WHITEWASHED DRESSER with 'unfinished' top

Howdy! Despite working on several projects that I'm looking forward to giving as gifts this holiday season, the garage has been filling up quite a bit since the November sale! It's not unusual to get a flood of custom orders following a sale, but I've never done a sale so close to Christmas before. While many of the recently dropped off pieces will be waiting until after the holidays, (thanks to my dear clients who insist they are not in a hurry to have them back), I'd better start showing you some of the newly finished pieces before they come and go without a proper adieu!

I thought I would start with this prize for today. The special thing about this piece isn't so much that it's very unique looking, but it's the vision that its sweet owner had. I've never had a request for an unfinished top but it is something I have been dying to try for quite a while! The dresser has a matching mirror which she wanted to be painted to match the body of the piece. When discussing her ideas, the words 'whitewashed', 'distressed', and 'rustic' all came up. She wasn't exactly sure on the colors she wanted, but once I popped open a can of Annie Sloan's French Linen, she was sold. This warm, khaki gray is perfect for a weathered driftwood look. With the paint color settled, I got to work :)

1. The first step was sanding down the top surface of this piece to within an inch of it's life. It had some crazy deep scratches and divots all over the place which needed to be smoothed over. Once the sanding was done... 

2. I got to painting. I painted on a nice thick coat of a creamy white. Once that dried...

3. I dry brushed the second color. This is one of my most frequently used techniques for a worn, distressed look, especially when layering two colors. Dip your brush in just enough to get the tip of the bristles wet with paint:

Then brush it on in fast, short, even strokes so not to apply the paint too thick in one spot:

4. Then sand it down using medium and rough grit sanding sponges. I use the rougher sanding sponges for corners and edges to remove more paint where there would naturally be more wear and tear. The medium sanding sponges I use over every square inch. This doesn't remove enough paint to take you down to the wood, or even the base color, but rather smooths your brush strokes out for an even look.

5. Seal it up using a lightly dampened sponge and clear wax. This will give you a very thin layer and you can reapply as necessary. I have definitely learned it is much easier to reapply wax than it is to remove! Better to start with thin....

For an 'unfinished' surface:

First you need to make sure you have the proper wood stain. If you know what kind of wood you have, that is ideal, but if you don't you can take a drawer from your piece, (or something else portable), to a hardware store and ask an expert if they can match the stain. Once you have sanded down your surface, clean it well. 

At this point it is preferable to bring it inside so that it's room temperature. Apply the stain with a clean, quality paint brush, in long even strokes until the entire piece is covered. Follow the reapplication directions. Some instructions have you wait several hours between coats. I let the piece set for 24hrs before applying the protective sealer. I used a high gloss polyurethane sealer for this piece and used two coats. I think the glossy surface gives the entire piece a rich, vibrant appeal.

Questions or comments? Feel free to comment below or email me at chelseasgarage@gmail.com!

Thanks for reading!!


This post was originally featured on Chelsea's Garage, now affectionately known as StyleMutt!