If you live in an apartment complex in a city, ask a friend or family member if you can use their driveway to work on the project.
Step 3: Use a chemical stripper to remove the original coats of paint or stain by following the instructions on the product label. After the finish begins to peel, use the scraper to remove it. Then, sand down the table with an 80- to 120-grit sandpaper to get the surface as smooth as possible. If you don’t want to use a chemical stripper, you can use coarse sandpaper to remove the original top coat from the table. Starting with the roughest sandpaper (60-grit), sand in the direction of the grain. Sand by hand in the direction of the grain starting with the roughest sandpaper (60-grit). If you’re not getting a smooth result, a mechanical sander will give a much smoother appearance. Wipe down the table with a tack cloth to remove dust and sand the surface with 120-grit to polish the wood.
2. Invest in a Convertible Table
If DIY isn’t your thing, buying a table is the next option. Since most of us aren’t just using a table for dining nowadays, consider buying a table that is flexible and can convert into a wide range of uses. A convertible design is also great if you want to incorporate a table into a smaller space. Some great options include this drop leaf table from Wayfair or this table with storage at the base from Pottery Barn. Other options include this rolling kitchen cart with barstools that tuck beneath the table or this rolling table that doubles as a desk/workspace.
3. Keep the Base in Mind
The base of the table plays an important role in the way it is used. If you plan to sit at the table for extended hours throughout the day, opt for a table with a pedestal base to make space for your legs under the table. High-top designs also create more space in a room but can become uncomfortable if the table is going to double as a desk/workspace area.
4: Consider the Tabletop
Don’t forget about the tabletop! If the table will get a lot of wear and tear from kids, pets, and everyday use, opt for a table that has a durable, scratch-proof surface such as glass, real wood, or real wood with a thin veneer.
5. Measure the Area with Books and Magazines
It can often be challenging to visualize how a table and chairs will look in a home. To help with visualizing how it will appear in your space, measure the area and line it with books and magazines. Gather your family together, walk around the “table and chairs,” and pretend to sit to ensure there is ample space.