Distressing Painted Furniture

distressing furniture

So I’ve had a friend ask me if I could write a blog on distressing furniture.  This is an art that I have come to love, first of all I have always loved the shabby chic/cottage style that it creates, but also because with my somewhat imperfect ( I know, me??) paint jobs, it helps to disguise them and also hides all of the extra “character” that the kids may so sweetly place on the furniture as well!!  Seeing as though I love my home to be functional and lived in, I would hate to have to cringe every time a tractor gets driven across my coffee table or a cupboard gets hit with a plastic mallet, you get the point.  So, these are Allie’s guidelines to distressing, which I have to admit, I have just experienced and this is what I found….not necessarily professional in any way:)

1.)  First you have to decide if the piece you have is a good candidate for distressing.  I have distressed almost all of my painted furniture, but my hutch for example, was too clean line and elegant to distress.  I wanted to keep it that way.

black hutch

Also, my table next to it isn’t distressed so I wanted to keep the look.

2.)  Once you find a piece that you want to distress you have to decide if the furniture needs to be painted and what color.  I have only bought one piece of furniture that I didn’t paint before distressing and that was the dresser in Tate’s room.

distressing furnitureI fell in love with this blue and bought this dresser at our local Little Red Hen shop, which buys furntiure, paints it, and resells it.  It was a little too clean line for me so I took my palm sander to it:)

3.)  You have to decide if you want a color to pop out from underneath after it is distressed, or if you are okay with the color that is already there.

distressing furnitureI bought this piece at our local flea market and when I bought it it was painted blue.  I wanted it red, so painted it and then distressed it so that the blue came through as well.

distressing furnitureYou can see some of the blue popping through.  I also wanted to show you that on this piece I used a palm sander, which is a lot faster but sometimes a little harder to control.  They vibrate a lot:)  You can see here that I knicked the side of the bookshelf with the palm sander but when distressing, it doesn’t really matter.  I was bugged at first but after putting it in place realized that it almost looked intentional. So that brings us to point number 4.

4.)  You can’t mess up when distressing, you just have to be gutsy enough to grab the sander and mess up that beautiful, or if you are like me…not so beautiful, paint job.  It can be a bit nerving at first, second guessing yourself…but in the long run it pays off.  This has been my latest project.  After getting the new couch I realized that the stained top on my coffee table did not go well with the dark color of the suede, so I painted it white.  I thought at first I wanted it clean-line, but after sitting a night I realized it looked to white and neat, it needed some major distressing and character:)

For this table I used a block sander.

distressing furnitureNow this piece I got a little nervous over even though I have distressed quite a few pieces in my day.  My paint for this was really thick though, and when I started distressing it some of it came off in chunks, almost peeling.  I kept going though, since there is no turning back and it turned out great, I really liked it.  So don’t panic if you think your first few swipes are a disaster.

The finished product.

5.)  Sand around the edges, molding, and character pieces that stick out.

distressing furnitureThis is the bed that came with the dresser set from my bedroom.  It was wood underneath as you can tell in the picture from the dark popping out, and I painted it cream and sanded around all the molding and edges.  To make it look not so perfect I even sanded a bit on the raised part of the leg.

6.)  You don’t want it to look perfect! (yay for me!!!!)

distressing furnitureThis piece I just used regular sand paper on and went around the edges.  If you notice, you do not want to outline everything perfect, skip a little area, make some areas darker…you want to make it appear that it “aged” on it’s own.

I just wanted to show you that this piece was painted white before I distressed it, I’m not loving the white popping out, but not bugged enough to change it.  If you have a painted piece of furniture and want a different color to pop out, simply paint the edges (not the whole piece) that color and that’s what will show when you distress.  Also, I liked this piece distressed in my dining room even though it’s black, to feel more tucsan?? (that’s what I tell myself at least?) It goes well with the distressed chairs and wood table we have.  I didn’t want it too prim and proper:)

Well, I hope seeing a few images and reading this inspires you to try painting and distressing a new piece of furniture in your house.  It is amazing what paint can do to a piece that looks quite hideous!  So keep your eyes peeled at you local thrift shops and look past the wood lacquer to see the true potential of a piece of furniture!! Happy distressing:)


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218 Responses to Distressing Painted Furniture

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  3. Jen says:

    Where did you get the beautiful floral bedspread in the picture with the distressed footboard ?
    Thanks! Jen

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  5. Anne says:

    HELP! Oh, I goofed. I have a wooden table I painted various colors- earthones and bold colors. Overall, I hate what I’ve done. Most of the colors go well, others not so much. I was careless as far as taping goes so some paints are overlapping- yellow on blue, orange on green. It’s a mess. Am I able to put white paint on top and lightly sand that? It’d hide a lot of sins and mite those that still “shine through”. Thanks. :(

  6. Hannah says:

    Hi Allie!
    Im wanting to paint a dresser and distress it, but I do not like how light the original wood color is. If I stain the wood dark before I paint it, will the dark come through when I distress it or will my sanding just take off the dark stain? Thanks for your help!

    • allie says:

      If you don’t distress it hard you should be able to see the dark, otherwise you can always run a rag with a small amount of stain on it on the edges….I’d practice first if you did that, but it will give you the darker look underneath! Best of luck!:)

  7. Angela says:

    I personally like it when the wood is painted entirely a dark color, like gray, and given a very thin coat of a light color, such as beige, usually applied with a damp sponge. This gives it a distressed look and allows it to age gracefully, without having to sand paper the wood, which in the end weakens the areas which grow weaker over time anyway.

  8. Kayla says:

    Okay I have a couple of questions and can’t wait to hear back. First: I have a black table. I want to distress it but I want it to stay black and in some of the distressed spots have a light blue pop through. How do I achieve this, the table is already finished black.

    Next I have 2 white pieces of furniture that I was great overall and the white to pop through when I distress it. Am I able to paint the grey right over the white and then distress or do I have to sand and repaint everything first?

    I have a different piece of furniture that is white and I want it overall a different color. There are two stickers stuck on the front should I sand everything (including stickers to get them off) and then repaint with another color?

    Also how do I go about repainting things and when I finish a project is there some sort of shine I should paint with like a gloss?

    And what is easiest to sand an entire piece of furniture with? And will I need a primer to repaint?

    Last I have an old barn door and I want to white wash it. How do I go about doing that? Do you know?

    I’ve never done anything like this so I have many questions

    • Julie says:

      Hi I just read your request on how to distress already white furniture. Did you ever get an answer? Thank you!

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  10. Karena Woodington says:

    Hey Allie!

    I too, am working on my first shabby project. I purchased a dining room table, sanded, painted and shabbied it and im wondering if I should put some kind of clear coat over top. I purchased a high end clear coat spray paint and sprayed my chairs and unfortunately it ended up eating away at the paint. My concern is, with 2 kids and them spilling something on the table, it will stain and not come up. Do you suggest putting something overtop? Or should I not have to?

    Thanks for your help! I truly appreciate it!

