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How to Turn Oak Furniture into a Thing of Beauty

By 07/24/2011January 23rd, 201718 Comments

This is William, reading a book while waiting for breakfast! (Photos by Maria Killam)

My sister Elizabeth took my mom and me to the Vedder Mountain Grille in Yarrow for breakfast this morning and I immediately loved the country charm, the food and that it was clearly decorated with creativity and an eye for detail.

Even the entrance greeted you with a flower!

And talk about a fabulous and inexpensive way to furnish a restaurant.  How to take old, 80’s oak dining furniture (above) and turn it into this (below):
William looked quite happy in his painted chair!

Don’t forget to paint the bases to match the chairs! They were pretty banged up but as I said in my recent post about painting cabinets–who cares? The look is fabulous! 

Had this restaurant been full of a bunch of unpainted oak furniture I would most definitely not have turned it into a post for this blog. Nor would I probably be in such a hurry to go back. 

Even the salt, pepper and a sugar bowl turned into a vignette with lavender everywhere!

Some of the tables had patina where the finish had rubbed off but they coordinated even better with the painted chairs.

This was the light fixture over the cash desk! If you must swag a lamp because it’s not centred, this is a great way to do it–remove the chain link! Not sure how well it would hold though without it. This one doesn’t look very heavy.

Even the farmhouse bathroom faucet looked right at home in the ladies washroom.

We are having our first sunny weekend of the summer here! It’s feels like yesterday was the first day of summer!
Do you have some oak furniture you could turn into a thing of beauty? 
If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.
Related posts:

 Restaurant Colour Themes; Heaven vs. Hell

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  • Mary says:

    I have an oak table from the 80's and white windsor chairs around it.
    My table holds so many memories that I can't get rid of it.

  • Jane says:

    I happen to like oak…I have an old chest we purchased 35 years ago. It had been painted and repainted…everything from blue to Chinese red. We a lot of work, we stripped it down to the natural finish…and it has such a rich lustre. I cannot bear to get rid of it…or to paint it. It's the one piece in our home that we have not touched, except to oil it.

  • Coley says:

    I have turned quite a few oak pieces into painted beauties 🙂 SO worth it

  • Kathysue says:

    I did this for a client, we left the top wood and the seat of the chair wood and the rest was painted in a satin black, It made a whole new world for their dining room!!! It really does make a difference. What were we thinking in the 80s, why in the world did every one buy everything and I mean everything in oak. Luckily I did not succumb to that trend, but many,many of my clients did. Oak has a big grain so it is not the easiest to cover with paint and make look, keep that in mind when doing kitchen cupboards. Great post Maria, you are giving many readers some HOPE!! Kathysue

  • Parisienne Farmgirl says:

    As someone who hates Oak (and whose hubby paints and faux ugly kitchen cabs for a living) this is a great post!!!!

  • Sheila Zeller says:

    I sure do! A rocking chair that was given to me by my uncle… it's on the 'to do' list, but I haven't decided what colour yet. All I know is the old oak has to go!!!

  • Harriet @ The Linen Works says:

    Looks like a perfect Sunday morning.

  • 5th and State says:

    oh my……… eyes have been opened to a new world of possibilities!

    thank you for this post. off hunting oak furniture (who would have thought) and cans of paint.

    by the way, have you ever heard of 'graham's' paint? made here in chicago. i just saw a wall painte in it and the satin had the most beautiful sheen.

  • I wonder if at some point oak will be the rage again. Everything goes full circle. Ugh. Please no! It was been a bit popular in the Restoration Hardware world, grayed and waxed, which I like but still wouldn't buy! One time around is enough! Great post.

  • mrsben says:

    Wondeful post Maria!

    I don't know if it is just me, but have you noticed most men appear to have a sentimental attachment to stained woodS? With planned upgrades in my home, that is what I am at least detecting, reason why I'll be seeking your expert advice and services very shortly. ☺ -Brenda-

  • Kate at Dream To Life says:

    This is so charming! From the re-purposed wood to the lavender bunches…love!

  • Luciane at says:

    Hi Maria,

    I didn't know you guys are not having a sunny summer in Vancouver. But I'm glad you had some sunshine yesterday. We also did! We went to the beach and the kids loved it. Now, my house has sand everywhere… but who cares? 🙂 I will clean it up in a bit.

    Anyways, you're so right! If I go to a restaurant where I see they cared about the decor, I feel more welcomed and I want to come back sooner. I think it's a way to them to show they appreciate their costumers.

    Lovely ideas here… I can see that round table on a cottage… wouldn't it be sweet?

    Have a great week!


    Luciane at

  • Carrie'sCreations says:

    So much better!! My mother-in-law has those chairs, I may have to pass this along. Really does bring life into a dated piece.

  • Cindy Ann says:

    So glad you posted this. I (red blush of embarrassment) have that very oak set you pictured in the first shot. Yes, since the 80's. My children grew up around that table and the chairs have the marks from booster seats to prove it.
    I have been thinking of painting it just as they did at the restaurant, but now that I see it I can tell it just won't work for me. Perhaps some soul at the thrift shop where I donate it can enjoy it.

  • Krista says:

    The battered light color on the chairs and table base isn't for me. (Nor are white cabinets, for that matter.) But I'm with Kathysue, I've seen a set painted black except for tabletop and chair seat, and it looked gooood.

  • Chiò says:

    You are fabulous. I really love you =)

  • Donna says:

    Hi Maria…Hey..Have you been peeking in my dining room? Ah–you got me! There it is–a very similar oak table–late 80's. We need to re-do the top because it's just worn out. That's what 20+ years of homeschooling with five kids will do to a tabletop.

    Great ideas to consider here. Would Tim really let me do this? That is the question. :O)


  • Beccaleena says:

    Dear Maria and other Readers,
    Things which are beautiful can remain beautiful. Consider the oak in homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, would you really paint out the wood because it is oak (and dated)?

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