Is your home stuck in the 90’s? Are you living in a home that has builder grade oak wood cabinets and trim everywhere?! I feel your pain. I am not a fan of the “blonde” colored oak wood that comes in every home from the 90’s era. My home has builder grade written all over it and there’s even a gigantic wall with blonde oak from floor to ceiling in the living room. I don’t mind the trim details since I really like the character it adds, I just need to find a way to make the wall fit my style.
I originally thought painting it Muslin White to match the trim in the house that I painted from the oak to white would be a way to lighten up the room. The primer came out and without a second thought, the wall was going to transform to a white wall. Here’s the first transformation from oak to primed white..
I instantly knew it was a mistake. It seemed to be a huge eye sore and lost its definition and character that I loved so much about it. Next thing you know, I’ve decided to try something different! Who knew? Me, change my mind? No way! 🙂 The house is painted a very light gray and having the oak wall blend well with the surrounding walls and colors was important and my gut was telling me that staining it a dark espresso was going to make the wall feel dark.
A new stain color was at Home Depot that I had never seen before. Varathane offers a Weathered Gray that would be perfect for the wall! It comes in a 1/2 pt. for $4.82! That was going to be the new stain color that I would cover most of the wall with, but leave the fireplace white to make it stand out. Off I went to buy the stain and the polyurethane to coat the wall after the stain is dry plus buy mineral spirits for cleaning and paint stripper to take off the primer I had just put on..
The orange paint stripper they sell at Home Depot is highly recommended for removing paint and it worked very fast. There is only an orange smell to it and nothing toxic about it which works great with kids. I worked and worked and scraped and scraped to get the primer off until I was finally left with the unfinished oak wood. It was ready to be stained after a good cleaning of mineral spirits with a cloth. This took a little longer since it included a broken arm and surgery, but trust me, I was back on a ladder and staining before you could say “boo”! ($20,000 later..)
To apply the Weathered Gray stain, I used a cotton rag that would apply the stain evenly. Wiping in the same direction as the wood grain, the stain applied lightly leaving a small amount of oak wood to come through. Initially, I wasn’t sure how much oak I wanted, but after applying one coat I decided that I wanted more of an even look of gray and applied a second coat. That was the perfect amount of gray! Now it just needed a little something extra to bring out the wood grain!
I went to my local craft store looking for some kind of white stain or wax I could apply to the wall. I came across a craft FolkArt Home Décor white wax that might do the trick! Unsure of the result it would create, I did a test spot on the side of the wall and I loved it! I started applying it vertical strips and moved across the wall as I worked. The best way to apply it seemed to be with a cloth by rubbing it on and wiping off parts of it around the grain, leaving the white wax predominantly in the wood grain lines themselves. It really brought out the grain and it stood out way more than it ever did with the blonde oak stain.
Once the wall has the wax layer, it’s time to cover it with a coat of polyurethane. This will protect it from coming off in the future and seal in the stain. Make sure a good brushed is used to prevent brush streaking in the poly coat. Let dry for at least 24 hours.
The result is striking and all of the builder grade oak lovers have turned into loving the driftwood gray wall. Now it blends in beautifully with the adjoining gray walls, but still stands out and makes a “look at me” statement. Don’t you love what the white wax does with the grain?! I might be using this Weathered Gray stain again very soon! If you try it, you will not be disappointed!
What do you think?!