Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shabby Chic toutorial

So after I posted my bed bench

I had a lot of people ask how I did the shabby chic "treatment."  It was very much trial and error but I  started with looking at a few inspiration photos.
The Shabby Addict blog

This more of the look I was trying to achieve her blog is fabulous.

I started by sanding everything.  Since I was painting and not re-staining my main goal was to just rough up the finish.  Due to previous experience I knew that a little of a pinkish red color would show through the paint where I sanded it all the way to the wood.

You can see the faint reddish spots here, this is after two coats of paint.
I wanted this to happen but if you don't you should prime with a good primer first.  I painted two coats of blue getting good coverage.  If I were to do it again I think I would go with one coat and more of just getting it on with a dry brush.  I may do a second if I thought it needed more coverage but I would still use a dry brush technique. The reason you pick a color first is for a more layered (been painted many times) look.  You can totally just skip on to the white if you prefer or even choose different pale colors. The blue I used was pool party by Glidden and it was pretty bright but a free sample so I made it work.

Once I let it dry I came back with a white color ($5 oops paint in a white shade from Lowes) and painted it with the dry brush all over. I tried to make sure cracks and crevices got pretty good coverage with white. Since Shabby Chic is like wear and tear, usually paint doesn't naturally chip out of those places.  
It didn't take long at all to dry since it was so hot and the coat was so thin.  I went back and hand sanded anything that stuck out.  With a course paper first then smoothed over it with a fine paper. I was trying to keep in mind, where would this get beat up if I were moving it in a moving truck.  I think if you want more wood showing, more like the top inspiration picture, you could probably use a fine paper and lightly sand it all over with a power sander.

Once everything had a worn look I just eyeballed it and sanded bigger spots.  Dont be too scared because you can always come back with a dry brush and the white if you think you overdid it (but wait until the end before you make that call.)  On this bench I wanted the "wear" to be where I thought it would actually get wear.  So I rubbed the tops of the arms pretty good. 
Lastly, I came back with a bucket of water and an old washcloth.  Since I used water base paint I just got the washcloth wet and rubbed the spots. Its helped smooth everything out and give it a more natural look.
You should probably seal it if you are putting it outside and I suggest a polyurethane but haven't found anything that doesn't yellow the paint, so just keep that in mind.  Also if you find something to use as a true clear sealer, let me know. Keep in mind if the furniture is going to get lots of use you should probably use oil base paint to prevent scratching (although it may just blend.) The longer its dried the more the paint will harden and stick better.
Good luck, share your shabby chic project links in the comments.  We'd love to see them!


  1. LOVE! Where did you get the bench from to begin with? Did I overlook that? I want to marry this.

    1. Haha, I love your comment although I'm not sure why I'm just now seeing it. Where have I been? We built this from a full size bed frame, its the 4th or 5th one we've done. I have one on my porchfrom my childhood bed, one in my garage waiting to be built, and we've sold the rest. They are a fun Saturday project.