Gray Paint Wash for Revamping Old Baskets

Recipe for transforming old ugly basket with a gray paint/stain wash. {The Creativity Exchange}


Over the last few months, I have been trying to come up with a way that I could revamp my old dated baskets without them looking “painted”.  I wanted to figure out something that would be more like a stain rather than paint.  I finally came up with a great gray paint wash recipe that’s really a combo of a paint wash and stain that I’m sharing today.

If you’re like me, you probably have a junk closet full of old baskets like this full of brown, red and gold tone baskets (I’m pretty sure the multiply in the closet):


Easy gray/white stain wash for revamping old ugly baskets {The Creativity Exchange}


I love baskets but now that I have transitioned to grays and cooler tones in my home, those yellow, gold and reddish baskets just don’t work anymore.  I prefer the darker gray baskets similar to these below:

gray baskets

In the past, I tried painting old baskets and I even tried paint washes but I just didn’t care for that painted chalky wash look.  I just really wanted more of stain/subtle look.  It hit me over the weekend that if I used acrylic paint mixed with water, I would get more of stain versus a chalky finish because acrylic has polymer (plastic) in it versus standard paint that has lime/chalk like base (I really need a paint intervention)(why does this fascinate me so?).   So… Long story short, my little stain wash worked beautifully:


Easy gray stain/paint wash for revamping old ugly baskets {The Creativity Exchange}


See how the baskets look more stained than painted?  For some reason, they look super gray all picture together above but by themselves, you can see that they are just the right amount of gray below:


Recipe for gray stain/paint wash for revamping old ugly baskets. {The Creativity Exchange}


This basket above was originally a golden reddish brown color:


easy gray stain wash for revamping old ugly baskets {The Creativity Exchange}


The recipe that I came up with is really easy to do and any acrylic paint will work.  I used the brand “Basics” acrylic found the art paint section at the craft store in the color “Neutral Gray”.  I tested out several different grays and this color of gray was not too light or too dark and if you want to use a different brand, you’ll want to find a color that is like a dolphin or elephant (a mid-tone true gray)

The best ratio that that I came up with for the stain/wash was- 1 part paint to 3 parts water.  I would mix up one tablespoon of paint with three tablespoons of water and mix thoroughly. This amount of mix will cover about 3 smaller baskets to give you an idea.   I used a plastic disposable cup for the mix:


Recipe and tutorial for gray stain and paint wash for revamping old baskets. {The Creativity Exchange}


Next, I held the basket over my sink and brushed the mix on with a foam brush really thick.  The goal is for the wash to get down into and around all of the wicker so the end finish is more even and doesn’t look “washed” on just the front.  When you brush on your mix, it will look like this:


easy gray stain paint wash for revamping old baskets. {The Creativity Exchange}



Ok, stick with me here… If the basket is either really dark or really light in color, you’ll want to try and keep as much stain on the piece as possible.  However, it’s challenging because you don’t want it to run or gloop in the corners. So I used a dry foam brush to go over the piece lightly but just enough to keep it from running and glooping.  On pieces that are closer to your gray color, you’ll want to use a dry foam brush to remove more of the stain because the stain can be pretty strong.

Also, one more thing… As you do this wash, you’ll be thinking that there is no way that this is gonna look good.  Trust me, the stain absorbs into the wicker and basically dries over the existing color.  Again, trust me and walk away..  I swear, you will be amazed 30 minutes later how it basically dyes the piece.

Ok, just to give you a better idea, this is what the same large basket above looked like before I got started:

recipe and tutorial for gray stain paint wash for revamping old ugly baskets {The Creativity Exchange}


this is what the piece looked like this when I applied the mix and because it was so dark and golden, I tried to leave as much of the mix on as possible and only lightly went over with a dry brush (to just keep it from running):


easy gray stain paint wash for revamping old baskets. {The Creativity Exchange}


and it looked like this 30 minutes later ( I did swipe it with a darker mix that I will explain in a second):


gray wash stain paint wash for revamping old baskets {The Creativity Exchange}


Because I needed to add just a little depth to contrast the wash/stain, when I was done with all of the baskets, I added a hint of black to my mix.  So what I did is I mixed up my same wash (1 tablespoon paint to 3 tablespoons water) and then I added about 1/4 tablespoon of black.  It made it more of a dark gray color.  I then took a smaller watercolor type brush and just swiped over the dried finish. If you look closely below, you can see where I swiped a little darker color. If you don’t add a hint of the darker color, you get a driftwood look, which is great too:


DIY gray stain and paint was for revamping



I think I made this process sound complicated but I really want to try and explain in great detail so I don’t leave you hanging over the sink.  This whole process can be done really quickly.   Just remember, you can always do it again after the mix has dried or you can add depth with the hint of black.  I’m also thinking this would be great to try in white or a fun color like indigo?  So many possibilities..

Ok friends, dig out those old ugly baskets and just try this.  They’re taking up too much space not to be used.

Thanks as always for hanging out with me today!



This entry was posted in Do It Yourself Projects, Paint Techniques and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Gray Paint Wash for Revamping Old Baskets

  1. MrsSW says:

    WOW! The baskets look great, Cyndy. I love baskets and have many (well many, many, many) that are all the wrong color. I’ll be trying your technique soon.

    Thanks! 🙂


  2. Love the gray, it looks wonderful. I would love for you to link up to my Inspire Me Tuesday party – - Hope to see you there. Hugs, Marty

  3. Cindy @ Diy beautify says:

    Great idea! I’ve been disappointed with the chalky finish that I’ve achieved on some of mine and had given it up as ‘hopeless’. Thanks to this tutorial, I’ll be trying again 🙂

  4. Kelly says:

    What a great way to make old baskets fit in with your decor. I may have to dig some of mine out of the storage room.

  5. So awesome, Cyndy!! I’m excited to go check out my pile of baskets and give them a facelift!

  6. Mary Ruth says:

    LOVE the ‘uniting baskets to match’ idea! And I think this could be done with ANY color…. GREAT examples! I think you do projects with such professionalism that it makes me think ‘I can do that’! Thanks for sharing all that you do with us! I like getting my email updates as to what is new on your blog!

  7. I will have to try this. Great tutorial. They look like art all by themselves.

  8. debbie gray says:

    Love the look… how do you think it would look on a black wicker daybed that I am considering using this technique. The room is a child’s room with a nautical theme. Would I need to change the formula? Thank you for your help..

  9. Dianntha says:

    When the weather improves I will be trying this idea. The baskets look fabulous!

  10. LRC says:

    What a great idea! Now I wish I wouldn’t have donated so many baskets to Goodwill. Luckily I still have a few. Gonna try this for sure! Thank you!!!

  11. Pingback: My Favorite DIY Paint Techniques and Tutorials for RevampsThe Creativity Exchange

  12. Mary says:

    Several years ago I ‘tinted’ a plain, blondish rattan basket by using RIT dye. I used the granules and diluted the dye in water and then soaked the basket until it reached a tone that I liked. This technique may not work for baskets that are very dark or have been painted, but it was simple enough to do.

  13. Whitney F. says:

    This looks awesome! I have a black painted wicker chair that I want to do this wash on. Should I prime the wicker first? I’ve never done a project like this before but definitely want to get it started!
    Also, would I need to spray a finishing coat over it?

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