The Quest for Stain

I know exactly what I want, but I cant find it. Isn’t that infuriating?

I heart the look of the reclaimed pine from Restoration Hardware. Its a grey undertoned warm finish that looks old, but not dirty. (I hate how some reclaimed wood looks so dirt ridden that you’d never want to have it in your house.)

Restoration Hardware Antiqued Pine Finish

Restoration Hardware Antiqued Pine Finish

I want to find a stain that will turn my raw pine media cabinet into a fantastically aged awesomesauce masterpiece (yeah I know I got a bit carried away with my adjectives there). I went on a quest for stain. A quest for stain is not nearly as fun as you’d expect a quest to be. There was no ring and not even one Hobbit.

Left: One coat of "Kristen Mix". Middle: Weathered Oak Right: 2 Coats "Kristen Mix"

Left: One coat of “Kristen Mix”. Middle: Weathered Oak Right: 2 Coats “Kristen Mix”

Here’s the list of contenders:

  • First up, Minwax Classic Grey. Conclusion: Too flat and weirdly unnatural.
  • Next stop, one coat of Classic Grey and one coat of Early American. Conclusion: Too dark, the grey got lost entirely, and it ended up much too red.
  • Thirdly, Minwax Weathered Oak. Conclusion: I had high hopes for this fellow, as the swatch online looked just like the RH finish. Its a new stain, so none of my hardware stores carried it. I had to special order it, and waited with bated breath for my miracle finish. Conclusion: Looks exactly like Classic Grey… it is lacking the warmth I wanted.
  • Fourth try, six parts of Classic Grey mixed with one part of Early American. aka “Kristen Mix” Conclusion: One coat equals the closest result yet, it’s still a bit warm/orangey, but at least has the grey tones I’m looking for. Two coats got muddy and grey again, and lost the bit of contrast one coat had.
Left: One coat Classic Grey  + One coat Early American, Middle: one coat "Kristen Mix", Right: two coats "Kristen Mix"

Left: One coat Classic Grey + One coat Early American, Middle: one coat “Kristen Mix”, Right: two coats “Kristen Mix”

I now need to decide if one coat of “Kristen Mix” is good enough, or if I should continue on my search. I would still like a bit deeper tone in the knots, cracks etc.

The other option I am considering is doing the one coat of my “Kristen Mix” then some Annie Sloan Dark Wax. I think it will give me the darker hue I am looking for, especially in the cracks and crevices. However, Toronto has yet to get a Annie Sloan retailer. Our closet stop is Bracebridge or St. Thomas Ontario. Both of which are a bit far away for a girl without a car.

Anyone used Annie Sloan’s Dark Wax? If so, is it the magical remedy to my stain woes?  How about shoe polish? Yeah, I know it sounds a bit cray cray, but swear I remember Norm using it on an episode of This Old House.

8 Responses

  1. This is forever later and you probably found out how to do this. I came across your blog trying to find out myself. Haha. I did get that color, i stained with early American and then weathered oak, wiped it, early American again and two weathered oak. And then early American and 2 weathered oak. I made it dry a bit and at the bottom of the weathered oak there was a bit of white left so i kinda limed it with that :) i got almost the same as the photo you have. Haha
  2. I have been looking everywhere for something similar! How did your project turn out? Do you have some more pictures of the finish?
    • Oh I just found the link below in your comments I don't know how they keep the grains of the wood from going so dark
  3. just beautiful, thanks for sharing your technique. amazing the differences!
  4. Shannon
    I'm confused. What is in the 'Kristen mix'?
    • Hi Shannon, the Kristen Mix was six parts of Classic Grey mixed with one part of Early American.
  5. Richard
    So what stain mixture did you end up using? Do you have any pictures of the final product?
    • Hi Richard, we ended up using Varathane Kona stain and water (we wet the wood first, then applied a fast coat of stain, and immediately wiped off). You can see the finished product here <ul> http://www.storefrontlife.com/printmakers-media-cabinet-the-reveal/</ul>

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