    • allie says:

      Thanks for the question. I would put a few coats of a satin or matte polycrilic over it. It comes in an aqua can and I believe is made by minwax. I like this product better than a polyurethane because it doesn’t yellow over time! Hope that helps:)

  11. phyllis says:

    HI! I just finished distressing 4 shutters to use as a headboard and they turned out beautifully! I distressed a dresser for the bedroom as well. I used the Vaseline technique and it worked well HOWEVER, a few areas are “too much” in my opinion. Do you have any suggestions on a way to repair the areas that are too large or is my best fix just a small paint brush and the top coat paint? I was tryingto figure out if a rag or sponge would give me a more blended or natural look. I have company visiting in two days and I’d like it to be finished before she arrives!!!!! Any sugestions will help me to not be worried about ruining what I’ve accomplished! Thank you.

    • allie says:

      Sorry I just saw your comment. If it were me I would just repaint those areas and then distress them again…shouldnt’ take much time:) Hopefully you figured something out! Sounds like an awesome project!

  12. Shan says:

    Hi Allie.
    I’ve just bought a large black painted indoor dining table that I wish to use as an outdoor table. My idea was to paint a colour on just the top, leaving the legs dark, and then to distress over the colour, hoping the black will pop through in places. My concern is that the black paint has a high shine….. Not sure if that has an impact, but also that I’ve read somewhere you have to go back to basics, in order words take all the colour off and start from scratch…… Not to be lazy but I’d love it if I can just paint on top of the black and that’s it. This will be my first DIY project – Yikes!. Any thoughts please. Thanks

    • allie says:

      Oh goodness, well if it was me I’d give the table a light sanding, not to take the paint off, but to just rough up the sheen a bit…I’d use a palm sander, and then paint right over it. After the paint is cured you shouldn’t have many worries about it chipping, and if you get a little scratch here or there, hey, that’s what’s great about distressing!:)

  13. Sandra says:

    Hi, I have a painted saloon doors that I want to distress.
    From reading this, since I like the color (white), the only thing I have to do is use sand paper and sand the areas I want to look distressed?

    • allie says:

      Yes! Sand around the edges and any raised parts and you’ll get that look! Way easier than you think:)

      • Sandra says:

        After I sand the areas, will I have to put something over them so that they’re not rough on your hands when you touch them? Won’t you get splinters from that?

        • allie says:

          You shouldn’t get any splinters Sanding them will make them smooth:) You can do a stain over that sanded areas to make it a little darker, but a little goes a long way! Otherwise I usually leave mine and they are just fine!

  14. Becky says:

    I just painted a dresser a teal color with Behr latex paint. I want to distress it and have a little black tint to it. Any suggestions on what to use? Can I apply whatever you recommend right away or wait a few days? Thanks!!

    • allie says:

      As long as the paint is dry to the touch you should be able to stain it after. If you want it to have a black tint I would try using an ebony stain after! Hope that helps:)

  15. kristi says:

    I am wanting to know how to make 2 pieces match in color. I bought a bed and want to match it to my dresser. The bed is blonde and varnished, the dresser is espresso. Can you give me any tips?

    • allie says:

      Your best bet is to use a stain or glaze over the top after you distress, and sand the edges before you paint. That way the raw wood underneath will both take the stain the same way and they will match. Hope that helps!:)

  16. Miserable66 says:

    Please….. where did you get that black buffet and hutch? I need one just like that but in a dark wood stain. Do you remember where you got it? Thanx. I been looking high and low for something just like it on the internet with no luck.

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  19. Nancy says:

    I am on the look for 2 used nite tables to distress for my bedroom. I like the light blue in your pics. How do I find the old looking paint color and do I always need to prime first? Also when I hand or power sand, what gain sand paper is best? Thank you.

  20. Leslie says:

    I had my kitchen painted and distressed.i think he put on too much glaze and some doors just look dirty. He put a polyurethane on top. How do I fix this so there is less glaze? Do I have to sand it all down and start again?

  21. Valerie says:

    I am trying to add some red accents to our house. I REALLY like the look of the red furniture piece displayed above. Would you mind telling me the paint color you used?

  22. Mary says:

    I have an red enamel toybox that I want to distress to blend into a yellow and brown guestroom. Any ideas of what top color I can to use to distress this piece? Thanks.

  23. avonia says:

    Hi there,
    Love your work. Im a new be to this distressing furniture but obsessed with the look. I have a veneer dark stained dining table needs a total makeover already has marks ect on it awesome..I was just wandering if you would have any ideas in what I should do? Im wanting the brown stained look left abit turquoise blue, white, and a light greeny colors patched on with some peeling affect. Any ideas, what paints, stain ect would be fab
    Thank you kindly

  24. cali says:

    I have a pine tv stand (stained and varnished) that is due for an update. I want to distress it in black and have the old stain come through….should i be sanding it first? in other words, can i just paint over the varnish?

    • allie says:

      You might want to give it a light sand so the paint sticks to the varnish, but I wouldn’t worry about sanding it all the way down. I would take my power sander to it and go over all the smooth surfaces and then start painting, and then distress the edges. Best of luck!

  25. I have a piece of furniture being made for me out of pure oak. I want to give it a distressed look. If I want it to be black with red coming through how do you suggest I go about it seeing the furniture is coming as raw oak and now a piece of furniture I purchased already painted? I read on your post here that you only need to paint the under color.. in my case the red where you plan to sand. In my case do you suggest I paint the whole thing red? If so how many layers of paint? Then how long until that is dry would you paint the layer of black on top of it? And how long until you could sand it? Also what should you coat it with when it’s all done?

    • allie says:

      If you are only going to distress the edges, then I would just give the edges a couple of coats of red and then lightly distress so you don’t distress through the red. If you want to distress in other spots, and want the red to peek out on the smooth sides then I’d paint the whole thing. I usually paint and distress all in the same day, as long as it is dry to the touch. You may want to wait 24 hours to keep it from getting gunky or fudgy on you. If you are going to have a lot of wear and tear on the top, I usually just coat the top with a flat or satin based polycrilic. The polycrilic doesn’t yellow like a polyurethane would. Best of luck!

  26. conni says:

    Love your ideas and inspiration! I have ALMOST conquered the fear of distressing! When using chalkpaint, or a satin latex paint (house paint)… does it matter what grit of sandpaper you use for your block or palm sander? Thanks for the help!

    • allie says:

      I usually use around 100 grit, you really can’t go too wrong, but you don’t want it to be too fine or it will take more elbow grease:):)

      • conni says:

        Thank you so much for your help! I’m still scared, but reading your blog, your encouragement is helping!? p.s. What a beautiful family you are!

        • allie says:

          Thanks conni:). You seriously can’t mess it up:). You might get in a cold sweat but then you’ll step back and say, “wow! I did it!” :)

        • melanie says:

          if your worried, just buy a cheap piece of practice furniture from the thrift store and perfect it.. :) then you have no worries about messing it up ..

