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How To Distress And Antique White Painted Furniture

This is the best way to distress and antique white painted furniture. 

You’re here because you love the look of white furniture with distressed paint and an antiqued or aged look, right? Great! I will take you step by step through the process of painting furniture white and then show you how to distress the paint. Follow this easy tutorial to make your furniture look like that in the stores, only better. I worked out a process to get this look and just went for it. My technique worked!

vintage sideboard buffet to be painted (3)

The antiqued paint finish is very popular and you can see it in furniture stores and online. The faux distressed furniture looks old or aged around the raised details. That furniture is really expensive and a lot of the pieces aren’t even made of real wood.

furniture surface damaged with scratches and water marks

I bought this piece at my favorite junk shop several months ago. The price was $60 or $65. Awesome deal. It’s hard to find sideboards or buffets like this one. And when I do, the price is usually over my budget.

The vintage sideboard had issues like a scarred up top with a few deep gouges. I don’t strip furniture or sand the stained finish down to raw wood and restain. I paint furniture because it’s easy.

hole on the inside of furniture

One of the sides had a hole that went all the way through to the inside. You can see where the wood is splintered on the inside in the photo above. Repairs like this usually aren’t hard to do but they are time-consuming. how to patch a hole in furniture

The JTS and I filled the hole completely with wood filler. We applied a thick layer over the hole because when the wood filler dries it tends to shrink. The next step after the filler dries is to sand it flush with the surrounding area. Too little filler means there may be a sunken area that requires more filler and the whole process has to be repeated.

how to support wood filler while it dries

For this big problem area, we had to figure out a way to keep the inside where the wood was split as flat as possible. To ensure there was no big bump inside or outside, we used a two-by-four and wedged it flat against the inside wall.

The sideboard set this for months while I worked on other projects. I usually have a shop full of furniture waiting to be painted and I was in no hurry to finish this piece.

sand wood puttly filler smooth

When I resumed work on the sideboard, the first thing I did was sand the wood filler smooth so it was flush with the surrounding wood. I used my Ryobi battery-powered sander—no cords to pull around.

ugly felt sideboard silverware drawer liner

Next I pulled out the silverware drawer and that felt lining was so ugly. I left it in place for now but what I did later has to be seen.


nailing the drawer runner to the drawer bottom

The bottom of this drawer was rippled where it had been damp or wet at one time. Even though it was rippled the bottom was still firm and I decided to nail the drawer bottom to the runner in several places. This firmed up the bottom and straightened out some of the ripples.

dust boards in furniture are dirty

There was a build up of dust top and bottom, on the dust boards, and in the cabinets. The furniture repairs and cleaning to get furniture ready for painting is the most time consuming part of a furniture makeover. Very seldom do I work on a piece that is in perfect condition.

remove hardware from furniture before painting

Before doing clean up on the sideboard I removed the drawer pulls and put them in a plastic bag. Learned the hard way to keep it all together. This is one of the few pieces I’ve worked on that had all of the original hardware. Next I vacuumed up as much of the dust as possible then cleaned all over with Simple Green.

how to use painter's tape when painting furniture

Last thing before painting is to place painter’s tape in areas that might get painted and you don’t want them to get painted. I always tape over the screw holes on the inside of the drawer to keep paint from leaking inside. Then I tape the sides of the drawer next to the drawer front so the paint line is nice and neat.

Next, if there are cabinets I will tape the interior about an inch or so in or wherever the lip is so the paint doesn’t look messy inside. You have to paint some of that inside area if you are painting the outside because you can see a small area of the inside cabinet under the door and around the sides.

one coat of paint on furniture

I applied a light coat of Glidden Gripper white primer just to give the sideboard a uniform color before painting. Remember how the top was discolored in places?

off white beyond paint

The paint for the project is Beyond Paint which is a primer, paint, and sealer all in one. Yes, it’s not necessary to prime before using this paint but I like to start with a primer when the furniture finish is uneven.

