Cottage Style Dollhouse Furniture: Distressed Ivory
An Antique White Finish for Doll Furniture
Distressed ivory is an antique white finish that looks stunning on shabby chic or cottage style furniture -- either full scale or miniature. It is particularly well suited for doll furniture (especially if a collector has a tight budget but a taste for realism). Distressed ivory finishes can give cheap manufactured furnishing an elegant one-of-a-kind look, and make mismatched pieces look matching, or at least almost matching -- which is actually more true to the "shabby chic" look than true uniformity. It's a finish that also looks good with the quilts and knick knacks that miniature collectors are drawn to.
This particular antique white finish is made by applying a cream colored paint over a darker one, allowing some of the dark to show. Pieces often have raised molding or ornamental details and a lustrous sheen. The technique is relatively easy as far as faux finishes go. Precision isn't necessary. With patience -- and a light touch -- a person can create doll furniture that's beautiful to look at.
On this page, I will share tips for creating faux finish doll furniture in distressed ivory.
Take a Look at Some Distressed Ivory Furniture - On YouTube
From office chairs to little girl's dream furniture, here are a a variety of shabby chic and French style furnishings in distressed ivory. The furniture in these videos are all real (full size). They're elegant pieces, though, that may give you inspiration for your own miniature collections. You can get a sense of not only what the finished project will look like, but how you can get there. What decorative details or findings might you add to your doll furniture before painting?
Which Dollhouse Furnishings Will Look Good in Distressed Ivory?
Selecting and preparing dollhouse miniatures
Most bedroom, living room, or dining room dolls furniture will look good with a distressed ivory finish -- at least most of the cheap packaged pieces. Furniture with carved or raised details will look especially nice. You will probably want to avoid pieces that are too sleek or modern.
The doll furniture doesn't have to be new, just relatively clean. It doesn't matter if there is an uneven paint job or minor damage and you don't have to remove every trace of paint. If the paint has a matte finish, you're ready to go; if the finish is shiny, it's good to sand and/or add a surface preparer. (Sometimes you can paint slick finishes without a surface preparer, but you have to build layers very slowly, a little paint at a time, with ample time to dry in between.)
Speaking from experience -- look closely at the pictures in the intro and Polaroid! -- this miniature bedroom set from Hobbybuilders looks nice in distressed ivory, provided you prime the surface and/or build the layers up very slowly, allowing ample drying time in between. Laminated or shiny surfaces are harder to refinish than either unfinished wood or regular paint. At points along the way, these furniture items were a bit of a muddy brown mess -- but the finished product was as I'd envisioned.
Distressed Ivory Cabinet
Creating a Delicate Distressed Ivory Finish - With acrylics or stencil cream
Distressed ivory is created by applying a warm cream color over a brown background. Traditionally, the top coat is sanded to reveal the brown underneath.
For miniature items, I find that it works well to drybrush or stipple the lighter colored top coat with stencil cream or a thick ivory colored acrylic. It may seem paradoxical at first, but if you apply very thick paint with a stiff bristled brush, you get a whisper soft finish. Do use a light touch -- you can build layers slowly.
Put a little less color on corners and raised decorations. You may want to do a bit of sanding at the end to make sure that raised areas look sufficiently browned and worn.
Apply with a small sponge brush to create delicate ivory color .
Adding "Carved" Embellishments - An inexpensive, but convincing illusion
Distressed ivory furniture often has raised details or embellishments. You can create your own with jewelry findings or scrapbook embellishments. It doesn't matter that they don't appear to match your furniture -- give them the same antique antique white finish, and then they will!
Investing in a few simple materials will help make your project successful. You will probably want to give your embellishments a primer or base coat; this is quite inexpensive, especially if you buy a small bottle that is intended for crafting. You will also need a glue or putty that's designed to bind nonporous surfaces. (Hot glue guns are an option for attaching some filagree, but are difficult to use with some tiny pieces.)
For More Information...
- Askville: Bonding Metal to Wood
Wondering about good glue choices? Here are thoughts from Amazon's Askville users.
Giving Your Faux Finishes a Lustrous Shine
Distressed ivory does a good job hiding minor flaws. Still, the most realistic finish for dollhouse miniatures is not varnish, but polish. If possible, get an antiquing polish sold for small craft items.
More Shabby Chic Inspiration - A Dollhouse Photo Reference
- Shabby Chic Furniture
Lindah, Flickr Creative Commons.