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the history of my dining room


If you’re very, very observant, you may have noticed that my dining room table top looks a little different.  That’s because I finally broke down and refinished it.  Again.  I was going to write a quick post about it, but then I realized the evolution of my dining room is pretty funny.  Not in a ha-ha sort of way, but in crazy lady who replaces her dining room set with ridiculous frequency sort of way.  We’ve lived in this house for six years and we’re on our fourth dining set.  I told you.  Ridiculous frequency.


I won’t even bother showing you the first one.  It was a great sturdy table that was given to us for free, so I definitely can’t complain about that.  I longed for a new dining room set for a year or so and finally held a yard sale and sold some things on E-Bay, so I could afford one.  I bought the table off Craig’s List locally and then found the matching chairs near Richmond, VA.  My aunt picked them up for me and I picked them up from her a few weeks later.  I kept the set in its 1980’s speckled finish for several months until I worked up the courage to refinish it.  I refinished the top in a dark walnut stain with a few coats of wipe-on poly.  It was my first big refinishing job.



I painted the base of the table and the chairs with a bonding primer and Sherwin Williams’ ProClassic paint in Creamy.  This was before my days of milk paint, ASCP and waxes.


(You can tell I walk on the wild side by painting over an oriental rug.)  I distressed and antiqued the paint and then made custom slipcovers for each seat out of drop cloths.  I hand painted each of them with the initials of each family member.


A few weeks later, someone came to my house to buy a French settee I listed on Craig’s List.  She fell in love with my dining room set and asked to buy it.  I wasn’t really prepared, but we needed the money, so I sold it.  And I cried once it was all packed up in her truck and being driven away.  I started a quest for a new dining set and immediately found this wonderful French provincial set on Craig’s List for $100.  Score!!  Of course, it had harvest gold upholstered seats and that same speckled finish I just removed from the last set.

Once I had the umph to refinish another set (they’re exhausting), I started on this one.  I still used latex paint on this one, but I waxed the top for a super smooth finish.  Again, I made custom covers for each seat with ribbon ties and pleated skirts.  I loved that set.


…especially the table top.


As I was getting ready for the 2011 Lucketts fair, I made the decision I would sell that set.  I have no idea why I decided to sell it, but something in me felt like it was ready to move to a new home.  And it found a wonderful home (I get updates on it.)  I will say that I feel a twinge of regret about letting that set go, but I know I’ll find something else some day that I love even more.

In walks the fourth dining room set…


…this one was from a picker in Tennessee.  I really liked the shape of the chairs, so I decided to refinish it and keep it for a while.   On this one, I experimented with a dark wax finish and it was pretty disastrous.  I learned that you can’t put dark wax over a stained surface.  It will never dry.  I ended up applying some clear wax and the result was a streaky, pretty bad finish.  I couldn’t stomach doing it over right away, so I just lived with it and tried to take pictures from an angle that would disguise the bad refinishing job.  



Last week, I had the stomach to refinish it again.  I stripped down the top and, instead of applying a dark walnut stain…


…I just waxed the natural wood.


Two coats of wax and this finish is buttery soft to the touch.  I love the warmth of the wood and how it’s a little lighter than the floors.




I think a part of me is grooming this dining set so I can sell it, but I haven’t said those words aloud or thought about it seriously.  But, hey, if I’ve had four sets in six years, why not make it five?

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  1. I’m afraid my husband would divorce me if I changed furniture that often! LOL I love your dining set…well, actually all of them. The distressed look works so well for those of us with kids! No worries about the first scratch or ding. Love your blog!

  2. elaina says:

    mine wouldn’t tolerate that, either!! but, i love to watch your transformations :)

  3. I have lived in my house for 6 months and have had 5 dining sets already! It comes with the job I think :) Love the new finish!

  4. love what you do…but I can not do that …my table is from my husbands Mom and Dad, inherited…too many conversations around that table, including my parents …, talking and arguing politics…when I clean the table I can imagine my Husband and his 4 brothers around the table and all the games they game up with…..Love the look….and enjoy the creative makeovers

  5. deborah lea says:

    We have just moved into a new home after 13 years in the former,(which was not finished before we sold it).
    As I look around the ideas flow, none have settled yet. I’m just letting them flow. I look at the furniture from the old house and see it different in this one. That’s the fun thing about furniture it can take on new personalities, with some paint, new fabrics, the options flow. So I understand how a dining room table can transform its personality as you look at it, and see what it could be, Love Tweaking!
    PS i too would love play with and to sell your paint in my Shop, “The Open Window”
    Could you put me on the growing list?
    You have done remarkable things in a short time!