I applied two coats of the Beyond Paint in off-white then I waited overnight for the paint to cure before moving on to the next step.

how to distress and antique white paint

Now, we come to the special antiqued paint process. You can see in the photo above that the drawer on top has been distressed with a power sander and “antiqued” with dark paint.

sideboard drawer painted and antiqued

This is how the drawer finish looks compared to the rest of the piece that hasn’t been “antiqued” yet. All of the raised areas on the drawer, the edges of the drawer, and the area in between the two are now aged or antiqued. I will try to walk you through the process but please watch the video because seeing the process is so much better than reading about it.

To get the antiqued look I first distressed all of the edges and the raised details on the drawers and the body of the sideboard using my Ryobi power sander with 100 grit sandpaper. Next I mixed equal amounts of water and Miss Lillian’s No Wax Chock Paint in French Roast (dark, dark brown) for the antiquing process…..the dark color around the details and edges. You can use any dark brown color for this except for maybe those little bottles of acrylic paint. Some of these paints wash off easily.

how to apply paint for antiquing furniture

I used a small brush to brush the thinned paint around the raised drawer details and all of the distressed raw wood areas. (I clipped two photos from the video and they are blurry because of the movement)

wiping off extra paint

Then I wiped the paint off with a really damp rag until I got the look I wanted. It’s best to work on small areas at a time so the thinned paint doesn’t dry on you in the process.

original furniture hardware

Time to paint the furniture pulls. I laid out all the hardware and went to look for two knobs for the cabinet doors. The two small knobs on the doors were two different sizes. I mentioned earlier that this piece had all it’s original hardware but I forgot about the knobs. That’s me.

dry brush furniture hardware white

I dry brushed the drawer pulls and knobs with the same paint as the sideboard. The pulls looked a bit rough and flat after painting so I sealed them with General Finishes Sealer in Satin. That added a little shine and also made the pulls feel smooth instead of rough.

dry brushed furniture pulls for antique white dresser

The drawer pulls look great with a bit of the original finish shining through. They blend well with the dark paint around the details.

antique white buffet or sideboard for dining room or entertainment center

If you try this technique don’t use black paint for antiquing. It will be way too dark. Depending on your home decor style you might use a dark, dark, gray for the antiquing.

vintage sideboard silverware drawer

Remember that sad looking felt lining in the silverware drawer? I couldn’t stand it. I pulled it all out. There was a piece of really thick cardboard between the felt and the wood drawer bottom. That didn’t look good. I couldn’t cut out the cardboard so moving on to another idea.

cutting up fabric to cover drawer bottom

I found some pretty fabric in my stash, cut it to size, and used double sided tape to stick it to the drawer.

use pretty fabric as a drawer liner

It’s not real straight and even but it looks so much better than the felt. The fabric is upholstery fabric so it’s nice and thick and I also used it on the door front of a vintage wardrobe you can see here.

popular antique white paint finish for furniture

As I mention in the video, don’t try to make the distressing and the antiquing look all perfect and matchy matchy. For one thing you will drive yourself crazy. For another having everything uniform is not going to make the piece look better. It might make it look too manufactured. Read my tips and tricks for distressing furniture here… What You Should Know About Distressing Painted Furniture And Home Decor

tutorial on how to create an antique white paint finish on furniture

Distressed Antique White Furniture

The middle of the sideboard is slightly curved and it’s so pretty in person. It’s hard to see the curved front in the photos.

antique white furniture

And that’s the story of the painted white furniture with distressing and a little antiquing. Do you guys like this antiqued paint finish? Time to watch the video. This one is longer than most of mine because I wanted to cover the whole process so you guys can do the same technique….

How To Create A Distressed Antique White Furniture Finish

white antiqued paint finish

Do you like the architectural piece hanging over the sideboard? I painted it to go over the bed in the master bedroom after we repainted and added all new decor.

how to paint furniture antique white

Leave a quick note if you have time. I would love to hear what you think of the painted sideboard.

