Making it Modern: Whitewashed Wood

Whitewashed or pickled wood finishes, popular in the eighties and early nineties, can look rather dated in today's interiors, despite their resurgence as "shabby chic." But whitewashing can also be a useful way to lighten up a room, and we think there are ways to modernize the look without crossing over into the shabby chic realm... The photos above inspired some ideas for how to use a whitewashed finish to great effect in a stylish home:

Use bright pops of color for contrast. Sleek textures like acrylic and powder-coated enamel will add an edgy feel.

• Whitewashed wood pieces sometimes look best in a room with minimal decoration overall (see the third and fourth photos). Keep your furnishings spare and you'll avoid that eighties look.

• If dark wood paneling or beams are too weighty, consider whitewash for a floor, ceiling, or wall. Light wood paneling tends to have a honey-colored finish, but whitewash is a good alternative if you want cooler tones.

• Consider using fixtures and accessories with an industrial feel to contrast with the countrified look of the whitewash. This idea is put to work nicely in the second photo, a kitchen from Marie Claire Maison, and in the bathroom in the seventh photo, designed by Ingrid Jansen.

• If you like the look but aren't ready for a big commitment, try subtle whitewash accents, like frames for artwork and mirrors.

How do you feel about whitewashed wood? Have you tried it in your home?

(Images: Decor8 / Ingrid Jansen; Marie Claire Maison; Desire to Inspire; Ulrika Ekblom; PointClickHome; Livingetc; Decor8 / Ingrid Jansen; Alicia B. Designs / James Michael Howard)

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