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Tips for Distressing Rustic Home Furnishings

Tips for Distressing Rustic Home Furnishings
Posted on: February 6th, 2013 by batr No Comments

Are you interested in learning how to create your own rustic home furnishings? Do you wonder how designers give new furniture an old time look and feel? That technique is called “distressing”, but it’s actually pretty enjoyable.

When would distressing furniture be a suitable option?

Maybe you inherited a piece of furniture that’s a little banged up but still serviceable and kind of cool. You could try to restore it to like new condition. But that could take a lot of work and the results might not be all that great. On the other hand, making it look rustic and well-loved could be a lot simpler and more fun. As a DIY project, it’s a lot easier to make something look imperfect than it is to make it look perfect.

Distressing is also a way to give boring furniture some character. It goes from looking like you just bought it at IKEA to looking like it has been in your family for generations. Of course, distressing works best on solid wood or metal. Particle board with a faux wood veneer is going to look tacky no matter what you do to it.

3 Easy Ways to Distress Furniture

  • • Paint wood or metal furniture with one color of latex paint. Rub wax on the areas where there would be natural wear and tear. Paint again with another color. Scrub off the paint from the waxed areas to allow the bottom coat to show through.
  • • Get some old gears and a bike chain. Press the teeth of the gears into the wood surface. Thrash the wood with a chain to add random markings. Apply a stain that will be absorbed most heavily by the exposed wood while yellowing the rest of the furniture slightly.
  • • Take some sandpaper to painted furniture to roughen up the surface. Then, add tiny stains that look like fly specks or embedded dirt by flicking dark brown paint droplets onto the surface from a very lightly loaded paintbrush. Finish with a clear topcoat to preserve your new (old) finish.

Note: We don’t recommend doing any of this to the pieces you buy from Back at the Ranch. Our rustic home furnishings come already “rustified” just the right amount! We’d be very distressed to think you were beating up our lovely furniture…

Additional Resources: Pretty Handy Girl has a lot of good tips for giving furniture a second life or a more interesting past here.