How I Transformed My IKEA Applaro Outdoor Furniture To Get That Restoration Hardware Vibe

If you read my last post – you got a little sneak peek into what I’ve been working on lately. I was originally going to wait for a full outdoor living area reveal – but since most of the other items that I was hoping to get are backordered, that will have to wait. In the meantime, I thought I’d share the furniture refinish process in case you too are looking to breathe new life into your IKEA APPLARO outdoor furniture to make it look like it’s from Article, Restoration Hardware or a luxury vacation resort.

I’ve never been too fond of the dark, reddish stain of the APPLARO set and disliked it even more when I moved it from a stone patio to the wood deck of a red brick house – especially because it was also starting to look quite worn. Because I disliked it so much, I barely took any photos of it – so I don’t have a good before photo – so here’s a photo of it all stacked in my basement and a picture of what the pieces look like new.

The first step was obviously to sand all of the pieces down. This was the worst step as it was quite tedious to try to get in between all the slats on all of the parts – thankfully I had convinced Matt to help with ( read: handle most of ) this step. We used his Milwaukee Corded Palm Sander to do the whole set which thankfully JUST fit in between the back slats. Because I knew we would be putting cushions on the seat sections – I didn’t spend too long fussing about the areas in between those slats.

I wanted to achieve a very pale, light and natural tone in the wood. I used a small side table as a test piece and realized that the clear coat sealer was making the wood turn a warmer amber – I played around with white washing the piece before sealing and that’s what did it!

After all the pieces were sanded and wiped clean – I applied a white wash to everything. Since I still had a bunch of Behr Premium Plus Ultra Pure White Matte paint leftover, I mixed 1 part paint to 1.5 parts water to create my white wash. I applied the white wash with a 2″ chip brush in small sections – being sure to wipe down the white washed areas with a rag after applying. Note: Wear gloves for this step and don’t let the white wash sit on for too long ( a few seconds at most ).

After everything was white washed – we sealed everything with four coats of Varathane Diamond Finish Outdoor Water Based Satin Clear Coat. We used the aerosol version because after all of the sanding and white washing, I was far too lazy to have to paint on four coats of finish… For quick reference – below are some of the products we used:

Now that it’s all sealed and ready – I am absolutely amazed with how it turned out. The pale wood tone completely transformed and modernized the set. It looks far more rich and resort chic and can we talk about how great the light tone works with the plants too?!?

My next task is to paint that large planter holding the Bird of Paradise plant white – then to get a side table, chair and some lanterns in here. I’m hoping to get the IKEA Buskbo armchair & CB2 Cap Ivory Cement Side Table to finish the space – if and when they restock! Hopefully Homesense will open up soon so that I can get a few more items for the space as well.

Are you inspired to refinish your patio furniture?

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