When you’re browsing thrift shops and furniture shops have you ever wondered how they make pieces of furniture look so old, faded and shabby? painting and distressing is one way to go about it, but it doesn’t necessarily make it look old. So what is the secret I hear you ask? well as you're all so lovely I will tell you. It’s DARK WAX! Now I know the thought of smothering your beautiful piece of furniture with what looks like black shoe polish is a daunting idea, I was reluctant myself but it really does work wonders. So to give you a demonstration I've made over some of my dining chairs, and I used the opportunity to experiment with two-tone furniture distressing too! Once you've tried this you'll realise just how easy it is to transform your furniture. Read on ...
Two-colour distressing techniqueTwo-tone distressing is when you use two different, one on top of the other couple - then sand back to reveal some of the colour underneath. It can be a strong or subtle affect depending on the colour and type of paint you use. I wanted a subtle affect for these chairs so I painted these chairs white - followed by a light grey, and it worked perfectly.
Ronseal recently sent me some of their chalk furniture paint to use for this project which I was really impressed with (along with their precision paint brushes). I especially love their shade of Dove grey, it's the perfect shade of grey. I’m now looking around the house for other things to use it on, but Ralphy won’t sit still for long enough :-) Please note: That was joke ... no doggies were harmed in the making over of these chairs.
You will need
Some furniture (obviously)
Furniture chalk paint - Antique white
Furniture chalk paint - Dove grey
Selection of paint brushes
Sandpaper or hand held sander
2 pieces of lint-free cloth
The good news is you don’t have to sand your furniture before using this chalk paint (woohoo!) but if you’re looking for perfection then go ahead by all means … I’m far too lazy. Now the trick to getting a good finish is using a good brush, and using the right brush strokes. If you paint using long sweeping strokes you will end up seeing lines from the brush, so instead, make quick strokes, back and forth in all different directions. This way you get a great even finish. Annie Sloan also recommends this technique and she has some helpful tutorial videos on the subject.
When your first coat is dry, apply another in the same shade, with the same brush technique and leave to dry.
Now swap to your other colour, and apply it in the same way. It’s up to you whether you apply two coats of your second colour. For the this chair I used two coat of white and only one coat of grey as I liked the way the white was poking through.
One dry begin distressing the edges with your sandpaper. Rub in long sweeping strokes along all the edges, corners and pay attention to areas with detail. I much prefer using my handheld shader machine to distress now … but if you're new to distressing I'd suggest doing it by hand as you have more control. You can see in this pic how I just ran it down the front of these bars in one sweeping motion.
How to 'age' furniture with dark wax
Once you try this technique you'll be smitten, it really gives the furniture an added depth and although it might look extreme when it goes on, it can be easily removed with clear wax so don't panic ...
First apply a layer of CLEAR wax to the whole piece. This is important. Either apply it with brush then rub it into the piece with lint free cloth or just apply it with a cloth. It’s important to give it a coat of clear wax BEFORE you go near it with the dark wax. Leave it to dry. Now apply the dark wax an area at a time. Don’t worry about how it looks, just get it on there … either use a brush or a pieces of lint-free cloth.
Step 6Really work the dark wax it into the detail of the wood, going against the grain, getting it in all the nooks and crannies. Once it's rubbed in it should look like a bit like this.
Once it’s rubbed in, take another cloth, pick up a blob clear wax and begin cleaning the dark wax off an area at a time. You’ll see the clear wax acts like an eraser but some of the dark wax will have ingrained itself into areas of the wood which looks great! so go lightly over these part, the edges and any detailing so it looks darker in those parts. You'll discover there's a fine line between it looking 'shabby' and 'dirty' ... this was still a bit 'dirty-looking' for me so I took it back a little more ...
Tada! Now stand back and admire your shabby work! leave it for at least 24 hours before you sit in it.