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How To Make Furniture Look Distressed

Updated on March 21, 2014
donotfear profile image

Annette Sharp holds a BAAS in Behavioral Science from Texas A&M. She is a counselor and motivator with an empathetic heart.

Unique Octagon table with distressed antique gold glaze finish.
Unique Octagon table with distressed antique gold glaze finish. | Source

The Lazy Way To Make Furniture Look Antique Distressed

If you're like me, you want to do things the easiest way possible. That's why my method of getting the "old look" to a piece of furniture is, in my opinion, the only way to do it. It's easy, doesn't take much time, and it gives the desired look without exhaustion. You can apply your base coat of paint/primer directly on the surface with no preparation involved. So I'm going to share my version of how to give furniture an "antique look" for dummies.

Over the years, I've collected a few small pieces from thrift stores and estate sales and they all had one thing in common: dark brown wood. Every time I mentioned refinishing or restoring the pieces, I'd lay a guilt trip on myself thinking I'd be ruining the integrity of the furniture if I changed anything. I learned this from watching all those episodes of Antique Roadshow. Then someone told me I would have to sand it down first, then do this, then do that, then do this...so on and so forth. NOT!

So I got busy and researched the subject, doing a Bing search, then read about all the unusual looks you can get by applying different methods. I already knew I wanted the distressed/antique look, so here's what I came up with after comparing everyone's methods of creating this particular look.

Materials

Tools for the lazy ...... An old cloth served as my "distressing tool".
Tools for the lazy ...... An old cloth served as my "distressing tool". | Source

Here's the Materials I Used:

  1. Krylon Dual Paint + Primer in a spray can.
  2. Behr Premium Plus FAUX GLAZE, 1 quart.
  3. 'Color sample' size of the Behr paint and a small container of craft paint - 2 oz. that I already had.
  4. Foam brush.
  5. Damp Cloth, preferably cotton.

Since I had 2 small side tables, I didn't want to buy a gallon of primer. So I went to Walmart and found Krylon Dual Paint + Primer in a spray can. This would be my base coat. I didn't want it to be solid white and, luckily, they had it in an Ivory color.


I found the glaze I needed at Home Depot: Behr Premium Plus FAUX GLAZE, 1 quart. I learned I would need to tint the glaze with paint and mix it myself: 3 parts glaze to 1 part paint. So I bought a 'color sample' size of the Behr paint in a dark chocolate.

The octagon table after I completed the project.  No 'before' pictures are available.
The octagon table after I completed the project. No 'before' pictures are available. | Source
The old side/telephone table after completion, no before picture available.
The old side/telephone table after completion, no before picture available. | Source

Here's the Steps I Used:

  • First, I cleaned the side tables with a damp cloth, taped off the hardware to protect it, then went to work with the spray can. I used short, even passes with the sprayer to avoid any drips or runs. There were places where the coverage was not entirely even, which is okay. It adds to the "distressed look". I wasn't trying to completely coat the furniture; just gave it a good base coat in the Ivory color.
  • Second, I let the coat dry for several hours, adding a touch up here and there as it dried.
  • Third, I got a small plastic bowl and added 3 parts glaze to 1 part chocolate brown paint. I mixed it with a wooden mixing stick. A skewer would work for this, also.
  • Fourth, I spread a coat of the mixed glaze on the table, in sections. You can either coat the whole thing at once, or go in sections, like I did; whatever rips your cork.
  • Fifth, after about 5 minutes of drying,I took the damp cloth and slowly started rubbing off the glaze, leaving it in the cracks and crevices. You can wipe off more or less, depending on the look you want.

I stood back and inspected my work afterward, dabbing a bit here and there or adding more into a crevice to give me the desired look. The dark glaze made all the ornate woodwork stand out in both pieces, accentuating the tiny cracks in the wood to give it a more natural look.

I Decided I Wanted a Lighter Glaze.

The more I looked at both tables, the more I thought I'd rather have a glaze with a golder, warmer tint. So I took some craft paint that I already had and mixed a small portion, 1/3, as in the first batch. I went heavy with the glaze over the ornate moldings and in the deeper crevices, so the gold would stand out more. I then spread a light coat of the gold glaze mixture over the whole thing, finally reaching the desired look.

Finished products, both lamp and table.
Finished products, both lamp and table. | Source

The Ease and Beauty of Working With Glaze.

The great thing about working with tinted glaze is that you can do your own thing with it, adding or diluting to your heart's content. These were my two "practice pieces". I have a whole bedroom suit to go. I'm thinking of using a color for the base coat next time. I've seen many pieces of furniture with a blue, red or yellow base and a distressed look on top of that. What's so cool about this is that you can use any color combinations you want. I can't wait to see what I can create with a lime green base!

You don't have to sand the furniture, as long as you paint it with a paint that's got the primer in it, which is available almost anywhere. Or any latex paint. You may want to partially sand it in some places, to give it a more "scuffed-up" look. In addition, you don't have to apply the base coat with a sponge brush. You can use any old brush, banged up or not. That's the beauty of working with distressed furniture; it's hard to mess it up.

Here's an easy example to follow......

Learn How To Distress Your Furniture The Easy Way!

This was the easiest project I've taken on in a long time. Always wanting to cut corners, a process like this was the way to go for me. Not only did it give me the antiquey/distressed look I wanted, but it gave me quite a sense of accomplishment that I actually got the desired effect! I'm a real 'dummie' when it comes to home projects, but this is definitely the lazy, easy way to antique distress your furniture.

The front of the telephone table with goldish trim.
The front of the telephone table with goldish trim. | Source
I used the same method for this lamp by applying the brown paint first, then adding the gold glaze over it.  It looks very natural.
I used the same method for this lamp by applying the brown paint first, then adding the gold glaze over it. It looks very natural. | Source

Comments

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    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      5 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Thanks cris!!!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 

      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Wow! This is great! I love to redo and play around with old furniture to give them a different look. Always love shabby chic. Your hub is so well detailed and you made it sound quite easy to do.

      Voted up and sharing.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      6 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      What great ideas! You make it look so easy.

    • donotfear profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Thomas 

      6 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Thanks for all your comments!

    • europewalker profile image

      europewalker 

      6 years ago

      Great ideas, love the shabby chic look. This looks like a project I will be giving a try. Thanks for sharing.

    • Letitialicious profile image

      Letitialicious 

      6 years ago from Paris via San Diego

      I love the shabby chic you've achieved here, and your instructions are so clear. Voted up!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 

      6 years ago from America

      This is a good idea and you explained it so well. I love it and have a few pieces to try it on. Voted uP. Shared and Pinned.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! This is an excellent hub offering step by step instructions. Great job. Rated up/U/I

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