Remember that weathered wood wall from Hilary Swank’s Manhattan apartment, featured in Elle Decor last fall? Well those gorgeous walls have been haunting me. Therefore it should come as no surprise that I needed to have something like that in my life. Unfortunately, where I’m currently living, there just isn’t easy access to a healthy supply of reclaimed wood (hello new construction So Cal Suburbia world… old barns? yeah, more like a Pottery Barn at the mall?). So… whattyado? Attempt another lovely DIY!
In my head this seemed like it would be a pretty easy project, and in reality, it kind of was, except for the most important part, getting that “weathered wood” effect. OK, so first I picked up three pieces of pine wood from good ol’ Home Depot. Also picked up two smaller pieces to act as side braces to attach to the bed frame. I had the Home Depot peeps cut it for me (2 free cuts per piece of wood = awesome). I wanted a really wide headboard, so for those pieces, I just kept them as is (I think they’re about 7 feet wide?) I should note, I used this awesome tutorial from Designsponge as added inspiration- except I wanted mine a little simpler (not multiple pieces) and as mentioned, wider)
Now that the wood part was handled, next came the “weather-ing”. I originally was thinking about trying a faux painting technique. This ended up being too much of a headache to try and figure out, so I googled other possibilities to “weather” wood. I came across several tutorials that said to use a mixture of steel wool and vinegar. It seemed easy enough… right? Well, it kind of was, and kind of wasn’t. There are many tutorials out there, but I referred to this one the most. If you’re going to try this, plan on needing to do a little experimentation before actually applying it to your finished product. I played around a little with a scrap piece, but lost patience and just went for it. (In hindsight, I probably should have played around a little more.) Anyway- it appears the actual steel wool you use is important.
I bought two large deep plastic containers (about the size you’d use to hold a good amount of soup), poured the vinegar in (just used plain white distilled) and tried two different packs of steel wool. One I bought at Home Depot, and one I actually picked up at the 99¢ Only store. In the tutorial, it said to leave the steel wool overnight in the vinegar, where it would ultimately dissolve. After 24 hours, they both looked the same. Nothing happened. Just a piece of steel wool floating in vinegar. hm…. So I let them sit a little longer (I kinda forgot about it and they sat for a few days) When I went back to check, the 99¢ Only steel wool clump actually broke apart, while the other one remained in tact. I don’t know if the dissolved mixture makes a difference, but it’s the one I went with.
Next, I applied the mixture liberally to the wood with a cheapie brush. I tried it on one piece- didn’t sand it, just painted it right on top. At first, it seemed like nothing was really happening. It just looked like wet wood. But I figured if I started, maybe I should just continue on the second piece so at least there’s consistency. So I applied it to board #2 (remember that my headboard consists of 3 boards). Then I thought, why don’t I try sanding the last piece. So I sanded piece #3 and then applied the mixture. After letting it soak in and dry, I noticed that something was actually happening! It really started to look like a piece of wood that had been left outside. It wasn’t totally gray like I was hoping, but it didn’t look like blank new unfinished wood either. I applied a second coat and things did get darker, but oddly the third piece (the one I sanded) turned a completely different color and had a different tone. I’m not sure if maybe that piece was not the same kind of wood- but it wasn’t matching the other two.
I had to go back to the Home Depot for paint for another project (coming up in the next post!) and while in the paint aisle, I noticed that Minwax actually has a “classic gray” stain. I was like, oh great- NOW I find it!… after I’d gone through all this time with the vinegar/steel wool thing, I could have just stained it?! – (sigh) oh well… So I picked up a small can of the stain and figured maybe I can just do a quick coat over the whole thing and hopefully it will even things out. Well the stain didn’t even things out, but it did leave a nice added layer of color. At that point I just decided to leave well enough alone. The vingear/steel wool mixture gave a nice realistic “weather” and the stain gave it an added patina that enhanced the overall look.
I finally put all the pieces together and attached it to the bed frame. I placed the odd colored board at the bottom. When the pillows, bedding and night stands are in place, you don’t really even notice.
It’s not 100% what I was going for, but I’m still pretty pleased with it. I think that had I just went with the pure stain and no vingear/steel wool mixture, it would have been too solid of a gray tone for me. I really wanted to have some of the natural brown wood showing through. The whole project was really reliant on a just “try it and see what happens” kind of technique. I don’t know if I could ever duplicate the same results again, but it was a good experiment and ultimately I got my “weathered” headboard for under $100! woo hoo! I think Pepé likes it… (ok, by the looks of it above, I don’t think he really cares, lol!