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.
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.