Do you want to create ‘distressed look’ kitchen cabinets and give a whole new look to your kitchen or other areas? In decorative arts, distressing is the art of making pieces look very old and worn. Distressed cabinets are used to give a kitchen a vintage, antique style. There are many methods of aging wooden furniture. Mostly these involve removing layers of paint in uneven patches, leaving remnants of layers that show different colors, or even bare wood beneath. The aim is to have a ‘look’ that is rustic, imperfect and aged. Have you seen those ‘distressed’ pieces in trendy furniture shops where the distressing method has obviously been to press imprints into the timber or wood, with an instrument in places precisely measured to be equidistant from one another? This is not what we are after!
We want to end up with a piece that is very authentic looking and looks as though it has been aged naturally over the decades. You don’t achieve this by whacking at the wood with a sledge-hammer, either! Sandpaper and paint stripper are used to remove old paint and to get back to the bare wood. The finished piece can be refinished with glaze (thinned paint) or varnish, if wanted. Can I distress kitchen cabinets myself? Yes, you can easily do this! This is a good ‘finishing’ technique for beginners and as long as you are accepting of how your piece will turn out, you can have a lot of fun creating a set of antique-looking cabinetry in your kitchen.
You’ll need sandpaper of differing grades of coarseness, brushes and some light colored paints. All available from your local hardware store. These techniques can be applied to many surfaces such as wood, glass, metal, stone, concrete, plaster and paint. The Shabby-Chic style has made antiquing techniques very popular. And, these cabinets look great in a kitchen along with the ‘right’ accessories.
Techniques: Deliberately sand, dent, scrape and gauge out little dents and holes in the cabinet faces and tops. To distress the wood, you can use a chain to throw against the wood, a screwdriver to gauge, a medium sized hammer to implement dents. Keep sanding in between these activities. Now you can use the and stain or varnish you’ve chosen to darken the wood. You’ll find that a light colored varnish, such as a marine varnish, will look wonderful as it will bring out all the beauty of the grain of the wood as well as having the added bonus of being waterproof. This is really very necessary for kitchen cabinetry as things are always getting damp, if not wet.
You can buy antiquing paints and varnishes to apply on the top in layers or patches, one layer above the last. To add to the aging look, water down the colors with thinners or water. This will look like a color wash. As the paint dries, keep sanding little areas to give a worn finish. If you like, you can add a crackle varnish as the last layer – this will give an antique appearance. Take some off again with a light sand in a few places to show how the cabinet has been worn.
Add some lovely knobs or handles in wrought iron to finish the cabinets.
So, you see, totally fool-proof! By following these techniques, you’ll have beautiful distressed kitchen cabinets for your vintage style kitchen. Every piece is of unique interest and once you add some accessories such as open shelving displays of china, you’ll be very pleased with the look you have achieved! This technique is especially good for country style and rustic kitchens.