How to Create an Aged Driftwood Finish on Baskets

I finally finished repainting my kitchen cabinets. It only took me 2 weeks to get them completed. When I first painted them 12 years ago, it took me 3 weeks so I feel I am ahead of my kitchen update plan.

I am loving the freshness of the white and this week have been updating a few more items that have have been hanging around for a long time.  I love decorating with baskets and instead of getting rid of my light colored ones. I came up with an easy paint process to update the wicker with a driftwood finish.  Now updated, I  think I will keep them around a little longer.

How-to-age-and-update-the-color-of-wicker-baskets to a driftwood finish

The baskets used to be very light in color.


I was inspired to update the color after seeing these Ballard Designs chairs that were at the Haven Conference I went to a few weeks ago.   Each strand of wicker has multiple shades of warm tan, gray and mocha to create a warm weathered driftwood finish. I wanted to see if I could replicate it on my light colored baskets.

I went to my stash of paints and supplies and starting experimenting. I am pretty happy how the baskets turned out.


How to Paint a Wicker Basket in a Driftwood Finish

supplies needed:

Wood stain – if your basket is light in color you should darken it a bit.  Any medium wood stain will work as long as it is not too red.   I used Minwax in the color:  Provincial
Craft paint – Folk Art Acrylic Paint in #936 Barn Wood and Martha Stewart Crafts Multi Surface Satin in # 32071 Sycamore Bark
Stiff brushes – I used small and large stencil brushes
Stiff scrub brush – I used a nylon one I bought at The Dollar Tree
Inexpensive paint brushes
Paper towels


If you have a light colored basket, you will need to stain it first. If your basket is already a darker color, skip this step.

This is the only time I am ever going to tell you to use a cheapo paint brush, but they are perfect for quick staining and color-washing over textured surfaces.

Every basket will turn out slightly different, but that is a good thing.  Experiment with the paint colors, adding less or more water to the paints to achieve the look you want.

1. Stir stain  – load brush with stain and brush all over the basket – you don’t have to get every single inch, but just consistent color.  Let dry.


Once the stain is dry – you can now color-wash over it with paint. In the last step of the process, you will use a paint and water mix.   The reason to stain the basket first is to give the color some depth. If I just used the paints over the light colored basket, the aging would not look the same.


2. Using a stiff brush, paint right over the stain with Folk Art paint in Barn Wood.


3. Use a smaller brush to get the paint into the crevices. Let dry.


4.  Go over the dried paint with a scrub brush applying a lot of pressure.  Go across the basket in long horizontal motions. Doing this distresses all the nooks and crannies as well as the entire surface. Sand paper would only distress the highest sections on the basket.    You want to expose some of the undercoats as well as make long scratch marks across the reeds.


5.  Mix Martha Stewart paint in Sycamore Bark with 50% water.  Brush the mix over the surface of the basket.

6. Wipe gently with a paper towel to remove some of the color. Then run a dry paint brush over the surface to make some striation marks in the paint. Let dry


Repeat the process for all your baskets – I had 6 to do.

How-to-age-a-basket in a driftwood finish-Ballard-Designs-Knock-off

I made the metal tags for the baskets a few years ago. You can find the tutorial here – How to make French Enameled Numbered Tags

I love the way the baskets turned out. I want to do it on a few more of the baskets I have around my house  –  no light or brown colored basket are safe from me now.

I will be posting more kitchen updates next week.


On another note – Mark your calendar:

My colortopia blog

If you have any decorating questions especially pertaining to color, I will be hosting a chat over on the My Colortopia Facebook page on Tuesday night August 27th at 8PM EST.  Hope to see you there.

I will be choosing the winner for the book A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book later today and will announce it on Twitter and Facebook.


Happy Weekend!






  1. Jennifer says

    Hi Diane,

    These baskets are beautiful, and exactly the look I want! Can you tell me how much paint you needed for yoyr six baskets! The bottles seem so small. I have eight large baskets to do.

    Thank you

    • says

      Hi Jennifer – You would be surprised at how little paint you need. I used about 6 bottles to do my baskets. I would buy more so that you know you have enough and then you can return any unopened bottles.

  2. Jennifer says

    Sorry – when you say you used six bottles, is that six of each colour (6 Barnwood & 6 Sycamore Bark)?

    Thanks again. :)

    • says

      Hi Jennifer – I needed 2 – 3 bottles of each color. I had some left over also. Sorry I didn’t clarify that in my earlier response to you. :-)

      • Jennifer says

        Hi Diane,

        Thanks for that clarification, and yes, it is suprising how much mileage you got on those paint bottles. That’s wonderful. I’m off to buy some varnish and paint…

        Thanks again for your help – your website is beautiful. :)

  3. Annette Galloway says

    My baskets feel like they have some sort of coating on them, not sure stain would take to it…could i just spray paint or use acrylic paint in chocolate brown instead of using the stain?

    • says

      Hi Annette – Yes, you can use the brown paint. What you want to achieve is a depth of colors. You can put it on very lightly and unevenly. This is what will make the finish look more realistic. On a big basket that I made into a Christmas Tree stand cover I used Minwax stain in Sunbleached and or Weathered Grey. It took because there was no coating on the baskets reeds. It worked very well and was easy.

  4. Jan Blackmon says

    Hi, would you recommend this technique for wicker club chairs? They are 30 yrs old and had them recently restained to a dark walnut. Not happy, too shinny. Just loved the look of the baskets, but wasn’t sure if this would rub off on cushions and pillows . What do you think? Thank you,


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    How to Create an Aged Driftwood Finish on Baskets – In My Own Style

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