  27. Tanya says:

    Hey Allie,

    I live in Zimbabwe. I have a large kitchen table which I want to paint and distress. I want to paint the legs while and leave the top natural wood. I don’t know what paint to use? Please help?

    • allie says:

      I would just give the legs a light sanding with a sanding block or palm sander, and then use wall paint you have in your house. I use my same paint for the walls and furniture….It just depends on if it’s in the sheen you want. I tend to like satin so it’s not too shiny, and if your going to distress the legs after they are painted then shine doesn’t help as much either:) Best of luck, you’ll probably need at least 3 if not 4 or 5 coats of white, white can be a bugger for coverage:):)

  28. Jane says:

    I’m finishing up a desk in my room and was wondering if you do anything to the surface area? Edges are done…thoughts?!

    • allie says:

      For desk I put at least 3 coats of polycrilic on top, the polycrilic doesn’t yellow but allows it to not scratch. Lightly sand between each coat and then you’ll be good to go!:)

      • Morgan says:

        what have you found is the best way to distress a flat surface? I’m trying to make it all flow and want to avoid it looking splotchy..if that makes sense

        • allie says:

          That does make sense, and it’s really hard to do. Honestly, I try not to distress flat surfaces if it’s a table top or something super visible because it is near impossible to not see sanding marks. I’d just distress the edges then!

  29. Pat Monroe says:

    I am in the process of renovating a ladies locker room at the local golf course and am having problems with trying to paint and or distress a antique buffet. I think I started out OK by priming it with a white primer, sanding it slightly and then it went down hill from there. I first tried to dry brush a black semi over it which actually I thought looked really cool, lots of definition, but my helper thought we should continue to paint solid which ended up being awful. I repainted all over with the primer again and thus here we are! Hopefully these processes were dry enough, between coats, but if not I assume I have to sand a lot??? I will only know today!

    What I want the look to be is: white with a good black over the top (mine came out black with a blue dinge and dull).should I ask their stock flat black or satin from Behr?). After reading a lot of sites, my current plan is to paint white where I want the piece to stand out, where there is a design in front panels and also the edges where you would distress, and then paint over the top with the black but would like a dry brush appearance and not a solid looking black. Do you have any suggestions in what I am trying to do?

    • allie says:

      I would use the satin black, and I think you can get more or that look the distressing. Black is hard to dry brush because of how dark of a color it is, but when you sand black you loose some of the sheen and therefore it gives it more dimension. You will have the white popping through if the primer was white, so I would just pull out the sander and go to town, it’s amazing how that changes the overall look!

  30. Jessica says:

    I have a 9 panel door with glass panels. I want to paint it blue but then put white per top and have some blue showing thru. How do I do this? Thanks, Jessica

  31. david jones says:

    ellie,i worked on my first piece of furniture recently,a small item for bedside lamp ,sanded the varnish lightly,undercoated with satin emulsion,three top coats same emulsion,then used black pen on parts of the edges to outline item,did not use paint,i sanded emulsion smooth between each coat,looks realy good ,icould have re varnish it with clear varnish,but decided not to. david.

  32. Bryna says:

    Hi i just received an antique bed that has a shiny coat on it, just from staining I believe. It is just a reddish-brown color and I think I want to go with a more weathered, charcoal color for it. How would I go about this, step-by-step (i.e. sand, prime, paint, distress??). What brand // type of paint and primer would you recommend?

    Thank you!

  33. Jessica M says:

    I want to paint unfinished wooden crates and then distress. Should I do the normal 2 coats of primer and then 2 coats of paint or just stick with the paint color and no primer since I’m distressing it?

    • allie says:

      Yes, I would just do the paint. There is no need to prime, and you probably don’t want the primer color to come through anyway. Less work for you too! win win:):)

      • Jacqui says:

        Hi, just been given an old piano. 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of eggshell – both water based and white. Going to sand down in next couple of days but was wondering what i should seal it with. Wax sounds like it won’t give a tough finish. What kind of varnish should i use? I don ‘t want a really high gloss on it but i need something that will be tough as the piano is for my 9 yr old son.

        • allie says:

          I use polycrilic, it’s a polyurethane but isn’t supposed to yellow. You can get it in a satin finish so it doesn’t get too shiny. You can lightly sand between coats to keep it nice and smooth, and I would put 3 good coats on it. Hope that helps!

  34. These are excellent tips for distressing furniture. Do you use chalk paint for any of your painting endeavors?

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  36. Diane Tarr says:

    I am looking to find some great knobs for a piece I am refinishing. I love the glass knobs you used. Is there a store you bought some of your knobs at? Thanks Diane

    • allie says:

      Thanks Diane! I usually get mine on eBay. You have to look around a little but you can usually find them for about half of what you would pay in the store! Hope that helps:)

    • Marilyn says:

      I bought some at the Hobby Lobby store. You can also go online to their website, if you do not have one of these stores in your area.

  37. Krista says:

    Hi, I’m wondering if you add any sort of baking soda, non-sanded grout or anything like that to get the finished product similar to what the Annie Sloan chalk paint gives ? I have a Childs table and chairs to paint, the table is a natural color, but the chairs have obviously been painted several times without sanding or stripping and they are red, I want the red to show thru, under the dark navy blue I will be painting the whole set.

    • allie says:

      I don’t add anything to my paint. My advice is to use a sanding block or bit of sand paper on the chairs so that you don’t sand all the way down to the wood. You can then regulate it and hopefully just get the top layer off to show off the red. The rest you could use a sander on if you are okay with the wood showing through! I think it will be cute:) Best of luck!

  38. Dagmar says:

    Hi! I love the job you do distressing furniture! All beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing!
    One question; What paint and color red did you use on the hutch that had the blue underneath?
    Thanks and Kudos for a job well done! …Dagmar :)

    • allie says:

      Thanks Dagmar. Unfortunately I don’t have the color of red. I think I left it in the old house, but somehow in the move the can got lost:( Wish I could help more!~

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  40. Susan says:

    Loved your tutorial! So helpful. Thank you for going to the trouble of putting this on the internet!

  41. Suburbia Steph says:

    What is the blue paint you used on the dresser above?

  42. Natalie says:

    I am having a hard time finding a good red to use. Do you know what color red you used on the one that was already blue?

  43. Maureen says:

    Help! I just distressed my first piece of furniture (a sofa table) and have a problem I haven’t seen addressed anywhere (meaning I probably did something terribly wrong LOL). I did two coats of black paint and then two coats of turquoise. I sanded the edges and a few various spots to rub off the turquoise to the black. Being my first distressed piece, it came out better than I would have thought…except that the turquoise paint on the parts I distress sanded have a totally different texture and sheen now than the other (non sanded) parts. Any advice on fixing this? Do I lightly sand all of it? Thank you, thank you!

