Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Makeover

Today's furniture makeover has been a long time coming and it feels so good to finally have the Duncan Phyfe style dining table we picked up at Goodwill last year finished. I'm so pleased with how it turned out and I think it's perfect for our recent dining room makeover. I don't know what took me so long because it wasn't difficult to give it a shabby chic finish with a gorgeous dark stained top.

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Painted And Stained

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Makeover

We have an L-shaped living room with a direct sightline to the dining room. The table complements our white painted Living Room Armchairs, Vintage Nesting Tables, and Duncan Phyfe Coffee Table.

A couple of weeks ago Mr. Frugalista decided on a whim to pop into our local Salvation Army store. Thank goodness he did because he stumbled upon four Duncan Phyfe dining chairs for only $20.00 each. They pair beautifully with this table and you can catch that makeover here in my Duncan Phyfe Dining Chair Makeover post.

Before I get into the details of the makeover, let's take a look at what this dining table looked like before the makeover. Starting with the base...

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Base Before

This is what the base looks like now painted white and distressed for a shabby chic finish. The lovely details just pop now that it's painted.

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Legs Painted White

This is the tabletop before. I forgot to take pictures before I started sanding the top. Unfortunately, the table is missing the drop leaf extension. We plan on either building one or having one made to accommodate our growing family.

Duncan Phyfe Dining Tabletop Before

And this is what it looks like now after it was stained dark.

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Stained Dark Walnut

I love the contrast plus it echoes the stained top on our Built-In Dining Room China Cabinet.

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table After

So here's the scoop on the Duncan Phyfe table a makeover

This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. At no cost to you, we receive a small commission if you make a purchase.

Staining the Duncan Phyfe tabletop

The top was in really rough shape and as the base, had a high gloss finish. To remove the previous finish I sanded top with a palm sander and 150-grit sanding pad. I had to remove some tough spots with a mouse sander to get it down to the natural finish.

Once the finish was removed, I wrapped a piece of 220-grit sandpaper around a sanding pad and hand-sanded for a smooth finish. With a damp cloth, I wiped the table to remove the dust and followed with a tack cloth to remove any fine dust particles.

I applied three coats of Minwax Dark Walnut Wood Finish, sanding lightly with 220-grit sandpaper between coats.

Once the last coat of stain was completely dry the tabletop was protected with two coats of non-yellowing water-repellent clear coat. For a perfectly smooth finish, it was applied with my go-to paint sprayer, sanding lighting between coats.

Duncan Phyfe Dining Tabletop Stained Dark

Painting the Duncan Phyfe table base

The base was in fairly good condition other than a few small knicks and scratches, which I decided not to repair because it adds character.

The table is made with mahogany which is guaranteed to cause paint bleed where the tannins in the wood bleed through the paint, especially when painted a light color like white. To avoid this I brushed the base with one coat of clear shellac primer.

I didn't want the base to be a bright white nor an antique white so I mixed a 50:50 ratio of Old White and Pure White Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. After the first coat dried I noticed I was getting the dreaded pinkish bleed through in spots. To remedy this I brushed another coat of shellac over those spots. After the shellac dried I followed up with two more coats of chalk paint.

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Base Painted White

Distressing the Duncan Phyfe table base

For a shabby chic look, I lightly distressed the edges and raised details on the base with 220 grit sandpaper.

To protect the paint I brushed a coat of clear wax with a round wax brush, removing the excess with a lint-free rag. Next, working in sections, I brushed dark wax, making sure to get it nestled into the ridges and around the details of the base. I lighting removed the excess dark wax with a lint-free rag.

After letting the wax sit for about 30 minutes, I buffed it to a matte finish.

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Base Distressed

Do the Duncan Phyfe feet point inwards or outwards?

When assembling the table we were uncertain which way the legs were supposed to face. After some searching online, I found them pointed in either direction. We decided to have two legs points towards the center of the table and one pointing outwards.

Here's where I could use your help. If you know the proper placement of the legs on Duncan Phyfe style tables, please chime in the comment section below.

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Makeover After

If you have any questions about this table makeover, please leave them in the comment section below or press the Contact Me button at the top of the blog to drop me an email. I love hearing from you!

Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Makeover Before and After

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  1. Thank you for the tutorial!! I was just given a table that looks almost exact to the one you have. I was not loving the dark finish and love the distressed look of the white paint (I really didn't want a bright white), but wasn't sure of the best method. I'd love to see the chairs you refinished. Thank you for all the breakdown in detail.
    Where is the best place to purchase the wax? And how does it come?
    Thanks again!!

    1. So glad you found my post helpful and have fun with your Duncan Phyfe table makeover! I'm so glad you pointed out that I hadn't included a link to the matching chair makeover. I've sinced added a link to this post! I also added links to the wax products and a little more information about applying it. I hope this helps!

  2. i have the same table. was in good condition so i put two very light coats of walnut stain on top and this was an oil based stain. was wondering if i can put a water base clear coat on it? Not sure about that or does it have to be oil based as well?

    1. Hi there, thanks for stopping by! I used an oil based stain and a water based sealer on this table (links to the products in the post). This table was finished a few years ago and the table still looks great! You want to make sure the stain is completely dry (recommended dry time on can) before putting on the clear coat. I've used Minwax stain with Minwax clear coat on many projects. I hope this helps!

  3. I have one but because it has 4 leaves, it has 4 legs that slide together in twos. But the way you put yours together match my drum table.

    1. How wonderful that you have a duncan phyfe table with four leaves! I would love one that size to accommodate our growing family. Yes, I originally had the legs facing the opposite direction where two legs pointed inward rather than outward, but I didn't like how it felt obstructive for our legs when sitting in the chairs. I probably have them facing the wrong direction but it works for us.

  4. Hi there, your table turned out fabulous. But how did you remove the legs so you were able to have just one of the legs out towards the end? Thank you for any advice you can share to remove then leg pedestal and give it a turn.
    Beth Anne ~

    1. Hi Beth Anne, simply unscrew the pedestal legs from the bottom of the table, give them a turn and screw them back in. I hope this helps!

  5. Congrats on a great look. About your question, here is a photo of my mom’s 1950’s table. The legs point in to accommodate the feet of those at both heads / end of the table. I see that you prefer the other way because it is more comfy for your family. I keep it covered with a table cloth but would love to use it in full exposed beauty. Does your finish mean that dinner spills, grease and other splashes don’t hurt the finish? Do cold bottles and hot plates mar the tabletop? Keep inspiring us!

    1. Thank you for the leg placement information, Lorraine and duly noted! I'm afraid the tabletop cannot withstand hot plates, grease, splashes, hot or cold drinks directly onto the finish. When not in use I display the table uncovered. But when in use I always protect the top with either a tablecloth OR placemats and trivets.


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