Older Means Cooler, or How To Paint Shabby Chic Furniture

Some people like their furniture to look old and rugged. This style is called “shabby chic”. It is incredibly popular, but the price of such items is often exorbitantly high. Luckily, you can create your own shabby chick furniture. You’ll just need to search vintage stores, yard sales or even your own attic to discover old furniture. We’ll use it to create the shabby chic furniture of your own. Be warned, though: it must be made of solid wood. Veneered surfaces will not create the same effect.

Surface Preparation

Thoroughly clean the surface you’ll be working with. Any drawers or other hardware must be removed. Wash everything with warm, soapy water, and wait for it to dry up. Now, if you have any rough wood places or anything else you’d like to fix, there’s no better moment to do it than now. When you’re done, just sand the surface until it’s ready.

Wax Rubbing

If you need to add the look of cracking or peeling paint, no need to wait until the time make the paint wear off. Here’s what we’ll do: we’ll rub a wax candle where you want your paint to look cracking or peeling. The surface will look very old and rough after you apply the wax.


When you need shabby chic furniture design, use flat or satin paint. Glossy paint won’t blend with the overall style we’re trying to achieve. Coat the surface with paint and let it dry. There’s no need in using a primer, as you want to let the wood show through in some places; however, to achieve solid color, you can lay two or more coats of paint.

For two-tone look, apply more wax after painting the first color as your first coat. Then paint the second color as the second coat. It will come off in some places, creating an even older look and showing the undercolor where you want it.

Surface Distressing

Now it’s time to get the distressed, worn-out look for the furniture. This will be funny, so brace yourself – here we go!

Think about the piece. Try to imagine it was used for many, many years. Where will the wear and tear will be? If it’s a chair, consider creating “worn-out” effect on the edge of the arms and the seat. If you’re going to create “old” drawer, you should look at the front edge or around the knobs or handles. Scrub the paint away with sandpaper or steel wool until the surface looks just as you want. But be careful, you want to scrub it just lightly.

Gouge the surface with screwdrivers, nails or chains. When you’re done, rub some tinted wax there to darken the exposed areas.

Paint Peeling

You can make the surface look even more distressed with heat gun. Turn it on on low setting and place it over the entire piece of furniture. This works with both single-color and dual-color techniques. Now finish the project with a coat of matte/satin polyacrylic. It will seal both the paint and the “wear”.

How to Make Shabby Chic Furniture DIY Guide

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