    • allie says:

      I have had a couple times when I distressed that the edges got almost gummy and crumbly, and I think it was because I didn’t wait long enough to let it dry good. Not sure if that’s what happened?? Also, when you distress you do get a different sheen. I usually don’t mind it, and it does show up more with colors. You can lightly sand the whole surface if you want to try to get it to match, but you will probably have a bit of an uneven look. I usually like the dimension I get when just distressing the edges and getting different sheens. But I”m not a perfectionist:) Hope you can figure something out! Sorry I’m not much help:(

      • Maureen says:

        Thank you for responding so quickly! Yes, I did sand too soon (it was gummy-ish), but luckily it still looked good (for my first time ;). I lightly sanded the entire piece with 400 grit sandpaper to try and minimize the sheen difference between the distressed parts and the non-distressed sections. That helped a lot, but you’re right – I can see that it would be nearly impossible to have a completely even look. I think the fact it was a flat, 6′-long surface made the sheen differences really noticeable. I also then decided to try a v. light antique glaze, to further minimize the sheen differences. It’s not perfect, but it’s been a learning experience and I’m really happy with how it came out. Thank you for sharing all your great tips. I studied them before I started this :)

        • Austin says:

          I would put a clear satin finish over the whole piece to give it an even look. I know this thread is older, but someone may have the same question today!

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  45. Jill Castetter says:

    What type of paint do you use for distressing furniture? My daughter and I want to distress an old piece of furniture today.

  46. Pamela bell says:

    Can you distress cabinet doors if the doors are flat with no frameing on the doors?

  47. Pamela bell says:

    I have to use my old flat kitchen cabinets but we already bought coco brown paint,but i decided thats to boring but cant return the paint. How do i go about painting the cabinets brown and then distressing them?

  48. Jan says:

    I am new at this distressing thing. I am about to try it out on a chest of drawers in my guest room. I have some mahogany furniture in this room. Do you think the two mix?

  49. Lacey says:

    Hey!! So first off i really liked your break down of all this, super helpful!! I have a few things around the house that i would love to distress, one being a wood end table. What are some of your “can’t live without” tools for these types of projects?

    • allie says:

      Thanks! I’d definitely invest in a power sander and also the mini roller with foam rollers. Those two things will make your life a whole lot easier!! Best of luck:)

  50. Monica T. says:

    I am so glad I found your blog :) Recently I was given an antique dresser and I just knew I had to distress it. My whole style is very primitive/country. Your blog was helpful and the comments I read provided me alot of knowledge. So far I’m in the process of hand sanding, what a pain! Is there a certain power sander that you recommend? I have a feeling I’m going to need to invest in one since I’ve found my new hobby :)

    • allie says:

      Good for you for doing it! We just bought the dewalt hand sander that’s about a 4×4 square and it works great, I think it costs around $45, well worth it!! Hand sanding us no fun! Best of luck:)

      • Monica T. says:

        Awesome! I will add that to my list to go buy :) Now I’m new to all of this and I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from that dresser I distressed. If you’re able to view this link, I pinned it on my Pinterest as well : http://pinterest.com/pin/526710118890414533/
        I’ve been told I really should start selling but I’m not sure how I should go about pricing out my pieces. Anywhere from frames to farm tables. Any tips on how you’ve priced your stuff out?

        • allie says:

          It looks great! Good job! You know, we have found that for pricing you have to know your audience. We are in a small town so if we price crazy high it wouldn’t sell. But we also don’t want to give our time away either:) Our dressers usually range from $99-$199, depending on size and quality, and what we have into it. Hope that helps?? It’s really just a learning experience!

  51. Madeline says:

    Hi! I have a ton of black furniture that is in major need of a makeover. I want to paint it white and distress it but will this work since it is painted black? Do I need to strip it first? Thanks!

    • allie says:

      You can just sand down the areas you are going to distress to get them down to the wood, like especially sides and corners, and then just lightly sand the rest. Then, when you distress the wood will come through and not the black and it saves you quite a bit of time….hope that helps!

  52. aliya says:

    Hi . I need to know what would be the best way to protect distressed furniture from water glass marks. Is it advisable to paint or spray on a thick layer of matt polyurethene lacquer or would that spoil the effect. thanks

  53. Jen says:

    Hi! Read your blog and it gave me the guts to redo my furniture that I’ve had forever. Here is the result! Thanks again for the confidence.


    Jen :-)

  54. Veronica says:

    Hey alli, love your website! I have an old rocking chair with spindle back and arms that I want to distress for a new grandbaby on the way. Could you please give me some ideas where to start. I know I want to distress but no clue what kind of supplies to purchase. I don’t want a whole lot of money tied up in it. If you could give me ideas I would love it! Thanks and many blessings to you.

    • allie says:

      Veronica, I would just pick a fun color to paint it, and then take the palm sander to it and give it some aged character:) Throw a couple of cute pillows on and you are good to go! Spindles aren’t a lot of fun to paint, but acutally spray paint works well for chairs. You just have to watch the drips and do a lot of thin coats:)

  55. Tammy says:

    I have to say, I was looking how to distress furniture and found your blog. When I saw your black hutch, I changed my mind since the furniture I have is almost identical! Can you give me tips on how to paint mine?

    • allie says:

      Well I’m not a perfectionist, so I tend to just rough u the piece with a light sanding and then go to town with my small foam roller and brush. It goes a lot faster with a foam roller! If you buy a paint and primer in one it saves a step as well. I love behr paint:). Happy painting!!

  56. Brenda says:

    I am wanting to distress the rails on my stair case they are white. Do I just sand them? and what kind of sand paper do you recomend?

  57. Rebecca says:

    I have a solid wood white coffee table I just got off craigslist it needs repainting and I love the distressed look the problem is the color of the wood underneath is to light for me …. You mentioned painting the edges darker?? Will this work, no crazy candle waxing just paint edges dark, paint the table white and sand? I want the table white with dark distress but not black any recommendations or helpful hints in doing this?

    • allie says:

      Rebecca, you can paint the edges darker, and you will see some of that pop through, but you will also see the original wood color, since most likely the sanding will go through all the paint. What I would suggest is you can take a small rag, dip it in some dark stain, and just apply that after you have distressed to stain the wood underneath darker. I’d just dip a tiny corner in and rub it along the edges. That might help??

      • Linda Farris says:

        This is precisely the information I have been looking for, I have 3 chairs i need to paint and distress to match a darker chair that is completed. Thank you for this tip! ;D

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  59. Angie Newsom says:

    I just love all the work that you have done. It looks AWESOME!!!!!

  60. Momma of a 3 year old boy says:

    I need some help!! Your step by step directions and all the pictures were wonderful, however I am still torn. I am wanting to give my sons room a make over. He loves the color red, and I love the preppy nautical look. So I was thinking about painting his bed red and his bookcase and chest of drawers blue, and perhaps distressing all three…? Here’s the problem, the bookcase and chest of drawers are both med oak finish and the bed I’m going to order him is a fullsize white bed from ikea. What should I do so that they all appear to match in some sort? Also, do you think the red bed and blue chest of drawers and bookcase is a little too much? Not really feeling painting everything red….or blue for that matter. I need some opinions and a kick in the right direction! Hope you or someone else posting can help me out. :)

    • allie says:

      Hey momma of a 3 year old boy:)
      I’m sure you’ve already started and hopefully you found out that it really doesn’t matter if the woods are different. They all will distress a bit different, but that’s the beauty of it, and they will mesh great! I also like the idea of mix matched colors, too much of one looks like a set, and you want them to look more like individualized pieces. So best of luck!

