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If you're new to painting, I would HIGHLY recommend visiting All Things Thrifty and read her post Painting Furniture 101. This is where I started and I am sooo thankful for this post to set me in the right direction. Check out her piano transformation here! it is TO DIE FOR!
"Farmhouse Table" Used gel varnish remover to strip off most of the varnish. Barn wood look came from varnish not being fully removed; whatever is left behind will appear lighter when a dark stain is applied. Heavily sand areas that you prefer to look darker.