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How Can I Paint Shabby Chic Furniture?

Updated on January 25, 2018

Your Painted Shabby Chic Furniture Experience?

Do you, personally, own your own painted shabby chic furniture?

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Your Painting Shabby Chic Furniture Experience?

Have you ever, personally, painted shabby chic furniture?

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Combating Dull and Bland Home Furniture

Desperately longing for an aesthetic makeover to instill an air of vintage, old-aged elegance to our home, my husband and I stumbled upon various shabby chic ideas and influences to apply to our newly purchased home. Courtesy of magazines, as well as some television shows, we convinced ourselves that this was the direction we had wanted to take certain elements of our home. While a shabby chic aesthetic can certainly be instilled throughout a home's interior and exterior, the quickest and easiest step to achieving this was to attack several pieces of our furniture (that needed some tender loving care to begin with). Before addressing the more permanent fixtures in our home, attacking some of our old wooden furniture just made the most sense.

Needless to say, as I rolled up my sleeves to begin painting those pieces, I learned quite a substantial amount about how to paint shabby chic furniture. An often times ignored part of painting, in this article, I also cover how I absolutely love to deliberately conceal the noxious odor and smell of paint with my favorite essential oil brand: doTERRA. Just a few small drops make an incredible difference! Not only did I learn more about painting these shabby chic pieces, but I also learned quite a bit about sanding, finishing, distressing, and, of course, accessorizing. In the end, you can rest assured that this article will help you to attack all those actions, beyond just painting (and, if you can't stand the smell of paint as much as I do, concealing that smell, as well).

Please, continue reading this article to read more about how you can successfully paint your own shabby chic furniture pieces.

Paint Odor Concealment?

How do you, personally, feel about concealing the odor of your paint?

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Putting Essential Oils in Paint? Your Thoughts?

What are your thoughts on using essential oils to conceal the smell/odor of your paint?

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Provence Chest

This is a Provence styled chest, made of solid wood and finished in a shabby chic way! Painted shabby chic furniture is pretty neat!
This is a Provence styled chest, made of solid wood and finished in a shabby chic way! Painted shabby chic furniture is pretty neat!

Paint Shabby Chic Furniture

Shabby chic is a really cool furniture design aesthetic, and after our initial exposure to it, t's one that my husband and I have really begun to dig a lot! The basic concept behind painting shabby chic furniture is that you find a great piece of furniture with a lot of potential, you make a game plan as to how you'll be renovating the piece, and you do it yourself! As conveyed by my HubPages' screen name, I absolutely love engaging in do it yourself (DIY) projects such as this.

This is a great way to fill your home with quality pieces of furniture that will last a lifetime and to breathe new life into those old bits that you can't decide what to do with. You'll be amazed the difference a fresh coat of paint makes to a piece of furniture. Painting shabby chic furniture is easy, fun, and a great couples project to do together. The pieces look great in the living room, bedroom... anywhere really!

In this article, I'll talk about the pieces to look for when you want to paint shabby chic furniture, what kinds of techniques to use to really make it look vintage and antique, and even how you can make a bit of money on the side doing this!

Teaming Up to Paint Shabby Chic Furniture?

Have you ever painted shabby chic furniture with a friend, family member, partner, or significant other?

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A Piece of Shabby Chic Furniture Deserving of a New Coat of Paint!

This piece of shabby chic furniture could probably look amazing with a coat of new paint!
This piece of shabby chic furniture could probably look amazing with a coat of new paint!

Pick Your Pieces

A piece of painted shabby chic furniture can be a beautiful thing, but you need to be careful to pick the proper canvas to invest your time and energy into! There's nothing worse than sanding, finishing and painting a bit of furniture, only to find out that you don't like it!

You should choose a great piece of furniture to paint shabby chic. Look for something vintage with antique flair. Don't be too discouraged by the color of the wood or the lousy finish: you will be covering this up. Look for the essential shape of the object. Look for solid wood too! This type of painted furniture, most can attest to, is best done on solid wood.

You might want to make a game plan here. Draw a picture of what your painted shabby chic furniture will look like. Do some internet research and find pics of pieces you enjoy. Then print these out, and do some second hand shop cruising! (the fun part, but the hardest part!)

