Of the many modern décor options, the distressed furniture look is one of the most environmentally sensitive options out there. Recycling higher quality used furniture into something modern and functional saves landfill space and uses very few resources.
If done right, distressed is also easy on the pocketbook. Look for solid wood furniture at garage sales, thrift shops and through online classified sites. Used but well made solid wood furniture will cost a fraction of the cost of new pressboard furniture that will only be trashed in a few years.
Do it yourself distressing takes some time but costs very little. Other than the actual furniture, the only real costs are paint, stain, varnish, and supplies.
Decide how to Distress the Wood
Damage to the wood and damage to the finish are the two main types of distressing to consider. Start by stripping down the old finish with paint stripper and sandpaper. If you intend to reuse some of the original finish then don't go too far in removing the finish.
Beat it Up
Next, apply distressing techniques to the wood. Create dents in the wood by striking it with a hammer, length of chain, heavy padlock or other blunt objects. To simulate heavy aging, use a blow torch or candle to darken the wood. For lighter aging, rub wood stain in unevenly. Wormholes can be simulated by driving nails into the wood part way and then pulling them out. Remember that some damage looks good, but do not hurt the structure or function of the piece when you attack it.
Finishing Distressed Wood
Once the wood looks distressed to your satisfaction, move to the finishing stage. Some prefer a natural wood look, while others prefer to stain or varnish the wood.
If painting the piece, create wear with sandpaper in the areas that you would expect to see wear on the furniture. A simple technique to create a pealed paint look involves painting the piece and letting the paint partially dry. Apply masking tape to the areas you wish to distress, push down and then rip off the tape, removing some of the paint.
Have fun distressing furniture using these techniques and don't worry about messing anything up. If you are not happy with the result, just try again. After all the furniture cost very little in the first place and even mistakes can be become part of the distressed look. You can
Your newly distressed furniture will look great in your home and you will have the satisfaction of creating something truly unique on a budget while helping the environment.