  61. Michele says:

    I stumbled across your blog while searching for ways to distress furniture. I just bought a ladder-type bookshelf that is painted white and I’m afraid it just looks too pristine to fit into my lived-in family room. This is not a high-end piece so not sure of the quality of wood. Does that matter when distressing pieces? I thought about testing it out on a part that’s not visible. Any suggestions?

    • Sheila says:

      Did you ever get an answer for this & then actually do it? How did it turn out? I’d like to buy an inexpensive white end table & distress it with having a bit of either turquoise or orange seep through.

    • allie says:

      Hi Michele,
      Sorry I’m just getting back to you now. I have distressed all types of wood, from cheap laminate type wood to solid and it all works. Sometimes if it’s like a particle board underneath then when you distress it the color isn’t very dark, but you can always paint the edges first, and then distress, or you can use a little bit of stain on a rag after and hit the distressed parts to make them stand out more. Hope that helps!

      • Megan says:

        Hi I have a China hutch and really it is too conservative for the room. It is also a cheap laminate which I was not aware of at first. I wanted to make it look distressed and colorful. Could you tell me if you think this is possible and the steps I will need to take if I try it or should I just put it on Craigslist? I can take a picture if you can help me by seeing it. thank you, I thought this might be worth a try. Megan

        • allie says:

          Megan, I have painted laminate furniture before, I just use a good primer first. My pedastal table was a cheap laminate surface and it actually painted up very nicely. I even sanded it down a bit and that worked too! I’d try it, if it doesn’t work you are only out a can of paint, but I think it will:)

  62. Leisa says:

    I have an armoire from the 90s that I’d like to paint white, then distress. What color/brand do you recommend? The finish now is a natural color wood with a clear finish. Thank you!

  63. Michelle says:

    I have a long, narrow dresser in my dining room that I’m using as a buffet/side bar. Along the wall where it will be is a Dark Chocolate accent wall and the other walls are golden honey color. Currently the dresser is also painted the honey color but I feel like it may look better with a pop of color. I am thinking an aqua color perhaps? What are your thoughts? Also, if I end up distressing it, what grit sandpaper do I need to use once it has the final coat of paint? Thanks!!

  64. Chelsea says:

    Hi Allie,

    We’ve had two end tabels and a coffee table all sanded and ready to go for about two weeks – but my fiance and I are too nervous to take control and distress it! Since it’s all sanded down, I’ve noticed from your earlier posts that you use a primer and paint in one – I LOVE that, btw, so much easier – we can just paint it? One or two coats… then sand it in spots? Do we ever run the sander over the surface of the tables? Or just the edges/corners? We just moved into our Condo and our couch is grey – we were thinking of doing then some lighter blues and yellows as our paints – do you suggest doing the end tables in one color and then the coffee table in the other?

    Loving your blog! Thank you!

    • allie says:

      You are all ready to start painting! I would do the end tables matching and I think it would be fun to accent the coffee table another color. I would start with sanding just the edges, and then if you are loving it and feeling gutsy, you can go on the top, I have done that with some of my tables, it’s just a bit riskier. But, if you don’t like how it looks you can always just repaint it! Gotta love paint:) I think you are going to need 2 coats for sure…depends how solid you want the color. It’s all a learning process. Have fun!

  65. nadine eperjesi says:

    hi allie,

    i just have a question for you.i have a finished coffee table that we want to make it have the distressed black look.should we strip the finish off than paint it,or do we paint over the existing finish.also what kind of paint or finish do you recommend we use for our project.i dont know whether to paint it black,or use some kind of black stain.i can really use your help.thank you so very much.


    • allie says:

      If it were me, I would just sand the piece with a palm sander enough to give it some grip, you don’t need to strip it. A piece usually only takes me about 10 minutes to sand down. Then I’d use a black satin paint and primer in one, I like Behr, or you can buy the premixed black that they sell at any hardware store. After it dries take the palm sander to the edges again to distress it a bit! Hope that helps!

  66. Sue says:

    I was wondering if you have ever worked with chalk paint. I have heard good things about it…mainly that it is easier to work with, dries faster. I have some furniture pieces that I am looking to paint and distress and am thinking of trying the chalk paint…any thoughts. Also, do you know if you can use a polyurethane on chalk paint. One of the pieces that I want to paint is our kitchen table & chairs which would definitely need the poly. Thanks! I just LOVE you work.

    • allie says:

      I actually have never worked with chalk paint. I love the look, just haven’t bitten the bullet and done it myself. So sorry I can’t help you out in that area! I know Miss Mustard Seed’s blog has some video tutorials on it though, might we worth checking out:)

    • Sue says:

      I’ve just become a convert to Annie Sloan’s Chalk paint and I can’t say enough good things. Besides more furniture, I’m planning to paint my kitchen cabinets and then lacquer them. It also works on floors! No sanding, priming or anything necessary before you jump in. Go for it and have a good time!

  67. Dawn Ditmyer says:

    Hi Allie, I have a 1970s hutch that is stained dark and has been previously distressed (like someone beat it with a cat of nine tails). How can I paint this and give it a new distressed look? Thanks.

    • allie says:

      Hi Dawn. I acutally just redid one of my end tables that was a dark stain and dinged up like crazy. I loved painting it because I gave it two coats and some of the dark still showed through, and then when I sanded it, the dings added so much to the character! I did mine a bright red, but I think so many colors would look pretty with a little dark showing through. It’s up to you, but I think use the beat up part of it to your advantage…they already started the distressing for you:) Best of luck!

  68. Mindy says:

    I have a dresser it’s a light tan but very smooth- would I need to sand it before painting and distressing it? What’s easiest way to do it, want to paint it black for our bedroom! Needs done asap :o)

    • allie says:

      If you have a palm sander I would just give it a quick sand down, it should only take about 10 minutes, and then wipe it down and start painting. I would just use a paint and primer in one, I love Behr. Also a small roller works great for dressers, cuts down the painting time immensely. Best of luck!

  69. Cristiana says:

    Hi Allie,
    I love your blog and thank you for all the wonderful ideas! I’m trying to distress my bedroom set right now and don’t know how to begin….It’s painted all black, but I want to change it to a grey and cream and don’t want the black to show through at all when I distess it….Could you please give me your recommendations? Do you suggest Annie Sloan paint (maybe country grey) and wax? Thank you so much!

    • allie says:

      Hi Cristiana,
      Thanks for your comment:) I think the key to not getting your black to show through is to try to sand down the edges to wood before you start painting, so that when you do put your paint on and distress it, only the color you want will show through. I honestly haven’t tried the annie sloan or any chalk paints. I’ve been curious, but just stuck to the good old home depot paints;) And I also haven’t waxed. The items I have distressed have stayed quite nice, and if it does tend to get another chip, it only adds to the look…hence the reason I love distressing! Hope it works out!!