Painted Shabby Chic Furniture

This is a pretty, ornate dresser or sideboard. Notice how the edges are quite worn out. This is an intentional look!
This is a pretty, ornate dresser or sideboard. Notice how the edges are quite worn out. This is an intentional look!

Sand, Finish, Paint

Ok, so you have your piece, what next? To paint shabby chic furniture, you want to first strip off any previous paint, varnish, laquer, or anything that might prevent the paint from sticking. This is tedious work, but your painted shabby chic upcycled furniture of the future will thank you for it! Upcycling furniture (as they sometimes call it) is sort of a Zen process!

You can distress your furniture at this point in the project too. Learn how to do that here!

Once you have it sufficiently sanded, add a coat of primer (if you want), and then paint it whatever color you choose. The best colors for painted shabby chic furniture are vintage styles like:

  • White
  • Cream
  • Light blue
  • Black

Though some people aren't bothered by the smell of paint, one of the neatest tricks I learned was to add essential oils to my paint. Doing this helps to counteract the unpleasant smell, and can really turn the process of painting--especially painting shabby chic furniture--into a very pleasant and even pleasurable experience. Only fatty oils leave spots on the wall and, because essential oils aren't fatty oils, you won't have to worry about any harm being done to your wall during the painting process.

If you are interested in adding essential oils to your paint, different people will recommend different amounts you should use. Generally, I have found that roughly a teaspoon of your favorite essential oil, added to a 1 gallon of paint, will do the trick in effectively concealing the noxious odor of paint.

The list of essential oil single and blend oil types available on the market today is almost as long and daunting as the very companies that sell them. After countless hours of research, while personally testing numerous brands, my absolute favorite essential oil company to purchase from is doTERRA.

By enrolling as Wellness Advocate (Click the "Sign Up/Join" Link at the bottom of the page...), however, you can literally earn 25% off retail price of any and every essential oil that you purchase! Doing this only costs an initial first year fee of $35, and then the fee goes down $10 to $25 for every subsequent year after that. Like Costco or Sam's Club, this is really the membership fee that allows you to purchase at drastically reduced wholesale prices. Due to the inherent differences in each and every oil compound complexity, every single oil is priced differently. The annual membership renewing price will more than cover itself if your intent is to purchase roughly 5-10 bottles a year.

This is less than ONE bottle a month!

Being able to get such a generous discount on a wide assortment of essential oils can prove extremely beneficial for a wide array of applications, from projects like concealing the noxious paint odor when painting shabby chic furniture, to a completely viable treatment alternatives/options to Westernized medicine.

If you do decide to add your favorite essential oil to your paint, be sure to also mix it thoroughly! Doing so will allow the powerful essential oils themselves to permeate the entire can of paint

After you paint your shabby chic furniture, sand the corners off! That's right, just use a bit of very fine grit sandpaper to rub off paint in small areas on the corners, along the edges. The goal here is to make it look a little weathered.

After you've 'weathered' your painted shabby chic furniture, you should probably coat it in a clear coat of some kind to protect it. I suggest something without too much of a gloss sheen, but it's up to you!

Carefully Picked Brass Accessories Can Breathe Life Into Your Furniture!

Painted shabby chic furniture can be accessorized by using brass or silver hardware!
Painted shabby chic furniture can be accessorized by using brass or silver hardware!

Accessorize It!

Now you've finished work on painting your beautiful up-cycled furniture, try accessorizing it! This usually means changing the hardware to something a little more classic. Usually, knobs and handles are easy to swap out with nothing but a screwdriver. Old weathered brass and silver can look really great with this look!

Congratulations! You've created a painted shabby chic furniture piece of art! Display it proudly, and know that not only do you have a piece that will last a long time but also that you made it yourself!

Good Luck!

Finding Your Way Here.

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    • DIYmommy profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thank you! Not only is it great to be able to use furniture that has not been used but it's fun being able to fix it up!

    • boundarybathrooms profile image

      Thomas Mulrooney 

      5 years ago from Colne, Lancashire, UK

      Great advice! I have some old furniture which could do with a good touch up, saves throwing them away anyway!

    • Pamela-anne profile image


      5 years ago from Miller Lake

      Some great advice I have a dresser in my basement that could use an overhaul; your hub gave me some great ideas thanks for the info.


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