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Distressing Furniture

Although I love buying new furniture, I love the look of distressed & worn furniture… It gives a unique lived in feel that makes your house a home. I love when you can see the life lines in furniture & decor, it takes your house to a new level and shows that every piece you have means something. It is also an Eco-friendly & cost efficient way to update old rubbish furniture and treasures that might have been trash at some point. Or maybe it is a hand-me-down from your family that you would like to incorporate in your house, just simply needs to be updated into a piece you love!

I am going to explain how I distress furniture. I am by NO MEANS an expert! lol, but I have done quite a few pieces and have learned what to do & what NOT to do. My mom is the one who started showing me how to paint and distress furniture, so I have just taken her techniques. (Thanks Momma!!)

Items you will need:

  • Paint Brushes/Trays/Foam Rollers
  • Painting sheets
  • Plastic Gloves
  • Box of Steel Wool
  • (And my mom would want me to put “please where a mask” for safety reasons! lol)


  1. Wipe the Surface of the furniture or item you are painting
  2. If there is loose paint, you may need to sand it down
  3. Prime the piece you are painting really good! I use a primer from Benjamin Moore called AQUA LOCK
  4. After the piece is dry, you can paint it whatever colour you wish. I usually go with a white, cream or shade of grey looks nice…For the below lamp I used a white from BM – OC 17 White Dove
  5. Now comes the fun part – DISTRESSING: you take steel wool and you will rub all along the edges. The best pieces to distress are ones like the lamp I did below that have lots of grooves in it. You need to rub the areas that naturally wear like the edges and corners, raised carvings, and around knobs and pulls. Don’t make the distressing even, it needs to be random. Also, start off soft… you don’t need to rub to hard or else too much paint might come off. Start off light and work from there.
  6. Once I am done, I leave it. I don’t add any wax or seal to it. I think it should be left alone and then obviously being part of your home it will distress naturally. My kitchen table that I distressed of my Granny’s has lots more nicks and scrapes on it since I distressed it myself, and I can’t help but love that because it shows my table is being used and has life to it 🙂

Helpful tips

  • You really need to ensure your piece is DRY before distressing, if not the little tiny peices that come off the steel wool will stick to the furniture.
  • make sure you wear gloves, the steel wool starts to fall apart as you rub… so your hands will be covered and so will the area around you.

Lamp Before…(YIKES!!)


Here is also a picture of an end table my mom distressed for me. They are actually the end tables we took from Adam’s parents Basement (really wish I had a before picture, they were hunter green).

Anyways, hopefully this helps anyone thinking of distressing a piece of furniture!



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