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.**


How to Distress Furniture with Paint and Petroleum Jelly


Tropical Storm Ana has kept me inside for the past couple of days. It’s given me some time to address the accumulated project items in my garage. Sometime last week I found this little black plant stand in my neighbor’s trash.


It was in three pieces that were easily reassembled with some Gorilla glue. Unfortunately, it was still pretty ugly. But a fresh coat of paint can easily remedy any unsightly piece of furniture.

Free pieces of furniture are a great thing for testing out any new technique you have been meaning to try. As long as it holds no sentimental value, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t happy with the result. I decided to experiment with a method of distressing furniture using paint and petroleum jelly. I am all about inexpensive ways to decorate, so this seemed right up my alley. Given that the furniture was free and I didn’t have to purchase any supplies for this project (I used some paint I had on hand from my DIY Grey Wash Coffee Table), the total cost of this project was probably about 20 cents.

Here is a really easy tutorial to follow if you are looking to try to distress furniture but don’t want to spend a fortune on chalk paint or a million hours sanding edges. If you do need to buy paint but don’t want to fork out $30 for a pint of chalk paint, I recommend Valspar Signature in a flat finish. It gives a similar look and many colors will cover in just one coat. Here I am using Smoked Oyster.

Materials you will need:

  • a project piece (furniture, frame, etc)
  • sandpaper
  • paint
  • paintbrush
  • petroleum jelly
  • paper towels
  • sealer (wax, varnish, etc)

The process:

First, lightly sand the piece to allow the new paint to adhere better. This is especially important if there is existing paint or stain, not as important if it is raw wood. Then, wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove the dust.

Using your finger, apply the petroleum jelly to the edges and corners of your piece. These are the areas that would naturally show wear over time. You can also apply a little in random areas on the flat surfaces if you wish. You can also apply it more heavily on places on the edges so that the look isn’t too uniform. You can also decide if you want the piece to appear minimally or more heavily distressed, and increase or decrease the jelly-covered areas accordingly.


Paint your piece. Wait until it is dry to the touch. This will vary depending on the brand of paint and where you live. If you are in Coastal Carolina where the humidity is something like 5000%, it will take hours… but you will wait patiently so you get the best results.

If you need to, apply more than one coat of paint. Notice how the petroleum jelly repels the paint.


Now, using a damp cloth or paper towel, wipe the areas where the petroleum jelly was applied. It should wipe away easily, taking the overlying paint with it.



Protect you piece! I sealed mine using a coat of SC Johnson Paste Wax.

Clean Up:

When cleaning your brush, use a little soap and warm water to remove any excess petroleum jelly.

So here it is!!

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Now get out there and paint something! Be sure to share your thoughts and photos with me in the comments if you give this a shot. Happy DIYing!


Linking to the HOST

Paper Lined Drawers Tutorial

If you were reading last week, you may remember the awesome Western paper that I showed you. Well, after a few days of waiting I will finally show you what I decided to do with it!


If you are like me, you are always trying to figure out the most efficient way to get something done. When I decided to use this sweet vintage paper that I picked up from Instant Cottage Charm to line the drawers of my Southwestern Inspired Dresser, I sort of “practiced” on the first two before it came to me. By the time I did the third drawer, I felt like I had been doing this my whole life.

Ok, enough intro. It’s Monday.

Here is what you will need:

  • Awesome paper (if you want to make this really hard on yourself, choose a really complicated pattern like I did)
  • Spray tacky
  • Exacto knife or scissors
  • Yardstick

Start with the back left of the drawer. Use your ruler to measure the depth of the drawer at the back, then cut paper to size. Your paper may or may not fit the full length of the drawer. Mine did not. You will soon see how I dealt with this. If your paper is longer than the drawer length, you will need to measure and cut to fit both depth and length.

I used my yardstick as a straightedge and cut with my Exacto, but you could also use scissors. Apply spray tacky to “wrong” side of paper, not to drawer. Also, holding the can too close will result in the glue saturating the paper and may leave marks so be sure to hold it back about 10 inches or so.


Next, measure the width of the drawer. Cut a piece of paper which will go on the left side of the drawer bottom. The pattern should match exactly if you cut a straight line. Spray and carefully put in place so pattern aligns.


Then, measure the depth of the drawer at the front. This may be a little different from the back so it is a good idea to check before cutting! This piece will actually be glued in with the pattern upside down so that the pattern will match along the edge.

After that, you can cut the pieces for the right side of the drawer following the same order, but you will need to match up the pattern to the pieces you have just glued in.

Now all that is left is the sides. You can decide if you want the pattern to line up with the bottom or the back of the drawer. I have done an example of each so you can see what I mean by that. This part may require a fair bit of matching and cutting if you have a more complex pattern, but if the pattern is relatively simple it will not take much effort.

