Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Blog, Hand Painted Furniture Blog

Distressed Hand Painted Cupboard, Harrogate – Blog by Lee Simone

For this project one of my best clients wanted to spruce up an old school supply cupboard she’d bought. It was part of a complete revamp of her spare room which she wanted to feel lighter, brighter and more sunny – a place to both work out and chill out in. This is the 6th room I’ve done for her in the same house, each one being specially painted in a different way and having a different feel. This time I hand painted stripes in a 3 tone ‘cloudy’ colour wash effect. I will be posting pics of the completed room once all the curtains and other fabric bits and bobs have been made and fitted so watch this space – in the mean time….distressed furniture….

The cupboard was originally a mixture of oak and hardboard and having had a tough life in a school was looking a bit tired and worn. I didn’t manage to take a photo of the actual piece before I began painting but  have managed to find this picture of one virtually identical.


Original Wood Cupboard

Original Wood Cupboard


My Completed Paint Finish

My Completed Paint Finish


Preparation –

I began the project by first thoroughly cleaning the cupboard with Krudcutter Original which worked a treat and took a lot of the stain off too. Once cleaned I then sanded the outsides and the insides of the doors with 120 grade sandpaper to create a great key for painting. I then used my standard ‘wax barrier’ technique and rubbed wax over certain areas of the cupboard that would naturally have received more wear and tear – the base, the edges and around the handle got the most attention. This wax creates a barrier so the paint doesn’t adhere so when it comes to the sanding stage the paint ‘chips off’ to create a nice authentic aged ‘Shabby Chic’ look.

Priming –

The next stage is the all important priming. As I was distressing this piece I was using water based paints and so used Zinsser Bin 123 as my primer. Due to the cupboard being old and being stained at some stage with some pretty cheap stain it took three coats of primer before the stain stopped bleaching through.

Top Coats –

Once I was sure that the stain had been thoroughly blocked and wouldn’t come through anymore I applied quite a few coats of F&B’s Tallow emulsion. The number of coats required was down to the colour of the wood and the opacity of the paint.

Distressing Effect –

This is the really fun bit – after the final top coat has been applied (using a Dulux high density roller and a Picasso ) I used 120 grit sand paper to gently sand back the areas where I’d applied the wax. As planned it ‘chipped off’ beautifully and created an effect that didn’t look just sanded  but bashed about after years of use.

Antiquing –

Finally, and to add a bit more depth of colour and to make the cupbaord look more aged I mixed up a transparent oil glaze with raw umber pigment and applied this to various areas using a small sable brush and muslin.

Distressed & Antiqued

Distressed & Antiqued

Varnishing –

To create a beautifully even finish with durability and a wipeable surface once the glaze had dried I varnished all the painted areas with Dulux’s Matt Clearcoat, applying it with a high density foam roller and very soft artist brushes from Windsor & Newton.

Close Up

Close Up


Review –

With the furntiure painted and the wall effect done my client was over the moon again and wrote this fab review for me 🙂

“We have had work done by Lee in the past of an excellent standard, this was now the 6th area to be painted by Lee. He painted the walls in our dining room with a paint effect and then stripes on top. Lee also painted the woodwork to tie in with the walls. Now the room looks like it has the sunshine in it all the time. He has also helped me decide on the window cushion colours. Lee always has an interest in the overall effect of the room. He also to distressed and old cupboard and added a little effect to a mirror for the hall I brought to give it a new lease of life. We are really happy with the new room and the mirror. He is always happy to advise too as he helped me and the seamstress decide on the curtain material. A first class job again.”

Mrs Wright, Harrogate


Happy Days! 🙂