Copy-Cat Whitewashed Coffee Table

May 24, 2013  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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I’ve been on the hunt for a coffee table for the living room since we sold our round collapsable one. We’ve been making due with our plant bench–but it looked a little silly and heavy for a coffee table.  I discovered West Elm’s Box Frame coffee table and loved the airiness and simplicity, but $350 for a coffee table just wasn’t in the budget right now, especially for something directly in Greta’s path.
So I hunted a little more and found the Dakota coffee table on Wayfair’s site for, oh, $250 cheaper!

There were a few differences to note between the two.  The Dakota was smaller by a couple inches and  obviously sported a yellow-wood top, while the Box Frame was whitewashed.  But the designs were nearly identical. Metal frames with wood tops. And then I thought, I am sure I can whitewash! I read in the description that the Dakota had a solid wood top, with “distinctive pine grain” which seemed like the perfect candidate for a good sanding. Clear cut decision–Dakota it is.

Before it arrived, we decided that we’d live with the “natural” (super-poly’d) wood for a little bit to make sure we definitely wanted to white wash it, but it only took one day, before we were sure.

That wood was yellow and wasn’t jiving with anything else in the room, or house for that matter.
Luckily, the transformation to mimic its more expensive long-lost cousin only took about an hour. I took the top outside and sanded it with my palm sander.
After the dust settled, and was wiped away, I started white-washing. Errr, gray washing?  I used a really light gray (Benjamin Moore’s Moonshine) leftover from the guest room watered down to about a 50/50 ratio. Because the wood was so yellow, I thought that going with a pure white would only make the end result look like a white-yellow, and the inspiration product had grayer tones. Moonshine worked great.
I knew I wanted to be able to see some woodgrain, but I didn’t want brushstrokes everywhere. So first I layered on some paint, keeping with the grain of the wood.

Then I’d wait a minute or two and lightly wipe off excess with a paper towel and let the rest dry for about 10 minutes.

I ended up repeating the process four times until the layers of gray wash built up to an opacity I was happy with, which happened to be this:

The woodgrain is still definitely visible, especially those knots (score!) but the yellow wood is now just a memory. I finished it with a thin layer of poly to protect the paint job.
Greta insisted on laying under the table, her new favorite spot, while I snapped most of the after photos, so it’s quite surprising she only made into 2 out of 4 here.

We think the result is pretty close to the West Elm version.  Which means, if you can whitewash, you can save $250.  And let me tell you, you can whitewash.

What do you think?

  1. […] then in this one you can kind of see that we moved the couch away from the wall a bit and moved our old coffee table to use as an end table. This couch is that big…or that coffee table is that small? Maybe a […]

  2. Annie says:

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    I was looking to compensate mainly for suggestions regarding how to eradicate it!

  3. kianleach says:

    Wow. That’s Stunning :)

  4. The table looks amazing! What a great purchase!

  5. Gotta love finding cheaper versions of goodies! Nice find!

  6. The table looks great. I love how light and airy it is to balance the dark walls behind it. Plus, the square sides echo the squares in the wall too. Lovely!

  7. Patty says:

    Wait… is that mom’s sander? Wert.

  8. Jones paint and glass every time. :)

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have been wanting to do this forever to my dining table with is a lovely ikea pine yellow table (blech). We are in SF too…where do you get Benjamin Moore paint locally? I usually just go with the paint at Four Chairs in Lindon when I refinish things, or from Jones paint and glass. Thanks!

  10. Anonymous says:

    From the angle I can’t really tell, is your table taller than the sofa?

  11. That looks great Julia! Awesome job!

  12. MML says:

    Well done!!
    Off topic – you will be installing, or have I missed it? a “Subscribe” button?

    • Under the photo of Chris and I at the top right corner, you’ll see an RSS subscribe button lined up in the social media buttons, which will give you lots of ways to subscribe. Let me know if you are looking for an additional platform so we can add that, too!

  13. Yesssss! I am so happy you posted this today. I’m getting ready to whitewash a kitchen table we picked up. I’m sold. Yours looks SO great! Way to save, my girl!

  14. vicks27 says:

    Really pretty. I’ve been wanting to do this to an old frame. This is the final push I needed.

  15. Emily says:

    So in love with the table! Love peek-a-boo Greta :)

  16. score! That Greta–she is so funny. I loved your #tbt newborn picture of her! Were our babies really that small once upon a time?? Seems like an eternity ago we brought Brinley home from the hospital.

  17. Ahhh good save there! That looks great! Don’t you love a good deal?!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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