Pattern matches back of drawer
Pattern matches bottom of drawer

I prefer it with the sides matched up to the bottom. I think it gives the drawer a more continuous appearance. Only the corners do not match, as opposed to a whole edge with the other method.

Now it’s done!!

If you try this. let me know how it works out for you! Leave a comment and link so I can check it out!

P.S. Don’t forget to recycle your paper scraps!


Southwestern Inspired Dresser


Every room needs at least one eye-catching element, don’t you agree?

The exciting part of having a baby in Pennsylvania in October and moving to North Carolina in February is that I get to do two room redos! The downside is now that we are renting a home, I can’t paint the walls. I still wanted to create a really unique space for my little cowboy, so it was essential to have a few visually striking pieces to make up for the lack of color on the walls.

With the exception on the crib (which I was lucky enough to receive as a gift), all the other furniture was second hand. I opted to use the chest of drawers that had been mine as a child because it was a really solid wood piece and would hold up to the eventual havoc it would face from a toddler. I was recently inspired by Brepurposed‘s Arles and Aztec filing cabinet makeover, so I stalked Etsy to find the stencil she had used (see it here on my Pintrest board) to create my own awesome and exclusive piece.

The Process

My first order of business was to wipe down and lightly sand my old dresser to rough up the finish so that the paint would adhere better. The wood wasn’t shellacked, which made it easier.


I had decided to keep the top with the wood finish because it had such a great grain and I wanted to maintain a little bit of its rustic qualities. I also chose a bright paint for the body and did not want it to be overwhelming since this was a relatively large piece of furniture. I taped off the top to make sure I had a clean line when painting.


The color I chose was Valspar’s Golden Moon in a flat finish. It reminds me of a slightly brighter version of Annie Sloane Arles but without the price tag. Valspar even makes a chalk paint now, but it will still cost you about $10 more for a pint than the flat. And, hey, my kid is only six months old. He is not going to appreciate the subtle wonders of chalk paint on his dresser.


Here is the body of the chest of drawers after one coat of paint which I applied using a 2 inch angled brush on the sides and a 1 inch angled brush on the cross bars.

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I applied a second coat…


And finally a third…


…before I was satisfied with it. I would rather have to do three thin coats of pain than one or two heavy ones as this can cause drips and doesn’t dry as quickly. It’s a good idea to make sure each layer of paint is fully dry before applying the next coat or you may not have a smooth finish. Drips never look good.

The drawers each received two coats of paint on the sides. I also painted the top edges so that pretty color would pop out when the drawers were opened. I confess, I did start to paint the front of one of the drawers before having a moment of genuine panic. The wood grain was just to great to cover up completely. Luckily, it was still wet so I was able to wipe it off with damp paper towels. Phew. Crisis averted.


The top of the dresser and the fronts of the drawers each got two applications of Watco Danish Oil in Dark Walnut, which darkened the wood slightly, gave a natural finish and brought out that great grain.


Isn’t that beautiful?!

If you are attempting something like this at home, I recommend taking a break at this point. The oil will need to dry overnight before it can be painted over. This is also an opportunity to let your paint fume high wear off.

Easy Painted Border for Drawers

As I mentioned, I had a moment of semi-crisis when I applied the yellow paint to the drawer face. I put the drawers in the dresser to see how they looked with the natural wood. I didn’t like this either because the drawers covered the crossbars so all I saw was brown when looking at the front. I wanted the yellow to break it up a little so I opted for a one-inch yellow border around the drawer faces.


Eye-catching. right? I know you may be thinking, “omg, this looks so complicated, I could never do something like that!” You can. I will break it down for you in 6 easy steps:

1. Measure in 1 inch at near each corner on long side. Make a small mark with a pencil.

2. Apply tape on long sides using marks as guides.


3. Measure in 1 inch on short sides. I made marks on the tape this time. Because I could.

4. Apply tape to short sides. You can see in the picture that I didn’t extend the tape all the way across. No need to waste good painter’s tape.


5. Using an Exacto knife, carefully and very, very lightly, cut the overhanging tape in the short edges. If you are concerned about getting a straight line, use a ruler or straightedge as a guide. Just be very careful not to press hard or you will risk scratching the wood. The excess tape can easily be removed after this. Also, don’t cut yourself.


6. Paint! I used three coats here as well, applied with my one-inch brush.. After this, the tape can carefully be removed and you will be left with a clean line. You may also want to lightly sand the border before painting.



I was eager to finish this project, but I was stalled for a couple of days waiting for my stencil to arrive in the mail. I was super excited when it finally came!

