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Stressed-Out Furniture

Find out some strategies for antiquing the furniture around your home for some eye-catching decor.

By Leigh Anne Monitor, Scripps Howard News Service

Ah, furniture that looks like it's been loved and likewise used in a rambling country farmhouse for generations.

This is the look of the moment, and it can be seen in wooden coffee tables, armoires, end tables and even dining room tables and chairs.

Just as jeans come pre-washed and faded to look worn in, now, so does furniture.

The paint on the edges of drawers and corners of tables is missing, sanded away or otherwise removed in an uneven, natural way - as if generations of little children crashed into the furniture while playing tag in the house.

Experts say it's a look that should stick around awhile, which, at prices up to $2,500 for an armoire, is quite a bit more than those faded Levi's.

"It is a trend that is more and more popular, partly because people now are going for an antique look. Shiny finishes are not as popular," said Joan Dunn, a designer at Greenbrier Furniture Inc. in Vestavia Hills, Ala.

Greenbrier offers the look in most of the 50 or so lines of furniture it carries, such as a Hammary mahogany end table and a Henredon end table.

Babbie Seibels, owner of At Home Furnishings in Homewood, Ala., said the trend dates back as much as 10 years. She said interest has arisen for a number of reasons: the popularity of antique shows; the influence of flea market finds and the love of the home and money to decorate it.

As for worries that distressed armoire might cause its own consternation because it looks dated in five years? Consider the European country look that helped influence all of this, experts say.

"And that look's been forever," Seibels said.

Seibels' store carries a line of armoires, buffets, dining room tables and chairs in a host of "pre-worn" colors, such as walnut, old pine, sage green, yellow, red and the popular worn black color.

Before investing, make sure that new-but-old-again piece can be used for more than one purpose, experts say.

It's apparently not that difficult of a task. Most of these styles can be featured in a bedroom, living room or great room, Dunn said.

(Contact Leigh Anne Monitor of the Birmingham Post-Herald in Alabama at www.postherald.com.)

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