Whitewashed, bleached and lime finishes are all the rage in furniture

Recently we discussed the popularity of furniture constructed from salvaged materials like this reclaimed elm wood dining table and therefore it should be no surprise that the according to House Beautiful, the whitewashed look along with lightened wood, bleached finishes and limed finishes are growing just as much in popularity as well whether in Asian home furniture or European styles. Known in Chinese as “Shi ni, Lime, is a naturally occurring calcium compound which has a wide range of applications and used from livestock products to concrete.

Limed finishes as sometimes also called Cerused or “pickled finishes” and vary depending on the nature of the underlying materials. Reclaimed wood will generally produced a more rustic and “aged look,” whereas new materials will feel a bit neater – even if deliberately antiqued. A look at two sample below illustrates the differences seen in materials. Both have been given a limed finished.

reclaimed_elm_limed_finished.jpg elm wood lime finish

The first board is reclaimed material. The second is new but “antiqued” to look more aged. The difference is even more pronounced when viewing whole pieces. A recent factory visit turned up these two examples. The first is a rustic farm table from ACF China and is constructed using salvaged materials. The second is a rattan chest on a stand from Four Hands and is from new materials. Both have pickled finishes.

salvaged wood rustic farm table

pickled finish chest from four hands factory


Basic materials needed are usually just lime, wax and often some wood stain depending on the desired final color. The process (in brief) tends to be as follows:

  1. In order to enhance the effect, the grain of the wood is exposed sometimes with a wire brush.
  2. The surface is then dusted clean and color then applied is desired.
  3. After any applied color is thoroughly dry, a coat of lime and wax is also applied and hand rubbed into the grain of the wood.
  4. After the lime and wax is dried, any excess is removed and a final top layer of wax is applied.

For a more detailed overview of the process have a look at this page.

Its also worthy to note that limed and bleached finishes are a different then finishing effects achieved using lacquer like this antique sideboard which has a faux limed finish, achieved with white lacquer hand-rubbed into the grain of the wood.

faux limed finish on a antique sideboard


Who is selling whitewashed furniture?
Lets look at a few nice examples.

Warrenton Tea Table from tomlinsonerwinlambeth

Warrenton Tea Table with limed finish


Low coffee table constructed from old doors from ACF China

Low coffee table made from old doors


Contemporary entertainment console from bungalowclassic.com.

lime finish console


Better examples? Comment them!

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1 Comment

  1. […] copies were better then others like this wrought iron base French cafe table/ Bistro Table with a pickled finish top from a Shanghai based manufacturer. Reclaimed woods, whitewashed looks, along with lightened […]

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