The before photo on this looks in better shape than it really was. The top had something funny going on with it - perhaps it had been refinished once before? The sun had discolored one of the sides, and there were just some overall dings and scratches. So it did need some love.
At first I refinished the top, but the stain turned out to be too streaky (remember I said the top had something funny going on) - despite my best efforts it just wasn't turning out. So the I decided the whole thing would go black.
While the trends are going light and bright these days, I still think every room needs a touch of black. It helps ground the space and gives it some definition. So two coats of black it was.