I also feel like there's a real importance to eating as a family, together. I did and every reasonably sane person that I know did. There are studies showing that children who share meals with their family tend to also do better in school and life in general. So obviously, there is something behind the idea of eating together- even if it is "old fashioned". It's also a great way to build communication in the family because everyone is together at once.
This is what I started out with, it's a workbench style table that has served us well for many purposes but has been sitting in the garage collecting dust for quite some time. As you can see, it's not in the best of shape though it is very sturdy.
The first thing I did was use a plastic paint scraper and quickly scraped all of the dirt and loose paint off of the top. That took quite some time but was definitely worth it. Then, I found some black satin paint and repainted the top. Right as I was getting close to the opposite end with the paint I felt like it needed an extra something and remembered the chalkboard spray paint I had in the closet, so I broke it out and finished the last one and a half feet with the chalkboard paint.
You can see in the above picture where the black paint ends and the chalkboard begins. It's a good sized message board for the house. The bottom half was still ugly though and I didn't have the tools nor the supplies to make doors. Soooo, I got an old shower curtain that was hiding in the back of the closet and started cutting it up. Luckily the shower curtain was exactly double the length of the table so I was able to cut in half and then into several panels. I just used hot glue around the edges to attach the curtain. But, again, it still looked like it needed something. That's when I saw the left over molding hanging from the rafters in the garage. I quickly cut it down to size with my trusty hacksaw and attached the pieces, again, with hot glue. I still hadn't cut out my corner piece in the above picture, so you'll have to excuse that. It looks nice though, doesn't it? Of course, I still felt like it was missing something so I got out my itty bitty paint brush and painted "messages" at the top of the chalkboard.