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Weathered Gray Wood Look Vanity Makeover

A vanity gets a weathered gray wood look using just chalk paint and wax. Looks so much like real weathered wood in less time with less mess!

Yup. We’re almost there, y’all. The final oh-my-gosh-is-this-powder-room-ever-going-to-be-finished stage?! I say that lovingly. It’s hard to be patient when you have a bathroom vanity sitting smack in the middle of your living room. For an entire month. And you have to climb a flight of stairs every single time you need a potty break.

Weathered Gray Wood Look Vanity Makeover | blesserhouse.com - A vanity gets a weathered gray wood look using just chalk paint and wax. Looks so much like real weathered wood in less time with less mess!

(Want to see our powder room’s final reveal? Click here for the full “after” tour.)

If you’ve been following along on my Instagram Stories, you probably already know that we survived and it’s done! Huzzah!

But I just know that when I share the reveal of the whole space next week, I’ll get a bunch of questions about our presto change-o vanity, so I’m jumping right on it to spill the quick tutorial if you’re needing to give your own bathroom vanity a perk.

The vanity in our existing powder room when we moved in was already on the new-ish side. The only problem was it had just enough scrapes and nicks that I couldn’t leave it as-is. I’m no stranger to painting furniture to look like wood (thank you “wood” guest bed and “wood” sofa table), so I thought I’d try it all over again, except with a weathered gray wood tone this time instead of brown.

How to Create a Weathered Gray Wood Look with Chalk Paint

Supplies Used: (Some affiliate links are provided below for convenience.)

  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Wax in Black
  • Wax brush
  • Dry lint-free rag

The whole painting thing started out by accident. With the wood of this vanity being already in pretty good shape, my original plan was to gray wash the wood with 1 part gray paint and 3 parts water. But since this vanity didn’t have any raised wood grain, it just wasn’t doing it for me. I should have taken a picture, but I managed to gray wash it at 10:00 at night when it was dark out… and trust me, you’re not missing anything.

So I wiped it down with Simple Green and lightly sanded off my not-so-pretty gray wash attempt to go the chalk paint route. (If you prefer Fusion Mineral Paint, you can create the same look with their Bedford paint color and Homestead House Black Wax. I just didn’t have those on hand at the time.)

1. Just paint on two coats of the Annie Sloan French Linen paint.

Weathered Gray Wood Look Vanity Makeover | blesserhouse.com - A vanity gets a weathered gray wood look using just chalk paint and wax. Looks so much like real weathered wood in less time with less mess!

2. And, after the paint has fully dried, work in small sections (about 2-3 square feet) to rub on the black wax, using the wax brush to work it into any crevices and details. Then, lightly wipe away any excess with a dry rag. The process is almost like painting on the wax but with a little more elbow grease.

Here’s a video by Marian Parsons, if you’ve never waxed furniture before and need more of a visual.

Weathered Gray Wood Look Vanity Makeover | blesserhouse.com - A vanity gets a weathered gray wood look using just chalk paint and wax. Looks so much like real weathered wood in less time with less mess!

It’s literally a two step process. Well, I guess four, if you actually count adding knobs and hauling the ginormous thing back into the bathroom. I knocked it all out in 2 hours and made it a rush job since I only had hours to complete it before our flooring contractor had to put the room back together after finishing the flooring.

(I did mention this vanity has sat in our living room for a month, right? And I didn’t decide to paint it until hours before it needed to be moved. Procrastinators of the world unite! …tomorrow.)

The photos don’t look much different than the faux wood finishes I’ve painted before, but this one does have more of a gray tone. Blame the photographer (a.k.a. me).

Weathered Gray Wood Look Vanity Makeover | blesserhouse.com - A vanity gets a weathered gray wood look using just chalk paint and wax. Looks so much like real weathered wood in less time with less mess!

It really does look like weathered wood, doesn’t it?! And it didn’t require messy wood stripping and hours of staining in the garage or anything. If you’ve been following this blog for a year-ish or more, this method is totally old news, but it’s a goodie.

Weathered Gray Wood Look Vanity Makeover | blesserhouse.com - A vanity gets a weathered gray wood look using just chalk paint and wax. Looks so much like real weathered wood in less time with less mess!

Between the coffee bar, this vanity, our foyer chest, and our bedroom furniture, I’ve been on a wood furniture kick lately. What’s that about? It’s so strange to me how different my style is in this house compared to our last house that was all anything-and-everything-painted.

I think it’s the simplicity. No matter how many beautiful colors a piece can be painted, there’s just something about the natural elegance of wood, even if it is the pretend kind.

I’m starting to discover that I’m drifting some from the farmhouse vibe and throwing in more traditional styles. Not sure if it’s me getting older or just this new house that doesn’t seem to fit into that farmhouse category quite as easily. I’m just letting this place speak to me, and that’s the direction it’s telling me to go.

Once I photograph more of this sorta farmhouse, sorta city powder room, it’ll be in the books to post about next week!

If you’ve missed any of the progress so far, you can see this space’s transformation from the beginning in these previous posts:

I cannot wait to share it with y’all! It’s like a little vacation every time I walk into our powder room now. I legitimately do a tiny victory dance every time I walk past it. And as pretty as it is, it’s mostly because I no longer have to climb stairs as often every day… or have a sink smack in the middle of the living room.

It’s the little things that bring the biggest joy, right?

