Here is a look at what results from using these finishes. All of the quoted text is taken from Jennifer Dwyer's article for House Beautiful.
Pottery Barn's Shelton table series is a good example of the beauty of a limed finish.
Liming is: "An "aging" technique with pigment left in the corners and around the edges."
Their Sunburst mirror exemplifies the ocean side allure of bleached wood.
In bleaching, " A solution removes color from the wood."
HGTV.com has a quick and dirty "how to" of the liming process, and makes it sound pretty easy. This is a photo of a chair they did.
Jayson Home and Garden,(however pricey it is) has several pieces with the same vibe.
The Kieran dining table in a cerused oak finish.
Cerused wood is, "Rubbed with white pigment to highlight the grain."
The Mandara side table in whitewashed Himalayan pine.
In the whitewashing process, "A thin coating of white pigment that evens out the wood's natural finish" is applied.
Minwax has a water based whitewash pickling stain, which seems like the product I would end up using. Pickling is similar to whitewashing but its intent is to "accentuate the physical texture of the wood. "
This is my dining table and bench. Don't you think it is a prime candidate for one of these treatments?
I think that the expressive wood grain would soak in the whitewash nicely.
Of course, this project will most likely be harder than it seems. For starters, I know I will have to strip the table of its old finish to start fresh. It would be best to do this while the weather is still warm and the air is dry. I'll shoot for September, and keep you updated on the progress of it all!