The appearance of old and distressed furniture appeals is a popular design style. Real antique furniture can be expensive and difficult to find, but furniture painted white can be made to look old and distressed with a few simple techniques. Work slowly to ensure you do not distress the furniture more than desired.
Spread out newspaper onto the work surface to protect the surface. Place the furniture onto the newspaper.
Look over the furniture to determine areas where natural wear and tear typically occur. Consider chair arms where people place their hands and arms. Corners and edges also wear on wood furniture, as do seats of wooden chairs.
Sand these areas lightly with 60-grit sandpaper until the wood or a base coat of paint starts to show through the white paint.
Sand the same areas with the 120-grit sandpaper to make the "wear" to appear as smooth and natural as possible.
Wipe the furniture with a rag to remove excess sawdust.
Randomly gouge and dent the furniture with the screwdriver to replicate the nicks and chips that typically mar the surface of wood furniture over time. Do not create too many of these imperfections, but do make several at random spots to give the appearance of age and use. Create superficial scratches with the blade of the screwdriver, if desired.
Pour a small amount of shoe polish onto a rag and apply the shoe polish to various edges of the furniture to resemble ageing and discolouring. Use the shoe polish sparingly in only a few areas and concentrate on the edges for the most natural results.