How to Create an Aged Driftwood Finish on Baskets

How to Change the Color on Any Basket to Look Like a Grey Kubu Basket or a Driftwood Grey Color

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 that fit perfectly in my kitchen shelves, I came up with an easy paint process to update the wicker with a driftwood finish.

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

Now updated, I  think I will keep them around a little longer.


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 Colored Finish

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 cheap-o 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.

supplies needed:

  • Basket
  • 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
  • Water
  • Paper towels


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:

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.

How to change the color of a basket using craft paint. This photo shows going from natural to a driftwood grey color.


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  1. I’d love to try this on some wicker stool seats in my kitchen! Now that we have updated woodwork, they’re too light, but they’re not very old. Do you think I could just stop after the staining process, and spray them with some kind of sealer so they wouldn’t rub off on our pants?

  2. Jackie Snyder says:

    Love the color of your baskets but can’t find either the Barnwood or Sycamore paint colors. Can you give me an idea of which colors these are or what else would be close? Thank you for your help.

  3. What if the baskets have an ugly orange tone stain? How would you prep those?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jo Ann – When baskets have an orange tone to them you can use Rustoleum Driftwood Stain. I found out about it after writing the post you read where I used paints to get the driftwood color. I used the Rustoleum stain to change the color of orange rushed seats on my dining room chairs. It was so easy and the chairs came out great. You can see how I did it in this post. Here is the link to it:

      It will work on baskets too. If your baskets have a shiny coating, rub a piece of 100 grit sandpaper over them first, clean off the grit and then apply the stain.

  4. Stacy See says:

    I have a whitewashed wicker chair. Do you think your method will work if I sand the chair first?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Stacy – Yes it will work, but before you buy all the paints and stain there is a new stain color available since I created this post that you may want to try first. Actually their are two that I have used. One is called Rustoleum Driftwood Wood Stain the other Sunbleached. I would go over your chair with some sandpaper to remove a top layer of the previous finish and then try the stain. I think you will be very happy with the results. You can test it out on the underside to make sure you like it before proceeding on the right side of the chair.

      You can see how I used the stain in this post:

  5. 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,

  6. 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?

    1. Diane Henkler 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.

      1. Annette Galloway says:

        Thank you! Can’t wait to get started!

  7. Tidy Wicker Baskets says:

    What a lovely tutorial! The end result is well worth the effort.

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

    Thanks again. :)

    1. Diane Henkler 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. :-)

      1. 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. :)

  9. Thanks for your help. :)

  10. 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

    1. Diane Henkler 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.

  11. Hi there

    Wondering if you think this would be possible on the resin/plastic outdoor “wicker” furniture? It is already a med brown to start off with. I’d like to make it a gray wash look like the Ballard and restoration look. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks much!

  12. 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!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      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.

  13. TKraft Art & Interiors says:

    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

  14. Jennifer L says:

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

  15. 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!


  16. Angela @ says:

    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!

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

  18. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    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.

  19. 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.

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

  21. Lesley Metcalfe says:

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

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      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.

  22. Laura Ontiveros says:

    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.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      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.

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

  24. Frankie Laney says:

    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.

  25. Elizabeth H says:

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

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

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      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.

  27. Tricia @ Simplicity in the South says:

    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!

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

  29. 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!!

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