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How to Create an Aged Driftwood Finish on Baskets

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

    1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!!