  70. Melannie says:

    I found your blog here thru Google & it’s very informative!! I recently found a beautiful very dark wood TV armoire that I’m planning on repurposing into a scrapbooking storage cabinet. Since it’s so dark I thought maybe I would just paint the inside to help me see in it easier but the more I’ve looked at pics I’ve decided to paint the whole armoire! I’d like to go with a white or off white & distress it just a little, for starters anyway. My question is about the finish: It has a very smooth finish & I’d like to keep it that way. I love the satiny look so I’ll be using satin paint. But what do you suggest I use to paint it to achieve the finish I want – brush or roller? I know the key will be to sand, sand, sand. I just don’t want to see brush strokes in the finish.

    • allie says:

      I love to roll and much as possible, just because it goes a lot faster. You won’t see as many brush strokes, but you still are going to need to brush to get the corners, so you may see some. It’s hard to get a perfectly smooth finish unless you have it sprayed with an enamel. I think your best bet would be to roll as much as you can and then in between coats you a lighter grit sand paper and sand it down a bit. Sounds like it will be pretty piece! Best of luck:)

  71. Antonia says:

    These all look great! So for the white table, you just sanded the corner/edges and that was it? No stain or oil or poly or anything? Is it really that awesomely simple?

    • allie says:

      It really was that awesomely simple:) No stain or poly. You can if you want, mine held up great without and if it does get a chip you don’t even notice since that’s the look!

      • Antonia says:

        I’m so glad I found your blog! I am SO doing this soon- I have a painted piece that’s begging to be distressed! You mentioned you used a sanding block, but what grit do you recommend?

        • allie says:

          honestly I use whatever I have around. I do love my power sander if the piece is big enough, it goes much faster and easier on the hands. If you don’t have one then the sanding block or sand paper works just fine:)

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  73. Gud Wyne says:

    Hi! Reading through these mails,I thought I should try my luck too.I have a dinning set that I want to paint white but I such a way that black and silver shows through.This dinning set has lots of motifs to it.Right now the color is pale yellow and Occassionally distressed and crackle finish.Since its is the main set I am little nervous to give it a start,but I am sure your right advice will boost my confidence level.Just so you my color scheme is black ,white and silver.This is the first time I am joining in ,if it turns out right I will definitely share my experience with others.Thanks Allie!

    • allie says:

      I’m glad you asked, but I must say it’s quite ambitious to start with a dining table:) I would try to sand down as much of the yellow as possible, especially on corners and edges so it doesn’t pop out when you distress it. Then I’d give it a coat of black or silver, or both one on top of the other, just on the edges and raised areas. After you paint it white I’d start distressing the legs first and play around with it a bit to see if your color is coming through enough. Also don’t forget to put a few coats of polyurethane on top to protect from water stains. Hope that helps?!? Best of luck!!:)

      • ZoeysMama says:

        Hi Allie,

        After you complete one of your projects do you apply a varnish to it? If so, do you use a spray or a brush on type. Thanks so much!!!

        • allie says:

          I have only put a polyurethane on my kitchen table, and I did use a spray poly once on some shelving that I didn’t want to chip but it yellowed over the course of a few months. So if you want to use one I would suggest the brush on kind:)

  74. Rhea Langemo says:

    Hi Allie! I have stumbled across your website from many facebook friends reposting your blogs about your darling Juliet. I think you may also know my sister Deveny Klammer Beaton–she is my youngest sister. Please know that I am another Christian sister praying for you & Ryan–lifting up your whole family….:)
    Also, I have a question about painting furniture. :) When you are painting larger pieces, do you do it by hand or do you use a power painter? I have a larger display hutch that I want to paint, but I don’t want it to look really bad when i’m done…any pointers? Thank you so much! Rhea

    • allie says:

      Thanks so much for the prayers Rhea!! As for the painting bigger pieces, I don’t spray them. I do use a roller whenever possible to make the job quicker and on the final coat sometimes I’ll just take my brush and brush over the roller paint to get a brush stroke finish. I’m sure a sprayer would work, and we have one, but it’s quite complicated and I can’t do it by myself, so it’s just easier for me:)

  75. Lisa says:

    Thanks so much, great blog. I’m going to use a lot of these ideas now. Can I ask where you got your duvet cover? It is exactly what I am looking for.

    • allie says:

      Thanks Lisa! I got my duvet from Pottery Barn, and after my first one ripped I actually found the second matching one on ebay for half the cost. Something to look into:) Hope that helps!

  76. Great info. I love the white bed, it is gorgeous!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

  77. cara says:

    Hi allie I am painting a brass chandelier. I really can use your advice on a Color paint. My walls are pale green but almost the palestgreen ever very subtle.. my table is natural wood on top and the legs are green like a granny Smith apple. I also have cream accents and pale yellows to. So what Colorado would u suggest cream white yellow green .. I don’t mind if its completely a differsnt colorr or bold and bright ..please help..

    • allie says:

      :( your room sounds adorable. I myself would probably spray it white, only cause I have somewhat of color phobia since I tend to get sick of things too fast:). I do thing a bold yellow would be fun as well if you aren’t crazy like me with colors:):). Let me know what you decide!

      • cara says:

        Thank you I will let you know the turn out ..I am a little bit nervous to spray it a crazy Color so I may stick to white.

  78. Elise says:

    I just have a question. With your hutch and other furnitures with hinges, do you just paint the hinges a colour to match the furniture, or do you leave them as they are, or even, paint them a different colour ie: silver, gold, black…?
    I want to start distressing furniture, but when it comes to the hinges, im not sure if painted hinges would work!!?
    Thanks, Elise

    • allie says:

      I just paint right over the hinges. After wear the paint flakes a bit but it just adds to the distressing look. It’s up to you though, some people like their hinges to contrast. I try to blend mine in:)

  79. Michelle says:

    Hi Allie!
    I am so thankful I found your site/blog! I think I am ready to tackle my first project and am excited yet anxious. I have a brown stained wood desk that I am wanting to paint purple (for daughters room) and distress it a little.
    Where would I start? I have watched a couple of video’s on Youtube and notice that a lot of people are using spray paint over Kilz. Others are stripping to the bare wood and painting/distressing. I love your work and wanted to know your thoughts and process on the best way to do this desk.

    Thank you so much for your time,

  80. Becky says:

    I am so glad I found this! In true Becky fashion I just started in on this distressing project without looking at directions first. Well, now I am worried that I have messed my piece up. I have a long library table that I used white primer on. Then I painted it a mustard yellow to go next to my robin egg blue wall. I started sanding (without looking at good directions like the ones you give here!) and am not sure it looks too good. I sanded the top and everywhere else, focusing on the edges without giving it thought. But, I used sand paper and my hand. So, now it looks like there are a bunch of scratches all over it and all the edges show through to the white. Do you have any thoughts on what I can do to fix this?

