Before + After: DIY Whitewash

whitewash finish diy

Usually, in a good before and after post, I would show the ugly ‘before’ at the very beginning of the post and then tease with the promise of a stunning ‘after’, but this post is a bit backward.  I couldn’t bear to put the ugliness on the front page in this case, which I suppose makes me totally shallow, but I’m owning it.

I have had this very cheap teal trunk in my dining room for about 7 years.  I’m pretty sure I got it at Hobby Lobby or Michaels for about $50 back in 2008 when my dining room looked like this.  Every time I look at the trunk, I think about how much I hate it, but for whatever reason, I never felt compelled to do anything about it.  I kept thinking I’d just take it to goodwill, but the lack of another piece to put in that space rescued it every time.  Well… not this time… I have had enough. 



I finally decided to paint over it with a diy whitewash finish so that it would remain neutral in my dining room and not compete with my other black and light ashy brown woods.  Since the chest is not made of decent wood, and it’s already painted a color, I can’t do a true whitewash, but I think with a base coat of gray, then a top coat of what chalk paint, I can get the same outcome.

Aside from the laughable faux distress that was already on the trunk, I felt like it was a little low to the ground… like it didn’t really deserve a place in a dining room. I bought a few turned wooden legs at Lowes along with the leg brackets and attached them to the bottom four corners of the chest before I started painting.


Next, I removed the hardware so that I could give it a clean coat of black paint.



The base of the new finish is just a gray spray paint.  I covered the chest in two coats and let it dry completely overnight before moving onto the whitewash effect.  Now, if I just put white paint straight over top of the gray, it would cover to fully and just look like a white chest.  I wanted to give it some variation and dimension as if it could be real wood instead of artificial who-knows-what,  You could use chalk paint, but it’s expensive and I would have had to make a trip to the store, which I wasn’t in the mood for, so I made my own homemade chalk paint concoction.  I mixed plaster of paris with white paint and a bit of water (about 2 parts paint to 1 part plaster of paris to 1 part water).  It ended up looking like watery cottage cheese (that’s a pleasant visual!) but it goes on a little less solid than paint, which I like.




I dunked a straight brush into the plaster/paint/water mix and started stroking it onto the gray chest in wide, continuous strokes.  After doing two coats, I lightly went over the paint with a paper towel to soften some of the brush lines.






It turned out 210% better than what it had been before.  It’s crazy what a difference a little paint can make.  Now, when I walk into my dining room, my eye goes straight to the trunk because I LOVE it, not because it’s ugly as hell.  AND I think the feet make a much bigger difference than I had even anticipated.  It’s like the trunk is able to hold it’s head a little higher.

Obviously, it’s not a true whitewash finish.  Since it was particle board and was already heinous teal, a true wood finish wouldn’t have worked, but the grey base with a white treatment gives it the whitewash LOOK that I was after.

Is there anything in your house that you’ve been thinking of giving a facelift? Tell me in the comments below!



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