When I was growing up, we had a huge oak dining table. We did everything at that table, and it showed in the wear and tear — scratches, nail polish swipes that were never removed, and dents from accidentally dropping things on it. When I moved out, that table came with me. I didn’t try to fix it up, though looking back, it would have been pretty easy. If you have a used dining table, or even a basic one that could use some extra oomph, try these tips to take it to the next level.
Particularly for secondhand tables, the first step you’ll want to take is cleaning it up. Get close to the tabletop and see what damage there is, if any, and then try to fix it. If it’s a solid wood table, you can sand and refinish it. But if you don’t want to put in that much work, you can do some minor triage to make the table look better.
“Dents will be harder to remove, but minor scratches can sometimes be touched up with a furniture marker — just be sure to let it dry thoroughly so it doesn’t transfer to fabrics,” says Boston-based Realtor Kate Ziegler. “White rings left from drinks not on coasters will usually lift if rubbed with alcohol [like vodka], and a classic wood cleaner like those produced by Murphy or Old English will bring back some shine and hide some sins.”
Just like any other piece of furniture with legs, tables can look much more expensive once you swap them out for something better. Have a look beneath the table to see if you can easily remove and replace the legs. If not, see if you can paint the base or refinish it to make it look newer and more updated.
For more basic tables or secondhand ones that just can’t be fixed or updated, up the quality with some carefully curated decoration. There’s no need for a full tablecloth — that might be overkill, says Ziegler. “But a table runner will draw attention from the surface itself, and fabric selection can help bring any shape or style of table more in line with the rest of your home’s aesthetic,” she says.
You don’t need to limit yourself to the table itself, either.
“Try adding some upholstered chairs or slipcovers for a curated look with a statement centerpiece, such as a natural floral arrangement or collection of vases,” says Angela Deniston, a strategic real estate advisor with Real Estate Bees.
Ziegler agrees that a statement centerpiece is a good option.
“Consider a permanent centerpiece — a potted plant, a vintage set of candlesticks, or a tray with tools for cocktails can draw the eye away from any shortcomings on the table itself,” she says.
Don’t forget, there’s an entire space your table is sitting on that could help make it look even more expensive.
“Add a rug beneath for an additional detail that will elevate the room,” Deniston says.
If it coordinates with other decor in the room, it’ll make the table look like part of an overall design scheme that you can be proud of.