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The stools didn’t match! Now What?!?

How It Happened

I love the convenience of shopping online but color matching definitely continues to be a challenge. The reason for the problem can be anywhere from the original photo’s lighting or editing, or from the differences in the screen that I’m using to look at it. I know this, but it is disappointing every time it happens. 

Fortunately, I was able to rescue these stools instead of having to return them and search for more. In fact, I like the end result even better.

Solving the Problem

As part of our lake house redecorating, I made a beautiful live-edge cedar counter, with matte black metal strap ‘U’ shaped table legs. I thought I had found the perfect stools to go with it from Birch Lane:

Birch Lane stool image

It looked to me like a blonde natural wood that would tie into the blonde outer edges of the cedar, the slightly distressed black matte square-edged frame goes well with the counter legs, all without competing with the gorgeous red core of the cedar.

Much to my dismay, the stools’ finish is a darker brown tone that just won’t work with the warmer red tones of the cedar and cherry wood floor. I could just return them. But I really like the frames and they were much more difficult to find than natural wood seats in general.


The frames already have a ‘distressed’ or ‘aged’ look to them, though the wood is completely coated in a light finish, the wood surface has a slightly rough texture.

I recently finished some distressed wood projects that came out great, so I’m going to apply those techniques to this stool. If you want a step-by-step, here’s a great video tutorial on the wood distressing technique that I used.

Here’s how they turned out –



Finished stool

Even better, here’s the stool with the cedar counter in place.

With the cherry wood floor, one decorating danger is that of having too much red wood, or even just natural wood, everywhere in the room. Honestly I think this turned out even better than what I had originally intended.

Instead of standing out as a mismatched set of stools – or if I had stayed with the blonde finish I thought they were originally, now they maintain continuity with the rustic lake house theme while fading into the dark couch somewhat which in turn provides contrast to draw the eye towards the cedar counter and let its brilliant natural color pop.


For Your Convenience

You can find the stools here.

…and this is the supply list that accompanies the YouTube tutorial:


  • Damp cloth
  • Lint free cloth for applying and removing off wax (I recommend  drapery lining)
  • Screwdriver to remove hardware
  • Chalk paint in the color of your choice
  • Stir stick
  • Clear wax
  • Dark wax
  • Sandpaper (I use coarse grain, 60 grit)  **NOTE: 60 grit in the video. I used a much finer grit (220) because of the finer fade of the distressed look on the metal frame of my stools.)
  • Paintbrush
  • Drop cloth
  • Mask for sanding