In the photo above, the dark stain is already coming off. Note the area beneath the plate and colander.
Anyway, we didn't have a lot of money for the table way-back-when, so the table we bought came from a German-Ikea-knock-off store. It was about $400. The wood was... Sheesham. Sheesham, it turns out, is also known as Indian rosewood. It's basically an imported hardwood that is sold at a semi-affordable price. It's super heavy and sturdy. But it traditionally has problems as far as the Western Furniture market is concerned. Sheesham is super vibrant: there are huge variations in the color of the wood. It has light areas and dark areas and areas of grey and blue and reddish brown and yellowish brown. And it has big knots. Therefore, on the Western markets, Sheesham is typically sold covered in very dark stain. Or in lime-washed finish. And often it also has a distressed finish. Sometimes, it's sold as "Reclaimed Wood," despite the fact that it's actually brand new wood.
But, if you sand away all that distressed/dark stain and you get something like this:
It is sort of wild, right? I'm not sure I would have purchased this table if it looked like this originally. Maybe the furniture companies are right to cover it in dark stain. But then, sometimes I wonder why we are so eager to make something naturally vibrant conform to our staid (and boring?) expectations.
The surface is now super smooth and LOUD. It's really... I don't know, a conversation piece? An accent piece? I'm trying to enjoy the something different aspect. Also, it only cost about $50 (and the time) to refinish.
Next up, perhaps? The chairs. I started refinishing them a mere 5 years ago: I think it's time to finish that project, right? Unfortunately, I don't thinking the difference will be quite so striking: the wood isn't Sheesham.