A Bit of Morocco, a Bathroom Project

Morrocan Vanity Closeup

Faux finishes are awesome but either you make it or break it. When done correctly they can add character to furniture, transport us to an age or create certain design, add ambiance or “make” styles such as French country.

There are many ways to recreate this look, including using a “crackle” product or thinning paint. I’m going to show two slightly different ways in which you can achieve this look by using paint.

One of them includes removing 60 % of a layer of paint for texture and the other one is layering at least two colors of paint. This tutorial was done on a bathroom cabinet, but you can use the same technique for most objects.

But before I do. Here is a little story.

Bad Paint Job

I am assuming the previous owner of the house decided to paint this vanity with the last ounce of paint they had left, probably purchased to refresh the crown moldings and doors prior to selling.

How do I know this? Hum, could it be because they did not paint the inner part of the doors and the side of the vanity was not painted entirely. In addition, you could see the last brush stroke where they ran out of paint? That has got to be the definition of a bad paint job.

Most people would have changed the vanity. However, I wanted to keep it for the following reasons:

  • It is wood. Most available bathroom furnishings nowadays are MDF.
  • I love projects…
  • We are almost sure that there is no tile under the vanity. I really like this floor tile. Moreover, I do not want to deal with another tile job right now.

My plan was to remove the hideous paint job, sand it nicely and apply a gray stain. I wanted it to look like beach wood. The concept was to have a Moroccan beach resort bathroom.

My Moroccan Bathroom Bells

Imagine this. You are in the spa located on a remote fishing village, and the building is at least 700 years old. This used to be a mansion but for the last 50 years it has been a quiet hotel. You can smell its history in the air; all the furnishings are original and they show its use. The décor is minimal and it does not scream “Moroccan”! It is serene, beautiful and you can see the ocean from the windows. Nice right!

I started the paint removal process with a trusted green paint removal…and after three applications it barely removed any paint. Not sure why because I use this product all the time! Hum…

Ok, so regular paint removal product then. Hum, it removed some of the white paint after hours and hours of struggle. Eventually I gave up and went to sleep frustrated, very tired and with an ugly bathroom.

Next morning, I woke with the idea of using the white crummy white layer to my advantage. Bought a blue paint sample from the store, did a test but the color was too saturated. I added a bit of the same white paint that I used to refresh my cabinet interiors, doors, molding, etc. It came out perfect!

This is how I do it:

Time: A weekend or maybe just a very long day. It really depends on how big your furniture is.


  1. Paint remover. I always try the “Green” products first. If not, a regular paint remover.
  2. A mask to protect yourself from VOC’s.
  3. Eye protection.
  4. Gloves
  5. Brush to apply the paint removal product or the specified product medium
  6. Spatula or blade to remove the paint
  7. Lint free clean rags
  8. Sanding paper, 220 grit or so.
  9. At least two colors.
  10. Paint brushes
  11. Surface covering (cardboard, brown paper, bags)
  12. Screwdriver
  13. Knobs
  14. Soapy water and a brush to clean or knob and hinges
  15. A well ventilated are to work

Materials for Morrocan Vanity

My lingo:

  • Layer #1 is the oldest layer and that would usually be your wood or actual furniture color.
  • Layer #2 is the middle layer. This layer will cover layer one and will be covered by layer #3
  • Layer #3 is the last layer applied. The older colors are exposed when this layer has faded.

The areas of the furniture that are touched / handled the most, should be the ones that show more age. Here, the wood color or layer #1 should be the one visible. For example, a cabinet door takes the beating where the hands are placed. This could be around or under the knob, on the sides of the door. The parts of the furniture that are barely touched will show the freshet layer of paint, layer #3.

Before you apply any paint, imagine how this furniture was used. How old is it? Where would it get knee banged? Did a cowboy close the bottom cabinet door with a muddy pointy boot? Did grandma put a hot pot on the corner top when she was in a hurry? Was it left outside for a very long time and the brought in. Make up your own story. It seems silly, but it works.

Process #1: When you want to have texture or the furniture is already painted.

  1. Remove dust or dirt from the furniture. Take the hinges out; clean them with warm soapy water and a brush. Let them dry.
  • If your furniture has two color layers (including the wood color), continue to step #2
  • If your furniture is bare, paint it with layer #2 color and let dry. Paint some parts of the hinges too.
  1. Do quick “hand” sand with sanding paper on all surfaces. Remove all dust. Wearing eye protection and a breathing mask is suggested.
  2. Apply your choice of paint remover and follow the instructions carefully. Wear gloves, a mask and eye protection. Even if you are using a green product. Let the product work, read the instructions for specific drying times.
  3. With a spatula, remove some of the paint. Do not ding the wood.
  4. Once you are happy the amount you have removed. Clean your surfaces again. Follow the manufacturers instructions. Let the furniture dry.Sanding a bit
  5. You may or may not want to sand. Your choice, you choose how distressed you want the final look to be.
  6. Dip the tip of the brush in the layer #3 color, which is the color you want in the middle. You want to cover some of layer #1 and some of layer #2, but no all. Do the same for the hinges.20170423_173621_HDR
  7. Let it dry
  8. Put it all back together!

Finished Morrocan Vanity

Process #2: When you want the “easy way out”

  1. Remove dust or dirt from the furniture. Take the knobs and hinges out. Clean the hinges with warm soapy water and a brush. Dry.
  2. Do quick “hand” sand with sanding paper. Remove all dust.
  3. If your furniture is bare, paint it with layer #2 color and let dry. Paint some parts of the hinges too.
  4. Dip the tip of the brush in the layer #3 color, which is the color you want in the middle. You want to cover some of layer #1 and some of layer #2, but not all. Same for the hinges.
  5. Let it dry
  6. Put back the doors and hinges

Tips for Success:

  • Are the hinges showing age to? They should.
  • Choose knobs that go with the style.
  • You can reuse your old knobs by painting them too.
  • My knobs and pulls do not match on purpose. In my story, at some point the pulls broke and they had to be replaced.
  • You can also use a rag instead of a brush or do a combination to get a variety of textures.
  • Build up the texture. Use a bit of wood filler to create it. Just remember to sand it before you paint it.
  • Do not make blobs of paint in an attempt to add texture. It would just look like blobs of paint.
  • Always fluff the brush to remove any loose hairs. I always seem to forget this.
  • By changing the colors this technique can be used for the following décor styles:
    • Farmhouse
    • French Cottage
    • Victorian
    • Beach House
    • Spanish
    • Vintage
    • Whenever you want nostalgia

Oliver and the Morrocan Vanity

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