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How To Get the Restoration Hardware Wood Finish Using the Whitewashing Technique and Stain

Get the popular weathered wood gray finish with latex paint, water, and stain!

I am so excited to share a closer look at how I achieved the finish on these Ikea Tarva dressers because you sweet friends have been asking for it your years!

This post will give you specific steps to creating the look. If you're interested in how we created our nightstands from start to finish, head to this post.

There are many ways to get a weathered, layered look but this is just the process that I tried for this project and that worked for me. I also had all the paint and stain on hand so I was determined to make it work, haha!

First of all, what do I mean by "whitewashing?"

It means to take both water and paint to well, paint. It is applying thin layers with thinned out paint. There isn't an exact combination of how much water to add to the paint, because sometimes you want it to be pretty runny, while other times you need a thicker consistency. You might start with a 1:1 paint to water to ratio and then find out you need it to be a bit more thick. I recommend starting out with equal amounts of water and paint and then adjusting when necessary.

It's important to make sure to have your bowl of water ready as well as a washcloth or rag to move that paint around on the wood. Part of my technique is the "rubbing in" and "wiping off" too!

Okay, ready to try it?

Remember you will need a natural, raw piece of wood to do this technique (and of course you will need to strip the furniture if it already has stain or paint on it.)

Here's what you'll need for applying the finish:

  • 2-3 colors of gray and beige paint - I had some oops paint lying around!

  • White latex paint

  • A cheap Chip brush

  • Wet rag, small towel, and small bowl of water - these are for the "white washing" technique.

  • Dark stain and rag to apply the stain at the end.

  • Finishing wax and clean cloth to apply after the finish has set for a day.

  • A pair of gloves.

Time fame:

I should add that it took me one night to do both of our dressers!

Because I was working on two pieces at once, there wasn't a drying time so as soon as I was done with one coat, I was able to go to the next color right away.


***This is where I started the whitewashing technique: (Remember, if you'd like to see more of how we turned the Ikea Tarva dresser into this, head over here).

Here's what to do:

Apply the watered down white paint first, being sure to wipe away excess water and paint.

Then apply the next couple colors of paint, going from lightest to darkest.

My order went from white, to beige, then medium gray, and lastly, the dark walnut stain.

This is how wet your paint should be. You will have to play with it - adding paint and water while you're applying, to get the right consistency:.

Don't worry if there's too much paint and not enough water, just keep adding both and then wipe away with the towel.

If your watered down paint is still too thick, just dip your rag into the water bowl and rub the paint into the wood. That's what I had to do here:

So don't fret if you apply too much paint! Just keep adding water to get a thin layer! Same goes if the paint is too watery, just add a brush stroke of paint! Remember that BOTH the paint and WATER are mediums here.

Here's what it looked like after I added more water and rubbed it in:

Now apply the darkest color of paint. Mine was a medium gray.

You can really see the different layers of paint here (and a watery bowl of paint haha):

The last color is the stain. I applied it with a rag, being sure to rub in and wipe off.

The stain is what brings the piece to life and gives it the old, weathered look.

***Remember these pictures were taken at night, a few years back, so the color is a little off.

Here's what it looked like after drying overnight, in the daylight. I sealed it with clear wax.

***Since making our new headboard, I decided to lighten up the dressers a bit more, whitewashing with a cream paint and then adding in a little more gray so that they stand out from the headboard color a bit more.

Thanks for being so interested in these dressers! I hope that helped! You can PIN for later if you'd like!


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