Give Plain Nightstands Rustic Charm With Milk Paint

Give a thrifted vintage bedside table or nightstand the shabby chic look of a French antique with inexpensive milk paint and a few easy faux-finishing tricks.

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Apply Second and Third Coats of Paint

Mix light blue/gray color in same manner as Step 2, omitting bonding agent. Apply with a 2 1/2" angled sash brush and allow ample dry time (Image 1). Once second coat has fully dried, mix white milk paint (without bonding agent), making it slightly more watery than previous coats (Image 2). Brush on a light "wash" of paint by brushing white onto a small area and working it into the painted surface with brush or rag (Image 3).

Add Decorative Details (Optional)

If a hand-painted detail is desired, use a 1/2" filbert artist's brush and white flat acrylic craft paint to add a simple border or more intricate design. First, sketch the design with chalk or use transfer paper or a stencil instead of painting the design freehand, if desired. Areas where petroleum jelly was applied will crackle; paint over these areas gently. Tip: Instead of decorative flourishes, add faded stripes or hand lettering to personalize the nightstands.

Distress Paint

Once decorative painting/stenciled design has completely dried, wipe areas where petroleum jelly was applied with a cotton cloth (Image 1). The paint will easily wipe away, revealing the first coat of paint. Next, sand raised trimwork, edges of drawers, doors and legs with medium-grit and/or fine-grit sanding sponge until desired distressed look is achieved (Image 2). Sand to first coat of paint or down to the wood in some areas (Image 3). Tip: The amount of distressing depends on personal taste. Step back from the nightstands after some sanding to see if desired look has been achieved; if not, continue sanding.

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