Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shabby Chic Nightstands

Are you on board with the shabby chic design craze? It seems everywhere I look there are cute French-country-inspired nightstands and dressers. Shabby chic is a term to describe furniture (or other decor) that is distressed to make it look older. A lot of the furniture is white, but I've also seen beautiful blues and pinks. Here are a couple of examples from around the web:

image from here

image from here

What makes shabby chic so appealing is that it looks antique but accessible. It's casual enough that no one has to worry about damaging the piece because it's already well loved.

I have been looking for shabby chic nightstands for my guest bedroom forever. We're still using the furniture on loan to us from Dan's work--seriously! I'm so embarrassed that we haven't given it back yet, and slightly concerned that they haven't asked. I'm worried they might just pull up with a van one day and take it all by force.

I found a few options for my nightstands at the local auction, but unfortunately I was priced out really quickly. There is a lot of demand for this style! So, like any good DIY-er, I decided to give it a go myself. I found some cheap, but good quality wood nightstands on Gumtree (UK'sCraigslist).

Here's what Wikipedia says about how to achieve the look:
Shabby chic items are often heavily painted through the years, with many layers showing through obviously time-worn areas. The style is imitated in faux painting using glaze or by painting then rubbing and sanding away the top coat to show the wood or base coats.

So that's what I did. First I lightly sanded the whole thing down so that the layers of paint would better adhere.

It always gets messier before it gets cleaner

Then I went over everything with one coat of leftover stain from my wooden box.

After the stain dried, I did one coat of matte white paint. I didn't want it to have any sheen at all. I wanted it to look old and worn, not shiny and new.

I wasn't sure how many coats of paint I wanted to do. Obviously, with just one coat of paint the dark stain was bleeding through. But, isn't that the point? Don't I want the other layers of paint showing? In the end, I decided that two coats would achieve the look I'm after. One coat looked too much like I had primed the piece and never finished. Three coats would have been too white and perfect.

Top drawer has two coats; bottom drawer has one coat

Once everything was painted, it was time to update the knobs. I never realized how lucky I was to have Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot and Lowe's so accessible. We don't have any of those stores in England. I tried finding knobs at HomeBase and at Knobs and Knockers (greatest store name ever), but no luck. HomeBase didn't have any pretty options and Knobs and Knockers was crazy expensive (more than $18 for ONE knob!). I also looked online, but by the time you factored in shipping it was too much.

Fortunately, Dan was in the States for a work trip, so I begged him to go to Hobby Lobby for me. He scored big time!

Here's what it looks like all together:

I think it adds some real charm to our guest bedroom.

Just in time, too! My friend Abigail arrives next week!

Update: I added even more style to these nightstands by lining the drawers. I love them!


  1. Very cute. I just bought a chest of drawers off Craigslist. It's all white, pretty new. I could stand to rough it up a bit.

    1. Absolutely! It's a great way to make the piece your own. You can also line the drawers in a fun fabric or paper. It's like a little surprise every time you open the drawer :)