How to Paint a Vintage Basket

Hi everyone! I hope you had a nice week-end. Thursday and Friday were absolutely delightful days here in the northeast–cool and dry, just the way I like it. On Friday, I stopped at a few garage sales as I drove to my shop to restock.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I also stopped and picked from a curbside junk pile on Friday and loaded my van with some pretty awesome junk. By 2 pm Saturday, it was over 90 degrees and humid, same on Sunday. Not my favorite weather, but my sweet husband and I shopped for a couple of hours at a neighborhood garage sale not too far away.

I’ll show you all of my vintage finds tomorrow, so I hope you’ll come back to take a look. Today I want to show you a vintage, oak splint basket that I decided to give a little makeover.

how to paint a vintage basketTaking it from drab to fab did not involve many resources or much time–but I think the results are pretty amazing. The goal, of course, was to add to it’s vintage goodness, not detract from it.

oak splint basketIn its “as found” condition, the basket is nothing to write home about. Larger picnic baskets constructed in this same style, dating to about the 1940s, can be easily found at garage sales and thrift stores. However, they are not particularly popular with collectors right now.

A few weeks ago, I saw a painted splint basket on Pinterest and knew immediately that I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, I neglected to pin it, so I can’t give proper credit, but that picnic-sized basket in light blue/gray turned out beautifully.

green paint and corn starchI started out by mixing my own chalk paint–three parts acrylic craft paint to one part corn starch. I used “Green Moss.”

painted green basket before waxI applied the paint using a 1″ wide, nylon paint brush meant for painting on canvas with acrylics. Its thin edge allowed me to get into all the nooks and crannies of the basket. After painting about half of the outside, I went back with a clean, cotton rag and evened out the paint and rubbed off some of the high points.

I wanted the paint to be somewhat translucent to allow some of the brown of the basket to show through. After letting the paint dry overnight, I then applied a thin coat of Minwax paste wax, let it sit for about ten minutes, and then buffed it with a piece of clean cheese cloth. The wax deepens the brown tones, while protecting the painted surface from moisture and scratching.

green painted basketI’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

painted green basket with lavendarI like the play of the purple lavender and yellow lemons against the green.

Next time, I think I’ll try it out on a picnic-sized basket.

 In fact, I have one languishing at my shop. It’s priced at just $20.00, but no one’s interested.

green basket with lemons and lavendar Maybe some green paint is just what it needs.

 What do you think?

 Yea or nay to the painting of vintage baskets?

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Another post you might enjoy:

basket price guide button
Basket Price Guide

I’d love it if you’d pin me 🙂

How to paint a vintage basket


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  1. Hi Diana! 🙂
    OMG, my heart started racing when you talked about that junk pile! 😉
    Love your basket re-do, and I love the color…beautiful!
    Have a great week! Kimberley

  2. I love the way the basket turned out. It turned out drab to fab! I will have to try it on a few in my garage.

  3. I like it! But I've never heard of using corn starch as a chalk paint base, only plaster of Paris. The heat and humidity you're talking about is our norm for July-August, but the rain we've had certainly is not. Yet another strange season with summer this year here in WV.

  4. Love how this tuned out! I have a really LARGE vintage picnic basket that I paid dearly for several years ago. I know I won't get my money out of it and have given some thought to painting it and enjoying it as a little storage item instead. You've given me the courage to just do it!!


    1. Sounds like a great idea, Linda. I think it would be perfect to store table linens or blankets in. Go for it! (And then make sure to blog about it, so I can see it!).

  5. Love the basket Diana. Love that some of the color of the original basket comes through with the green. Very pretty.

  6. Hi Diana, lovely job on the basket. The old showing through is so charming. Baskets are one of my favorites to paint too and love this color green.
    Have a great week. cm

  7. How did I miss your chalk paint recipe before this? Thanks for sharing. I've used AS chalk paint but was not totally impressed for the high $$$ so I'm happy to make my own! The basket looks 100% better now and I'm sure it will sell soon! I've been toying with the idea of painting some of my baskets for a while now….just added it to the list:)

    1. I use all kinds of different paint–regular old latex, regular old acrylic craft paint, chalk paint, and my homemade version. I'm not sure exactly how I decide which I'm going to use on a particular project. Sometimes I pick the right one, sometimes I don't. I'm learning as I go. The homemade version isn't as opaque as store bought, so it was a good choice for this basket where I wanted it kind of translucent, but chalky looking. I've never tried AS, but the first time I saw it for sale in a store, I nearly choked when I saw the price(!).

  8. I love your painted basket! I have so many vintage baskets that are so unappealing….what a perfect solution. I did not know you could make chalk paint with cornstarch. Perfect project that I am remembering to pin!

  9. Creative! Really liked reading & seeing your 'new' green basket. I to had never heard about using corn starch but will give it a try in the morning! I always like having some of the original wood to show when redoing furniture….watch out baskets !Thank you for sharing.

  10. Your basket is lovely, although I would never paint an oak splint basket, especially one in such good condition. To me, that's tantamount to chalk painting an old oak wash stand or sideboard. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though, and I've got 76 year old eyes!

      1. Sometimes you just need to change things up. I’m going to paint all my oak splint baskets and probably the furniture too. I’m not 76 but getting close.

  11. That translucent green is more like a "white" wash…very pretty, love the grain showing. CORN STARCH! I didn't know, missed that edition. When I had a shop it didn't matter the size, shape, age or kind of basket…what seemed to sell baskets was a pretty country cotton lining. Calico, gingham, muslin, and if it tied it went faster. Thanks for hosting. Have a lovely week ~ Mickie

  12. So pretty. I like the tip of wiping off the paint while it is still wet. I just never think of that. I'll give it a try.

  13. I like paint. There are still some things people paint that make me cringe-your lovely green basket is not one of them.

  14. I think the basket turned out to be just lovely. I would never have had the courage to paint the basket– fearing that it would be a complete mess and a disappointment.

  15. Love, love, love it with the lemons! So pretty!
    Thanks for sharing at Something to Talk About!

  16. I think it’s very pretty! I have several baskets which are not being used as part of my decor, because I’ve grown a bit weary of them. However, maybe some paint will help jazz them up enough for me to consider once again displaying them. . .I painted an old (not terribly old) fruit basket that my son was going to throw out, and I like the way it looks, but I’ve hesitated to touch the Longaberger baskets. . .what do you think? I don’t see them as being that collectible, and I’ve had some of them for 25+ years already. I’ve seen them go at Estate Sales quite cheaply, which makes me think the fad has passed.

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  18. Love ,love the look! The color is just perfect! Pinning. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

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  20. Diana, I love how this turned out – the patina is perfect. I make my own chalk paint also but have never done it with cornstarch. I will definitely have to try that mix and see if I like it better than the plaster of paris I use. Thanks for linking up to Share It One More Time Cathy

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  22. I have never, ever heard of painting using cornstarch. Wow! I love how your basket turned out. I’m pinning this for future reference.

  23. Hi Diana…stopping by to let you know you are featured this week at Share it One More Time….Thank you for sharing! Can’t wait to see what you have to share this week! Tammy

  24. Love the basket Diana … looks like vintage paint and love that color. Great job. I need to do that on some of mine.
    Thanks for the tutorial.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

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  26. Thank you so much for sharing your “how to’s” they are great ideas and easily understood for a novice like me. Jane P.

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