White Wash Pickling | Get the Restoration Hardware Look For Less

Everyone loves the Restoration Hardware/Pottery Barn/Ballard Designs aged wood look, right?

It’s also called aged oak, grey acacia, pickled or whitewashed, depending on the shade.

get the restoration hardware look for less

You know the one?

It looks a little grey, a little natural and all refined rustic.


It’s one of my favorite looks in decorating. I’d fill my house with it if I could!  So when we were deciding on a finish for our new dining room table when we gave the dining room a makeover, it was my first choice.

target basket

Before we started this project I didn’t even know what to look for to get the finish I was after. But after some searching around I found Minwax’s (no they didn’t sponsor this post!) water based White Wash Pickling stain. And their other tintable water based stains!


It was like the clouds parted and angels were singing.

Water-based? No way!

White Wash Pickling? Amazeballs!

White Wash Pickling

minwax water based conditioner, stain, whitewash pickling



1. Apply Minwax water based Pre-Stain Conditioner over every surface. Let dry according to directions on package.

minwax pre stain conditioner

2. Apply tinted stain to one area at a time using a brush – for example one board at a time. Let sit for a few minutes then wipe off with a lint free cloth or rag. Let dry according to directions on the package.

applying american walnut stain

wiping off american walnut stain

american walnut stain

3. Lightly sand with fine grit sandpaper. Wipe off all sanding debris with a clean cloth or vacuum clean.

4. Using a brush apply White Wash liberally to one area at a time. Working quickly, wipe off with a clean lint free cloth or rag. Of the whole project, this is the trickiest step to get just right. If your brush is too dry, your finish will be too white. I suggest practicing on a spare board. Once you’re finished white washing the entire table, let dry according to directions on the package.

applying white wash pickling stain

white wash pickling stain

5.  For a rustic looking imperfect table top, gently sand with low grit sandpaper and a palm sander.

sanded vs unsanded

pickled finish detail

6. Using a clean quality brush, apply a thin coat of Polycrcylic in Satin finish for protection from food stains and spills. Let dry. Repeat once.



  • I can’t say enough about the Pre-Stain Conditioner. I’ve never used it before, seeing it as an unnecessary step and added cost. However, I’m sure it’s the reason all of our stain went on so smoothly this time despite using inexpensive soft wood. I plan to use this on every project from now on!
  • I used all water-based products for this project. Water based stain totally rocks for this finish. The fast dry time and lack of headache-inducing stench is a complete bonus!
  • Leave the tinted stain on for a few minutes before wiping it off, BUT wipe off the White Wash Pickling ASAP! Unless you want a really white finish.
  • The poly on top (to protect the table from kids spills) makes the pickling look a little bluer than it is. If you don’t like that and you aren’t worried about major spills, you could just use a clear or natural wax (beeswax would be perfect!) to protect the table.

 aka design farmhouse table eiffel look chairs

So that’s the secret – water-based stain and White Wash Pickling stain. Who knew?!

In case you’re wondering – this is the finish we used when we built our farmhouse table when we redecorated our dining room.

Have you ever used water-based stain? If so, what did you think? If not, would you try it now? What about the White Wash Pickling – do you like it?

P.S. We have many other furniture finishing tutorials, just click here!

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Time to Chat

  1. 3


    The table is so warm and inviting. You all did a great job. Thanks for sharing about the pre-stain conditioner. It always helps to have tips like this.

    • 4


      It’s a totally great product! Like I said, never thought to use it before, but I saw it online somewhere and thought I’d try it for this. LOVE it!

  2. 7

    Michele says

    Thank you so much!! Right smack in the middle of doing my kitchen table. What if I am wanting a lighter wood stain look. We have sort of a beach coastal look. What is a lighter stain mini wax you would suggest? I am just doing the table top with the stain, the bottom part of the table and chairs are going to be painted with Annie Sloan Provence.

      • 9

        Michele says

        Thanks!! Sorry for posting twice, just now saw reply. Yes, I am wanting the whitewash on top. I was just looking at the Restoration Hardware website last night trying to figure out the grey acai look. I am now trying to remove the Annie Sloan soft wax off of the bare wood, it didn’t give me the look I wanted. I am doing it your way :)

  3. 11

    Michele says

    Shannon, please give me your opinion :) I trust your judgement. And since this is my first big redo, I want it to turn out nice :)

  4. 13

    Kelly says

    Oh my – thanks for being so generous with all your knowledge. As soon as I saw that table a few days ago – I knew it is exactly what I have been looking for, complete with the same chairs you have used!! Brilliant. I hope you don’t mind but I am 100% copying everything you have done because it has turned out perfect. Well done!!

  5. 15


    Thanks for sharing! I have a coffee table that is in need of exactly this finish – now I know how :) Even better that it’s all water-based!

  6. 19


    it took me a couple of tries to finally land on this secret recipe! i also looove the look and feel it brings to my house! your table looks gorgeous

  7. 27

    Melissa says

    I am struggling to cover my wood filler with the stain? Does the pre-stain treatment help that you think? I have not used that & went straight for the walnut stain…
    Thanks tons!

    • 28


      Oh, Melissa. I’m so sorry. We had the same problem with our old dining room table. Unfortunately wood filler doesn’t take stain the same as real wood. I actually really don’t like wood filler. I had to paint it!

  8. 29

    Kambi says

    You are a real gem for posting this idea/ process!! As soon as I read, “AMAZEBALLS”, I knew I’d love your style!! ha! I’ve been trying to search for a grey/ white “ish” wash table and after 4 months of unsuccessful searching, I have decided to create it myself!!! I stumbled upon your site after googling, “Can you put a pickled white wash stain on top of tinted water based stain” and BAM- i found your detailed process!! I can’t wait to try this out– going to purchase my 54′ round table today!!! To achieve the gray/ white affect, I’m going after the Slate Tint Base with the White Pickling on top!!! Thank you again for the advice and thanks for the spunky commentary!!!

  9. 35

    Everett says

    Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my
    old one! It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same layout
    and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

  10. 36

    Dawn says

    Love this painting technique!!. How can I recreate this look on a table that is all ready stained light oak?

  11. 40

    Jason says

    I want to do something like this on a pallet bookshelf I just put together. I tried using some leftover dark walnut stain on some spare wood and did the white wash pickling, but neither gave me the desired effect I was looking for (couldn’t get the stain dark enough and the white wash wasn’t white enough). Any suggestions?

  12. 41

    Angela says

    We haven just built our own farmhouse table using reclaimed barnwood for the top. It is beautiful but not the shade I wanted, so I am going to get some pickling stain. I’m really hoping it does the trick! Anyway, I was wondering where you got your chairs? I am wanting to do an eclectic mix, and I have been wanting t add a few the same style as yours. Thanks! Beautiful job!

  13. 43


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  14. 44

    jeff hippensteel says

    what if wood is white? Do I need to sand it first before I start the whitewash pickling procedure to get that greyish look

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  19. 50

    nancy says

    Where did you get the Minwax Whitewash Pickling Stain? I checked the sites for Home Depot (where I actually work), Ace and True Value with no luck. Amazon has it, but charges $81.00 for one quart!!!!! Yikes!!!!.

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