Supplies used in this project:


General Finishes Sealer – Water Based Topcoat

Beyond Paint – Off White

Ryobi Battery Sander

Time to see what the other furniture fixer uppers have for us today. Just click the pink text links below the “before” makeovers photo…..

furniture makeovers

Furniture Fixer Uppers Tour:

Thrift Store Dresser With Transfer from Confessions of a Serial DIY’er

Refinished Card Catalog  from Girl In The Garage

Bathroom Vanity Makeover  from Salvaged Inspirations

Antique White Furniture from Petticoat Junktion (you are here)

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

How To Paint Furniture
How To Paint Furniture
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. Yes Kevin, I used latex water based paint. For the dark color it needs to be really dark! I cut the paint with water about 50/50. Hope this helps.

  2. Kathy,
    Thank you for the article. I am from Australia and years ago we could buy a product for doing antique finishes similar to yours. It was an oil based primer/paint and I used it to finish picture frame mouldings. After painting it was left to dry, then you applied a toner to it and wiped off most to leave a heightened colour to the inner parts of the moulding. Sadly this is no longer made but I would consider trying your method. I am assuming you use standard water based paint and use a darker colour for the toning. Is this right?
    Kind regards and thank you. Kevin.

  3. Beautiful piece beautifully done. I have a dresser that belonged to my Great Grandparents, then Grandparents, and my parents. I was blessed enough to acquired this piece and will be doing this process to it. Can’t wait for the final outcome. I will treasure it even more. My siblings are waiting for pictures as well. Thanks for the information. It will be very helpful. Enjoyed seeing your work. Have a blessed day.

  4. So beautiful. I give you lots of kudos for transforming this dresser into something beautiful. Happy to feature your distressed dresser today at Love Your Creativity. Happy Sunday.

  5. The sideboard is so much better painted white and the white painted hardware is perfect. As always your distressing is perfection. Pinned

  6. I loved the off white color but on Amazon. It looks yellow and yours looks a gray white ( which I would like better – I do not want cream.


    Everyones furniture looks great


  7. This looks so good Kathy! Kudos to both of us for finally finishing a project we were putting off, haha. The sideboard has a whole new life now. xo

  8. I purchased a similar buffet and intend to repurpose it as a bathroom vanity. Mine is in really pristine shape and was going back and forth about painting or leaving the finish as is…. I think you’ve made my decision!!! Beautiful piece….

  9. Oh my gosh! First I have to share this was a step back in time for me. This is the exact piece I grew up with and I am 72! It wasn’t new but was cherished by my mother for sure. I can just see her Jewel Tea Autumn Leaf dishes in the side storage areas.
    Your makeover is outstanding! It is a piece most anyone would love to have in their home. I’m new to this so you have given me hope and encouragement! Thanks so much for sharing…

  10. I cannot say it enough. You are an artist! You take pieces that might end up destroyed and restore life to them. You create beauty!

  11. Oh my goodness, I just discovered you through Confessions of a Serial Diyer. This dresser stopped me in my tracks. Absolutely gorgeous. I’m going to watch the video now! 🙂

  12. You know I love a white distressed look and this is just perfect!! A ton of work, but the results were worth it! XOXO

  13. Beautiful before and after Kathy… and I love the architectural piece hanging over the sideboard! Perfect styling for this piece. 🙂

  14. Thank you, Kathy! I swooned when I saw your Dawson knockoff and my heart is still going crazy! It’s exactly what I was hoping for. You are sooo talented and sooo nice to share!

  15. Kathy, this looks professional & beautiful! I know what you are saying about buying distressed furniture retail–especially at Pottery Barn! I think this method could be used to obtain PB’s distressed finish on their Dawson Media Console–what do you think?

  16. Thank you so much Kathy. You made my day. I love Furniture Fixer Upper Day too. My friends are super talented and I can’t wait to see their projects. Thank you for the fabulous comment! Have a great day, Kathy

  17. Oh my goodness. Beautiful. I love the vintage hardware. I can just see it pictured and staged with beautiful treasures. I love Furniture Fixer Upper Day! On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I’m so excited to boot my computer to see what you girls have been up to. It’s “me time” and I’m in my happy place! Happy Fall Kathy.