Antique Crate Refinish

Last week, I blogged about this 1880s varnish crate
that was in serious need of a little love.
 The patina was lovely…
But the thick paint drips were not.
Someone (thanks again, Carla!) suggested a white wash,
which looked absolutely beautiful 
until I attempted the opposite side and top.
(Sadly, there was 130-year-old varnish on this crate that would not budge in spots.)
For two days, I thoughtfully considered
what to do with this crate…this treasure.
I finally decided to paint it a French gray,
apply a creamy, white glaze,
and finish it with paste wax.

It’s sort of a weathered, painted look
with a white wash finish.

I adore the way it turned out
and this old, abandoned crate
(that I paid $7 for at an estate sale)

is beautiful once again.

How to achieve this look:
1. Prime.
(Use a sponge roller to avoid getting primer in cracks and crevices.)
2. Apply French Gray.
(Again, use a sponge roller.)
I used a $4.99 sample pot of a custom-mixed Sherwins Williams satin paint.
3. Brush and/or rub on a creamy, white glaze.
I used a 1:1 ratio of DecoArt Americana Glazing Medium
mixed with water, with some white satin paint that I had on hand.
(Sherwin Williams Zurich White with 50% colorant)
4. Use a clean rag to gently wipe it away.
Do several thin coats until you get the look you want.
I even rubbed on the glaze heavier in certain areas for a more weathered look.
 The glaze really “grabbed” the worn letters 
(which were impossible to read before)
and made them stand out.
 Certain letters were almost worn completely away with time,
so I used a fine paint brush to add the white glaze where necessary.
 5. Distress the edges and corners.

6. Allow paint to dry completely and apply two coats of paste wax.

I used Minwax Paste Wax in the yellow tin, purchased at Lowe’s years ago.

Thank you so much for all of your tips and suggestions last week!

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  1. Lolo says:

    Oh I just LOVE how it turned out….the grey wash is perfect! :)

  2. Pamela says:

    It looks perfect Jami and I love french grey!
    How in the world do you find time to do all these steps with three children? Another power woman!!
    My hats off to you. I went through all your steps and become suddenly tired lol !
    Pamela xo

  3. This crate is GREAT! I love how the letters now stand out…what a fantastic piece!

  4. ChRiS says:

    turned out really great……

  5. Bonnie says:

    The crate turned out great!

    I was actually thinking about your last blog today while I was in my pilate’s class… it was hot, humid, and I kept thinking of your Tide Detergent. So after class, I drove straight to the market and bought some for myself. I’m actually excited to do laundry now… it’s a miracle!

  6. Carla says:

    Bravo! I love how the letters popped out… are brilliant!

  7. Gorgeous Jami! I love the reversal to the white to make it pop, not overwhelming, but amazing detail!

  8. Kristen says:

    I love the way this turned out! Beautiful!!!

  9. Love, love, love it! Boxes and trunks and crates just float my boat.

  10. awal.ny says:

    I love how it turned out. I have tried and did not like the way my gray looked on a dresser in my home, it became white. Maybe I need to try your way in little doses.

  11. Pam says:

    I think it looks wonderful! I know you struggled with the decision of what was the right thing to do with the chest and I think you made a good choice. It still looks old and you can still read the wording, yet it has a new life!

  12. Becky says:

    It turned out Bee-utiful. You have a gift! I am so glad I get to see/read your thought process as well. It makes me feel better that someone else has to try again sometimes too. You make me want to try out gray somewhere in my house. :)

  13. Catherine says:

    Oh wow, this has turned out just beautifully!!

    What a find and what a beautiful job you have done on bringing such a beautiful rustic piece back to life.


  14. Karen says:

    Wow! It turned out so great. Thank you for giving us the instructions and details of ‘how to’.

    Karen @ Garden, Home and Party

  15. My Yellow House says:

    It’s gorgeous…I need you to come on over and do my cabinet! I love the gray wash and how the writing shows. The gray looks more time worn than the white would have…LOVE IT! :)

  16. Allison says:

    I love what you did with it! It looks beautiful and the letters really pop with your white glazing. It looks very rustic and French! Lovely soft gray. I know you had a hard time deciding what to do with it and I think you found the perfect solution! Nice job!!

  17. Shaunna says:

    Beautiful! I’ve got an antique trunk in my living room floor painting it right now…thanks for wonderful inspiration! My computer went kaplunk this week and you were my first read–yay–amazing as always! -shaunna :)

  18. Bekki says:

    It looks lovely! I love the grey you chose.

  19. I LOVE how this turned out. Painting it was a gutsu move and 100% the right thing to do.

  20. It looks beautiful! You are an incredible blogger. I don’t know how you get the amount of posts out that you do (and others like you) but I’m always so impressed. Thanks for sharing how you did your painting. For beginning painters like me, it helps so much. You really inspire!

