Distressing Painted 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.

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.

I 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.

I 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.

You 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.

Now 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.

This 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!!!!)

This 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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