Dead Space to Dining Area

Our dining room table and chairs were gifted to my husband and I before we even had an apartment picked out. We were so excited and eager to have our own furniture we gave little thought to our future apartment size. We were pleasantly surprised to find an apartment that would accommodate all our furniture we had acquired. I was particularly excited about the chairs we picked out. They are a retro green from the 1920's from New York. They had so much character and history- they were perfect!

Fast forward a year...... we have sat down to eat at our dining room table only a handful of times. The dining room table had become more of a catch-all area than a place to eat meals. Our chairs were collecting dust and the table took up almost our entire dining area.

We decided our table needed to go. We agreed we wanted to tackle the task of building our own table as a replacement, and we agreed on a style...without beginning a end-of-days style war. We then decided we would also build a shelving unit to free up counter space from our kitchen. Note to future small-apartment renters: counter space is as valuable as gold. Trust me on that.

We designed the table first. We decided we would only continue with the shelving unit if our table construction was successful.... and after nearly destroying a moleskine notebook, losing several pens, and a few trips back and forth to The Home Depot, it was!

Supplies for table: 

  • 8 3/4" Flange
  • 4 3/4" x 24" nipples
  • 2 3/4" x 18" nipples
  • 3 3/4" x 5" nipples
  • 2 3/4" x 6" nipples
  • 4 3/4" couplings
  • 2 3/4" tees
  • 3 metal joints
  • 2 2"x8"x50 " pieces of wood
  • 1 can of stain 
  • rags
  • sandpaper
  • screws
Did we forget to go down the cheese aisle? Ah forget it, we'll find a good block of cheddar for the table later.

Did we forget to go down the cheese aisle? Ah forget it, we'll find a good block of cheddar for the table later.

No Ashly, not Phalanges.... flange

No Ashly, not Phalanges.... flange

This image was taken before we realized our measurements were wrong.... check supply list for sizes used for final table. However, all sizes can be adjusted to your liking.

This image was taken before we realized our measurements were wrong.... check supply list for sizes used for final table. However, all sizes can be adjusted to your liking.

Step 1: Lay out all pieces for mandatory picture taking (and checking to make sure you have all your pieces...but obviously picture taking is more fun!)

Step 2: Sand wood. You'll need somebody with a beard/mustache to do this. Why? Because Ron Swanson. You may need to have your pieces cut down first. We had ours cut down before leaving the store, as the large piece we picked out would not fit in the car as is. We selected 2-  2x10 -8 ft pieces and had them cut down to 50" (leaving 2 46" pieces we used for the shelving unit)

Do not waste money on a sanding block, buy a sander for $20-$30.

Do not waste money on a sanding block, buy a sander for $20-$30.

Step 3: Wipe down the pieces of wood with a damp cloth to rid the wood of sanding dust. Let dry.

Step 4: Now you can start staining! The fun but messy job! We selected Dark Walnut from Minwax. We wanted a dark stain that complimented the piping we selected. I prefer to apply stain with a rag, but have seen others use a brush first then a rag. I like using a rag because i can apply a lighter coat to start and wipe down the excess as I go. I then can add more stain if needed. If you have never stained wood before I would suggest using scrap wood to practice.

There are oil based stains and water based. The one I used was oil based, it has a slower drying time allowing me to accomplish an even coat and application. Oil based will have a much stronger odor than water based though.

Where a respirator when sanding, painting, or staining unless you want long term brain damage.

Where a respirator when sanding, painting, or staining unless you want long term brain damage.

Step 5: Once the stain has dried, you can join the two pieces of wood. We picked out 3 metal joints that were long enough and sturdy enough to be suitable for a table.

Step 6: Put all legs together

  • The front legs: Each require (in order they are attached):
    • 1 3/4" flange
    • 1 3/4" 24" nipple
    • 1 3/4" coupling
    • 1 3/4" 6" nipple
    • 1 3/4" flange
  • The Back Legs: Each require (in order they are attached): 
    • 1 3/4" flange
    • 1 3/4" 24" nipple
    • 1 3/4" tee
    • 1 3/4" 5" nipple
    • 1 3/4" flange
  • The Back support bar (will screw into back legs tee pieces) 
    • 1 3/4" x 18" nipple
    • 1 3/4" coupling
    • 1 3/4" x 5" nipple
    • 1 3/4" coupling
    • 1 3/4" x 18" nipple

(Each leg has 2 flange. One to attach the legs to the bottom of the table and one that is the foot of the leg for better stability)

Step 7: First put front legs together.  Because there is not a support bar on the front legs, you could screw the flange to the bottom of the table and then screw the rest of the leg in OR you can put the entire leg together with both flange and screw legs down-  either will work. You will need to figure out the spacing you prefer. I used my thumbs as spacing from the edge of the wood, so the legs would be very close to the edge of the table. When drilling, the flange does move slightly.

