Whether you're in the market for some new bedroom furniture or are considering altering the appearance of your existing set, the "distressed" look is a popular option that can suit styles of many homes. Properly distressing furniture isn't about recklessly damaging your furniture - with this approach, it's best to take baby steps. However, even if you're not someone who has had experience with this, it's relatively easy to take an afternoon and transform the look of your bedroom furniture with some basic distressing techniques.
Any successful distressing project involves adding dents to the wood in a realistic fashion -- remember, you're trying to give the items an old look, not a hammered look.
With bedroom furniture, think of how the items might possibly become dented or scuffed over the years, and then use a hammer to do the work. The key to using a hammer is to do so in a controlled fashion. If you want to place a dent on the lower leg of your bed, for example, swing the hammer lightly against the wood and then inspect the mark you create.
Soft woods such as pine will dent easily while hardwoods such as maple will require more force. Start out lightly. It's better to make a small dent and then hit the wood again than make a large dent and regret it.
Over time, old pieces of furniture get scuffed in various ways and sandpaper allows you to replicate this appearance. Use a sheet of coarse-grit sandpaper -- 75-grit or below -- and rub it along the edge of the furniture by hand - a power sander won't create a realistic distressed finish.
One common area to add distressing is along the front of a dresser, where you might rub your hands or brush against over the years. Rub the sandpaper lengthwise along the edges of the piece. You have the option, based on your tastes, of rubbing just enough to lighten some of the paint or finish, or hard enough to actually expose the wood.
Adding small chips in the wood is another effective way to distress bedroom furniture. For this job, it's ideal to use a metal file, which you can readily find at any home improvement store.
Instead of using the filing surface, turn the file in your hand so that its sharp edge points down, and then strike the wooden surface firmly. This strategy makes sharp chips that will contrast with the larger, softer dents made with the hammer. Place chips on the surface of a bedside table or dresser to mimic a chip caused by a dropped key ring or money clip.
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