How to Create an Aged Driftwood Finish on Baskets

by Diane Henkler on 08/23/2013

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!





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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maryann August 23, 2013 at 10:10 am

I love your baskets! They are adorable and the tags really make them special. Can’t wait to try your paint method.


2 Terri J August 23, 2013 at 10:32 am

Love it! I think you may know that the beach is one of my great passions in life, and this tutorial gives me a great way to bring more of it into where I am currently living!! So glad that I still have a ton of left over paints to use up. Thank you!!


3 Marm August 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Great idea with great results. Thanks for sharing all the details so we can do it too.


4 Tricia @ Simplicity in the South August 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I love this idea! I was admiring the finish on those chairs at the conference, too. You were one of the bloggers on my must-meet-in-person-list so I’m sad I didn’t introduce myself. There’s always next year. I’m saving this idea for my laundry room baskets. Thanks for sharing!


5 Mel August 23, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Love the look! I wonder if white pickling stain would give the same effect? I have some and will give it a try.


6 Diane Henkler August 23, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Hi Mel – I tried pickling stain, liming wash, and liming wax. They worked, but took a lot of the color off when I applied them. I am sure there is a brand that would work. What brand do you use and like? I love to experiment. I did use the liming wax to update two rattan pieces I have. I will be posting about them next week.


7 Elizabeth H August 23, 2013 at 7:45 pm

What a fantastic look. Thanks for sharing. I am going to do this.


8 Frankie Laney August 23, 2013 at 11:38 pm

What a great idea and what a great job you did on these baskets. I have several and I’m going to try it this weekend!! Thanks for the inspiration.


9 Merri Jo August 24, 2013 at 1:36 am

This is an excellent & very timely tutorial. Thanks, Diane!


10 Laura Ontiveros August 24, 2013 at 3:09 am

Hi Diane!
Your baskets turned out so beautiful, I wonder if to get the same effect on wood you have to follow the same process but with paint instaed of acrilic.


11 Diane Henkler August 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Hi Laura – You could get the same effect on wood using craft paints. I did 2 rattan pieces that I will post next week. I used craft paint and liming wax. There is also I product that you can use on bare wood to stain it so it looks like driftwood. I learned about it via an ad in my sidebar. It is powder that you mix with water. I saw a few photos – it looks amazing. I may do it on my dining room table.


12 Lesley Metcalfe August 24, 2013 at 10:29 am

Your “driftwood” baskets look amazing! How many different paints did you have to experiment with before you got your desired colour?


13 Diane Henkler August 24, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Hi Lesley – I experimented with 4-5 different paints until I liked what I saw. Depending on the look you want, you could go even lighter by using a light tan paint and water wash. I used a medium tan.


14 Alicia August 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm

You are so wonderfully creative and resourceful. I hope your family appreciates your talent. Some of us can only imitate, not create.


15 Faye August 24, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Beautiful paint and stain finish for the baskets. I need to try this on some
baskets I’ve been…keeping for just the right finish.


16 Sheryll & Critters. August 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Wow, thanks for the advice and your baskets look so ‘now’ ….. now. hee hee.

I only have one basket, I wish I had at least 10 short ones for the tops of my cabinets in my kitchen now. But they are expensive. I have been looking for at least a year and never enough money. I have one basket with the handle that I grabbed off the garbage curb from a neighbor…. that and a wreath and both are in great condition too. I plan to paint this one basket white and then do a wash of blue & white or maybe dry brush some blue on it…. not sure yet. It is this deep red and it is not my color, even for Christmas.


17 Kathy T August 24, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Oh my gosh, the color looks beautiful and will blend so well with home color trends . Thanks for sharing


18 Angela @ August 27, 2013 at 12:56 am

These turned out great! Thanks for sharing your process and tips! It seems there’s lots of cheap baskets out there with that orange-y hue, which isn’t very appealing to me. But with your process, you could save money by just making them over!


19 Tania August 30, 2013 at 9:56 am

I love this, you’ve done a great job with your tutorial! I have a very large trunk style basket that is UGLY and I was thinking about trying to make it look older, thanks so much!



20 Jennifer L August 30, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Love this idea! Looks awesome, going to attempt this project this weekend! :) thanks! Love. Your blog!


21 TKraft Art & Interiors August 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Found orig. via {aka}|design and posted this comment: I was just dreaming of baskets to awake and find this post. My old house = no closets = lots of baskets, endless baskets, now the new one will blend in. Especially the freebies I tend to pick up on the fly that just seam a little off. Just wanted to share my thanks with you as well – great blog! xoxo New groupie


22 Ali April 4, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Have you tried this on already painted wicker? I have a wicker cabinet that was painted in a semi gloss white….I was thinking maybe priming it first with a gray primer? Just wondered if you have attempted before and had any tips….love those baskets!!


23 Diane Henkler April 7, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I have not tried it on previously painted wicker, but I think it would work just fine. I would sand over the paint first to expose some of the natural wicker color, then proceed with the stains and paints. You can also try using Grey Driftwood stain made by Rustoluem called Weathered Grey. It might be all you need over the painted finish.


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