When Jared and I bought our first house earlier this year the one room that we had absolutely zero furniture for was our dining room. This was the blank slate we had to fill:
I got as far as painting those plum walls a nice warm red, and then went looking for decor inspiration. I immediately fell in love with this collection from Pottery Barn:
Unfortunately the table and chairs in the picture came to about $4,000. Thankfully, it was around this same time that I discovered Knock Off Wood. I saw the plans for the Modern Farmhouse Table and convinced Jared that we could just build our own table. Yet another shining example of my tendency to bite off way more than I can chew! But it did make sense for us - we wanted a hard wood table that would last us several years and everything in our budget was wood veneer (including the table this plan is based on at West Elm.) So we bought a miter saw and headed to Wood Crafters here in Portland. Why didn't we just go to Home Depot and get all our lumber for $30 like the plan says? Because if we were going through all the effort to build a dining room table that was to last a generation, we were going to use high quality - and most importantly - STRAIGHT boards. I can't stress how important it is to have straight boards when building this table. So, we ended up spending about $500 on wood, and received priceless advice from the kind folks at Wood Crafters who took pity on us and didn't make us feel like our stupid questions were - well, stupid.
The table frame was easier than we thought to put together and get square. A little too easy, actually, since the next steps would prove rather frustrating.
One plank in! So easy! Yeah, one goes in great - it's getting all 6 in place that makes you want to give up and start rationalizing how artsy and different a one planked dining table would be. Apparently, no matter how straight and perfect boards look to the naked eye, when you try to squeeze them in together you discover that each has its own little geographical quirks and that you'll need to try every combination possible before finding the perfect fit. Fun.
A million screws and 10+ passes with the sander later, and we were ready to stain. We used gel stain at the recommendation of the guys at Wood Crafters and it was about how I thought it would be - a pain in the rear, unforgiving, and a complete mess. But the result was beautiful.
The final step was to apply multiple coats of table top varnish. Then it was off to West Elm for chairs and a rug (Garvey leather chairs and the Jute Boucle rug, to be exact.) A few candles, a handful of plants, a lot of picture frames and we finally had a formal dining room...
What I love about this table is that if it ever gets screwed up, we can sand, stain, re-coat with varnish, and it'll be as good as new. You can't do that with wood veneer! (I repeated those last two sentences to myself about 50 times during the course of making this table.) In the end, we probably ended up spending about $600 to build and finish the table, and about $1500 for the chairs and rug. We got the rustic formal dining room of my dreams for a lot more work but almost half the cost. Not too shabby.