Black Stain: yes, please!

August 8, 2019

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




We're Chris + Julia

read more

What we're                   right now


browse the shop

Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

browse all

browse all

browse all




Popular Posts




Top Categories

This post is sponsored by Minwax.

Note: For those that are following our renovation closely, know that this was written and scheduled before we started demo…and even painted. Wow! 

Maybe you remember and are hearing this for the 25th time or maybe you aren’t aware, but we sold 99.9% of our furnishings with our last house and have been living blissfully (and echo-y) with less since moving in at the beginning of June. For the most part it has actually been great and my only regret when staring at the tower of boxes filled with…..what? like what is in those boxes?!…is we didn’t have time to have a big garage sale before we left and purge even more.

But on the other hand of that is feeling settled and at home for me does involve a place to prop up my feet. Sinking into a couch and placing my drink on a coffee table while I chat with family and friends at the end of a long day–I was missing that. We didn’t want to buy living room furniture until we got the renovations underway (starting any minute!) but I still wanted to create a living room setting, even temporarily, so when we have people over, they can sense our warmth and feel good in our home.

We’re using Jordan’s couch from Article, and I brought this lamp with us but it was feeling super bare.  Out in the garage, I found an outdoor coffee table we got years ago but it LOOKED like an outdoor table to me. The raw teak wood and black legs combination just felt a little out of place. We set out to give it a makeover in an hour!

Since the legs are so interesting, I wanted to keep it simple. Black on black. But before you reach for black paint–BLACK STAIN ADDS SO MUCH MORE INTEREST when you have a really beautiful wood. It allows the wood to breath and the grain to come through and even a lot of the warmth of the wood shines through in the end result. In summary, black stain is tres chic.

Since this was an outdoor table, it was treated with a finish to allow it to be outdoors so before staining, we sanded it down really well and wiped off the dust.

For this table, we decided to use Minwax’s True Black stain is the little black dress of stain. It’s classic. It’s neutral (not too cool or warm) and it really enhances the wood and creates so much depth.

Going with the grain, we applied the stain with a foam brush and wiped it off after about 5 minutes.

Repeat, repeat until the table is finished! Because stain is meant for layering, we saved the sides for after. A few years ago, in a staining project we did the sides first and some got on the top and when you layer on the top, it can look darker in those areas. So we’re always careful to do the most seen side first–the top in this case–and allow any layering that’s going to happen to be on secondary planes.

You can see below what one coat looks like. We decided to do one more coat for just a little more depth.

And then finish with a 3 coats of Polycrylic. This is our favorite water based protective finish! It dries so fast, isn’t stinky and cleans up easily. Drooling over that wood grain peeking through.

Here’s the finished top! Isn’t it the most beautiful moody table now? That’s the magic of stain. You still get the beauty and depth of wood, even in a black.

rug | sofa | coffee table | rattan tray | greenery | black stain | jeans

Why I really had to have a coffee table? I just needed to get my styling muscles moving. (jokes!) It feels good to have a surface to anchor our temporary living room and giving this table a second life as equally as rewarding.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

What do you think?

  1. Emily says:

    Hi! Would this process work for an exterior wood door? Would I need to do anything extra special to protect against the elements?

  2. Melanie says:

    What are you thoughts with black stain on cedar planks? We are renovating an older home.

    We love your table!

  3. Lauren says:

    Hi! I love what you did with the table! I noticed here you used the Clear Satin protective finish while you used the Clear Matte finish on the Fullmer’s floating shelves. Are these finishes like paint sheens where there is a difference in wipeability or is it just a style choice? Thank you!

  4. Kate says:

    Hi! I just received these stems from Pottery Barn and they are very tall/long. Do you bend them in your vases or cut them to make them shorter?


  5. Haley says:

    I know you tagged the rug, but I can’t find one that looks like those colors. Is that one no longer listed? Thank you!

  6. Nono says:

    Would you recommend using Minwax True Black on red oak staircase railing? I have white oak stair treads with Minwax natural 902 stain. As the railing is red oak I was thinking to use black stain to hide the difference between the red and white oak, and also to achieve a modern look. What do you think?

