Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | September 4, 2012

Mahagony Inlaid Table – From Drab to Fab

I don’t know how other painters make their decision on color choice and texture, but I realized with this table, I am learning to let the piece of furniture speak to me. This table told me to go easy and to not go overboard on colors, textures or overly painted legs (a technique I admit, I do love to do.)

It’s like, Whimsical Perspectives says, “Create a piece enhanced by the paint not overtaken by it.” Right on sista!

This amazing table came to me heavily coated with lacquer and it was cloudy obscuring much of the tables natural beauty. I could see the lovely inlaid wood pattern through the lacquer so I knew it had to come off. It was stripped and then VERY carefully sanded so as not to ruin the inlay.

I experimented with several different products on the top and ultimately ended up using Golden Oak Minwax stain and sealer combo (strange choice wasn’t it) because I knew that I did not want the dark shade of Walnut or Jacobean to hide the magnificent pattern. I think this beautiful inlaid wood is mahogany!

I knew I wanted the top to be as natural as possible but I just could not decide what color to paint the base. I tested four neutral colors (ASCP Paris Gray, Old Ochre, Graphite and CCC Smoky Mountain,) painting one color on each leg to help make my decision. Smoky Mountain by Cece Caldwell won the contest hands down.

I dry brushed two areas; the bottom section of the legs and the spoon carved area just under the top.

The gray/green color neutralized the all-wood top that wants to head towards red.

Instead of using multiple colors in my painting approach, I decided to use the original wood tone as my “accent” by dry brushing certain areas lightly so that the wood shows through as “texture/color.” That kept the pallet to just two tones, the tone of the Smoky Mountain gray/green and the wood tone itself.

I was concerned that too much pattern and paint would make the eye go crazy not knowing where to look first and take the spotlight off of the real focal point – the beautiful top.

This experimental process was an eye-opener for me as using the wood itself as a color had just never occurred to me before. I’m sure I’ve seen the result in other painters works, but have never actually read about this type of technique.

If you’ve used wood as color, I’d love to hear from you and see the way you used it!

Thanks for reading!

Small House / Big Sky Donna



  1. This looks so gorgeous! What a wonderful find with this table, and how sad it was all covered up before! I recently tackled my first chalk paint project too, it was awesome!

  2. […] Donna @ Small House Under a Big Sky submitted her gorgeous table. […]

  3. I stopped in from Power of Paint. Love this table! The color is just the perfect blue!

    • Thanks Tammy! I appreciate your visiting. It is interesting how this CeCe Caldwell chalk paint looks different on different pieces. This table finish on this table was almost completely gone and when I “washed” the paint on this wood, this is how it turned out. I have found that I pretty much let the piece tell me what to do, and how to do it rather than force a pre-conceived ideal onto it. I’ve learned from having wavy hair, it makes no sense trying to pretend its straight ad send hours trying to force it to be straight! Painting is somewhat like that.

  4. Gorgeous!! You did a fantastic job on this table!

  5. Donna, your color choices for this parlor table are spot on. The combo of the golden colored stain over that beautiful inlay looks stunning against the Smoky Mountain. I LOVE it!!! Your color wash / distressed look is fantastic ~ congrats on your feature. Be sure to add the “I was featured over at Power of Paint” to your blog post ~ rock on girlfriend!!

    • Thanks for the compliment, you are always so kind!!

      How do I add (your suggestion) that on my blog?

      Thanks, Donna

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