How to Make an Old Dining Table Look Modern

Updating an old dining table to give it a modern look can be a cost-effective and creative way to revitalize your dining space. Whether you inherited a vintage table, found a diamond in the rough at a flea market, or simply want to give your existing dining table a fresh and contemporary makeover, there are several approaches you can take.

How to Make an Old Dining Table Look Modern

From refinishing the table’s surface and changing the color or finish to updating the legs or adding new hardware to incorporating modern design elements such as sleek lines or contrasting materials, there are various techniques that can transform an old dining table into a stylish and modern centerpiece for your dining area.

In this article, we will explore some tips and ideas on how to make an old dining table look modern, providing you with inspiration and guidance to achieve a trendy and updated dining table that fits your personal style and home decor.

What Makes an Old Dining Table Modern?

When it comes to making an old dining table look modern, there are certain elements that can transform its appearance and make it appear more contemporary. The most important factor to consider is the color of the table.

You’ll want to choose a color or combination of colors that will bring out the best features in your dining table. If you have dark woods, a bold and bright color like yellow can be used to create contrast with the dark wood, while lighter woods can benefit from softer pastels.

When it comes to selecting furniture for your dining table, modern furniture pieces will help in creating the illusion of a more contemporary design aesthetic. Choose clean lines and minimalistic shapes that don’t take away from the overall look of the table. You may want to consider adding some interesting accents such as throw pillows, wall art or an area rug to add further visual interest.

While these elements might seem minor, they can have a big impact on making your old dining table look modern. The right combination of colors, furniture pieces and accessories can make any space feel more up-to-date and modern. With the right design elements, you can turn your old dining table into a stylish and contemporary piece that you’ll be proud to show off!

Finally, consider adding some lighting to your dining table. Good lighting is essential in any room but especially so when it comes to creating a modern look. Choose a statement light fixture such as an industrial-style pendant or hanging chandelier to add further depth and vibrancy to the area. You may also want to use dimmable recessed lighting for added ambiance and atmosphere at night time.

9 Methods How to Make an Old Dining Table Look Modern

1. Refinish the Table Surface

Sand down the existing finish to reveal the natural wood grain or apply a fresh coat of paint or stain in a modern color, such as white, gray, or black, to give the table a contemporary look. If you have an older table with a distressed finish, consider sanding it down and adding a polyurethane topcoat to protect the surface.

Sand Down the Existing
Finish to Reveal Wood

If painting, use a primer first to ensure even coverage. Though it is possible to DIY this step, you may want to consult a professional if the table has intricate details or multiple layers of paint.

2. Update the Legs

Replace or paint the table legs to match your desired modern aesthetic. Consider sleek and simple metal legs or tapered wooden legs for a modern touch. If you are working with an existing wooden table, use a primer and paint to update the legs. Chalk paint is also a great option as it provides an interesting, textured look.

For a vintage-modern touch, try adding caster wheels to the legs for easy movement and a unique look. The same can be done for metal legs, but use a softer material to protect the floor from scratching. Finally, consider mixing and matching different legs for a unique and eclectic look.

3. Add new Hardware

Update the table’s hardware, such as drawer pulls or knobs, with modern and minimalist designs that complement the table’s overall style. Contemporary hardware styles include flat, linear pulls and sleek, round knobs. You can also add a modern twist to traditional hardware by switching out metal styles for wooden handles.

Changing the hardware is an easy way to add a fresh look to an outdated table. If the table is made of wood, consider switching out light pulls or knobs for a darker finish such as black or bronze. This will bring contrast to the piece and make it look more modern. Lastly, consider adding a unique handle to the table for an unexpected touch.

4. Incorporate Contrasting Materials

Introduce contrasting materials, such as metal, glass, or concrete, to the table design to create a modern and visually appealing look. For example, you can add a metal frame or glass tabletop to a wooden table for a modern twist. You can also add metal accents, like chrome or brushed nickel, to the design.

Glass Tabletop to a
Wooden Table

If you want a more contemporary look, consider using concrete as an accent material. You can add concrete feet, shelf accents, or even a top to the table for a sleek and modern design. Whatever materials you choose, be sure to combine them in a way that creates an aesthetically pleasing look.

5. Change the Shape

If possible, consider altering the shape of the table to a more modern silhouette, such as a rectangular or oval shape, to update its overall appearance. This may require sawing off the legs, adding a new base, or even reconfiguring the tabletop with saws and sanders.

To ensure the best results, consider consulting with a professional carpenter or woodworker. After reconfiguring the table’s shape, sand down any rough edges and apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to give it a new look. Additionally, adding a patterned tablecloth can further develop the modern aesthetic.

6. Create a Two-Tone Look

Paint or stain the table in a two-tone design, such as contrasting colors or finishes on the tabletop and legs, to add a contemporary and eye-catching element. You could also paint different sections of the table in different colors to create a bold, modern look.

For instance, you could use a glossy black paint and silver metallic paint to make the table look modern yet classic. You could also try using a high gloss lacquer finish in conjunction with an aged wood color to create a unique design. Be sure to use paint or finish that is appropriate for the type of wood used on your table.

7. Update the Chairs

If your dining table comes with chairs, consider updating the chair design to match the modern style of the table. Choose chairs with clean lines, sleek materials, and modern upholstery options. You can also mix and match different types of chairs to create a unique look.

Choose Chairs
With Clean Lines

Don’t be afraid to use bold colors or fabrics for the chair upholstery to create a modern look. While you’re updating the chairs, consider replacing the old chair legs with more modern-looking options to complete the look.

8. Play with Patterns

Consider adding a modern pattern to the table surface, such as a geometric design or a trendy herringbone pattern, to give it a fresh and modern look. You can use a stencil to paint the pattern onto the tabletop, or you can use a woodburning tool to create the design. For an easier option, consider using contact paper to cover the tabletop with a patterned design.

This can be easily removed when you want to change up the look. If you go with a woodburning tool, make sure to sand the surface down after you’re done so that it’s smooth and safe for use. You can also add patterned cushions to your chairs for an extra bit of flair. 

9. Lighten up the Table

If your old dining table has a heavy or dark finish, consider lighting it up with a fresh coat of paint in a lighter color to create a more modern and airy vibe. Neutral colors such as white, beige, and light gray can help to modernize your dining table.

Fresh Coat of Paint in a Lighter Color

If you’re feeling a bit more daring, you can also try bolder colors, such as yellow or teal. To keep a more traditional look while still lightening things up, you can opt for a stained finish in a lighter shade.


In conclusion, transforming an old dining table into a modern piece can be a fun and creative DIY project that can breathe new life into your dining space.

With the use of methods such as refinishing the table surface, updating the legs or hardware, incorporating contrasting materials, changing the shape, creating a two-tone look, updating the chairs, playing with patterns, lightening up the table, and using minimalist accessories, you can achieve a contemporary and stylish look for your dining table.

We hope this guide on how to make an old dining table look modern was helpful. Please share it with your friends on social media if you find it useful. And be sure to check back here soon for more informative guides like this one.

Angela Ervin

Angela Ervin

Angela is the executive editor of DIY quickly. She began her career as an interior designer before applying her strategic and creative passion to lifestyle and home. She has close to 15 years of experience in creative writing and online content strategy for housekeeping, home decorations as well as other niche efforts. She loves her job and has the privilege of working with an extraordinary team. She lives with her husband, two sons, and daughter in Petersburg. When she's not busy working she spent time with her family.

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