Oct 10, 2012

Transform dated pieces by distressing!

Many of us have older furniture that has lost its appeal to us.  If you can re-paint, stain, change the hardware are re-purpose a piece, would you try?  Here are some tips for accessories and furniture that you can try.

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. Here I've used sandpaper, 80-120 grit, to fully remove the old stain or paint. I've added a primer paint or wood primer to each, buffing wax over areas I don't want to uptake the new finish. Candles work well, Vaseline can be used on small pieces. To age, I use chains to randomly create soft indentations, a wire brush for linear marks, and nail heads to hammer in round grooves. There are SO many other creative things 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), often adding a layer of crackle finish to create delicate cracks. Using 00-0000 steel wool I remove the new finish from the wax areas, revealing the undercoat. Finishing with a coat of a 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 need to keep since it's expensive to replace them. The existing finish can be paint or stain.  For a new coat of paint, I simply use a hand 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 with accessories, but you can increase the size of your 'tools' since you're working on a larger scale.  Again, I often use wax on areas that I want to remain the existing color or finish and remove 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. Sometimes mistakes look fine, so worry less about that than the amount of time and energy that is required from start to finish.