Try some of these tips to give unfinished furniture a distressed look.
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Here are some tips and suggestions on how to distress furniture:
Start by studying the antique you want to duplicate. We used an old child's chair to detect some signs of how antique furniture becomes distressed. On this chair, for example, at the point of each arm there was some loss of color and rounding of the edges. That is a great clue for something to do to the new chair or piece of furniture. Also consider duplicating any chips and marks that can come with age -- a child's heels on the slats of a chair, for example.
Be sure to check the legs of furniture. Wear and tear can create nicks and rounded edges. These are great to duplicate as well.
The first step for distressing the new wooden furniture is to apply a clear coat of satin sealer. Remember that all antiques start out as new furniture with a new coat of finish.
Start the distressing process by sanding the arm edges of the furniture to create a rounded look.
Note: Don't use a power sander for distressing furniture.
Be Smart: Don't go overboard with distressing furniture. Too much can be detrimental to the process.