How to do shabby chic painting on wood furniture

Shabby chic furniture incorporates well into today's eclectic home. The finish on shabby chic furniture is rustic and distressed, yet maintains a sense of casual elegance. Traditional wood furniture can take on a whole new look when painted with a shabby chic custom treatment.

Sand the furniture item you have chosen. Sand completely to prepare the piece for painting. If the furniture is already painted, remove the paint with paint stripper. Continue sanding until all residue of stains, paint and shellac are removed.

Paint the piece with one coat of primer. Primer is generally white in colour. Apply with a roller or brush. You can also use a spray paint primer if desired. Let the primer dry completely before moving on to the next step.

After the primer has dried, paint the furniture with a dark coat of paint such as brown or tan. This will be the treatment that shows through the top coat of paint after sanding one final time. This will show as the distressed part of the furniture.

After the dark coat of paint has dried, paint the furniture with one coat of a light coloured flat paint like ivory, white, pale pink, blue or green. Let dry completely, then buff lightly with steel wool to remove any imperfections. Dust off any residual steel wool. Apply one final coat of acrylic paint in the same tone, ivory, white, pale pink, blue or green and let dry completely. The acrylic paint adds a bit of shine and provides a finished look.

Once the final coat of pale paint has dried on the piece, sand the edges of the piece with fine grade sandpaper. This action allows the darker paint to show through and creates the distressed, shabby look. Keep distressing the furniture until you reach the desired final look. Dust the piece with a clean dry cloth and let dry thoroughly overnight. Finish sealing the piece with a coat of clear shellac; apply with a roller for the best finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood furniture piece
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint
  • Roller or brush
  • Shellac
  • Steel wool
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About the Author

Valery Elias has been writing professionally since 2009. Her work has appeared in the "Savannah Business Journal," and she has experience as an independent secretarial contractor, proofreader and executive sales assistant for Fortune 500 companies. Elias has a Bachelor of Arts in English and American literature from the University of South Florida-Tampa.