annie sloan tutorial :: Restoration Hardware wood finish on an old coffee table

A few folks have asked how I got the look on the zero to hero coffee table. I didn’t take pix b/c we’re moving this week and I didn’t have much time to crank out a few more pieces before the movers arrive!

But here was my process:

coffee table before…

  • Old White as a base, brushed on with 3″ and 1″ Purdy brushes.  I used the 1″ brush in the narrow areas around the hardware.
  • Brush with wood grain.  To achieve a weathered wood look, you want to replicate a real wood grain, so it’s important to go with the grain on the brush strokes and sanding
  • Let dry
  • I typically use the clear wax before sanding, BUT not to achieve a layered look.  I wanted the dark wood to show through a lot, so I didn’t use the wax.
  • Using a very very rough sand paper (80 grit?), sand with the wood grain.  You’ll notice the paint is very easy to sand, and is very chalky…thus, the paint’s name.  Be sure to sand more aggressively on the edges and areas where the piece would get more wear and tear.
  • Remove all chalk dust with a rag
  • Working in small sections, dry brush with Paris Grey, using some heavier strokes, some lighter.  Use a rag to wipe the paint.  The paint dries quickly, so be sure to work in small sections.
  • Let dry
  • Again using the rough sand paper, sand over the Paris Grey
  • Wipe dust off with rag
  • Brush on the Annie Sloan clear wax.  Be generous with the wax to cover the paint well.
  • Let dry
  • Rub in the clear wax with a rag, being sure to fully cover the paint
  • Brush on Annie’s dark wax.  Be generous as you want to achieve a wood color over the white and grey paint layers.
  • Rub in the dark wax with a rag.  Because you used generous clear and dark wax coats, the piece will be tacky and take a few days to fully cure.

    coffee table after

yummy, grey, layered, weathered wood look…


About meesh

Meesh has a passion for people, creative projects, and technology. She enjoys painting furniture back to life, gardening, playing with her kids, and connecting people.


  1. What kind of wood it is? Oak? Really interesting shape!

  2. Love it!

  3. me & mrs. jones says

    this is really truly fabulous work! an amazing transformation.

  4. Southern Gal says

    I can’t believe that transformation…went from 1990 to 2013 in a flash! Cool!

    • imeeshu says

      indeed, Southern Gal! have any stuff in C-town I can refinish next time i’m there? i’m sure there are GREAT treasures there!

    • imeeshu says

      lol! indeed, Anne. Indeed!

  5. Kris says

    I came upon this post and am attempting to do something similar to an old table I recently bought. Any pointers, this will be my first time working with Annie Sloan paints? I have my supplies, just a little intimidated as I’ve only ever used spray paint and latex paints on furniture. Really looking forward to a barn wood feel! Thanks!

    • imeeshu says

      I know it’s intimidating, but the best thing to do is just dive in! Annie Sloan paints are very forgiving. To get a wood grain look, paint in a single direction. Remember with the dark wax, the wood will look darker and is less-forgiving than starting with a layer of clear wax first. Always work in small areas when using the dark wax first. Test a small area first. Then rub it in with a soft cloth or with a 0000 steel wool to get a desired look.
      Check some of my other posts as there are tips and tricks throughout!!
      Good luck and please report back! I’d love to see your work!!

  6. Andrea says

    I love this table and would like to try to do a similar look. I have a few questions. What did you mean by “dry brush with Paris Grey”? Does that just mean to use very little paint? Also Did you put the Paris Grey paint over the entire piece or just in spots? Finally with the clear wax you mention that you painted it on, let it dry and then rubbed it in with a rag. I thought you always needed to brush on the wax and then wipe it off immediately before it dries so can you clarify? Thanks

    • imeeshu says

      Hi! Dry brushing means dipping your brush in paint, and then wiping the brush onto a rag or paper plate to remove most o the paint. What you’re trying to do is just get wisps of the color onto your surface to create a layered look. Use as many strokes as you want to achieve the look you want, depending on how much of the color you want. Then you can immediately wipe off to remove any visible brush strokes.
      When using wax, you can either use a brush or a soft cloth to apply. I prefer a rag for larger pieces. I use a brush when the piece has crevices or detail work with lots of nooks and crannies. When waxing a light-colored piece, be sure to use a white rag so that no colored fuzzies transfer to your piece. Also, I generally apply wax a section (such as an entire table top) at a time, letting it set for about 3-5 minutes. Then I buff it in. If the piece is a highly-trafficked piece, such as this coffee table, I applied three coats of wax.
      When using the dark wax, I work in sections and wipe off immediately so that the piece doesn’t get too dark. The purpose of the dark wax is to make nooks and crannies stand out more, or to darken a lighter-colored paint. I rarely use dark wax directly onto a light colored paint. I use clear wax first, buff in, then use the dark wax. If you notice the dark wax becoming too dark, you can continue to use a rag or very fine steel wool to “remove” the wax to achieve the look you want.
      Some people have suggested to mix clear and dark wax, which I believe is what Annie Sloan herself does sometimes, but that isn’t my preferred method as I find it still to be too dark.
      What’s so great about the Annie Sloan wax is that it’s so soft and makes the piece super soft to the touch. By continuing to buff, you can get a decent luster to your piece. And the wax holds up outside as well. I have several pieces outside and they still look great after the beating So Cal sun and through our few weeks of beating rains.
      Please let me know if you any more clarification. I want to see the piece when you’re done!!
      Good luck!!!

