Feb 23, 2012

Aging and antiquing to breathe new life into old pieces.

With handcrafting and timeworn appeal, transforming an old piece into one you'll cherish again is a great idea.  Do you have an old table, dresser or cabinets that seem dated or drab?  If you can re-paint, stain, and change the hardware to get a whole new look would you try?  Here are some tips!

1) Wooden accessories. From candlesticks, to boxes, to old frames, most anything that is wood can be distressed and aged to create a new look.  I start with 80-120 grit sandpaper to fully remove the old stain or paint.  Then I add a primer to each, buffing wax over areas I don't want to uptake the new finish. Candles work well.  When I want to distress them, I use a short length of chain and smack the piece randomly to create soft indentations. For lines, rub over the surface with a wire brush and often use nail heads and hammer them into the surface to create round grooves. There are SO many other creative items you can use to mar the surfaces...don't make marks so deep they look like damage! Once you've gotten the aged look you desire, then stain (I use Briwax) or paint (any craft paint or brand will do). I often adding a layer of crackle finish between my second and third color coat to create delicate cracks. If you've used wax to hold back the finish coat, use 0000 steel wool to remove your finish from the wax areas, revealing the undercoat. Finishing with a final coat of a flat or satin urethane keeps the color and crackle looking great and easy to dust.  Resin lamps and accessories can also be changed, be sure the primer sticks before moving to the next step!

2) Dressers, headboards, tables, and chairs. These are the pieces that we most want  to keep since it's expensive to replace them. Most older furniture is extremely well made.  The existing finish can be paint or stain.  When I'm adding a new coat of paint, I simply use a rotary sander and remove blemishes, filling unwanted cracks and holes first. The new paint coat can be sprayed or brushed on; keep the surface dust free as it dries. Age as above, but you can increase the size of your 'tools' since you're working on a larger scale. I often use wax on areas that I want to remain the existing color or finish and remove at the end with steel wool.  For staining, I hand sand the entire piece, bringing it to the base wood color. I love Briwax stains and waxes since they apply well with a brush, rag or steel wool, and can be buffed to a sheen so no urethane coat is needed. This process works well for cabinet doors, but be comfortable with the process before you tackle a kitchen. Sometimes mistakes look fine, so worry less about that than the amount of time and energy that is required from start to finish.

3) Addition of detail to large pieces.  With large pieces, headboards and fireplace mantles, you can create or remove detail to obtain a new piece. Can moldings be removed or modified to create a new profile? Can you add moldings to drawers? How about adding molding to a plain headboard for a totally new look? I've removed the crown and feet on pieces, created new looks on doors and drawers, and swapped the hardware for a completely different look. With small wooden appliques, you can add great detail. A great new finish and doors transform a white corner office bookcase into a country curio for a dining room!

Leave your comments and questions and we'll be back with instructional videos based on the responses.