    • tanya says:

      I’m having the same problem with my black furniture looking scratched after I distress it. How do I fix it??

      • allie says:

        A lot of times after you sand paint it takes some of the sheen off of it. Some paints you notice more than others, and black unfortunately you see more. I usually don’t mind it, but I have found if you try to just sand the ended and don’t go too crazy with the sander it helps. Otherwise you might want to try staining over it after you have distressed it, it might help even it out a bit??

  81. Mary says:

    I have an old bed that was wood underneath. Someone painted the edges blue, then all white with the blue coming through. I would like to get the blue off and just distress it some. It is similar to the white bed you have here on your site. Any ideas on what to do to get the blue off? Should I just sand it all off, paint that part white and then distress it?

    • allie says:

      I would try to sand most of it off first, even though that’s more work. I don’t think it will effect it too much if you don’t get it all. If you paint it white again and distress it I would think it would work! Best of luck:)

  82. cara says:

    Hi I hàve a question. I tried to distress a mirror without sanding it first but I did prime it and then used paint after primer was dry overnight and paint started to peel off terribly. So now I sanded it and started over but would like u to help figure out Colorado that would look good toghther my Colorado room is a soft blue Colorado from ben moore. Called smoke.. so would love to do like a gray coming threw or white coming through a grayish Color any ideas ..thank u your stuff is beautiful by the way and really would love ur advice.

  83. Jennifer Forbes says:

    My cabinets in my house are painted white with just wood underneath. I really don’t want to paint all the cabinets in my house, but the paint is already coming off in places and peeling. After seeing the pics of your table, I think I will help with the “distressing” it already has and maybe the sanding will stop some of the peeling that is already happening. I won’t have black or a dark color come through, but hopefully it will still look good.

    • allie says:

      Oh fun! I think you’ll love it!! if you want it to be darker underneath you can just rub a little stain onto the distressed part, gives it an older feel too. Hope it works!

  84. Danielle says:

    This is a great bit of advice, and so many question comments with the answers i was looking for. I’m going to do my first distressing project, I have a small round dining table with drop sides and want to paint it red then distress. I wasn’t looking forward to sanding it all down, so I’m excited to see that you I can just use a paint/primer and go right over it. The original stain is a good color for coming through the red I think, so I’d like to leave it on. Anyway, thanks for your advice and pics, I’m super excited to get started now!

    • allie says:

      Yay!! Excited to hear how it turns out:) I’d do a nice polyurethane over the top, 3 coats, if you are still going to use it for a dining table, just to help with water marks and wiping it down:)

  85. Sue Huelsing says:

    Hi Allie, love your website. Have a question, I have a 1960’s secretary that has some veneer, is there anyway to distress veneer?

    • allie says:

      I have distressed veneer before, you have to be a little more careful and make sure the piece has cured well so not too much of the paint comes off. Also, sometimes the veneer shows through a bit, but it has never bugged me:) I’d give it a try!!:)

    • Susan says:

      How did distressing the veneer turn out? I want to do a chest of drawers with my daughter. This is the first time we have atempted anything like this. Its for her first apartment.
      Any tips?

  86. Jamie says:

    Hi, I love your website, it is so helpful. One thing I am not sure about it what kind of paint to use. I have a ton of latex paint and satin paint. Can I use those or should this distressed look always come from flat or matte? Thanks!!

    • allie says:

      Thanks for your comment:) definately use your paint you have. I always buy satin and have never boughten flat. Im just not a big fan of gloss but it’s all a preference thing:) happy painting:)

  87. Laura Worten says:

    I have an old cedar chest that is painted off white. I would like to paint it bright blue and have some of the white to show through. I think I even whant some of the white to show on the top and sides, not just on the edges. What do I need to do? What kind of paint do I need? Thank you for any help that you can give me.

    • allie says:

      Hi Laura,
      I would just find a blue you like that is a paint and primer in one, I like Behr Ultra, and paint over the white. Then let it dry good and start sanding. If you want the top to have some white show through then I would just sand right on the top and sides as well. A palm sander usually works best for that, you just have to be careful to not sand too much:) I’d love to hear how it goes!!:)

  88. Becca says:


    I am so impressed with all the work you have done on your house. Almost just as impressed that you keep up with blogging it all. I have a question about the wall and trim colour you used on the farmhouse. Looks to be in the kitchen and dining/sitting room. Off white/grey with pure white trim? Love the sharkey grey cabinets and the sink! Please share wall colours next.

    • allie says:

      Becca, thanks so much for your comment!! That’s a great idea on a blog on paint colors…I will try to get one out for you this week or next:) Thanks for the idea:)!!

      • Becca says:

        So… It’s almost been a month… Any luck on discovering that colour on your walls? I’m almost ready to paint.

  89. Kim says:


    Thanks so much for the simplicity in your instructions. I have spent most of the afternoon looking at so many websites that I was so confused and ready to just stain the piece and be done with it! I have an old buffet with one shallow drawer going the length of the piece, three drawers in the center, and a door on each side. I am going to route the doors so I can put glass in them and then use the piece as a TV stand. Will have to send pics of the final product.

    God Bless,


    • allie says:

      Yay!! I am so glad that you are going to start painting and got some motivation from the post:) That makes me so happy, and you will be so happy with your finished product, and I’d LOVE to see pictures. I’m a sucker for before and afters:)

  90. Sue says:

    This was so inspiring! I love the last photo of the black cabinet… it’s soooo Frenchy. It inspired me to add some trim detail and paint my armoire black, I haven’t sanded it yet but it already looks great! Thanks for the courage! ~s

    • allie says:

      Awesome!! I’m sure it will turn out great:)

    • Dawn Blake says:

      I just bought an old country table that used old 2X4s to use as the top of it. She has painted over it so many times I am not sure what to do about distressing something that has been painted over with so many times. I like the black cabinet she made on this website with the white or cream coming through. The current paint job is glossy white. I would like to distress the legs and bottom (plan to decoupage the top- it’s also painted not sure if I should sand it before I decoupage it).

  91. Linda says:

    Let’s talk specifics because I am excited to start!. I am going to distress an already painted white small sewing table that is dinged up. The old dark finish shows though the chips. I would like try a slightly off-white and then distress it with the dark brown showing through.
    1. What type/finish of paint should I use?
    2. How do you apply the paint? Would a sponge brush be recommended? I like using those.
    3. Would you suggest sanding the original coat of paint before applying the new or just cleaning with TSP?
    4. I plan on dressing up the draws with perhaps some added scroll work to add a little flair, as they are plain. Would I just glue the appliqued scroll work with maybe a sand prep first?

    After that project, I want to graduate to an old radio cabinet that is being used in my bathroom for storage. It is currently dark stained, but I would like to paint it white and distress it.

    Would do anything different for a furniture piece in the bathroom versus the sewing table I described above?

    Thank you ever so much for your help. The radio cabinet has been staring me in the face and I have been too afraid to tackle it, but with this little sewing cabinet to practice on, I am feeling motivated.


