In interior design circles the “distressed” look ...

In interior design circles the “distressed” look has become very popular. Giving a rustic and antique effect, it is often used to rejuvenate older furniture that has gone out of fashion. When looking at how to paint furniture shabby chic it becomes clear that while there is skill involved it is a simple process once you understand the methods. This is why it is increasing in popularity all the time. You can bring old furniture back to life by following the simple rules devised by designers and furnishers who have practised the art, and you may be amazed at the results. Before we look at the basic techniques of creating the shabby chic look, you may want to look at another of our articles outlining how to repaint furniture, as it includes some excellent tips. More information here how to paint furniture .
The purpose of shabby chic is to rejuvenate old and tired furniture and give it a new lease of life. Trends change as time goes on, and what was popular and attractive once may seem dated and old now. By giving it a new look you can save money and improve your interior design. So, what do you need to achieve the shabby chic look? The tools required depend upon the job you plan to do, but you will most certainly need the following:
Sandpaper and, preferably, a sanding machine.
Screwdrivers for removing fittings.
Paintbrushes for applying paint
That is the basics covered, but where to start? Let’s assume you are renovating a sideboard, an old oak model that has seen better days. You want to give it the shabby chic look so that it fits in with your current decor.
Shabby Chic is the ‘In’ Look
Creating the shabby chic look is an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and really is quite simple. Let’s have a look at how to do it in simple stages.
Prepare the sideboard - this involves taking off all handles and, if possible, hinges and hooks. Any metalwork needs to be out of the way before you begin the process. Be careful at this stage as you want to keep the old fittings, they are after all the right ones for the item.
Remove paint or varnish - next you need to strip down the item to bare wood by sanding off any existing paint or varnish. This can be a lengthy job and is best done by using coarse sandpaper and a sanding machine. Make sure you do it in a well-ventilated area and wear a face-mask as inhaling the dust - and there will be plenty dust - can be damaging to the lungs. Some people use paint stripper for this process and it can help, but we prefer to strip back by sanding.
Remove dust and debris - a simple step, just use a cloth and warm water to remove any dust that may be lingering on the furniture.
Prime the item - you should apply an undercoat of either white paint or primer in order that you get the best effect. Make sure you paint in a clean room and not outside; flies and other insects painted onto a sideboard do not add to the effect! Also, paint in the direction of the grain of the wood. Leave the undercoat to dry.
Paint the object - you can add as many layers of paint as you wish, until you have the right finish. Leave each to dry thoroughly before adding another.
Distress the furniture - use sandpaper to gently remove small areas of paint where you want. Consider raised ridges and details as the sensible places to create the distressed look as these add to the effect. Visit repainting furniture.
That’s it - you’re done!
What you have done is given the sideboard a completely new look, and you can be as brutal or as gentle as you wish. You might want to experiment with trial pieces of wood to see the effect that different amounts of paint and sanding bring, before you commit to a full renovation. You can find more information on more techniques in our article on how to stain furniture, as this can be a great way of getting the shabby chic look.

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