From time to time, homeowners have been known to toy with the idea of repainting old furniture to give it a fresh look or to touch up any blemishes that may have appeared over time. It’s also of course cheaper than buying brand new furniture! However, the reality is that paint finishes are not the only solution to giving your furniture a makeover. In fact, one of the best ways to add a little style to your furniture is to do the opposite…and mess it up!
Distressing pieces of furniture has quickly evolved into a popular way to redecorate modern homes all over the world. A special process involving eco-friendly varnishes and paints is used to distress furniture and give it a distinct antique touch. Beware, however, that distressing your furniture on your own can be very dangerous and many times may result in your furniture ending up damaged. It is best to either buy furniture that has already been distressed, or to have a professional distress your furniture for you.
If you’re not already familiar with distressed furniture, you should know that it’s nothing like the modern paint finishes that are commonly used to touch-up furniture today. A properly distressed piece of furniture has the look and feel of antique furniture, with subtle to dramatic signs of ageing, scratching, and chipping, giving it a more authentic vintage appearance. The professional distressing process may contain a number of techniques that are carefully applied to produce the best possible results. The practice of intentional distressing is commonly applied to several types of furniture, including: chairs, tables, desks, beds, chests, wardrobes, cabinets, and just about any type of solid wood piece of furniture. Solid pine pieces are among the most suited for distressing since they typically last for many years without wearing while still capable of displaying the weathered look. Oak is also very suited for distressing. However, chipboard based units are not at all suited for distressing since the wood layers are far too manufactured and would never withstand the rigors of the process.
There are a variety of styles that can be applied to distressed furniture from the antique painted look to our personal favorite, the shabby chic look. If you’re considering having a piece of furniture distressed, keep in mind that just about any solid unit can undergo the distressing process, regardless of how big or small it may be.
The shabby chic style is one that many agree evokes a certain comfortable, homey feeling that can usually be characterized by slightly worn chairs, painted (chippy!) furniture, vintage accessories and playful accents. Shabby chic designs often incorporate pastel colors and whites. The revolution of the shabby chic style is credited mainly to a British designer by the name of Rachel Ashwell, whose company in the 1980s produced shabby chic fabrics and also furniture books.