Painted Table Owners Give Heirloom Piece Some Pizzazz for Thanksgiving

Vicki Graves at her newly refinished dining room table.

It’s Thanksgiving, which means spending quality time with family and friends, and giving thanks for the blessings bestowed on one and all. It also means a veritable panoply of good food and soaring levels of tryptophan. And where does all of this holiday merriment happen? For the most part, gathered around a table that is loaded with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the delicious dishes that make it such a special day.

But what if that table is lacking, well, a certain je ne sais quoi? Or what if that table is imbued with memories and meaning, but just doesn’t work with its owner’s décor? Such was the case for Vicki Graves, a White Bear Lake resident who moved into a Craftsman-style home this past summer and was in possession of a Queen Anne-style dining table she received when her mother-in-law passed away. “I liked the look and the heirloom part of [the table]; I had many nice dinners seated around it,” says Graves. “But it just didn’t work in my space.”

The table, which extends to a crowd-worthy 101”, wasn’t in the best shape, but Graves knew and respected that it was pushing several decades and had made its way into the family when it was given to her husband’s grandmother as a wedding gift. “I didn’t want to lose the integrity of the table,” says Graves. “I just needed to give it a new life.”

So she pored over Pinterest looking for ideas on painting and staining, unsure of which way to go. Overwhelmed, she asked a decorator friend for recommendations, and was introduced to Nancy DeSchane, Diane Choiniere and Sally DeSchane-LeMay from Painted Table. The sisters, who own a large studio space in White Bear Lake, have made it their business to transform old furniture pieces by applying fresh coats of paint or stain; they also teach painting classes in their studio for those who are interested in trying a project themselves.

To begin the process, the sisters went to Graves’ home to see the table in the space and to get a feel for the style, the heart and soul, of the home. Shortly thereafter, the table was picked up and then brought to the studio.

(Vicki Graves adds gold chargers, two table runners, linen napkins and crystal stemware to give her fine china extra oomph, and to help create a stunning Thanksgiving table. Special thanks to Elishia Robson of Lakeside Floral for providing the beautiful floral arrangement.)

As one can imagine, with the passage of time and untold numbers of meals shared on it in the many houses it had graced, the table needed some work. The sisters filled dings and chips, and sanded, cleaned and prepared the table for the transformation—which, after a few consultations, was determined to be classic black with distressing to accentuate intricate details and give a not-so-new and well-loved vibe. Originally, Graves was leaning towards a two-color finish, but when the table was primed black, she opted to stick to the one color.

“Client collaboration is an important part of our process,” says Nancy DeSchane, who reveals that quite frequently these transformations shift and morph as one stage unfolds into the next.

The black latex paint was applied in several light coats and was allowed to dry and, ultimately, cure, which, as DeSchane points out, means the finish can be wiped or washed without fear of any damage. The intricately carved legs were distressed extensively, the top was minimally distressed, and a clear coat was applied as the final step to seal the paint and add a final level of protection. The whole revamp took approximately three weeks, but projects of this type typically average about six weeks.

So, this Thanksgiving, Graves will prepare her turkey, potatoes and pie. She’ll set the table with her fine heirloom china and sparkling cutlery. And she’ll gather around the table to make some memories. “I’m so happy to give the dining room table a facelift, as we love to entertain family and friends,” says Graves. “The table will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.”

Paint your Table

The women from the Painted Table are focusing more on client work these days, and can complete whole projects such as Vicki Graves’ project, or can help with as much or as little as the client would like. In addition to furniture painting classes, they now also offer kitchen cabinet painting classes.

Three Tips to Painting Furniture

Most furniture has hidden oils and grime that will impact paint’s bonding process, so wash your furniture piece thoroughly with hot water and a mild detergent.

Once dry, sand lightly with 220-grit sandpaper only to scuff if up. Do not sand the varnish off since it plays a key role in protecting wood. Wipe clean.

Paint multiple light coats. Prime if painting raw wood, or if any areas have damage. Paint with the grain of the wood and sand in between coats if you let the paint dry completely before continuing.