Shiny Cherry to Boho Raw Wood Finish

by Amanda
3 Materials
4 Hours

I loved this set so much when I got it for our bedroom 10 years ago... but I am over the super shiny cherry finish. However, the set is very well made solid wood so I will not sell or get rid of it, but help it evolve with us. So I took on of the dressers down from this cherry finish to a trendy bare wood look.

Starting point

This is the finish that I was working with. I forgot to take a picture of the actual dresser I'm working on but it was the exact same finish. I didn't have the heard to fully paint over this beautiful wood so I stripped it down.

Strip off top coat

I used Citri Strip Gel. I lay it on thick and cover with plastic wrap over night. The next day I scrape it all away with a plastic scraper. After that I sanded it down with 80 grit working up to 220 grit. This is what it looked like after stripping and sanding.

Bleach the wood

As you can see on the right side of the picture the wood had a cherry hue to it. I didn't want that. So I sprayed it down with bleach and let it dry. The left side of the picture is the bleached effect.

White wash wood

Now I do love the bleached wood... BUT it will deepen when I put a poly on. To avoid that and really get the true raw wood look that I want I gave the whole thing a white wash using watered down white water based paint brushing it on. Wipe away immediately.

Brush and wipe

You can see here how watered down the paint is. When you wipe it back you can't even tell that there is paint on there. This basically blocks the poly from soaking into the wood and deepening the color.

Raw wood!

And here we are! Cherry finish to raw and light.

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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 7 questions
  • Karen Karen on Nov 03, 2020

    I hv a veneer man robe I want to paint,how do I prepare it ready for painting?

  • Glenda Glenda on Nov 01, 2022

    Have you ever tried the oven cleaner to remove paint or stain? My brother did half of a door with that and half with citristrip and the half with oven cleaner came out lighter. I’d like to do some of my shiny cherry furniture like you did, but I have a houseful and not sure where to even begin. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Jennifer Jennifer on Nov 01, 2022

    Is this even the same chest? The "before" picture is the red-stained two-tiered chest with 8 drawers. The "after" picture is a one-tiered chest with 9 drawers. ???

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3 of 38 comments
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Nov 01, 2022

    Great job. I appreciate 'saving' old furniture and recycling them. Our tastes and color choices do change through the years, and it's a great project to renew and reuse. Now that I live in Florida, the washed out, coastal BoHo style is so pretty. Awesome job. Thanks for sharing.

  • AJ AJ on May 07, 2023

    👏🏼 Great job 👏🏼