  6. JaneEllen says:

    Have to say really love the new finish on your table. Very soft look. You’re in the business so can sure understand going thru alot of dining sets. Will be interesting to see what you get next and how you fix it up. Congratulations on your new endeavor.

  7. Erin Buchanan says:

    Wow! you are one lucky lady to have a husband that tolerates frequent furniture changes. I wish I was that fortunate.

  8. Donna says:

    Oh my favorite was your third table…that would never have left my house, ever! donna :)

  9. I love how that last top turned out, soft and natural. Everyone of the sets is more beautiful than the last, can’t wait to see the next 😉

  10. mary eguia says:

    B E A U T I F U L! I love the look.Oh how exciting it must be to reach for wax with your name on it. I wonder what your furniture tags will look like? Oh that’s my dream to walk into a furniture store and see Miss Mustard Seeds furniture line. : ) Have a wonderful Marion.

  11. mary eguia says:

    I meant have a wonderful day!!!!

  12. I love the updates you made to your dining set. The table looks great! I need to make some updates to my table… but am a little nervous because there’s a finish on the table top, so I am not sure how to address that.

  13. This makes me feel normal. Thank you. I sell furniture out from under my fiance all of the time. And paint in the living room…I use a drop cloth. By the way I love how the newest top turned out!

  14. Thank you for sharing your manic furniture behavior with us – make me feel like not such a crazy lady myself – or at least I’m in good company! They (your dinning sets) are all beautiful. Love the natural finish of the last one – delicious! The French provincial one is fabulous too! Maybe you just need more (dinning) rooms?

  15. I love all of those sets. Its heartening to know that your mentor makes the same mistakes you do sometimes. I’ve got a horrid 80’s pickled finish on my dining set. I tackled the pedestal with some DIY chalk paint and a glaze, but I’m not sold on it. I need to strip the tabletop and do something with it, but we just moved and I don’t think my husband’s heart can take it! He despises change. So you can imagine the fun I have with him and all of my ‘projects’.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us Marion!

  16. Sarah says:

    I loved this post! We are on our 3rd set of living room sofas in 6 months – because I am buying things from Craigslist, then re-selling when I find something I like better. My husband just rolls his eyes now. He doesn’t mind as long as I am making money each time – which is probably the case with you as well.

    When living with a slipcovered seat – how did they hold up to your boys? How often did you have to wash them? And what did you use to monogram the slips so that it wouldn’t wash off?

    I love your taste – you are such an inspiration. Thank you for all you do.

  17. Teddee Grace says:

    That latest table top almost matches the background of the rug. Love it.

  18. marsha says:

    The first table is just like mine. I refinished it almost the same too! – My table came with 6 chairs and a matching china cabinet. They were my first big projects as well :) I LOVE them!

  19. Patricia Johnson says:

    I am on my 3rd table in 45 years First one was for new marriage everything////////was maple/colonial 2nd one was to be last one because nothing////was colonial anymore 2nd ok never thrilled with it Finally…found table in 2nd hand store I had been looking for the past 40yrs spouse stated if I waited 40yrs I better buy it $250 for round pedestal table with butterfly leaf perfect///////

  20. Sally says:

    I loved this post!!! Did you recover the chair seats of the final set you pictured yourself? Have you done a post on how you do that yet?

  21. Janet Lawson says:

    I can’t wait to tell my husband this..He thinks what I do is crazy..LOL..I love the set ya have now and I know I will love the photos of your new set when you get it..HaHa..Have a great day..

  22. I love those wood floors.

  23. Those sets are beautiful lucky you to keep finding them! Have you ever painted the table top? I am toying with the idea and I wonder if your milk paint could handle heavy use.

  24. How do you strip a table top? Seeing all your tables makes me want to re-finish my two tables!

  25. Wow, girl you are ambitious. I’m currently finishing up a kitchen set, that will replace my dining set when we move (since we aren’t taking it with us across country) – and that has been a long, tedious process as i try to fit it in around everything else life throws at us.

