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Why Distress Painted Furniture

The details on furniture are there for a reason. To grab your attention, to make a statement. I like to highlight those furniture details by distressing the paint. Distressed details stand out. The paint can be lightly distressed to give a gently worn look or more heavily distressed for the wow factor.

Highlight Beautiful Furniture Details With Distressed Paint

For this vintage buffet I chose black paint. Black paint classes up anything and black furniture fits into any decor. That’s my thinking. We have a really pretty black chest of drawers in our bedroom. I painted it myself. And I added a gold stripe. Once I painted the chest I had to have it. No selling it. But I digress. We need to talk about the black buffet I have to share.

painted and distressed furniture details

I painted this buffet/sideboard ( I never know what to call them)  with the holidays in mind. Our customers are beginning to shop for that special, “statement” piece of furniture. Everyone wants their dining room to look nice for Christmas brunch or lunch or dinner. It’s been proven by statistics. October and November are the prime months for selling dining room furniture. I’m a little late.

I used Beyond Paint for the buffet makeover. The color is licorice. Beyond paint is a three in one product. No priming, sanding, or sealing required. Gotta love that.

buffet before makeover

I got this buffet at the Nashville Flea Market. I don’t remember the exact price but probably around $80, maybe a bit more. The prices on used furniture has been creeping up lately. I have to pay about twice as much as I used to for used furniture.

buffet before

The buffet was kind-of sad with the missing veneer and slightly warped drawers. We did a little work on it but I knew I couldn’t replace the missing veneer. Replacing veneer is both costly and takes a lot of time…..and expertise.

distressing paint is all in the details

You can see at the bottom where the veneer had peeled off. When I have a piece like this I go for the distressing. Without a perfect wood finish to start out with the finished product will never be perfect. So why not distress to show the imperfections in a beautiful way.

I spray painted the original hardware. The pulls on the cabinet doors were missing and I found a couple of replacement knobs in my hardware stash. There were two holes where the original pulls were on the cabinet doors. I filled one of the two hardware holes on each door and spray painted the replacement knobs. It’s an easy process to change the hardware when updating a piece of furniture.

beautiful painted black buffet

I distressed the details with a power sander and 100 grit sandpaper. Sorry, no photos of the distressing. It’s hard to take photos and operate an electric sander at the same time. As you can see I distressed all of the raised details and the edges of the legs and anywhere the veneer was missing.

I love how the details below the drawers and the buffet doors turned out. I also like the round pulls on the doors. they break up all of those straight lines. I made a short video when I distressed a chest of drawers. It’s the same process as here. See the video below…

How To Distress Paint

I went to Hobby Lobby and stocked up on knobs that I thought might look cool on the doors but I ended up using the knobs from my hardware stash. There’s a lot of trial and error in my furniture makeovers. Sometimes I go through several sets of hardware before I find the perfect fit.

Distressed furniture details make any painted furniture piece look bette

What do you think of the knobs….what do you think of the distressing…….do you entertain guests during the holidays? I’m just full of questions, aren’t I?

You should check out my other Beyond Paint projects here …15 Beyond Paint Furniture Makeovers.

As always, thanks for being here and have a great day, Kathy

Kathy Owen founder of Petticoat Junktion
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Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. I love this piece Kathy! I think black is so classy. I used black with distressing on an old washstand that I turned into a TV stand. I was so afraid of how it might look when I decided on the black, but loved it when finished. Keep up the good work and thanks for all of your tips and ideas!

  2. Art Deco furniture painted black and distressed so the light wood peeks through is always a beautiful combination. I love the distressing you gave this buffet, Kathy. It made the details pop and the imperfections recede. Stunning!

  3. I wasn’t sure if I would like the black…but I LOVE it! The distressing just adds the right touch.

  4. I really like the makeover, and would LOVE instructions!! I want to distress a couple of side tables and love this style of ‘distressing’, the best. The color and amount of ‘wear’ on the furniture is great for my style. Can you send me more detailed info on how you got this look? Thx!

  5. Looks great love the mirror. Simular to a paint color called urbane bronze by Sherman Williams.

  6. I’m sorry Cathy but I don’t have pics of the top. I did distress it very lightly around the edges where the veneer had chipped off. You could distress the top of your piece. I would suggest doing it by hand…not using a sander. After you distress it then use a clear or maybe oak colored wax to go over the whole piece. The wax takes care of the gray rubbed areas caused by the distressing.

