if your using an oil it will make it darker.. on new wood it will give it a yellow tinge. if you dont wany any discolorartion you need to use a water based product
yeh what people like is definitely a matter of personal taste.I have to tell you Josh, that this is without question the best example of how what people like is completely a matter of personal taste. In looking at the cut edges this looks like an aged pressure treated wood 2 x. If its a coffee table why do anything to it? Maybe put a piece of glass over it and have the glass enter a trim piece with a plough cut in it?