Here is my old kitchen table. In all its orange oak-ey glory:
Yes, it's a mess. This picture was taken in the past to show how messy the table gets when the kids do art projects, and I forgot to take a more recent picture of it cleared off. Anyway, you can still clearly get the idea of what it looked like. It was not only ugly in color, but it was showing definite wear and had paint and permanent marker on the top (which you CAN'T see in this picture, but it's there.)
Here is a chair that shows what some of the wear was like:
(yes, it's taken after I started painting and with my phone so it's not a very good shot, but you get the idea.)
I saw this tutorial on one of my favorite blogs, Clover Lane. She did a similar transformation on her dining furniture, so I gave it a go. I pretty much did exactly what she said to on her awesome tut, but I will give a summary of what I did here. I got all my supplies from Home Depot.
Supplies: very good paint brush (CRUCIAL!), tack cloth, mineral spirits, sanding block and sandpaper in varying grits, satin Minwax fast-drying polyurethane, and black satin oil enamel - YES, oil. DON'T let the guy at Home Depot try to talk you into latex instead. It was very easy to use and I think it will be more durable to boot. It is very smelly, but I did my painting outside so it was fine.
Tips: get a solid sanding block, NOT a sanding sponge. When you are distressing the edges at the end, a sponge will scratch up the paint around the edges. A quart was all I needed of paint and a pint of poly. I have some leftover, and I painted a big table and 6 chairs. I did two coats of paint on the table top, and one on everywhere else. I did two coats of poly on the table top, and one coat on the chair seats and backs. No poly anywhere else. I am very interested to see how all this holds up... My table and chairs get HEAVY use.
I sanded the table top lightly, but not anything else because it was already so worn. I also did not use primer, because I wanted to distress the edges and wanted the wood color to peek through (not white primer). Use the tack cloth to wipe the table after sanding. I also gave it a cleaning with some TSP, but don't know if this was necessary. Then, I painted everything with one coat. (those chairs were a PAIN to paint! but SOOOO worth it) Let that dry, then touched up wherever I missed and did another coat on table top. Let that dry and then distressed the edges. Use the tack cloth to clean the dust off before using the polyurethane. After the two coats of poly were dry, I let it sit outside for a couple days to really set before using it. Brought it in, and I love it! We all do. It is so beautiful now!
I had a hard time getting a good picture, but hopefully you get the idea. A new dining set for about 50 bucks!!! Lovely.