Whitewashed and Pickled Wood Minimalist Desk (+ Valspar Rose Gold Spray Paint)


A little while ago I came across a table in a thrift store that had these cool industrial-style legs but a hideous particle board and laminate top. Somehow I was able to convince the store employee to sell me just the legs ($7, thank you very much). It took a little bit of elbow grease to loosen the rusty hardware, but I left the store happy with legs in tow.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with them when I bought them, but things have a way of coming together. I have been in need of a small desk for a few months now (we have a computer sitting on top of a cardboard box and it is not very attractive). Anyway, I had some left over plywood from a project that didn’t go as expected. I decided to create a simple but unique desk using the metal legs and plywood.

So, let’s be honest. Plywood is ugly. No one really likes it. But at $15 a sheet it sure makes an inexpensive project material. I just needed to create a really beautiful finish for it. This is what I came up with:

To create this look, I first used a whitewash (just some watered down white craft paint) to trace some of the wood grain. It looked pretty cool as it was, but I wanted to wood to have a more weathered look.

For the next part, I put my chemistry skills to use. Yes, two years of college chemistry finally paid off. I honestly never thought I would be using anything that I learned. Also I kind of… really… hated chem classes. But there are some really cool things to be done. This is easy enough that even if you know nothing about chemistry, you can still do it!


The grey finish was achieved using iron acetate pickling. It sounds so fancy, but anyone can do this and you probably don’t even need to go to the store. Iron acetate is easily made using metal and vinegar, so if you have some steel wool or galvanized nails lying around, you can make this. It colors the wood through a chemical reaction with the tannins, a pigment found in the wood. The effect can vary greatly depending on what type of wood you are using, but it is possible to add more tannins to the wood if you want a darker finish. If you would like instructions on how to create the pickling stain and how it will affect different types of wood, please leave a comment and I would be happy to provide a tutorial. Trust me, this will make you look super cool and sound really smart when you can tell everyone that you made some home-brewed iron acetate over the weekend.


I did it in two parts to create a more layered look. The stain also took darker in some areas (due to higher tannin content in the wood), which gave even more depth to the final product. The picture above is after the first round of iron acetate.

Now the legs. As you know, I was already pretty excited about them. I debated leaving them the original color, which was sort of an avocado-ish color, but once I learned about the new Valspar rose gold metallic spray paint, I knew I had a match. I knew this would look beautiful with the top and would also create a nice blend of modern, rustic, and industrial styles. To see the full line of available metallic spray paints by Valspar, click here.

After a thorough cleaning to remove dirt and oils, I did prime the legs using one coat of Valspar Premium Primer spray paint in gray because I wanted to make sure the gold paint would adhere really well. I will admit that the nozzle was a little bit tough to operate at first. I needed to use two fingers to depress the nozzle because it was pretty hard with one. Aside from that, I loved how smooth the primer went on and how evenly it coated everything; I didn’t even feel the need to do a second coat. It also dried extremely quickly even in the 1000% humidity of North Carolina, which is a huge plus when it is over 90 degrees by 9am and you are just trying to get something done! I will definitely be using this again shortly for another project.

Next I applied two coats of the Rose Gold spray paint. The nozzle was easier to operate and the paint went on extremely smoothly. When I first saw the color, I thought it was more of a champagne pink and had a stronger resemblance to silver than gold. However; after the desk was complete and styled using touches of red, the rose and gold colors stood out a little bit more. It still looks different from what I would have expected based on the color of the cap, but I am very pleased with it and enjoy how the color appears to change with the amount of light in the room.

The plywood was not thick enough for the screw needed to attach the legs, so I reenforced the sides with some poplar wood. In the future I plan on adding a strip of moulding to the front to hide the seams in the wood, but for now it is perfectly functional.

Apparently I was also being lazy and not taking pictures of anything as I did it, so here is the final product!


I am really happy with the finished look. It is very minimalist but still very pretty with the wood grain finish. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts! And if anyone lives in the South and has any tips on how they manage to do any painting projects in this ungodly heat and humidity then I would totally appreciate that.


**This post has generously been sponsored by the wonderful people of Valspar Paints and contains affiliate links. I have received product in exchange for this post but all opinions are my own.**


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