just the right white.

There are so many shades of white out there!  And I’m sure you will all agree with me that sometimes choosing the right shade of white can be just as difficult as choosing a color!

Normally I lean towards the creamy whites; Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen, Fusion’s Limestone and Annie Sloan’s Old White.  These warmer shades of white tend to play well with others.  A piece painted in one of these colors can be brought into your room without everything else suddenly looking dingy.  My ‘Specimens Cupboard’ (below) is painted in MMS Linen as are most of the white pieces in my own home.

When I brought home this charming antique washstand last week, I initially thought maybe I should paint it black.

You see, it has these amazing original black knobs.

I don’t know exactly what it is that appeals to me about these knobs, but I just love them.

And had I painted the washstand black, the knobs would have just blended in and I wanted them to really pop.  I also rejected the idea of pairing a color with the black knobs.  So that left white.

  As for what type of white paint, with an old piece like this washstand I like to go with milk paint.  I feel like nothing emphasizes the vintage character of an old piece like a chippy milk paint finish.

Choosing which shade of white ended up being a bit more complicated.

I started with my current go-to warm white milk paint, Homestead House’s Limestone (which is very similar to MMS Linen).  After painting the first coat I realized that it felt just a bit too creamy for this piece, so I decided to switch it up and for the 2nd coat of paint I went with Miss Mustard Seed’s Farmhouse White.  Once that was dry, it was really just a bit too … well … white.  It felt a bit sterile on this piece.

So I decided to try Miss Mustard Seed’s Grain Sack for my 3rd coat of paint.  Grain Sack is a white with a definite grey undertone.  I’ve paired this color with black accents before and loved the results (here).

Sure enough, the 3rd time was the charm!  The Grain Sack is perfect on this piece.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “what a bummer to waste all of that paint before landing on the right white.”  But actually, this piece would have required three coats of paint for good coverage anyway.  And since these were all shades of white, I was able to get away with just that one final coat of Grain Sack.

The chippy-ness gods were smiling on me with this piece.  I got just the right amount of chipping.  It looks authentic, but not overdone.  I’ll admit I didn’t use any special technique to get this result.  I did scuff sand this piece, followed by a good cleaning with TSP substitute and then I just started painting.

Once the paint was dry, I sanded lightly and then vacuumed away any chipping paint.  The last step was to add some Miss Mustard Seed furniture wax which brought out a little more of the grey and also added some ‘age’ back to the finish.

Oh, but wait, I almost forgot!  Before I waxed I added just the tiniest portion of an Iron Orchid Designs furniture transfer to the upper drawer.  ‘1871.’

It’s just a subtle little touch that adds a bit of whimsy.

I have to note here that sometimes the white that works perfectly on one piece doesn’t work at all on another.  I was perfectly happy with Farmhouse White on my belgian bench, and I loved Homestead House Limestone on the farm fresh chalkboard, I just didn’t love either of those colors on this piece.  I’ve also found Grain Sack to be too grey for some pieces, while it worked perfectly on this washstand.

 Sometimes you just have to experiment a little to find the white that is just right.

Andy by the way, sometimes you have to experiment to find the staging for your photos that is just right too.  I started out using some geraniums and other green accents …

but out of two dozen photos this was the only one that I liked.

Next I decided to play up the black knobs a little more by using black props.

But I found I was having a really hard time getting the correct color of the grainsack in my photos because there was so much white inside the photo cottage.

So once again I resorted to photographing the piece outside.

Maybe outside photos are just going to be my thing and I should stop trying to fight it.  What do you think?

Meanwhile this sweet little washstand is for sale.  If interested, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.



14 thoughts on “just the right white.

  1. The grain sack white is one of my favorites – I tend to like the ‘grayish’ whites. I love that washstand and when I saw the ladybug carvings on the doors I just smiled. Great job on the outdoor staging, it really shows how beautiful your yard is in the summer.


    1. My niece wanted me to paint those spoon carvings as ladybugs, red with black dots. I decided it was perhaps better to downplay their ladybug-ness a little bit 😉


  2. So pretty as usual and the color you ended up using is spot on! I have one of these wash stands right next to my bed in which I store extra bed pillows or blankets. Although it isn’t as pretty as yours, I love having the extra storage. Your photography really brings out the beautiful details.


  3. I agree with Laura. I love those carvings. The color is perfect and I love the photos outside too. My husband and I both use washstands as nightstands. They have so much great storage.


    1. I like that they have so much storage, and they have a little more personality than a traditional nightstand. And I’m so glad to get a couple of positive comments about the outdoor photos. I think I’m a little self conscious about it because there is a Facebook furniture sales group that I considered joining once that requires their sellers to use indoor photos only. Up until then it hadn’t occurred to me that outdoor photos were not ‘acceptable’, but apparently that group seems to think so.


      1. I think you have a beautiful outdoor setting and I guess it kind of reminds me of going to an outdoor antique market where all the dealers have their booths outside. I think it’s really pretty when you do that.


      2. I’m guessing maybe the group does that because most people don’t know how to photograph a piece outside and probably put it in harsh sunlight, or in shade but they have bright sun behind it so its dark…………Your furniture, photography, and staging are absolutely perfect!! Love it all! 🙂


      3. I am sure you’re exactly right about that Sally. And thank you very much for your compliments!! I’ve pretty much decided that I’ll photograph my pieces outdoors while I can (until the first snowfall? although one time I even took a ‘before’ photo during a snowfall and that one was kinda fun too), and not feel self-conscious about it!


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