The textural beauty of a distressed piece of furniture is a welcome addition in most any décor. Whether your personal style is shabby chic, or you want to add an eclectic pop to your clean, contemporary sensibilities, the appeal of distressed furniture is universal. The best part about distressing furniture, however, is that it is a do-it-yourself dream project.
Since adding flaws is the touchstone of the project, no matter what your DIY prowess, it’s hard to get this one wrong. So if snapping up an inexpensive item from a garage sale and turning it into a show stopping showpiece appeals to you, then it’s time to go shopping. The results are so satisfying that before you know it, you’ll be eyeing the other wood furniture in your home as well.
1. Gather Your Supplies
You probably already own many of the supplies needed for this project. All others can be found in your local hardware store. You will need:
- a tack cloth
- paint or stain
- crackle medium (if you want a crackled finish) and
- a polyurethane or wax finish
If you plan to paint your furniture piece, you must first thoroughly sand it, removing all previous paint or stain until reaching bare wood. Once done, remove any small particles of debris by running a tack cloth over the entire item. This will prevent irregularities in the final look of the finish. For a traditional, shabby chic look, choose an oil-based paint in a soft, pastel color. Soothing colors such as off-white, cream, light yellow, soft pink or misty grey lend themselves very well to most romantic decors. If leaning towards the eclectic, choose a vibrant shade. Red, navy, hunter green and black are stunning while conveying whimsy.
If it is texture you seek, when the paint is wet, gently drag a sparse wire brush lightly over the piece in a combing fashion. This will create grooves in the paint. When dry, rub a very light coat of stain over the entire piece to bring out the combed texture. For less texture, allow the paint to dry completely and accent your piece by removing paint with sandpaper in the areas that would naturally wear, such as corners and around handles.
If you desire a crackle finish, purchase the crackle medium and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions. While most crackle finishes use a flat latex paint, check before purchasing. Also check to ensure how many colors of paint will be required given many crackles require a base paint and a top coat. Using a base coat of black and a top coat of white lends for a very elegant and striking finish with the black peeking out of the crackling white. For even more drama, simply reverse.
If you are starting with a painted piece, remove all traces of paint from your item. If, however, your furniture was stained before, you are in luck. While you still should sand the piece, it is not necessary to take the finish down to bare wood. If you sand irregularly, leaving some areas with more stain that others, the result will be a mottled, aged look.
After sanding, distress per taste by adding dents and damage to the wood by striking it with a hammer or bag of river rocks. Proceed to stain. When the first coat of stain is dry, rub a darker color of paint or stain onto the damaged areas to highlight the distressed finish. Complete by applying a protective coating wax or polyurethane and then sit back and enjoy compliments for years to come.
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