DIY the French Country Look on a Budget

10 Materials
1 Week

If you’re into DIY, but working on a budget then you NEED to be stalking Facebook marketplace and your local swap pages. I had been looking to change up the feel of our dining room decor, and really had my heart set on a round pedestal table with a gorgeous detailed base. If you’ve looked into purchasing a dining table with any sort of character then you’re well aware they can cost a small fortune. Diligent stalking of the marketplace let me to a table with a gorgeous base for a cool $75. SOLD.

The top needed some SERIOUS work, but that base made my heart skip a beat. Having never stripped a piece of furniture in my life, I naturally chose to tackle this piece as my first project.

Here’s a list of the supplies I used.

  • Citristrip
  • Saran Wrap
  • Stripping pads
  • Plastic Scraper
  • Old rags
  • Drop cloth
  • Sponges
  • Gloves
  • Bleach ( I used regular Clorox)
  • Liming Wax

I did my late night Pinterest browsing a.k.a. "research" and found that Citristrip would be the best option to limit the use of harsh smelly chemicals. I purchased both the liquid as well as the spray and got to work.The table originally had a leaf that was now missing and a split base. I dismantled as much as I could to get access to the most surface area possible. I painted the Citristrip onto the top and base using an old chip brush, then used the spray can to get into any nooks and crannies. Multiple DIY-ers recommended covering the piece with saran wrap and letting it sit overnight (shown on the left side of above image).

This was the aftermath of an overnight Citristrip "masque." It quite literally resembled something that would come out of an oil filter. I almost threw in the towel at this point, but I had too much invested. I scraped off as much as I could with a plastic scraper, then scrubbed with the 3M stripping pads and a little bit of water. I did a final wipe down with mineral spirits to get any remaining residue off.

After TONS of scrubbing and scraping I was left with this on the top.

and this on the base.

The top still needed some sections repaired. I filled in any substainal missing wood and rot using JB Kwik Weld putty and wood filler.

A portion of the top had been broken off at one point, and poorly repaired. A removed that portion of the top, sanded down the old glue and reattached using my Kreg Jig for extra stabilizing.

For the bleaching process I simply wiped the surfaces down with 100% kitchen bleach. Be sure to do this outside for ventilation purposes, and use protective gloves. Doing this on a sunny day will speed up the drying process. I bleached with six coats and was left with the lightened wood look you see here on the right. After sanding down with 220 grit sandpaper I applied the Briwax liming wax (shown here on the left side for comparison).

Once everything was reassembled I was left with this beauty! The French Country look on a budget. This was a very time consuming process, but the end result was so worth it. You can see even more after images as well as instructions over on the blog!

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Jessica | The Martin Nest

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 12 questions
  • Leesa Osborne
    Leesa Osborne
    on May 9, 2019

    Did you use straight bleach or a mix of bleach and water?

  • Shelly Angelo Wilson
    Shelly Angelo Wilson
    on Oct 19, 2019

    I have stripped varnish many times with this same method but I have never bleached wood, You really just used standard bleach on the wood? Did you use liquid or the nosplash thicker gel like bleach?

  • Stephanie Miller
    Stephanie Miller
    on Oct 26, 2019

    Simply beautiful!! How is it holding up? Did you seal it? If so what did you use? I'm planning to try this with my ugly coffee table.

    • Jessica | The Martin Nest
      Jessica | The Martin Nest
      on Apr 12, 2020

      Thank you! The table top itself was in pretty poor condition, but it is holding up well. I sealed it with 3 coats of a matte polyurethane. The only thing I would have done differently was to use an actual wood bleaching kit instead of Clorox. I did a coffee table after this and used a Zinnser wood bleach kit, and it worked much better to take out the tannins / wood undertones.

Join the conversation

2 of 122 comments
  • Aimee
    on Oct 13, 2020

    You worked too hard on the stripping; next time use Jasco-I’ve stripped several pieces of furniture with Jasco over the past 40+ years-it’s fast, easy to get the residue off and it’s water based so cleanup is a breeze, I tried Citristrip; scrap it after the first application-went back to Jasco. Try it next time!

    The table is beautiful; you did a great job!

  • TheSeamstress
    on Dec 29, 2020

    I love the look of this. I have a coffee table made from an antique oak dining table just like yours. I have been trying to change up my decor to a more beachy seaside theme as I live next to the ocean and think this would be perfect.

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