I really was hoping I could achieve a worn wood look like this table from Restoration Hardware.
Enter paint stripper.
I have used this a handful of times before. Just follow the directions on the back, slather it on and scrape off as much gunk as possible. It helps to use a wire brush to get into the hard to reach spaces. Also, make sure you wear thick rubber gloves!! Some of the paint can be more stubborn and is really difficult to remove, here is a progress shot. (Notice how orange the original oak color was...would have gone perfectly with my original garage chair find!)
Once the majority of the paint had been removed, I broke out the sander to buff the remaining paint off any hard to reach areas.
I tested it out on a piece of wood we had in the garage, and it was too dark at first. I messed around with combining some white paint and diluting the solution with water so it was a very thin gray-wash like consistency. Once I had the desired color I wanted, just brushed it on, wiped the excess off with a rag, and let it dry. After everything was set, I painted on 3 coats of poly (and didn't even bother to sand between coats).
In the end, my concoction of stain & paint worked out pretty well. I wanted that aged wood look that would still be sealed and strong enough to handle a typical toddler mess! The best part is, since the table was free and I already had most of the materials in our garage the total cost for this table was for one can of stain! Here is the table with the newly painted & stained chairs.
Now I just need to get some art for that back wall..... Have a great Tuesday :)