Create a shabby chic finish on new or used furnishings.Credit: sxc.hu/Alifarid, Alifarid
Try a weathered, time-worn paint look for your next home decor project. Furniture in the shabby chic style is warm and inviting with just a touch of a romance. You can turn any new or used piece of wood furniture into a shabby chic masterpiece. Just learning a few inexpensive and simple techniques will give you everything you need. Let me show you how to get started.
Shabby Chic Style
Shabby chic is all about a light, airy vintage look on your furniture. You can use single white paint treatments or layer on multiple colors to coordinate with the accessories in your room. Paired with vintage fabrics, chandeliers and anything feminine, shabby chic furniture finishes are perfect for a cottage or beach retreat.
You'll have a calm and peaceful space using shabby chic inspired pieces that are fun and economical to create.
Selecting Your Piece
When it comes to finding a piece of furniture or accessory for your project, you can go new or old. Just look for a well-constructed piece in a solid wood material for the best result. Shabby chic decorating is budget-friendly because old pieces or items with slight imperfections are perfect candidates for an amazing transformation.
Look around your home for cast-offs from years gone by. Search your attic, garage or basement. Look for things that are free and readily available before spending money on a new piece of furniture.
If you don't have what you need at home, visit a local flea market or thrift shop. I consider them an extension of my garage -- since you usually find other people's cast-offs there and the prices are usually low or negotiable.
Creating a Shabby Chic Finish
The look you'll be trying to create is time-worn and weathered like a vintage dresser or cupboard that's been painted multiple times over the years and well-used. For a piece that's already been painted, take a piece of sandpaper and rub away the top coat of the paint to expose the wood in random areas -- especially on the corners of your piece. You can also use steel wool to remove some of the paint with a smoother transition than sandpaper can offer.
Depending on the desired effect, you can stop there or apply additional coats of paint or glaze. Sand or rub subsequent layers of finish to keep the surface weathered looking.
You can also make a brand new or unfinished piece of furniture go shabby. Here's my favorite sequence of steps for an unfinished piece.
First, I like to apply a quick coat of light-colored stain to the wood. It takes away that stark, new wood appearance. Don't worry about applying it neat or evenly. Rub a little stain or tinted glaze over the surface with a rag and you're good to go. You just need enough to "dirty" the new wood.
I love a two-tone finish with the darker color on the bottom and a lighter color on top. With a dry brush, I quickly paint a base coat of a warm green or blue pastel on my piece and follow up with a very light sanding after the base paint dries.
Then I dust off the piece again, but sometimes I'll leave just a tiny bit of wood dust to get caught up in the top coat to create a well-used and aged feel in my furnishings. Now it's time for the top coat of paint. Again, I dry brush on the second, lighter colored paint (like white) and let it dry, followed by another sanding. Only this time, I sand the piece in various depths to expose both the base coat of paint and the wood below. I try to make it uneven and I pay special attention to corners with a steel wool sanding.
Lastly, I take the same stain or glaze I used to "dirty" the new wood and I "dirty" the piece one more time. However, I rub almost all of it off, leaving only a hint of finish in nooks and crannies.
The result is a warm, vintage-looking item that fits the relaxed, romantic mood of shabby chic decor perfectly.