DIY Distressed Furniture

This week I decided to attempt a DIY project that I have always wanted to try but have been incredibly intimidated by – distressing furniture. Now, I think I may distress every piece of furniture we own – not really – but it was so much simpler than I was expecting.

When I designed our daughter’s nursery – see it here – I re-painted an old dresser and it was incredibly time consuming. The difference this time was that I used chalk paint. Chalk paint made the process so much quicker, because with chalk paint you don’t have to sand the piece prior to painting.

I have heard incredibly good things about Annie Sloan brand chalk paint, however in my hometown it is hard to find, so I decided to try out Rustoleum Chalk Paint from Menard’s. It was recommended by a friend who has distressed furniture before! I can’t attest to the quality of either, but I feel confident that I can say Rustoleum is a great product after using it – at least it did the job it was meant to do on my piece of furniture.

I found a used dresser on an online rummage sale site for $75 – it had some wear and tear, but I didn’t mind because it was a solid piece of wood. The first step was painting it white. Like I mentioned above, no sanding is needed with chalk paint, so I it was right to painting – once I made sure all the dust and dirt was removed from it.

Its incredible to see the difference paint can do to a simple dresser. It looks completely different as a white dresser than it did as a wood dresser – much more clean and classic. I did three coats of paint – I probably could have gotten away with two, but I have OCD tendencies and needed to fix a few places, so why not just paint the whole thing!

Now for the scary and intimidating part!

As I have been told though, with distressing, if you don’t like something you distress you can just repaint over it and your mistake is gone! Thankfully this made me feel a lot better about the process – and I ended up not having to cover anything up in the end. I took a fine grit sandpaper – 220 – and went along the edges and areas in which I felt would be bumped and nicked after some daily use. I liked the look, but wasn’t satisfied. Since I stuck to the edges and raised areas, the drawers looked too ‘clean’ for the look I wanted. With some advice from a friend, I added some distressing below where the drawer pulls hit and some random area on the front of each drawer. I was finally satisfied.



The final step pulled it all together – but make sure you dust it all to get all the chalk residue off before you do this last step. Waxing. This step is one that some people decide to skip, but I really feel that it pulled out the wood under the chalk paint to make the distressing look more vibrant. I purchased Rustoleum Matte Wax – also from Menard’s – and just brushed on a thin coat. It recommends 1-2 coats and I felt like one coat did the job for me!


Everyone is always their own worst critic, so of course I see things I would change, but I am happy with the way that my first attempt at distressing turned out. I will still be bringing pieces to Hopping Wren, LLC – check her out here – because she knows what she is doing and she does a dang good job at it!

Step one of a big project is complete – now to get going on the rest, so you all can see it in the weeks to come!

As always, thanks for reading!



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