    All of the tables look beautiful – but I actually have to say that the 4th set, with the 1st finish was probably my favorite. Accidental and not the best finish made it look the most natural to me…lol and I liked how dark it was!

    But you’ve also convinced me to take my butt to the ASCP store and get the wax brush. I’ve been using an old (clean) T-shirt and well…. not loving the results!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Kisha @ :)

  26. I love love love the cow painting, who is the artist?

  27. Carrie says:

    Its funny that some people mention that their husbands wouldn’t like that many furniture changes. I think that if I refinished them similarly like you did, my husband wouldn’t even notice! Ha! I’m wondering about water rings when you just use wax? Any trouble with that. Im low maintenance around here and have 2 littles that don’t get the concept of coasters :-)

  28. Courtney says:

    More importantly, where did you get the rug? I love it!

  29. Marian…just pre-ordered you book this evening…can’t wait to read it! Loved the story about all your dining room sets in this post! You have some amazing energy, girlfriend!

  30. So the top of the last set is just waxed with your furniture wax? Does that protect it enough from scratches and everyday life? I recently took the stain off an old oak table that has been in my family forever. I love the look, but was afraid of stains and such, so I put a clear coat on it. Would have much preferred a wax finish, if I knew it would have protected it!

  31. I really love the job you did on the wood Marian. It looks so good!

  32. Angel says:

    I really love that rug under the DR table. I have to know where to buy one like that. It is amazing and stunning.

  33. shawn says:

    love that rug! just came across your blog. you are a busy gal….very inspiring.


    • Angel says:

      MMS siad it will be the pick of the month and to check her blog. I can’t wait Hope I don’t miss her posting.

  34. I have a question about waxing a dining room table vs poly. I am converting a dresser into a bathroom vanity for a client and wondered if the wax was sufficient as the can of ASCP wax said not to use where there would be water. I am also refinishing a dining room table so this answer would be great. Thanks for your time.

  35. I’m sorry I didn’t realize you had your own line of waxes too.

  36. We have been in our current home for 10 months and have had 3 different dining set configurations :-) Makes life interesting doesn’t it? :-)

  37. Heidi says:

    I love your style and I’ve been enjoying your blog. Thank you.
    I was wondering if you could tell me what color(s) you painted your family, living, and dining rooms?

    Also, do you have any curtain suggestions for a room that is painted in sw sea salt, by chance?

    Thank you.
    Heidi in Pittsburgh…

  38. Cindy Hodges says:

    I have a twin to one of your dining room tables, actually I have table, chairs and a china cabinet complete with 1970’s upholstered seats. My grandmother left it to me and it is totally not my style, but she loved it and I can’t part with it for that reason. I am so excited after seeing your dining room tables, I know what I have to do. I am going to refinish the whole set, then I will love it as much as she did. Thanks for the inspiration.

  39. MaryS says:

    I have plans to work on my dining room table as well. The finish is exactly what I would like for mine. So, did you strip, sand and then stain and wax? What was the sequence? I like the last set the best!! But could use some guidance on what to do next. Thanks so much!!!

  40. MaryS says:

    Miss Mustard Seed — can you please recommend a stripper that I can use indoors?? I think they make a water based product now but have had no experience with them. I really appreciate all your good ideas!!

  41. Katie says:

    Some have already asked but they did not receive a response so yes, I’m going to bug you too! Did you make the rug? To me, it looks like a bamboo mat painted with stencils.. Am I even close? Either way, I think that might be a great idea as it would be much easier to clean compared to a fabric rug.

    Love your work! Thanks and blessings.

  42. Erica says:

    What did you use to get the color of the bottom of the table. My table needs a makeover and I love what you did, they all look gorgeous!

  43. Kenda says:

    Hi there, I’ve been wanting to strip the poly off the top of my dining room table and then use the wax on top. Do you have a favorite product to use for the stripping? Thank you, Kenda

  44. Kim C says:

    First, I LOVE your blog! I’m quite addicted to it! LOL

    I have a question for you..when you wax a table top how does it hold up to use. Do drinks
    circle it? I love the look, but my table is used for everything!

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