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Classic Antique Furniture Finish for that New-Old Look

You’ve heard it from your grandparents and maybe even said it yourself (although not without cringing at the thought that maybe you are getting old) - they just don’t make ‘em like they used to.

Making your not-so-old furniture look like it’s a family heirloom isn’t all that hard. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with bright, shiny modern pieces, there’s just nothing that compares to the charm and intrigue of furniture that looks like it’s old - even if it’s just surface deep.

Textures - One way to make furniture look old is to do what’s known as distressing it. Basically, you beat the crap out of your stuff, but you’ll have to bottle just a tad of your aggression - you want to give the piece character and not actually bring it to its knees. Get yourself some tools and start whacking away. You can use a hammer, screwdriver, chain, nails, or stone, but be careful not to damage the frame or hardware. Just rough up the finish and expose the edges to give it a marred texture. The more distressed you make your piece, the older it will look.

Faux Finish - You can antique your piece by painting on a faux finish. Apply this to a distressed piece (or any piece), but be sure to sand and prime it first to ensure proper adhesion. Give your item a nice, fresh base coat of paint with a satin finish. My favorite technique is to paint the furniture a neutral color all over, and then accent it with a bolder color around the frame or inner panel moldings (cream with gold or brown is very classic). You can also add any stencils or accents you like. When the piece is looking great, add one part dark brown paint to three parts furniture glaze. Be sure to mix it thoroughly and then brush it on your item generously, wiping it with a piece of cheesecloth or an old, clean rag. Keep wiping until you reach the desired antiqued affect.

Fabric - If your piece of newly old furniture contains some new fabric, it may be difficult to find some old fabric to re-cover it. So how do we get around this? By finding some great newer fabric that you admire and sending it through your washer and dryer several times to loosen up the weave and soften the colors. To really seal the deal, you can even cook your fabric in a saucepan full of boiling tea. Let it boil for a few minutes, turn off the stove and let the material steep overnight. Then rinse it out and toss it in the dryer to set the new-old hue.

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