How To: Paint Shabby Chic Furniture

Like if this guide is helpful

Fancy a bit of DIY? Why not create your own lovely unique piece of Shabby Chic..

The following guide will take you through how to re-invent your chosen piece of furniture to create a beautiful distressed look. 

1. Prep Your Furniture

Purpose: To  remove the current wood finish so your new paint has a solid base surface to stick to. 

How:  For wax finishes: use  turps / white spirit + a wire wool pad.   For varnished finishes: use a good quality varnish / paint remover or simply use sandpaper.  

2. Apply Primer

Purpose: To give your piece of furniture a  smoother finish so its easier to work on. 

How: Apply a single coat of  water based acrylic primer. 

3. Paint, Paint, Paint!

Purpose: To  apply your base colour.

How:  Apply a single layer of  water based acrylic paint. Let it dry completely. 

Top Tip: For a smoother finish, gently sand this first layer. 

4. Time to Di-stress..

Purpose: To  create that shabby chic distressed look. 

How: Choose  random areas where you want the wood to look distressed and apply strokes of  clear furniture wax using either a small sponge, cloth or paintbrush. 

5. and... Paint again!

Purpose: To  add your final colour of choice.

How:   Apply a second layer of water based acrylic paint. Let it dry completely. Then, use a cotton cloth to wipe your piece of furniture. 

The random areas  where wax has been applied will  repel this  second layer of paint, so wiping the furniture will reveal the base colour used in step 3, leaving a beautiful distressed finish. 

Top Tip: Popular colours for that Shabby look includes whites and off-whites, ivorys, creams, greys, duck-egg blues or if you want to create something a little different, why not opt for pale pinks or greens. 

6. Di-stress a little more..

Purpose: To add a  deeper distressed look.

How: Use sandpaper or that wire wool pad you used earlier to further distress your furniture or you can even  scrape some of the paint off by gently using a  screwdriver or  hammer (please of course remember to be safe if using any of these methods!) 

Top Tip: Don't worry if you are not happy with any of your work, you can simply paint over any mistakes and re-do. 

7. 'Finish' Your Work

Purpose:  Seal the paint and protect it.

How: Apply quality  clear wax furniture polish over your finished masterpiece and you're done! 

(no varnish required). 

Send us your photos

Here at Willow & Blossom, we absolutely love a bit of inspiration, therefore if this guide has helped you create a lovely piece of furniture, please do send us some photos via eBay message and we may just feature them in our upcoming guide posts.. 


If you need a little break from all that DIY and fancy treating yourself, then we have a lovely selection of ready made Shabby Chic items. You can find these using the following link:  Willow & Blossom

P.s. We are adding more and more items every day so if there is anything that you would love to see us stock, do let us know! (we are all ears..)

Willow & Blossom 

Have something to share? Create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides