We all have old furniture that simply doesn’t match our style anymore. Maybe it was handed down from a family member, donated to you when you first moved out on your own, or a steal at a yard-sale. Regardless of how it made its way to your collection, I understand that feeling of wanting to somehow make a perfectly good piece of furniture work even though it’s old, ugly, and doesn’t match your taste.
The simple fix for these kind of pieces is to redo it so that it matches your style a bit more. The problem is, for some pieces, it can take a really long time to become inspired. That was the case for me with this end table. I got this table 7 years ago from a nursing home sale when the company decided to update all of its furniture. It was old and broken when I bought it. I can’t remember the exact price, but I was a poor college student so I am confident it was less than $30. Over the years it’s been an end table, hidden away in storage, and served as a home for a 20 gallon fish tank (water damage from that caused most of the surface damage to the top, see photos below). Since moving into my home, it’s been hidden in the basement but I’ve always planned on re-vamping it, I was just waiting to be inspired.
And then I redid my living room and as that started to come together inspiration came to me. For pieces like these that are already dated, scuffed, dinged, and generally “old”, using some sort of antiquing or distressing method is a perfect fit. I knew I wanted it to match the light airy colors I already have going on in this room. I wanted a semi grey-white wash look but I also wanted to distress it enough that some of the original wood could show through. This table is old and beat up enough that making it look anything less than dimensional, worn, and weathered wasn’t going to work. Fortunately, this look is always in style.
There are so many different methods and techniques to grey-wash and distress furniture and this is how I did mine. I am thrilled with the results. The chalky paint is not the same as chalkboard paint. It just has an ultra matte finish. The soft wax goes on like a thick top coat that you just wipe off with a cloth and the end result is a surface that looks so smooth and beautiful, you’ll be impressed. I don’t have a nearby Annie Sloane vendor, so I used the next best thing, Valspar’s version of chalky paint from LOWE’s. The entire project took me less than 12 hours and the table was immediately usable. It doesn’t get any better than that, right? Here’s how I did it:
DIY Distressed Grey Wash Table
Sand paper: something medium grit like 180 and something finer like 220
Chalky paint: I used Valspar’s (LOWE’S) available in a Kid’s Gloves and Woolen Stockings
1. I had to fix my piece first, by removing some nails and re-nailing that bottom self. If your piece needs any work or has any areas that need wood filler, do this in advance. Then, lightly sand, particularly if it has a solid sheen. I used the lower grit sandpaper for this (180).
2. Wipe down with water and allow to dry.
3. Now you’re ready to begin painting. Apply the white coat first. Do not apply it heavy. Use long, light brush strokes. I used my Wooster 2.5 in. angled brush for this and a 1in brush for the edges.
4. After the white coat dries (about 60 minutes), you can apply the grey coat. Using the same technique, long thin brush strokes, apply and allow to dry. The heavier you apply the paint, the more sanding you’ll have to do at the end.
5. Once the table is dry (I let it dry overnight because I started the project in the evening, but it would only take 1-2 hours to dry) you are ready to begin distressing. Use the fine grit sandpaper (220 or more). I started lightly sanding all edges and corners. I then sanded the flat surfaces until some of the white started showing through. For edges I wanted a 3-tone dimension and was able to achieve this easily. For the flat surfaces, I wanted it to be mostly grey-washed with some white showing through and very little brown visible.
6. Wipe down the piece, removing all dust.
7. Apply the soft wax using a clean paint brush and working in sections. Work into all corners and crevices. After 1-2 minutes wipe off the excess with a lint-free cloth. Annie Sloane sells soft wax brushes for this, but my Wooster worked well. The wax will dry within 60 minutes and you’ll have a finished piece of furniture with a gorgeous matte sheen.
8. When dry, re-attach hardware. I didn’t want to use the previous pulls and I found a gorgeous set at Lowe’s I wanted to use. Unfortunately, I didn’t measure and this stand has very uncommon 2 1/2in width (standard is 3in) so I had to return them. I was considering spray-painting the previous hardware or ordering special pieces offline but when I returned to Lowe’s I did find the pulls you see below in the photos and opted for those. They aren’t my first choice but I think they look lovely anyway and it was definitely the most cost-effective way to go!
Any questions or comments feel free to comment or email!
Aylah thinks it’s pretty nifty too!
Thanks for stopping by!