painting Michael’s wood crates to look like Restoration Hardware

do you have a friend (or many) who inspires you to be healthier? i mean, like when you’re lounging in bed at 7 am, dreaming of  sidecar doughnuts while checking facebook and she’s already finished a marathon?

right.  that friend.

my friend Robyn is that to me.  she’s a smart, hard-charging, all-natural beauty, and is usually up at 4:45 am doing some sort of crossfit or marathon training. my excuse (and believe me, i’ve got plenty of them), is that i was up until midnight painting in the garage.

Robyn sits on the Board for the US Green Building Council’s Orange County Chapter, and she was in charge of their Eco Awards event this year.

Robyn Vettraino, Vice Chair USGBC Orange County

Robyn Jepsen Vettraino    photo credit: Violeta Vaqueiro

awards were given to orange county cities and companies that have demonstrated excellence in green development.

Robyn specifically wanted something unique…and most importantly, something the winners would use. there’s nothing less green than spending money on an award that gets tossed the next week.


photo credit: Violeta Vaqueiro

so, we decided that reclaimed wood would be involved. if you know me, you know my love for reclaimed wood and the Restoration Hardware weather wood look.

i went to my neighbor’s new house construction site and grabbed some scrap wood. then i thought “who’m i kidding?! i barely have time to brush my hair let alone build something!”


photo credit: Violeta Vaqueiro

then Robyn called and said a few of of my favorite words…”I’m at Michael’s.”


photo credit: Violeta Vaqueiro

she returned with these cute 12″ x 10″ x 6″ wooden crates.



photo credit: Violeta Vaqueiro

my goal was to paint them to look rustic…as if in my copious amounts of free time, i’d actually salvaged the wood and made them myself.


so i started by sanding the crates with my handy mouse sander.


then i used whatever dark paints and stains i could find in my stash.  some got a Rustoleum oil rubbed bronze spray paint. some got a Minwax Dark Walnut. some got an Annie Sloan watery graphite.


the goal was to start with a dark first layer to soak into the wood.  see how watery the Annie Sloan graphite paint was that i used?


note that the first coat doesn’t have to be perfect.  sloppy is totally fine as we’re trying to make these look used and abused, right?




then i used a very very watery wash of Annie Sloan Chalk Paints as a second paint layer. for the first batch, i mixed Old White and Pure White.  i’d say the paint to water ratio is 1:3, so it was in fact, quite watery.

Robyn took the crates to Factory eNova, a super cool shop that does laser engraving, 3D printing, and all sorts of uber nerd tech stuff. They laser engraved the sides of the wood crates with the Eco-Awards 2014 logo, and they turned out beautifully. the photo below is from Instagram with a filter that washed out the gray hues of the wood.  but how cool is that lasered logo??!!


photo credit: Robyn Vettraino

and here’s another Instagram from one of the winners, who’s putting the award to good use!  the color here is much more representative of the final product.

usgbc orange county wooden crate award

photo credit: Orco Block and Hardscape

the awards were such a hit that i’ve been asked to paint another 40 for the holidays. so i brought in my intern.


for the 2nd batch, i varied the colors of the initial base color. the one below has MinWax Dark Walnut on the left, and a custom blue Annie Sloan blue (graphite + neopolatin blue + water).




be sure when doing the next coat of the lighter color, that you’re almost dry-brushing. that means, dip your brush into the paint, and get most of the paint off of it so that the light colored paint is barely brushing over the dark under color.


notice on the middle crate below that the MinWax is an oily base, so the water-based paint on top separates nicely, showing the wood grain. the MixWax crates definitely took longer to dry, and they STUNK up my garage.  yuck.


but the final look was perfect, yummy. rustic. weathered wood. restoration hardware looking. affordable.

rustic-wood-crates-finished rustic-wood-crates-painted


so if you’re looking for a fun and easy painting project for a reusable gift, head to Michael’s after your crossfit class.  😉




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. Thanks for posting this! I’ve always liked the rugged aesthetic to wooden crates. It’s easy to see why they’re often used for decorating, along with practical uses. I like how you used a darker base paint to make the wood have a darker brown color. It seems to give it a more polished look while maintaining a rugged appeal.