Step 8: Put the legs back together including back support bar. For the back legs you will want the flange that will attach to the table to already be screwed on - With the entire back legs  and support bar together you can screw down the entire back piece. You may need an extra set of hands.

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Back support bar

Back support bar

Front and back legs. The tee piece is longer than the coupling... resulting in an inch difference in the bottom nipples

Front and back legs. The tee piece is longer than the coupling... resulting in an inch difference in the bottom nipples

     The table is now complete!                                                                                                                     

coupling piece.... we went for the dark gray/ black piping. There is also a silver available.

coupling piece.... we went for the dark gray/ black piping. There is also a silver available.

Shelving Unit: The shelving unit is almost the exact same process as the table but requires far more pieces!

Shelving Unit Supplies:

  • 16 Flange
  • 4 3/4" x 18" nipples
  • 8 3/4" x 8" nipples
  • 4 3/4" x 3" nipples
  • 4 3/4" couplings
  • 4 3/4" caps
  • 6 metal joints
  • 6 pieces of wood 2x10 x 46"
  • 1 can of stain (same used from table)
  • rags
  • sandpaper (bought a sander by this point)
  • screws

Repeat steps 1-5 for the shelving unit

  1. lay out all pieces (photo op)
  2. sand wood pieces (wear a mask, a sander is way more efficient than a sanding block!)
  3. wipe down (using wet rag)
  4. stain wood (wear mask and gloves)
  5. join each shelf together. (each shelf being two pieces of wood and 2 metal joints) (after building the table we thought 2 joints instead of 3 would be plenty - depending on the size shelving unit you build you can determine what you feel most comfortable with)

Step 6: We started from the bottom and worked our way up the shelving unit. Take the shelf you would like on the bottom ( I was super picky, I had my favorite pieces where the stain came out perfect and I wanted those to be the top shelf), screw a flange in each corner, I used my thumbs as spacing again. Screw the 3" nipples in and add the caps. We selected 3", you way want shorter or taller- this size just worked for us (always keep in mind how tall you want your overall piece to be). We decided on the caps instead of flanges to give the shelving unit a little different look than the table.

I took a cheap cloth placemat, cut it into circles and put it under each leg of the table and shelving unit to avoid staining the carpet with grease.

I took a cheap cloth placemat, cut it into circles and put it under each leg of the table and shelving unit to avoid staining the carpet with grease.

Step 7: using the diagram above:

  • 1st is the bottom nipple and cap (as seen in step 6)
  • 2nd- putting the support together for the next shelf up, we used:
    • 2 8" nipples
    • a coupler
    • a flange on top and bottom for joining the shelves together
  • 3rd- once all four supports are together,  screw them to the shelf above (like the table we had the shelf upside down to screw the supports to, remember at this time the top shelves are free and mobile)
  • 4th- once all 4 supports are screwed to the top shelf turn it over, get an even placing and screw to the bottom shelf.

Step 8: using diagram above you can now attach the last shelf

  • 5th - attaching a flange to both sides of a 18"nipple (this is again the height we liked, you may want something a little shorter or taller)
  • 6th- screwing these 4 supports to the last shelf (again upside down like the table, because this shelf is not attached to anything and is mobile)
  • 7th- Once these supports are all screwed into the corners, flip it over and place on the existing unit. Get where you want it, and screw into middle shelf.

Shelving Unit is now complete!

Stools:

Supplies:

  • old chairs
  • new stools

Once we had built the table we realized our measurements were way off from the height of our existing chairs (which I loved and did not want to part with). We contemplated staining the existing chairs and lowering the table with some adjustments (this is the best part of this table and shelving unit - it is easily adjustable with the purchase of different lengths of nipples and connectors).

Ultimately we decided we could take the chairs apart and make them stools to match the height of the table. At first, we were going to build the base of the stools out of the same piping the table was made out of. It was too expensive and we decided to buy stools and use the base with our seats. This turned out to be the easier and better option actually! The look is slightly different which breaks up the all pipe look which may have just been too much.

Step 1: Tear apart chairs to get seats ( this was no easy task with screws from the 20's so stripped and hard to remove.

Before of the chairs

Before of the chairs

These chairs have so much character and history I could not give them up!

These chairs have so much character and history I could not give them up!

Step 2: buy stools with a base that will match the table.

Step 3: attach base from new stools to seat base!

Final result of stools

Final result of stools

...and here is the final result......

Decor:

We selected 2 of my photographs from a trip to Big Sur as our dining room art. The colors complimented the wood stain and green in the stools and place mats. These place mats matched the stools so well I could not pass them up! I chose napkins and napkin rings that would also compliment the colors of the stools and pictures.

We used two metal bins we already had for storage. One is used for chips for our lunches and one is for cook books. The mason jars are for our flour, sugar, and brown sugar.

If you liked this please feel free to share and comment below! If you have any suggestions for future posts you would like to see from The Green Elephant, I would like to hear your ideas!

Thanks for reading and craft on!