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40 Comments

  1. I love this! Thank you for sharing. I have the exact same vanity and it has quite a few scratches on it in the 7 years that we have had it. I’m going to try and tackle this after the holidays.

  2. Hello Lauren,

    I can’t seem to find Annie Sloan paints around me. Is there any other compatible brand that you recommend? Thank you. I love your work.

  3. Do you have a video of you painting this? This photo inspired me to paint my sons crib. I am super excited but I’ve never used Annie Sloan paint before, let alone the wax.

    How did you apply the wax? Also, did you use a clear wax as well? Beautiful job!

    1. Ahh, unfortunately I do not have a video. However, you can find one on YouTube. I have used a clear wax over the top of a dresser but not over the entire piece. I hope that helps.

  4. Thank you for this great idea! I just recently found you and started following. We are in the process of buying a brand new home, with not a lot of character, so I’m getting some wonderful ideas for adding that desperately needed character. I love restoring furniture so this technique looks like something I can incorporate into a lot of what I do. Thanks again.

    1. Hi, Marissa!! If it is a table that will be getting a lot of traffic, I usually recommend using a walnut gel stain instead of the dark wax. You should seal it with Fusion Tough Coat or a Polycrylic. Let me know how it turns out.

  5. I absolutely love the weathered look of this vanity. However, the photos of the first step with just the French Linen paint look so much lighter than the ASCP color cards show. Is the paint really that light?

    Thanks!

    1. I believe I shot that first photo while the paint was still wet, so it does look lighter in that instance. Lighting in photos is always tricky and is hardly ever true to real life though.

  6. In one tutorial you used AS black wax & in another you used Homestead House expresso wax. You also dry brushed Fusion Raw Silk on one & not the other. Which one did you prefer? I have the AS products you used but not the other brands. This is my inspiration for a buffet in my kitchen eating area!

    1. It’s totally up to you based on the look you want really. The espresso wax is more brown and the black wax ends up looking more gray. The dry brushing just adds an extra layer for texture to help details stand out, which I prefer. I don’t have much of a preference with the waxes, but I do think Annie Sloan paint works better since it soaks in the wax more easily and appears darker than on the Fusion paint.

  7. Beautiful. I was searching forever for a way to refinish my clear pine bedroom set that is now more of an yellow color. Now I know exactly what i am going to do!!!!! Thank you so much for the instructionsI just ordered my supplies. Does it matter what size wax brush i use?

    1. Awesome! Not really, the smaller brush is just better at getting the wax into small details, but I have lots of success with either size.

  8. I just discovered your blog on Pinterest. I’m very excited bc we’ve just bought our first home after 13 years of renting. Our house was built in 1980 and it’s a solid home with good structure…and the previous owners did some renos a few years ago…so it was move-in ready at a price we could afford…but still needing some updating and personal style.

    I have a coastal farmhouse look in mind and I love what you’ve done with your rooms bc they’re close in size to ours and your colors are right up my alley. Thank you for all the inspiration and information! It is much appreciated!

  9. enjoyed seeing how that gray color changed so dramatically with the black wax! Very pretty and so perfect for your lovely bathroom….love the tile!

  10. What is the thing that you have behind the starter vanity. It has flower pots on it. Just love the look of that…..love,love the color of your vanity. Can’t wait to get some paint.

  11. Absolutely gorgeous. I’ve got a piece I’m going to do this finish on. It’s perfect. Thanks for the inspiration. One question: you don’t mention doing clear wax first do am I correct that you painted 2 coats allowed to dry and then applied the black wax directly to the French Linen painted surface?

    1. Thanks, Deborah! Yes, I only used paint and the black wax. No clear. If you decided to use clear wax before the black, the black wax would be much more subtle. All depends on the look you want.

  12. I really like the weathered wood look. It has such a great color. It will make any room look really cool. Thanks for the ideas and especially for the how to steps. Chris

  13. Great job Lauren! Thanks for the instructions! You are right in my opinion this house is letting you know farm house style will not worked on this home. You and Mariam Parsons are my favorite bloggers love both your style and how thrifty and talented you both are!

  14. I’m digging the traditional look you’re leaning towards in this house! Keep going with your gut, it’s refreshing as so many bloggers have gotten away from this timeless, classic look in search of the farmhouse style even if that isn’t the perfect fit for every home (I do love that style, but I also think it’s important to embrace the existing style of the home!). My home veers much more traditional with a touch of craftsman style, so it’s great when I can follow along with and get inspired by others in the same boat! And constant evolution of our personal styles is what keeps things interesting too! Oh and PS, I use this technique now ALL THE TIME now since you first shared it on the blog, so I love seeing you do it again in new ways :)!

  15. Amazing Lauren!! Who knew that fabulous vanity was hiding under that mass produced cabinet! Love watching your progress in your new home. I’ve learned so much from you! Mostly how to be courageous and go for it.

    Keep it up!
    Carol

  16. that is a beautiful cabinet, both before and after! is it a vanity cabinet from a big box store or is it an actual piece of furniture repurposed? really like the chunky-ness of it.

    1. Thanks! I’m pretty sure it was bought from Lowe’s or Home Depot. Just my guess. It was definitely meant to be a vanity though.

  17. Simply beautiful! You’ve inspired me. I wish I could figure out how to move our double vanity down to our living room… HA! Maybe I should do it in place.

    1. Haha! That would be rough! You can definitely do it in place. I only did it in our living room because that’s where our contractor had to move it while he handled a flooring fiasco.

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