      • Andrea says

        Thanks! I’m working on a more basic piece now- Just 1 color of chalk paint and then the clear and dark wax, to get used to using the wax. After I finish that project I’m going to try to copy your table. I really love it! Thanks for all the additional insight.

        • Hi again, I did it! I tried your technique on a set of nesting side tables and they came out great! Thank you!
          Now I was hoping for your advise/opinion on the coffee table as I have run in to an issue. I decided I didn’t want to use the same technique on the table as I didn’t want everything to match. So I thought I would just paint it a distressed black. However I didn’t realize that the Annie Sloan Graphite paint isn’t really black but more grey. So now I have a coffee table with 2 coats of Graphite on it and I don’t know what to do. I found a blog online that mentions mixing the dark wax with a blue paint and waxing it to get more of a black look but I’m nervous. Any creative thoughts on what i could do to it now to make it look nice and complement the side tables?

          • imeeshu says

            I’m glad to hear that the technique worked! Isn’t it fun??

            If you mix blue with graphite, it will have a bluish hue. Search “mud room” on my blog and you’ll see how it looks. I’m pretty sure if you use dark wax on the two coats of graphite, it will look almost black. What color was the coffee table when you started? You mention wanting a distressed black, which means you want something to peek through once you sand/distress, right? Please send me a photo and I’ll take a look. imeeshublog at gmail dot com.

          • Thanks. I emailed you the pics. Let me know if you did not receive them and I can try posting them instead.

          • Andrea says

            Hi again, So I took your advise and added some more colors and distressing to the table and it looks much better! My only issue is the wax will not cure. I did it 10 days ago and have buffed like crazy but the table still feels tacky and leaves finger prints with the slightest touch. Any ideas on how to fix?
            Thanks again for all your help!!!

          • imeeshu says

            I’m guessing you’re in a colder part of the country? It should cure within a month. Ours took a few weeks as I used several layers of wax. It was the winter of So Cal, so not terribly cold, but it was rainy.
            Pls keep me posted!

  7. Do you sand table first? If so, what grit?

    • imeeshu says

      No, that’s the beauty of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. No need to prep, strip, or sand anything before you start. You just paint, and it just works like magic! 🙂 Good luck!

  8. what do you use to buff the wax?

  9. jacqui says

    Hi love this! I’m going to try this on a small stool before attempting my coffee table. I’m completely new to painting –on your first layer of old white–did you paint it on full coverage or very thinly so that youcould see brush strokes/wood underneath

    • imeeshu says

      Hi Jacqui, as I recall (it’s been a few years!), I brushed it on quite thick b/c the wood was so dark. The trick then was to sand with a very coarse sandpaper to get the wood to poke through to look like wood grain.

      Good luck and keep me posted!

  10. Amanda says

    This is the exact finish I am looking for! Thank you for sharing!! I am going to use this technique on a light colored pedestal table. Will I get the same results on a light colored table? If not, what should I do differently?

    • imeeshu says

      I’d start by staining the piece dark as you’ll want the dark to peek through the light paint layers on top. If the piece is already varnished, sand it before staining. Your stain job doesn’t have to be perfect. I’d quickly slap on some dark stain haphazardly. Good luck and please keep me posted on your progress!!

      • Could you even sand and add some dark wax rather than stain then proceed?

  11. Aleks says

    Hello everyone. I am new to this, is there a video that could help me?

    • imeeshu says

      Sorry, but I don’t have a video tutorial for this. But you should be able to follow the detailed instructions from the post! Good luck.

  12. wow nice post !!
    very inspire

  13. Colleen Fonkalsrud says

    Love your creations, your style and your sharing of information! Will definitely be trying your techniques! Colleen F

  14. I love this! I am thinking of doing it for my son’s bed. Love the Restoration Hardware Metal Zinc finishes – and this reminds me of them. Do you think this would work for a bed?