Stenciling the Pattern

If you have never stenciled anything before, I will tell you that it is very easy but you have to follow a few rules to get a clean look. I used tape to hold my stencil in place – you definitely don’t want it sliding around. I lined up my stencil where I wanted the design to appear and placed a few pieces of tape on the sides to secure it.

DSC00393I chose a simple off-white craft paint for this part and applied it using this nifty tool called a splouncer… who comes up with these names? It’s foam on a stick. The foam needs to be saturated with paint but if it is over-saturated or you press too hard, you risk having your paint bleed underneath your stencil. 

I did the center of all three drawers first and attempted to center and align it as best as possible so the drawers would have a uniform appearance. 
DSC00396A little bit of patience was now necessary. I was so eager to see the final product, but I gave the paint the appropriate time to dry. This has to be done or you will smear the freshly stenciled design, and nobody wants that!

The craft paint I was using dried pretty quickly though, at which point I was able to stencil to the left and right of the center. I lined up the stencil so the design would look continuous and taped it in place.


Then I did this on the other drawers until I had stenciled over all the bare wood on the drawer faces. Here’s a little close up for ya!

I waited overnight and finished off the piece by sealing it with a coat of SC Johnson Paste Wax. For tips on how to apply this, take a look at my DIY Grey Wash Coffee Table.

Then I finally got to put it all together!





Southwestern Inspired Dresser | Sylvan&South

So now I am obsessed and want to use this stencil on everything. What would you use it for?

In case you’re interested, here’s what I used:

If you enjoyed this project, please show me some love! Like Sylvan&South on Facebook, Follow on Pinterest, and sign up for email updates to see my latest projects. Also check out what I did with this amazing vintage paper from Instant Cottage Charm. What would you do with it?

Y’all come back now!!


P.S. If you loved this project, check out these other amazing ways to embrace Southwest style at home!


DIY Grey Wash Coffee Table

About two years ago I splurged and purchased the Box Frame Coffee Table from West Elm in the whitewashed mango finish. It looked absolutely perfect with my Hamilton sofa and Concord chair. It blended the modern and rustic elements in a way I so desperately desired.

Then life happened. The problem with this table was the porous finish, which was easily stained by anything and everything that came in contact with it. Even a drop of water would  leave a mark. This may be a good table for some people, but my husband and I often find ourselves eating in the living room so we needed something more forgiving. I recently decided enough was enough and gave my table the attention it rightfully deserved.  

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This project can be done with any unfinished wood piece you would like!  Just follow the same steps and you can make your own custom piece!

Removing the Old Finish

The first order of business was to remove the table top. This was easily done with the Allen wrench generously provided by West Elm when I bought the table.


I began by removing the whitewash finish with a fine grain sand paper. It came off effortlessly, though some of the deeper stains required a little bit of extra work to remove completely. Fortunately, the wood itself was only minimally stained and I was left with a relatively clean surface.


Depending on the piece you are working with, you may need to take additional steps to remove old stains or paint. If you are working with a new unfinished piece, I recommend a lightly sanding with the wood grain so the wood will more readily accept the finish.

The Refinishing Process

Grey wash is extremely easy to make and a nice alternative to whitewash. I didn’t want the result to be too dark but wanted something that would hide marks and stains better than the white. I selected Valspar’s Smoked Oyster, which is a warm beigey-grey (this choice was inspired by “How to Choose the Perfect Greige Paint” by Tiny Sidekick).

The recipe is simple! Measure one part paint to four parts water, mix well, done. I found it was helpful to mix mine in a Mason jar: there are already volumetric measurements on the side so you can measure, mix, and store all in one container.

It doesn’t have to be grey! This can be done with any – yes, any! – color you would like! Be creative! I’d love to see what you can come up with.

1 part paint + 4 parts water = easy and awesome grey wash!

Because I wanted the wood grain to be visible, I applied the grey wash in similar way to a stain – I painted on, let it sit for a minute, then wiped it off. This can be done using a clean cloth or towel. I like to use shop towels for things like this, as they are very smooth and have a cloth-like feel but are inexpensive and disposable. Less clean up is better, wouldn’t you agree?

One coat of wash
One coat of wash

I applied two coats of wash. This ensured that any remaining stains were covered and gave enough color saturation to bring out the wood grain.

Two coats of wash
Two coats of wash

Then I used two coats of SC Johnson Paste Wax to seal and protect the table. I liked this product a lot, and while it does have sort of an off-putting smell, it is made without many common toxic/carcinogenic ingredients. Better for the environment and my family’s health!

At this point, the sky was getting cloudier and cloudier and my pictures worse and worse. So I brought this project inside and turned on the fan to air out the smell.

Here’s a reminder of what it looked like before:

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Check It Out!

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I love this even more than the original whitewash. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Looking forward,


More to come! Here is a preview of my next project in the works. Be sure to check back and see what I’ve been up to!