  21. Teresa says:

    The Crate turned out great! I really like that you can see the words with the use of glazing. Thank you again for sharing your techniques. See you soon, Always, Teresa

  22. Olde Tyme Marketplace says:

    Unbelieveable results! You turned $7.00 into a million bucks! No joke~ it really looks great. The gray adds an age and depth to the piece while the white wash glaze gives it the patina.
    You are a smarty pants for sure.
    I love how it looks! Thanks for sharing a great tutorial. Also thanks for stopping by today and leaving such a nice comment. You mention the aero bed in the craft room…well I am still right there with ya~ spare bedroom/computer/craft room #2 still awaits a make-over and any amount of quests over 2 will still wind up in there. I don’t have another duvet either~ not sure I am ready to tackle (literally) another one of those yet! LOL!

  23. Good job Jami, I love how you can read the wording now, and the colours you chose are gorgeous. How bug is the crate? Coffee table size is what I am picturing, but it is hard to tell, it may be smaller! I bought an antique tin trunk yesterday, it is metal and currently painted forest green, that will have to go…I haven’t picked it up yet, I can’t wait to see it then work out what I will do to it!
    xx Karen

  24. haha that is meant to say how BIG is the creat…doh!

  25. Holly says:

    I think this turned out AMAZING – better than I could have imagined. The color is great and I love the way the letters pop now. Just beautiful.

  26. Coastal Lust says:

    I’ve just started following you but wanted to let you know how much I love this trunk! Every other poster is right – that glaze really makes the letters pop:) I am eyeing an old steamer trunk on Craigslist right now ($15!) for a photography prop and am keeping this idea in mind:)

  27. I love the way it turned out and now I want to find me a really cool old piece to do the same! Very inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing this very cool project with all of us!

  28. Lisa says:

    It came out great. I think it still looks kind of white-washed in the photo. And the lettering stands out just enough. Like ghost lettering. Another good job. Is there a reason you didn’t do the bottom?

  29. Stephanie says:

    Wow, I loved it in it’s original stage, but CRAVE it now that you finished it. Great job! It looks so beautiful.

  30. You have a definite gift with paint, finishes, and vintage style! I love it!

  31. Tara says:

    Hi I just found your blog and it’s great. Hope you’ll visit me soon..xx

  32. Love the french fray! FABULOUS!

  33. discovered you via Ruths blog.. I just love everything you do!!!!!!!!!!!! I have doorr I am thinking of painting this is very helpful xoox Laura

  34. FlyAwayHome says:

    OMG… this is beautiful. Thanks for sharing the “how to”. I love it.

  35. Lucide says:

    As much as I would have loved for this piece to not be painted just because the patina was so beautiful… I think what you did with it is perfect! I (like everyone else) especially love the white wash and how it pops the logo. You really did a fantastic job! White washing is something that I just haven’t found the knack for, so the fact that you did it so well, bravo!

    As for the BriWax, it’s a wood finishing product… most Ben Moore’s and Sherwin Williams carry it (next to the stains, it’s white with green logo and cap), and any wood finishing product shop. Lots of antique shops seem to be carrying it these days, even Restoration Hardware sells it in their original store in Portland OR (if you’re ever out there, you should definitely stop by!). It’s definitely the best product available… so easy to use, and the finish lasts longer than most. If you can’t find the black, adding a little black and a drop of burnt umber universal tint to the clear/natural does the same thing, but I’ve found it dulls out over time in certain climates.

  36. julie says:

    Jamie, it turned out perfect!! I love the paint color you used. Where are you going to put it?

    Have a great weekend!

  37. Loving this!! It turned out amazing. I have an old trunk that needs some sprucing up…I just may have to try this paint color! Thanks for sharing your idea.


  38. Jami – The truck is an amazing find! I was anxious to see what you did with it. Fantastic job! I have featured this today – stop by and grab a featured button if you like. Hope you are enjoying your weekend! Thanks for linking to The Sunday Showcase. ~ Stephanie Lynn

  39. ★All Thingz Related★ says:

    Fabulous! We are so glad you joined us for Anything Related! Come back tomorrow for another great party!

  40. I love how this turned out, too. L-O-V-E. My favourite part is the subtle letters showing through. You did an amazing job on this!

    I’m a new follower! :)


  41. Hey girl can you add our button to your party links.

    I LOVE THIS project. It is awesome.

    You are one talented gal.


  42. Another great project, Jami!

  43. Jami – I still love this trunk. Fabulous find and a fantastic job finishing it while still holding true to the antique feel. Love it! Thanks so much for linking up. Hope you have a wonderful week. ~ Stephanie Lynn

  44. Great solution. It’s awesome! ;)


  45. Thank you, thank you for the inspiration and fab tutorial! I have a trunk in my garage that someone commissioned me to do and I had “stagefright.” Now I now exactly what to do with it! And thanks for the paint formula…AWESOME!

  46. This is a really great trunk. Normally I would leave the old wood as is but this really turned out nice and the paint really enhances the lettering. Great job!

  47. Cheech says:

    Wow! That turned out perfectly! I’m so jealous, I’ve been looking for an old crate or trunk to us as a coffee table for awhile now. Great job!

  48. Melissa says:

    I love it! Thanks for linking up with ME! I am honored.

  49. Tania Maree says:

    I LoVe this……
    you have so much patience…clearly it’s worth it! Best $7.00 makeover I’ve ever seen……
    Tania xx

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