Decorating & Entertaining Ideas

Give Your Furniture the Whitewashed Look

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Summertime puts me in the mood for lighter tones and a more beachy, bleached-out color palette. In the spirit of adding that summery feel to my home year-round, I decided to try my hand at whitewashing a piece of wood furniture. I picked up at the flea market a table that had a beat-up dark brown finish but elegant, clean lines. After a little experimenting I’m happy to report that it’s easy to achieve really pro-looking results on your own.

Before:

I loved the lines of this side table but not the finish. Since whitewashed pieces tend to be either rustic or ornate, I liked the idea of trying out the treatment on a piece with simple, clean lines.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • A solid-wood table (or any solid-wood surface)
  • A quart of white acrylic house paint
  • A wire brush
  • A 2-inch stiff-bristle paintbrush
  • A cotton rag
  • A soft-bristle paintbrush
  • A quart of satin acrylic urethane
  • A 100-grit sanding block

Prep the Wood

If your wood is not already raw—in other words, free of paint or finish of any kind—you will need to strip the existing paint or finish from the surface. I used Ready-Strip and just followed the instructions on the container. Next, I used a wire brush to open the pores of the wood. This entails brushing back and forth over the wood surface with the brush, following the wood’s grain. This is the most important step in the whole process because it creates low spots in the grain for the paint to settle into. The more you scrub the more obvious the grain will be.

Remove the Dust

Once you’re satisfied with the texture of the table, use your cotton rag to remove any dust that accumulated during your scrubbing.

Apply the Paint and Sand

Now you’re ready to begin applying the paint. Working in small sections, use the stiff-bristle brush to scrub the paint into the surface of the wood, then wipe away the extra paint almost immediately after you apply it. You want the paint to settle into the deep groves of the wood grain and to mostly wipe away any excess that settles on the surface areas. Repeat this process until the entire surface is covered.

Once the table was covered in paint,  I gave the surface a very light sanding with a sanding block in 100 grit. Be sure to wipe off any dust with a clean rag before moving on to the next step.

Finish

To protect the surface and add depth to the final finish, I painted the table with two coats of acrylic urethane. I used a satin-finish formula because it has a softer, more natural look that resembles a wax finish.

If you love this project, don’t miss my how-to video posted over on Design*Sponge.

For more fun projects check out my Weekend Decorator page, and for behind-the-scenes look at the making of this and past stories follow me on Instagram (@mepflug).

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