    • allie says:

      So glad you asked…first of all I am not a perfectionist, so if you are you may not want to take my advice:) I always use satin on everything I do. I am not a glossy type of girl whether it be cabinets or walls. second, i would just paint right on top of the old paint and I usually like to use a small roller since it’s faster, and then take a brush and brush stroke over it to get a smoother finish. I have never used sponge brushes?? As for the scroll work, I think if you used liquid nails it would work without even sanding. That stuff is quite amazing. As for bathroom units, if you think the top might get wet at all, I would apply at least three coats of polyurethane on it, it really toughens it up!! I hope that helps:) Happy painting:)

      • Linda says:

        Bless you. Thank you so much for your advice!!!! I am looking forward to painting them when it gets warmer. In some things I am a perfectionist, but with this shabby chic, it looks to be forgiving, so I will take your advice.



  92. Dru Crowell says:

    Do you seal your furniture with anything? I love the red and am going to do my boys 2 nightstands that color. Hope I can find the red that is similiar to yours!!

    • allie says:

      I do not seal the majority of my furniture…I did seal my kitchen table and bathroom vanity with three coats of fast drying polyurethane to protect it from water, which may be something you would want to do if you have cups on the nightstands?? But otherwise mine have held up quite well. Sure wish I still had the name of the color red, it’s been a popular one! :) Happy painting:)

  93. Keasha Manning says:

    Fantastic ideas and tips! Thank you!!

  94. sadie says:

    What paint color/brand did you use for the red bookshelf…oh and the white coffee table…I love your work..

    • allie says:

      Thanks Sadie!! I wish I knew the red paint I used because I have been asked that a lot..and unfortunatley that was before I started blogging and keeping track of stuff:) It was a left over quart that we used for our front door and have since thrown away, bugger:( As for the white, I also used what I had and I believe it was just an exterior ultra white! When I get motivated I don’t always want to drive to get what I want and just use what I have. Since then though, I have found that I love the Benjamin Moore decorators white! It’s a little softer but still crisp:) You can have it made up in any paint too, just tell them you want decorator’s white! Hope that helps a little??

  95. Sarah says:

    Hi I am tackling my first distressing project any suggestions on the grit of sandpaper? I have been using 100 but the paint seemed to be peeling. Should I go up or down? Thanks!

    • allie says:

      Hi Sarah, I might not be much of a help here, but I usually just use what I have laying around?!? I have found that I like a rougher sandpaper though. I noticed that my paint would usually peel if I didnt wait long enough for it to cure, or if it was a super smooth surface underneath and I didn’t sand, or at least use paint and primer in one, and I’ve used a few and the best one that works for me is Behr. A little more expensive, but I have had great luck with it sticking! So, my suggestions to you are to try to let the piece stand for a couple days before you attack it and use the right paint. Hopefully that will get you better result??!! Yay for you, happy distressing:)

  96. thalia says:

    do you ever use a paste wax on the finished product? a few other sites say to use this, just wondering what you thought of that. i’m about to do my first dresser for my little girls room.
    ( i also have a son named Tate )

    • allie says:

      Hi Thalia,
      Wow, not sure if you are going to read this since you wrote your comment over 2 months ago, but I’m finally getting to clean up my spam:) I have not tried wax, I have read about it though. It would help to make the distressed areas nice and smooth so it would be worth looking into! I usually just go with instant gratification at the time:) I’d love to hear how your dresser turned out!!

  97. Candace says:

    So helpful! just one question…
    i have a piece im wanting to distress, but it has a wood stain on it. ive heard some say its important to sand all the stain off, then paint and do all that. when i distress i want the dark wood color to show through but if i sand, it will be a light wood color. wondering if you thought it would really make a big difference if i dont sand before i paint?
    thanks in advance! :)

    • allie says:

      Hi Candace, I’m sure you already tackled your distressing project, I finally got through weeding out spam comments and found yours:) I hope it turned out well!! I paint right over stain a lot, I did find it works best if you use a paint and primer in one though, and I really like Behr’s. Hope that helps:)

  98. Shannon campbell says:

    So, if I have bookshelves that are I guess finished with brown paint or stain and I want to change the color and then make it distressed looking, I just paint over the brown with the color I like then sand the pieces that I want to look distressed?

    • allie says:

      Sorry this is so late in getting back to you, but yes…but make sure you use a primer or paint and primer first so it sticks good. I’m sure you already tried it out, hope it worked:)

  99. Kelly says:

    Thanks to your blog I just finished my first painting and distressing project! I have another paint question for you… what color did you use for the blue dresser in your master bedroom? If you remember, let me know because I have another project to do. :)

    • allie says:

      Yay!! I am so excited for you:) The color that I used for my dresser was called aqua smoke, I know I got it at menards but can’t remember if it was a grand distinction color or dutch boy. I got it mixed up in dutch boy satin and it worked great. I also used a gray primer underneath and haven’t had any scratching. Hopefully if you have the name they can find it at menards:)

  100. Jennah says:

    Wow, those pieces look great! Distressing sure changes the whole look of furniture…can’t wait to get back in a house and try it out! Thanks, Allie!

  101. Crystal Glewwe says:

    If I ever have enough money, I will just buy all of the items in your house and you can get all new stuff – maybe a win, win for the both of us. I love every inch of your house and amazing decorating skills!

  102. Distressing does really make an ulgy out piece of furniture look pottery barnish! You do a nice job sister christian!

  103. Renee says:

    Thanks Allie!!! This was great. I enjoy your blogs. You are one industrious lady. Good for you. I liked the question posed re: the veneer, etc. This give me some good ideas for a couple “built-ins” in the bedrooms in Florida that are …. should I use the word hideous!!!! Is that too mean??? I’m sticking with it … they are HIDEOUS! I didn’t know how it would fair but primer first is a great idea!! I’m excited to get out the paint brush down there. Not usually my “cup of tea”, but for some reason the task doesn’t seem so daunting. In this house up here … no way. I have a very talented friend named Ronelle who is much better equipped than I am!!! Keep on blogging!!!

  104. Kristin says:

    So here’s my question: Can I paint my cheap-not real wood- and almost plastic looking bedroom furnitiure and then distress it? And if I can would you recommend a good paint I can use on this so that it will not just peal off? I have wanted to do this forever but wasn’t sure if I could with this kind of furniture and have it turn out.

    • allie says:

      Hmm..so it is like a plastic or more of a veneer? I usually never sand my furniture, cause I’m lazy, and the dresser from my bedroom had a real thick plastic like veneer finish on the top, so I just used a gray primer from Menards, I think it was American Accents, a quart. It worked great and I haven’t had any problems with it scratching. I would definitely use a primer on it and then I think it should work! Try a more inconspicuous spot to start maybe?? Go for it friend:)

  105. nicole says:

    Love this blog! You give such great ideas and explain things so well! I wanna redo my living room, I would love for you to come over sometime and give me some ideas!

  106. Emily says:

    Thanks Allie! So helpful. I will definitely be trying this! You found some great pieces to distress and made them look amazing.

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