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How to revive old wooden furniture with paint

Do you have a piece of wooden furniture that’s been part of the family home for a long time?   You’re definitely not alone if you feel it’s a little dark and miserable for 2015.  Over time our tastes do change but what if you could hold on to your antiquated piece but give it a 2015-worthy update?

Whether you decide to do it in plain white paint, shabby chic or French country styling, it will definitely radiate a sophisticated look; something your old brown furniture has probably lacked for a while.

Best of all, it’s not difficult and it’s a look that can be achieved on a very small budget.

Here are some hints and advice for restoring that gloomy old piece. (Before you start ensure your furniture is solid wood and does not have a laminated surface.)

Step 1: Prepare the wood

Preparation! Don’t you hate that word? It is, however, the key to producing a great outcome. You need to remove the existing wood finish so your new paintwork will stick properly to the surface. If the wood has been polished with wax, a wire wool pad plus turps or white spirit will do it for you. If it’s varnished, you can either sandpaper it or use paint and varnish remover.

Step 2: Apply a coat of water-based acrylic primer

This will give your furniture a smoother finish and make it easier to work on.  If you’re wanting a more shabby chic  look you don’t need to be neat. Even if you’re terrible at painting, you don’t have to worry about messing up with shabby chic!

Then, for the plain, painted wood finish:

Apply two coats of water based acrylic paint. Ensure the  first layer has dried dry fully before commencing with the next coat.  Carefully sand the first coat of paint with very fine sand paper, before you attempt the second coat of paint. Then seal your two layers of paint with acrylic varnish.

For the distressed look

You create a distressed finish by using two different colours (and layers) of paint where the second layer is rubbed away to reveal the first for a ‘natural’ wear and tear look. (Again, acrylic water-based paint is the way to go.)

To achieve this look apply your first colour and let it dry completely. Dab streaks of clear furniture wax where you want the wood to look distressed. You can use a range of methods including paintbrush, cloth, or a small kitchen sponge. The wax repels the second layer of paint, letting the base colour show through. You need to paint the second layer of paint over the whole thing, wax included. Make sure you let it dry properly,  then wipe the furniture with a soft cloth to take the paint off the waxed areas, leaving a lovely  effect that looks as though it’s just come out of an up-market interior décor shop.

What? You want it to look more distressed? You can attack the pre-painted furniture by scraping or rubbing  the pre-painted furniture with wire wool or sandpaper.  You can even use a nail or hit it with a hammer – sounds violent but it works! You need to mark the wood randomly avoiding creating a pattern of any kind. Unless you beat your furniture to a pulp it is extremely unlikely you can  get the shabby chic  look wrong.

The final step – the finish

Regardless of whether you went for the plain, painted look, or the shabby chic look, apply clear wax furniture polish. You will be amazed at the lovely lustre finish it produces and it will also protect the surface. No varnish is needed.

How easy was that and how good does your furniture look? Congratulations!

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