February 5, 2023


We Bring Good Things to Life

How to Distress Painted Furniture for DIY Farmhouse Style

Distressed furniture might owe its fame to the French countryside, but ever since the Gaineses took to flipping the town of Waco, the well-loved farmhouse trend has no signs of slowing down. This classic finish is adored for a reason: It can bring warmth to any sized room, thanks to wood peeking through soft shades like cream and French blue.

But as with any popular style, farmhouse antiques can get expensive quickly (especially if you don’t win a trip to Magnolia Market!). Luckily, it’s just as easy to re-create the look at home! We asked blogger KariAnne Wood of ThistleWood Farms to show us her way of getting the painted finish in our own homes for less.


  • Paint brushes
  • Latex paint
  • Tack cloths
  • Hand sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver
  • Polyurethane
  • Tarp

    How to Distress Painted Furniture:

    1. Clean and prep
          1. First, remove any hardware from your piece and store in a ziplock bag for safekeeping before washing the furniture with soap and water. Rinse with a damp soap and wipe dry with a clean tack cloth. Wait at least an hour for the surface to fully dry.

            remove hardware before painting

            KeriAnn Wood/HouseBeautiful

            2. Paint and set

            Use a latex, water-based paint to coat the piece in your desired color, making sure to brush on with even, thin strokes. If the piece is unfinished or the seal has worn away, layer coats until the piece is completely opaque. Let the paint dry between coats for an even finish and let it dry completely (ideally overnight!) before continuing to the next step.

            painting wood furniture

            KeriAnn Wood/HouseBeautiful

            3. Distress the paint

            Distress the surface of your furniture with fine grit sandpaper, allowing the natural stain to peek through the paint. A hand sander is useful on flat areas like a table surface, but be sure to remove the paper from the sander when tackling harder to reach areas like carvings or legs.

            distress paint

            KeriAnn Wood/HouseBeautiful

            4. Seal and finish

            Once the piece is distressed to your liking, wipe down excess sawdust with a tack cloth. For a longer-lasting finish use a polyurethane sealant to combat wear. Tables and large, flat surfaces can handle a pour-over poly. If your furniture is more intricate, a wipe on poly can grip the piece better without the risk of bubbling.

            Let the sealant dry and cure overnight before reassembling. Reattach your hardware, then style with fresh blooms—another farmhouse staple!

            Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.

            This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io