When I distress a piece of furniture, I try to simulate the effects that time and use (and a bit of abuse) would have had on it. There are no random sanded spots here and there ... every worn place is well thought out, as if that part of the piece has been bumped by brooms and mops and vacuum cleaners and toy trucks, scraped across the floor, and wiped down and polished for decades. The idea is to wear down the top layer of paint to reveal the perceived history of the piece underneath.
Here is the After ... settle in, and I will show you how it got this way.
As we start the lesson, the subject table already has coats of three colors of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: coat #1 is Graphite, coat #2 is Olive, and coat #3 is Aubusson. (I didn't photograph the painting part of the job ... I'm going to assume that you already know how to do this, so let's skip ahead.)
The supplies for wet distressing are probably underneath your kitchen sink right now ... a ScotchBrite scouring pad and a small bucket for water.
The process is simple ... use the wet scouring pad to gently scrub the corners and edges and the high parts of the turnings, edges, and corners to reveal the color underneath. Scrub with the coarse part of the pad, wipe the area clean and refine the distressing with the sponge side. Rinse your pad often as you work. Go easy so you don't scrub completely through the paint at this point. You can work across the grain, with the grain, or scrub in circles ... experiment to see what gives you the look that you want.
I love how the careful distressing brings out the details of the wood grain and accents the table's contours. The top coat of Aubusson stays in the recesses, and the colors underneath are revealed in the high spots and wear areas.
I wanted this table to be even MORE worn looking, so I used the scouring pad and my fingernail to scratch the paint off down to the bare wood in select spots. I only did this in places that could really have received this sort of abuse ... more on the lower portions of the table legs, where brooms and boots would have made contact, and none on the upper parts.
The side of the table looks like this when the distressing is finished.
The table now ready for me to add even MORE detail and personality with glaze ... which will be our next lesson. Stay tuned.