SHABBY CHIC: HOW TO DISTRESS YOUR OWN FURNITURE
Most of the time we go to great lengths to prolong the life of our belongings – mattress protectors, slip covers for sofas and surface savers on counters, for example. But there are some instances when we want to do the opposite, when we want to speed up the ageing process and celebrate a few battle scars. Shabby chic style is one of those occasions.
Not just for country style homes, you’ll have no doubt seen subtle scuffs and deliberate dings in beachy interiors, industrial spaces and French provincial settings, too. It’s a highly versatile look to play with and easy enough to do yourself with a few simple household tools.
Beats waiting several decades for your furniture to age gracefully on its own (or paying a premium in antique stores), no?
On furniture that’s already painted, you can simply use sand paper to give it an imperfect finish. Lightly sand back paintwork where it might chip and peel naturally such as corners, edges, seats and feet. How much or how little pressure you apply depends on how weathered you want to final effect to be.
If your furniture has seen several coats of paint in its life, chemical intervention might be necessary. Be sure to follow all safety instructions and use paint stripper in a ventilated area. Have fun scraping back layers and allowing different colours to peek through.
To create an aged appearance on unpainted wood, make your own stain using steel wool and vinegar. Submerge steel wool in white vinegar for a few days and you’ll be left with a murky solution that you can use to add a dark patina to unfinished wood. Don’t apply too evenly – let it pool in places so you get dark and light areas to emulate the effects of weathering over time.
With this technique, simply use a dry brush to apply paint sparingly, allowing the colour underneath to show through at random. Self control and a light hand are key to success; fight the urge to saturate the brush and keep rags handy to wipe away excess paint. We think this approach looks best in a light colour on natural timber as it allows the knots and grain of the wood to peek through.
Use this technique if you want to give your furniture a new lick of paint. It’s especially effective if you want to use two colours and have the undercoat exposed in places. Let your base colour dry completely, then apply the main colour. Wait until it’s dry to touch but not completely hardened (a couple of hours should do) before gently rubbing back with a wet cloth to reveal the undercoat. Keep it authentic by building up pressure in areas where the paint would wear naturally.
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