A friend of mine came to me recently asking for advice on what to do with the staircase and banister in her new home. They are a medium-colored knotty pine and are a focal point in the living room and entry. The problem, she feels, is that, for one, it is a lot of wood, and two, it looks dated, not fitting in with her sleeker, more modern style. Instead of flat-out painting it I suggested pickling or whitewashing the wood.
Pickled wood can be a great compromise. It has the bright, clean appeal of near white yet retains the texture and grain of wood, resulting in hues closer to the light grays and neutrals of stone. The key to its feel is in the application. A light, even hand will give a modern, Scandinavian look, while a heavier, rougher hand will give a more rustic, vintage look. I love the light that it brings to a space while also adding warmth and dimension.
Here’s a great tutorial on how to whitewash from Maison de Pax. The added benefits to pickling/whitewashing are that it is not a very difficult or expensive process and it is easy to cover if it isn’t what you had hoped. Let’s see if she tries it!