  15. You can add India Ink to the graphite. 1 bottle to 1 quart of graphite. Makes the color more of a soft black.

    • Thanks for the tip! Will definitely try that when I need a soft black! Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

  16. cherie says

    I have a wood table but with a laminate top. Would this work on laminate? I started sanding it to get to the grain, but now I’m torn by indecision :/

  17. Jena says

    Hello! Love the look! I have an oak colored book case I was thinking of using this technique, will it look the same when finished? Your piece is much darker.

  18. I am attempting this look on a tall armoire. I’ve used chalk paint and waxes before. Last time I used dark wax over clear I found that when I buffed most of the dark wax disappeared as I was trying to get a sheen. Any suggestions?

    • I’d do clear wax, dark wax in the crevices to get the antique look, then clear on top of it buffed out to get a sheen. That way, you’re preserving the dark wax in areas where you want it. An alternative is using Gel’d Kote + glaze which is more forgiving and allows you to work in the dark wax without having it stick where you don’t want it to stick. The glaze gives you much more time to work in the look. Then I’d finish off with a clear wax on top to get the sheen you desire!

      Good luck and keep me posted!

  19. This is awesome! I just painted an old hutch two coats of old white. I the next step you say to sand…should I sand like I’m distressing it? Or how much of the white do I sand off before dry brushing the grey? Thanks!

  20. I love this and am trying this technique on a dining table! Wondered how long you let the paint dry for before sanding it? Thanks!

    • Oh my gosh. So sorry that I took so long to reply! It totally depends on the weather and how fast the paint is drying. On this particular piece, I painted it in spring in So Cal, so it’s quite dry. I probably waited 10 minutes before sanding. Good luck!

  21. Where do I find Anne Sloan chalk paint, clear wax, dark wax & Paris grey paint?

    • Hi Jill. You can search for an Annie Sloan stockist through Good luck!

  22. Hi Meesh,
    I love your coffee table. I’d like to do a kitchen table like that and here’s my question, which seems a little strange but I want to clarify…After you paint on the first coat of Annie Sloan white paint, do you let it completely dry before you start sanding, or sand before it dries? Thanks.

    • Sorry, I thought I had read all of the posts, but just saw the answer to my question listed above. Now it’s off to paint!

      • Love the look. I have a set of wood stair steps I want this look on. Would this step by step process work for stairs? Just wondering as to the durability and the slipperiness of wax. What are your thoughts? Thank you ?

  23. Jen Kucich says

    Tried this on a pedestal table and it came out beautiful, the only thing is that the dark wax gave it a little too much of a yellowish hue. Was wondering if I could sand, dry brush and wax again over wax that has already cured?

    • You don’t even need to sand. Just dry brush over the dark wax until you get the look you like. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the dark wax for that exact reason. I find it tricky to control, even when mixing with clear wax. I’ve found a few better products, one which is called LiqWax by FUNiture. It’s more of a liquid and has a longer time to cure, which means you can play around with it longer in the nooks and crannies. Give it a try and tell Anne, the owner that I sent you! The product is no-VOC, which I love for our lungs!

      The other option is to use a mixture of clear glaze and Gel’d Kote. It also works very well, but has a strong scent and is more expensive.

      Good luck, and thanks for reading. Please keep me posted! 🙂

  24. I used pure white instead of old white. I have OW as well. Would you paint over the pure white do get this same look? Or do you think it makes much difference? Thanks in advance!

  25. Mackenzie says

    I have this exact same coffee table and am really wanting it to look like this. I am wondering how you did the metal accents. They look lighter in the after picture. Were you able to remove them somehow? I have looked and cannot figure out how you would get them off.

  26. Hi Meesh,

    I am very new to this, and lack artistic talent. But I am determined, so I even took a chalk paint class a couple of weeks ago. I have looked all over YouTube and Pinterest, and I find your written tutorial and pictures to be the most effective out there.

    I am trying to paint a round oak table and 4 kitchen chairs to get the weathered grey look. I am getting new quartz countertops that are white with grey squigglies. I am hoping that weathered grey table and chairs will look good good with the modern quartz. Your opinion?
    Also, I am going to follow your direction, but I have a question – what is dry brush?

    Also, are there all kinds of variations on grey weathered look? More grey than anything else? Just wondering.

  27. Thanks for your kind words! I love quartz with gray squigglies. 🙂

    Dry brush is where you dab the paint brush into the paint and wipe most of the paint off with a towel so that the brush is nearly dry. Then you very lightly add wispy paint strokes to give the wood an appearance of another layer of color. I prefer to water the chalk paint down with a lot of water when I’m dry brushing so that the color is so light when I brush it on.

    I hope that helps!

    As far as color, there are so many options and it’s really trial and error based on your presence. I prefer to start with a dark color as a base, so if your oak is dark, you won’t need to do anything. If the oak is more of light color, you’ll can use a graphite to get the base looking darker to start.

    The beauty about chalk paint is that you can keep painting until you get the look you love!

    Good luck!


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