  7. I always love your work. Did you distress the top of the dresser and if so, any chance of a photo? The dresser I am working on, needs some deep scratches camouflaged.

  8. THANK YOU SO MUCH for answering my questions. I am a newbie and this will be the first time I ever paint furniture. I am so excited and grateful for your reply. Thank you again so kindly.

  9. Meredith. I used Reclaim paint not spray paint. YOu can use latex paint in a satin finish to get this look. I sanded it with an electric sander to distress the details but you can also use a sanding block and do it by hand. Hope this helps.

  10. How did you distress it? Did you rum something over top of the spray paint and what spray paint did you use. I have a piece like this that I want to make look just the same. It will be my first time re-purposing.

  11. That’s nice, much nicer than the original. I have a dresser at my front door that we use for keys, gloves, glasses and junk…it is in the original finish, which isn’t great. This might be an option.

  12. Hello Kathy…great website and info. You mentioned a special paint–“reclaim paint in licorice” where can I buy it? Thanks Ed/Cedarberry.

  13. Hi Maureen, glad you like the dresser. That isn’t gold on the bottom, it’s where I distressed it. There was this lovely detail at the bottom and that’s how it turned out after I distressed it!

  14. This dresser is so gorgeous! Did you glaze the gold in the bottom or dry brush it? What type of top coat did you put on it? I’ve just painted an end table in black and I would love to antique like this. Thanks for your help! Your work is amazing.

  15. This looks stunning! Very elegant, like it belongs in a mansion of someone famous! I’m pinning this one to our board! Thanks for sharing on DIY Sunday Showcase!


  16. Kathy, I really love how this buffet turned out. My sister in law bought a dresser some time back, and when she said she was going to distress it black, I cringed- but just as yours, it turned out beautiful! Just popping over from the DIY Sunday Showcase link party. I’ve pinned, liked, twittered and G+-ed your post. . I look forward to seeing you over there!

  17. Oh, she’s so pretty! Love the color and the distressing looks great! Yes, our whole family gets together for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We all pitch in with the food and rotate hosting at each home from year to year.

    So happy to have you hop over and share at AMAZE ME MONDAY…


  18. Oooo I love how this turned out!! You don’t see many people painting furniture this color and they should. It looks amazing!

  19. I am in love with this. I see you painteed in Licorice. Can you give us some more details ? Did you sand before painting ? What distress technique did you use and did you apply any finish ? I have a small chest of drawers that is begging to look like this. Thanks. You have a real eye for making old beaten up pieces looked loved again.

  20. Talk about a statement piece!!! Amazing job, Kathy! Love the black!!! ~Christy

  21. I love this piece. I’m getting ready to paint a pop up table & 2 chairs a soft black and was afraid they might be too plain, but after seeing your piece I think they will be fine.

  22. Donna, The mirror is original to the piece. I did not prime and I only sanded after the paint to distress it. I should have taken a close up of the mirror. The photos I took all had a glare on the mirror. Maybe I’ll take a close up and add it. Thanks for the questions.

  23. Love the hardware…and the black distressed. So gorgeous Kathy! And yes, I entertain for the Holidays!;)


  24. Hi Kathy,
    Question…. did you add the mirror (it is a mirror, right?)
    How did you find one with the right curves?
    And did you prime it first and sand it out?

  25. I like your style. I agree with you in that distressed is not for everyone, but I really love it

  26. Alli, I used Reclaim paint in Licorice and I distressed some areas with an electric sander and I did some by hand. I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

  27. It’s really hard to sand it down that much so no I don’t. I also like for the areas to stand out when distressing. Thanks for the great comment!

  28. Oh how I love this piece! The knobs remind me of little bows 🙂 Question for you: when you find a piece with missing veneer do you sand down the missing areas before paint to make it less noticeable? or leave it be?

  29. That is very pretty!
    How did you distress? Just sanding? What color paint did you use– just a plain black?
    I’d love to get a similar effect on something! 🙂 Big fan of this project!

  30. I love it, because that old veneer was a disaster! I like that you used black, I think black is under-used in furniture–especially vintage and glad it was distressed, I think I would have done a little more distressing, just a touch! Glad you changed up the pulls and put on knobs..all the same is boring!

  31. as usual a very nice job does not look like the same piece i can see it dressed up in silver and gold with little pops of red for the holidays xx

  32. Very nice. I really like the gold highlights. The painted original drawer handles and new (used) round knobs on the doors are perfect for the piece.