To Distress or Not Distress

Recently I did something unusual. Well, unusual for me. I was a little nervous to do it. But I did.

Yes, I actually completed a piece of furniture that I didn’t distress. Are you stunned?

I was. Let me tell you more.

Here is the coffee table mid-paint. I really thought I had a before picture, but I guess it was one of those, well-I’m-waiting-for-other-pieces-to-dry-so-why-not-jump-in moments. It is solid wood, very heavy, and when we got it it was painted in black chalkboard paint. Interesting idea but it was not in great condition. I didn’t know what the wood underneath looked like to we worked on sanding a lot of the paint off. What we found was that under the paint was light wood. See the leg in the very left of the picture?

photo(10)This coffee table has pretty details and turned legs, the whole nine yards. But – hold your breath- I chose not to distress it.

So I thought I would share with you today why. And the method behind my madness of distressing (or not).

When to distress:

  • To bring out details

photo 2 (8)photo 4 (7)This end table had lovely curves and carved details. Distressing gives the details dimension and  brings attention to them so they don’t just fade into the paint.

  • To mimic typical wear over time

20121225-205656.jpgNormal wear of a painted piece happens when it is touched frequently. Areas that receive this kind of wear are edges, corners, and around drawers and handles. Distressing in these areas like on the coffee table above gives the look of an older piece with lovely patina.

Finally, and most importantly….

  • When you will get contrast between wood tone and paint color

For example, it looks great to pair a darker paint color with a medium wood tone like on one of my favorite end tables ever here…

20121122-210021.jpgAnd here is the hutch I painted with the great dark wood, light paint color combo working beautifully for it. 20121201-220640.jpgBut in this case, the contrast couldn’t be achieved. I had chosen ASCP Duck Egg because it is a great light, almost neutral paint color. It works great on a centrally located and visually heavy piece like this coffee table. The wood was too light on this coffee table, and distressing the light colored Duck Egg didn’t look good (I tried it on a small section to confirm my thoughts). You couldn’t see the wood. Blah.

Distressing looks best when you either have a dark wood with a light paint (really any color looks good distressed over dark wood, that’s why I prefer it) or vice versa (light wood and dark paint). The light paint/light wood combo here doesn’t really work well to distress.

So, I instead left it all pretty and solid!

IMG_9149I just love the details of the turned legs and the not-so-simple edge work. IMG_9145I adore coffee tables like this where extra details have been added to make something ordinary special. IMG_9141IMG_9139I left the handles black because they were in good condition and provide that oh-so-important contrast!

IMG_9143And you know what? When I was done I didn’t feel like I had betrayed my style by not distressing. It’s so important to not sacrifice the end result just to do what is expected or the norm. You have to consider each piece individually and what will make it look its best.

Linking up to Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Feature Friday

Thrifty Decor Chick’s October Before and After


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