Sign up to get your daily dose of Miss Mustard Seed:

white washed desk & tutorial


Thanks so much for all of your sweet comments and encouragement in response to my recent big announcement!  I really do feel like I have a huge group of friends who have been with me through this journey and you’re cheering me on.  It’s an awesome feeling and it means a lot to me.

The next three weeks are going to be insane.  I’m getting stocked up for the Lucketts Antique Market, which means lots of shopping, painting, pricing, packing, upholstering, sewing, glittering, gluing…whew!  On top of that, I’m working on rewrites for my book and developing this line of milk paint.  I need to find a way to duplicate myself, so I can get it all done and still make dinner and keep my guys in clean clothes!  I know it’ll all work out.  It always does.

So, here’s the latest piece of furniture I just finished today…


I don’t normally do white pieces, but this one was perfect for a white wash treatment.



If you want to try this technique, the first thing you need is the right piece of furniture.  Pine and oak (medium to light colored woods) tend to looks best with this technique, although darker woods can look really dramatic with this treatment, too.  It’s also best if the piece of furniture has a lot of texture to it.  A deep grain, worm holes, dings, and dents all work in your favor.  This will not look as good on a super smooth piece.  I used milk paint for this project, but you can use latex, acrylic or ASCP.  Just water it down, so it’s thin.

Brush the paint on in the direction of the wood grain.  Then, go back over the painted area and smush the brush into the wood to work the paint into the grain.


Go back over the area and smooth the paint out in the direction of the grain.   Work in small sections, so the paint stays “workable.”



Keep a paper towel handy and wipe away excess paint if it looks too thick.

(I know my mom is looking at my green nails.)  Repeat the process with a second coat.  One of the keys to this finish is applying the paint in layers.



Smushing the brush into the wood on the second coat creates variation in the finish.



Finish by dragging the brush over in the direction of the wood grain.  Once the paint is completely dry, apply a clear wax or matte poly.  This finish would also look great in a soft gray color (a la Restoration Hardware.)



I’m not totally in love with the hardware, but I’m not sure what I would want to replace it with, so I’m just going to leave it alone for now.






I left the inside in the natural finish for contrast when the desk is open.



(Yeah, I know I need to dust in there, still!)


I added a few blue books into the mostly-white arrangement on top to add some color.



…and that is my latest ironstone pitcher.  I love the shape of it.

Have a great weekend!

Related posts:


  1. I have always like Briwax! Good job. Just be careful of the fumes!

  2. Barbara Renfrow says:

    Marion:P I love all you do and how you do it. YOu are a talented lady. I cannot wait toi buy some of your milk paint. I am waiting patiently……..but anxious to see it soon.

  3. Beth Garland says:

    I have a large den with medium/dark (oak?) paneling that I would love to have this finish on. Do you think this technique would work for that? It is very rough sewn with lots of blemishes. I know it would take a good while but it’s exactly the worn/cottagy look I want for the room.

  4. Thank you for this tutorial. You did a great job on it. It looks gorgeous. I’ve been looking for steps to this technique for awhile now and just haven’t found much. I’m looking to do a wash with some white on top of grey. Do you think that would work, or should it be the other way around?

    Can’t wait to try this out! Thanks again.


  5. The piece is stunning! I think this finish might look good on an ugly free table I picked up. But I especially love that wreath! Did you make it? Where is it from? I would love to make one out of Jane Austen book pages!

  6. I love what you guys tend to be up too. This type of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve added you guys to blogroll.

  7. Kelly says:

    Did you have to strip the furniture prior to applying the whitewash? I have 2 horribly ugly bookcases that we are going to refinish but hadn’t come up with the right look. They are already somewhat stained and have a layer of poly on them. Should I strip them or just sand them? Thanks!

  8. Hi, I do believe this is an excellent website.

    I stumbledupon it 😉 I may come back once again since i have saved as a
    favorite it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


  1. […] Miss Mustard Seed creates some amazing pieces with paint and this post is an informative tutorial on white washing. […]

  2. […] For my piece, it already had a fabulous white wash, so I just painted the top a darker color. This adds a nice modern contrast. You can paint the top […]

  3. […] Washed desk from Miss Mustard Seed. […]

Leave a Comment