A favorite project of mine is giving an old wooden chair a new life using a special painting technique called French painting. French painting uses a dark, medium and light colored paint to create the look of an antique. It is most common to use the technique with a cream, white or light yellow paint as the top coat. I find that no matter what three colors I put together, the technique works well to antique the surface.
If you have an old wooden chair at home, that’s perfect. If not, take a trip to your local thrift store, a garage sale or an auction and purchase a wooden chair. There are many cities that allow people to put old furniture on the curb. Check those places out for usable chairs also.
I prefer an all wooden chair when creating a country style painted chair. Chairs with pads on the seat also work if you are willing to take the time to remove the fabric and recover the seat.
Evaluate the current color of the chair and determine if it is one that compliments your color choices. If not, remove the paint or stain using a paint stripper or sand the entire chair. Clean the chair when finished to remove all sanding dust and/or paint scraps.
Now the fun begins! Choose a dark, medium and light colored paint for the project. Spray paint is my paint of choice due to the ease of application. Brush-on paint also works but is more time consuming. Paint the chair with the darkest color paint first. Allow the paint to dry before continuing. Spray paint will take approximately 15 minutes to dry while brush-on paint will take between 30 to 60 minutes. Apply the medium color of paint to the chair’s surface. Allow the paint to dry before continuing. Paint the chair the lightest color then let dry for a minimum of six hours. The longer drying time allows the paint to cure and become hard.
Sand the edges and the raised areas of design work. As you sand, the bottom two layers of paint and the wood become visible. This creates the antiqued or distressed country look to the wooden chair. Sand as much or as little as you desire. You may also sand the flat areas to create worn spots.
Wipe the chair down with a tack cloth to remove all sanding dust. A tack cloth is a cloth that is sticky on both sides. It is available in the paint department or woodworking area of home improvement centers.
Apply an acrylic spray-on or brush-on sealer to the surface to help protect the newly created country style painted chair. If you would like to promote the look of an antique with the sealer, rub on a coat of beeswax. Allow the beeswax to dry completely then rub off in a circular motion. The beeswax yellows the surface and creates an older looking chair.