I love chippy, distressed paint on wooden furniture. That lightly distressed goodness always makes me feel like a piece has a history and a story. Whether it was painted yesterday or a hundred years ago, distressing tells the story of where a piece has been, how it was touched and that it was loved.
One of the easiest techniques in making a piece look aged and loved is distressing. When I distress a piece, I like it to look completely natural. I want anyone seeing the piece to think that the piece was naturally distressed over time and not done yesterday with my little sanding block from Home Depot.
The piece below was originally one end of a very old dressing table. The dressing table had been dismantled years ago and I acquired this piece and wanted to use it as a night stand in my master bedroom. I wanted the paint job on this piece to look like it had been painted a many, many years ago when it had built so it was the perfect candidate for milk paint and some distressing.
If you look at pieces of furniture that were painted a hundred years ago natural distressing has occurred in places that are touched most often; edges where chairs and bodies would have rubbed them, tops where dishes or lamps would have sat and handles and knobs where fingers and hands would have repetitively grabbed, pulled and pushed.
To easily achieve that naturally looking wear and tear, you simply need to use a piece of fine grit sand paper or a sanding block and rub off the paint in those areas that would have been touched and rubbed.
When I know I want to distress a piece in this manner I always use chalk or milk paint to paint the piece. Both of these types of paints flake and chip beautifully so they look naturally old and now new. (Latex paint is very hard to distress as there are so many pigments and components to the paint so I never use it when I want to distress a piece)
I love how distressing also accentuates the beautiful details of a piece like the scroll work and legs. An artisan worked very hard on these details and I love that I can bring out their beauty with such a simple technique.
This piece now feels and looks like it was painted a century ago. It adds a lovely an element of age and charm to a mostly modern master bedroom.