Chair Fail

I have a thing for decorating furniture. Not decorating with furniture. Changing the appearance of furniture. It’s creative. I like creative. Plus you end up with something that looks different than all the other run-of-the-mill stuff out there. And I really like the distressed look. Not too distressed, just showing a little character.

Me and My Pal, CeCe

I’ve had some successes in my time (like this bathroom cabinet, which we left at the old house) and some failures (like these kitchen cabinets). Oh, and I can’t forget the kitchen table I did for the WV Place (decoupaged bird pics), which was halfway successful. It looks cool, but the surface is tacky when wet. It is NOT the ideal surface for a kitchen table. I could probably correct that BUT the bird images have all faded in the sun. So it just isn’t working.

There were the kitchen chairs I did for the WV Place. I decoupaged torn-up scraps of paper bag onto the seats so it looks like a leather or suede covering. That was my intention anyway.

Practice makes perfect though. Right? We’ll see. Apparently I am still practicing. But I have been learning along the way.

Here are some of the biggest lessons learned…

  • It’s NOT as easy as you would think.
  • Not all paint is appropriate for distressing.
  • Not all surfaces are good for distressing.
  • Distressing is harder than it looks.

That bathroom cabinet isn’t really distressed. But it’s definitely done in a casual style. The kitchen cabinets were distressed. What exactly does distressed mean? Made to look old. Typically showing bits of wood and/or layers of paint.

My interest in distressing furniture is the driving force behind my fascination with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I wrote about that most recently in my post about Warrenton’s newest store, The Empty Nest, which sells chalk paint and furniture treated with chalk paint.

My Small Collection of Chalk Paint & Waxes

Before we moved to Warrenton, I bought some inexpensive chairs that I knew I’d paint one day.  (I talked all about that big purchase in an old post.) I just never mustered the guts or drive to paint the suckers. Until now.

With a chalk paint stockist in town, I figured it was about time I got off my duff and did something about those chairs.


Now, these chairs are not fine antiques. But they are old. And they’re real wood.  They were also inexpensive (about $30 each). So I figured ruining them wouldn’t be a huge deal. And succeeding with my intentions would be a huge bonus.

Rough Shape

The chairs aren’t in the best condition. But they are sturdy. Really, they’re the perfect thing to practice on.

One of the coolest things about chalk paint is that no special surface prep is required. You can paint right over old finishes. No sanding, stripping, priming, etc.

I thought about painting each chair a different solid color. But that’s a trend I believe will fade rather quickly.

And then I considered a single solid color on each, but that would be boring. Since our table has black legs, I knew the chairs needed black. And since the chandelier is a really dark red, I opted for black chairs with red accents.

The end result, as seen below, is sort of what I had in mind.

Before and After

I won’t bore you with all of the steps. Quickie version is that you apply the paint. Then you apply the clear wax. And, if you’re wanting a darker look, you apply the dark wax.

The “new” chair looks okay in that picture. But my red isn’t dark enough. The red in the chandelier is MUCH darker. Also, the black isn’t black enough. It needs a bit more paint. But the biggest problem is that I applied too much wax.

After and Before

In that “After and Before” picture, you can see how the chair looks a bit green. It’s supposed to look splotchy, but I want the black to be darker.

Not Dark Enough

The issue is more-obvious when the chair is photographed next to the table leg.


Still, it’s an improvement over the plain old wood chair. At least I think it is. And that’s what matters.

So the chair still needs work. But that’s okay. It’s a learning process. And the next four chairs will be much easier.

I’ll be sure to show you the FINAL end result. But it will be a while.

Do you prefer the plain wood? Or the colors? You won’t change my mind. I’m just curious.

How about that table? It’s from The Ole Craftsman. He makes chairs, too, which are gorgeous. But buying eight of them would really add up. Of course, I may just have to do that if mine are a miserable failure. But I have hope.

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