DIY: whitewashed furniture

I have long been a fan of whitewashed furniture; I think it gives some pieces character that you just can’t obtain with a regular painted or stained finish.  So, when I scored two oak pedestal tables for $19 a piece at my local Habitat for Humanity store during one of their 50% off sales, I decided to paint them charcoal gray and then whitewash them.  The result is soft, yet dramatic.  Here’s how I did it:

The most time-intensive part is prepping the furniture, but it’s also the most important.  I used my orbital sander to get to the bare wood (which took me the better part of an hour and a half for each table); then, using a clean tack cloth, removed any dust and dirt.  Here is what the table looked like before and after sanding: 


Next, I painted a coat of Benjamin Moore’s Kendall Charcoal and let it dry completely.

For the whitewash mixture, I combined 6 parts paint with 4 parts water.  I used White Dove by Benjamin Moore that I had leftover from a hutch I recently refinished for a client.  Using a paint brush (I’m a Purdy fan, myself) and some rags, I brushed the paint on, then used the rag to wipe it back and really get it into the grain.  Let it dry completely.  Don’t worry about being uniform with your brush strokes; you’ll actually get much better results if you’re a bit on the messier side.

I wanted to give it more of a driftwood finish, with lots of subtle gray layers, so I dry-drushed more white paint to highlight the grain and contours of the wood.  And here is what it looks like now:

Dry-brushing the white really highlighted the wood grain beautifully:


Last, but not least, I rubbed Minwax paste wax all over to protect the wood.  This really is an easy way to give new life to an old piece of furniture.  Just remember, it’s all about trial and error, so if you’re not happy with the way it turned out, re-paint it and start again! 


Hello and welcome to Bungalow Blue Interiors!

I'm Kelly, interior designer, stylist, hostess with the mostest and editor of my blog, where I share pics of my work, my own home, décor projects, entertaining hacks, where to find the best decorating deals and all the beautiful things that are currently inspiring me!




  1. Denise on April 16, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    love this

  2. Mary LIz on April 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Very nicely done! Thank-you for sharing!

  3. Mary LIz on April 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Is the White Dove paint a satin finish or flat?

  4. sarah on April 13, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Is the white dove paint satin or flat?

  5. Kelly Stivers on April 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Sarah – it's a flat finish.

  6. Jon on May 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! I've been searching for ways to get this effect to refinish my drum set, and your finished project is the closest to that Cape Cod/Nantucket aged cedar look I'm going for.

  7. Kelly Stivers on May 11, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    So glad to hear it, Jon! Good luck 🙂

  8. Jen on May 28, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    I LOVE these tables. I've tried to follow every step so far and I've just completed the charcoal paint layer on a dresser. However, when I got the paint they told me the charcoal was only an exterior color so they had to make a special batch of interior paint for me. Now that I've painted it, the coat of color looks much thicker than yours. Your charcoal almost looks like a grey stain in these photos. It's so beautiful. I don't know what I did wrong. I don't want to start whitewashing it if I need to sand down the charcoal layer and do something different. Did you finely sand the charcoal layer before whitewashing? Did you thin the charcoal paint with Floetrel? Any hints? If you can't think of anything that's fine. I just LOVE your tables and want to try to match them as much as possible!

  9. Dianne Marks on July 30, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    What is dry drushed or dry brushed that you said you did after it dryed? thanks It looks GREAT!!!

  10. Kelly Stivers on July 30, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Thank you, Dianne! I drybrushed a little bit of white paint on top once everything was dried for a softer effect and to highlight the edges. 🙂

  11. rosita on November 20, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    hi i was wondering if the grey was glossy or matte??

  12. Kelly Stivers on November 20, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Rosita – the white paint is flat! xx

Leave a Comment