While I love elements of Shabby Chic – specifically the acceptance of an eklectic mix of old and new – one thing I haven’t liked is how it has been taken over the top. Everyone does a distressed finish on a new piece and most of the time it just looks like fakey crap!
Here is a recent table I bought ($28) with a natural, distressed finish (click photos to see a closer view). The stain was put on over the bare wood in a sloppy way, probably not left to dry properly, an alligator pattern emerged and brush strokes are evident. This wasn’t “faked” up by someone in their garage and the finished, aged patina is richer for it.
The tabletop surface has a nice, multi-level depth due to natural wear and tear and the initial, poorly done staining job.
I guess people get tired of working on projects, and the inside pocket, where books would go, has even more erratic, sloppy staining (the light difference in the stain is due to the shadow of the pocket not the stain)
Naturally aged or distressed items always have an authenticity to them that artificially produced work just can’t duplicate. Although the popularity of Shabby Chic decorating has raised the prices of these pieces, you can still find them at a reasonable cost. They are also great to mix into a room with newer furniture to give an overall feeling of age and live-in comfort.
Another table (about $35) I found has a lovely soft alligator finish in soft creams. This table was too deep for my intentions, so we took the legs apart, cut off about four inches and then re-glued and fastened the legs back to the surface. It’s color and size has allowed it to be moved around the rooms from entry table, to corner table for a laptop and as a side table to a couch.
And here is another lovely distressed finished – this time, natural rusting of a metal table (about $30). I love the second shelf (great for organizing and displaying) and the slightly curved leg. I ended up using this table in the boy’s room.