white washing a tabletop

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Furniture Makeovers, Painting & Refinishing, Tutorials47 Comments

I was going to think about the table a bit more before I painted it, but I really could only imagine it one way, so I decided to go with that.  Also, I had a new friend and local blog reader, Kellie, coming over to hang out and help me paint while our boys played together.  This seemed like the perfect painting project.

And, even better, she had never tried MMS Milk Paint before, so I was able to teach her all about it as we worked on my dining room table.

When I stripped and sanded the top, I learned that the top wasn’t solid wood, as I thought.  It’s a very thin veneer that is chipped, patched, and worn away in some places.  I don’t mind imperfections, but I felt like a whitewash would camouflage these as well as any future scratches and dings that happen over time.

I mixed MMS Milk Paint in Linen, so it was very thin – about three parts water to one part powdered paint.

I then brushed it over the wood (which was stripped and sanded a couple of months ago), really working it into the grain and spreading it thin.  I brushed it out so much that the paint was almost dry to the touch right after application.

Once it had a little time to dry, I sanded some of the washed paint layer back with 220 grit sand paper, always working in the direction of the grain.

…and vacuumed up all the dust to see how it looked.

While I worked on the top, Kellie, painted the base in Linen, but a thicker mixture of it, so it was opaque.

Now that I’m thinking about it, that might have been a little nerve-wracking!  Painting my table with my brand of paint, which she’s never used before.  I assured her she couldn’t do anything that would mess it up!

And she didn’t.  She did a great job.  The milk paint chipped a bit too much in some places, so I sanded them back a little and reapplied milk paint in choice spots.  I wanted to retain some of the chipping, so I didn’t go as far as sealing it.

Once I had it where I liked it, I sealed the base with Tough Coat.  That’s the best finish for sealing chippy pieces.

I also sealed the apron…

…and the top.  The top received two coats for added durability.  It brought out the wood, contrasting it with the wash that settled in the grain.

But, the craziest thing happened with this table!  Half of it had this light colored stripe where the runner originally was, but it was invisible until the finished was applied.

Furniture refinishing is just like that sometimes.  The other half of the table is fine!  It’s just that half.  So, something obviously played a role that I wasn’t expecting.  I will most likely strip it down yet again, and white wash it again.

For now, it looks like a pretty darn good place to put a runner to me!

Aside from the crazy stripe, I love how the finish turned out.  It compliments the Birch Lane chairs perfectly.


And yes, something will be done about those end chairs!

white washing a tabletop

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47 Comments on “white washing a tabletop”

  1. Love how you redid the table. Linen was a perfect choice and the sweet apron really shows in the lighter color.

    This project was another big step forward in getting that kitchen looking like it belongs to you. And so very nice.

  2. Is it the side of the table that is closer to the window that has the runner mark? If so, it is from the light aging the wood. Even though it has only been a short time, it is still possible to have that happen.

  3. Marian, it looks wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing the process. I am really enjoying all that you are doing!

  4. Lovely! Whitewashing really re-freshened this table and gave it a more modern farmhouse feel. Its hard finding solid furniture unless its got some age to it. I recently bought some 60’s mid-century Lane end tables made of solid walnut that look as beautiful as the day they were made. You wont find that quality anymore and everything is either pressed or veneer wood.

  5. ADORable as ever, Marian! LOVE the new combo, and thanks for sharing the “oops” with us, too. So nice to know that not all goes perfectly the first time for you, as well. Keeping it real for those of us still contemplating that first MMSMP project. (The paint is here, just working up the nerve! 🙂 And so nice that you could work with a friend, especially while the boys were occupied. I so enjoy hearing your little slices-of-life. They always take me back to when my kids were growing up.

  6. I love this! I am so totally using this technique on my big round kitchen table. Whitewashing the top and painting the base. Thanks for sharing the steps and details of the technique, as always 🙂

  7. Hi Marian

    Did you use a chemical stripper on the table before sanding or just varying gauges of sandpaper?

    I love it!

  8. Love it painted. The runner is a perfect cover-up. I am thinking a runner was used before and it sat in the sun maybe or there could have been some type of “oil” in a former runner????
    Question for you: I have a dresser that has been stained and finished in tung oil. It needs a refresh, as it has been in storage for over a year. Covered in blankets and not temp controlled. Should I use Hemp oil or tough coat? It is a dresser so it doesn’t take a beating like a a table would. Thank you.

  9. The apron looks like lace to me. Have you thought of mimicking the apron on the edges of the runner in
    white paint?

  10. Love what you’ve done with your new abode.

    One question…did the table come with the gingerbread on the sides or did you put that on? Either way it really gives it an added umph.