  7. valerie says:

    Love the table!! Can you share information about your rug?

  8. Mary Dwyer says:

    Looks beautiful! Where is your light from?

  9. Sherri Cuccarese says:

    can you tell me which color this rug is ..the link doesn’t look like there is a similar color. thank you. Fab photos.

  10. I love the contrast between the black of the table and the woven rug. Adding the stain to the beautiful wood really makes it interesting! Cheers to having a place to kick back and relax!

  11. Korie says:

    Love it! You guys are on point. We moved about the same time you did and are also doing a whole house reno (though our house and budget are small!) and I love following along.

  12. Jessica says:

    You just convinced me to stain a table black I’d been planning on painting! Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. AnneH-MN says:

    This is gorgeous! So I have an old PB (metropolitan round) coffee table that I’d like to either repurpose or get rid of… do you think I could strip or sand that and stain with this? Any advice would be lovely!
    Also, loving your kitchen updates and how speedy you guys are doing them! We moved into a new home shortly after you did and this is really motivating me to get going with some of my updates!

  14. Linda Grubbs says:

    Looks so good! The texture in your rug really sets the whole thing off!
    Very nice!!

  15. courtney says:

    Beautiful! If you were going to build a piece of furniture for indoors (a buffet, for example) and then stain it black, what type of wood would you recommend?

  16. Kika says:

    Love the rug! the link of the rug is not working :(

  17. Meredith says:

    Beautiful!! Excuse me while I go find something in my house I can stain black…..

  18. nancy50 says:

    This post is timely! Last week I dug up your minwax post that compared how different woods take the stain. I’m sanding down an old Ikea pine kitchen table for my son to take to his first apartment. What do you think the black stain would be like on pine? I was planning on going with the white stain because we are not a fan of yellow or orange wood. Appreciate your thoughts!

  19. Karen says:

    I’ve been on the black stain train ever since seeing Emily Henderson’s mountain house kitchen with the black stained island. And this confirms my love! Going to have to try to find a place to work this into our house :)

  20. Kathy says:

    Do you think you’ll stain the wood parts on the exterior of the house? Or will it be easier to just paint them?

    • Julia says:

      We are actually adding cedar siding in some areas that we’re going to stain black to add some softness and depth to the painted black stucco in other areas.

      • Cami says:

        That looks fab!
        Do you think this stain would work well on an IKEA unfinished wood dresser (Rast, I think)? I’ve never stained Ikea pine before, so I’m not sure how it responds, if you have, I’d love to hear your input. If not, I’ll “google” to find an answer. Thanks!

      • Julia says:

        Just use a wood conditioner first (pine is really soft) and you should be good to go

      • Mary says:

        Where is your light from? Thank you.

      • Cami says:

        I will try that! Thanks for your response and kind encouragement.

      • KB says:

        I tried this stain on the Ikea TARVA and it looked like I painted on dirty water… even after 3 coats. I don’t know what i did wrong. i tested a patch in the back of the drawer and was SO sad it didn’t work… I didn’t use a conditioner, maybe that was it? Maybe i should try again…

all the latest

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

HI! We're Chris + Julia

read more

Load More

Reader Faves

SHop all

What We're                     Right Now

What We're                 Right Now

Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop. 


looking for inspiration? 

Our bedroom changed a lot when we painted it and added trim, but not everyone can make big changes to their rooms. I wanted to put together a quick reference tool for when you’re in a busy season of life and want an easy update. Or perhaps your landlord isn’t keen on paint rollers! Here […]

Can We Send You Our Love Letter?

Another way for us to stay in touch! Joining our weekly newsletter gives you access to exclusive content, never-before-seen photos, your questions answered, and our favorite DIYs. Sign up below!

Follow Along on Instagram

Welcome to our online community where we've posted home, DIY, style, renovations, and family since '09. Renovating our #cljmoderncottage in Idaho and headed for new adventures in Raleigh, NC. #cljfam #cljtransformations