We sold off our old, rectangular, Wengge-finish, 4-seater dining set last week, and as soon as that set was loaded onto our buyer’s pickup truck, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.

Here’s a “nice” photo of our living and dining area, with the old rectangular dining set. With the coffee table, the buffet console, the kitchen island, the eventual crate shelves, and framed art, everything was looking absolutely rectangular.

For years, I’ve lived with that dining set (inherited from our in-laws’ house) knowing that it was just too, well, corner-y for our small apartment, and later on, our townhouse. Everything felt so angular, uncomfortable, and uneasy, and I knew I needed a round 4-seater to allow me to breathe somewhat.
One important thing to know when furnishing your house is that the form and shape of your furniture also come into play with how your rooms look and feel. I can’t say I’m an expert on this, because I’ve struggled with most of the furniture we’ve purchased and used in our homes.
But the round table was a non-negotiable for me, so after, well, years of negotiating with the hubby, I finally posted photos of our old dining set on OLX. In a few days’ time, we were able to sell it (and on hubby’s birthday at that), so we high-tailed to the mall and checked to see if the white round dining set I had been eyeing at Our Home was still available.
I actually have always wanted the Saarinen tulip table, even just a reproduction of it. But somehow, I couldn’t find one locally. When I did see a supplier on OLX that custom-made such a table, I couldn’t get any replies to the text messages I sent, and in a few days, the ad disappeared. Talk about paasa!
Eero Saarinen round dining table tulip series
The always-elusive Eero Saarinen tulip table

The white dining set at Our Home was also no longer there, and we saw a version of it in SM Department Store—but with black faux leather seats and walnut-stained. It was on sale at 40%, and while I didn’t want to do any more work on it, my husband convinced me to just repaint the whole thing. “Something to post on your blog,” he said. Well, wasn’t he right?
Unfortunately, this “blogger” forgot to take a photo of the actual dining set at the store. But here is a photo of the parts before we got down to covering it with paint.
Here’s what the wood-stain of the set looked like. The chairs had a black faux leather seat.

As you can see, I picked an open-air spot to refurbish these items in: our roofdeck. First rule when repainting anything: Always do it in an open space. If you don’t have one (say, you live in a condo), and would still like to push through with the project, I suggest you do it in an empty room with windows, and use safety goggles and a mask so you don’t breathe in the fumes. (And most especially, keep kids and pets out!)
Here’s a checklist of the materials we used for this project:

  • Lots of newspapers and a tarp for good measure;
  • a roller brush set (one cloth brush for the primer and one foam brush for the gloss paint) with tray;
  • Flat brush;
  • Paint thinner (to remove mistakes or paint on your hands, the floor, etc.);
  • lintless cloth;
  • safety goggles
  • sandpaper (in various grits. I used 180 grit before and during priming, and 360-600grit in between paint coats, depending on how fine and smooth I wanted the finish to be)
  • flat enamel paint; and
  • high-gloss enamel paint.

I thought I’d still need painter’s tape, but then I didn’t have to tape up anything. If you really want to leave out some areas (say, underneath the chair and table legs), you can choose to tape those up and keep paint out.

  • Enough fabric to cover up all the seats;
  • Fabric scissors;
  • Pencil or tailor’s chalk
  • Staple gun
  • Staple wire
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver (best to have both the flat and Philips)

Now, let’s get started!
1. First, we sanded down each part using 180-grit sandpaper. If your furniture surface is already smooth (like ours was), then 180-grit is enough. I just needed to sand it down a bit to make sure the primer would adhere to the surface.

Notice that I already installed the chair parts together. You can choose not to do this and paint each part separately; this way, you don’t get paint on the screws. But I didn’t have enough space on our roofdeck for all the parts to dry under the sun, so I decided to install the chairs first before painting.
2. Next up: Priming. I used the cloth roller brush first to make sure that the paint went into all the divots and micro-cracks in the wood. I only did one coat for the underside of the table (but up to you if you want to finish it the same way as the entire piece), then as soon as that dried, my husband propped up the tabletop on clean plant pots.
Because the afternoon sun had shone gloriously the week I did this, drying only took about a couple hours. Ideally, you should wait an entire day for it, especially if you choose not to sand down your furniture (though sanding is highly recommended and preferred), or if you’re repainting plastic or laminate.

I then used a flat brush to really get into the corners and joints, particularly on the chairs.
3. As soon as each coat dried, we sanded the surface again using 180-grit sandpaper, then wiped each piece down with cleaning cloth to make sure there’s no dust or dirt or wood particles left. We only had masks to protect our noses and mouths, but it would have been better if we had safety goggles on too. Useful particularly when the wind decides to pick up!

4. In between coats, I also started working on reupholstering the seats. This was fairly easy and should normally take about an hour or so. But since I decided to reupholster while catching up on Game of Thrones episodes, it took me 2.5 hours to complete haha.
Lay your fabric flat on the floor or table and put each chair seat on top, seat side facing down. Measure freehand with a pencil, giving 1-2 inches allowance all around the sides.

2. You can choose to remove the staple wires under the chair seat, but to me, this proved too tedious, so I just decided to staple over the old upholstery.

3. Cut out the fabric following your pencil marks.

4. Pull the fabric taut and fold over the underside of each chair seat, making sure that the seat side has little to no creases or folds. All the folds should be on the underside. Then, staple the fabric directly onto the seat.

5. Use the hammer to hammer down on any staple wire that doesn’t staple flat onto the seat.

6. When you’re finished stapling the fabric, cut out all the excess with your scissors.


Now that’s done, it was time for us to paint over the primer with high-gloss paint. Using high-gloss paint for an often-used piece of furniture like the dining set is preferable because glossy paint is more easily cleaned, and skid marks and dirt won’t cling to it as much as matte paint.
5. As soon as we had sanded smooth the 3rd and final primer coat, we painted on the high-gloss paint using the foam brush. The foam brush gives a smoother, much more finished look than cloth brush. We still had to use the flat brush on the corners and joints though.
I didn’t take pictures anymore as it was pretty much the same as the priming process: paint, sand, dry, paint, sand, dry. This time, we used a higher-grit sandpaper: 360-600-grit.
Remember: the lower the sandpaper grit, the rougher the sandpaper surface.
Since we already had three coats of primer, we only needed to do two coats of gloss paint.
6. Once the 2nd and final coat of gloss paint was dry, it was time to screw the seats on to the chair frame. It was just a matter of turning the chair frame over and driving the screws that came with the set into the right holes.
I had on rubber gloves because, well, I’m pasmado, and still am not confident using our electric drill.
Working on this project took us a total of 5 days, but only because we took long breaks due to appointments, early evening gigs, QT with the toddler, etc, etc…basically, life got in the way.
And here is the finished product!
Because we added a new sideboard to store all of the hubby’s baking stuff, it was imperative for us to get a round dining set, and one small enough for the space, but big enough to fit our 4.5-person household. I love that it’s light but sturdy, I love how the roundness of the set softens all the hard angles of our rectangular space, I love how the flow feels much smoother and more natural now.
And choosing to paint it white definitely brightened up the space. (Though it’s not so easily seen on my iPhone photos!). SORRY FOR THE BAD PHOTOS, YET AGAIN. I’ll try to shoot the dining area with my camera one of these days, so at least my AFTER photo will not look like a BEFORE photo naman!
Been too lazy to use and study my camera lately (thanks to holiday stress). But that’s definitely on my 2016 resolution list: To get to know and utilize my Lumix more for my blog!
Anyway that’s it. Hope you enjoyed my quickie tutorial. Will post about our Christmas decor soon.