  11. Oh those french chairs covered in blue and white would look pretty as the chairs at the head and foot.

  12. I love the white wash. I was thinking of stripping my kitchen table eventually and possibly white washing. Love this look. What about painting a grainsack runner over the “runner” area? Then you’d have the option of a fabric runner or a painted one.

  13. My kitchen chairs are very similar in color to your end chairs. They were 6 for $100, and are press backs. I have debated what to do with them, so am eager to see what you choose to do to yours as the finish looks very similar. There are so many spindles though, and the detail in the press backs… so that is the reason why I hem and haw. I want to love them. The table turned out beautifully- I love that little scalloped apron detail. So sweet.

  14. That looks REALLY good! I love how the table blends with the birch chairs.
    I can look at a piece of furniture and know it needs…something but I just don’t have the vision to see what could be done nor the attitude for experimentation. When I do it, I want it to be right and DONE.

  15. When you said in a previous post that you want to paint it white, I thought it would be too much. Now that you have done it, it looks amazing and not too much at all. Looks great!

  16. The problem with your end chairs is the style. They are Early American & that just doesn’t fit your decor.

  17. Hmmm…very interesting about how the whitewashing turned out. But kinda cool in its own way.

    As to the chairs at the end….thinking about painting them blue since you’ll be using varying patterns of blue fabric? It might be a nice touch 🙂

  18. I would be careful if you’re going to use a chemical stripper. I did that to a particle board tabletop last year, and the whole top started to bubble up and de-laminate! Needless to say, the tabletop was ruined, and ended up in the fire pit.

  19. Stunning results. You and your new friend are a good team. You are so philosophical about the unexpected stripe down the middle! I would be so upset if that happened to me. I admire Your equanimity. Thanks for all the pics. Keep us posted on the re-do, please.

  20. I love it Marian!! If it were me, instead of refinishing that stripe down the middle, I would paint it the color of the apron and legs of the table (a big fat stripe down the table). That is just me and my laziness coming through, lol.

  21. Came in after working all day in my herb nursery and saw this. It really made my day to read this article and see the pictures. Wow, I love your blog and get very excited about every new adventure you share with us. Thanks for an enjoyable restful moment.

  22. Beautifully done! I have used your pain line many times to white wash table tops! Looks fabulous every time! So thankful for MMS Milk Paint Line and your matt finish tough coat!

  23. Hi Marian. Love the whitewash. Too bad about that center stripe. I had a similar surprise when I whitewashed a dresser a few weeks ago.
    But before you paint those end chairs, I’d suggest reading post from today titled ‘The Best Paint for Chairs & Benches. It won’t give you that chippy look, but they will be durable!

  24. Sun aged the table perhaps. I once covered a new hardwood cherry floor with cardboard so it didn’t get scratched while men were
    working. It was mottled when the cardboard was taken up. It evened out once exposed to the sun. You may try uncovering it or placing in the sun for a week or so.

  25. Fantastic, I love the finished project. Also so good to see you have paired it up with nicer smaller chairs. We just knew the big ones that came with the table were just too clunky… as you said you can pull them out for large groups to sit on in the living room durning church meetings and family events…

    Your new home is so coming together, it is warm, cozy and inviting. Thank you for all your postings, how twos and design advice.

  26. Love your style & the table. Quick question – you say she is a local blog reader… what is that? Thank you!

  27. Oh my goodness! I just bought that exact table & chairs off craigslist! I plan on painting the base of the table and keep the top wood. I didn’t realize it was a thin veneer either, but I got lucky & the top is in good shape. I am thinking of painting the chairs…..I’m going to see how it all looks in my dining room first because we have an open concept layout.
    As usual, I love everything you are doing to your home & it’s inspiring me to do some moving around & exchanging things in my home.

  28. I love this table! The style of it is so beautiful.
    I was talking about the table stripe with a few of my painting colleagues – it’s possible that if there was any detergent used washing the table runner that it combined with the sun likely bleached the table along that spot. More-so closer to the window because the heat and sun would be stronger there. Painting a wide grain sack stripe down the centre of the table could be a charming fix! Or strip it down again and refinish it again. Either way it’s a beautiful table!

  29. I have thought way too hard about your chairs…….have you thought about maybe painting them white and making slipcovers for the tops to cover up the spindles? With a monogram in blue on the backs? Thanks for sharing your ideas with all of us

  30. Yes, the article I was looking for. Your article gives me another approach on the subject. I hope to read more articles from you.

  31. I have a theory about that strip and the sealer. I bet the runner has a natural oil in it. Just a smidgen. And for the time you’ve been using the table top stripped and ready for finish and using the runner – it ever so slightly got natural fiber oil on it – and it repels the sealer.

    That’s my theory!

  32. I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any helpful hints for newbie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

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