Chest Makeover: Two-Color Distressed Paint Finish with VP Antico Relief Stencil
With a new year comes new opportunities to transform your space and furniture. We’ve got a lineup of amazing tutorials, expert tips, and project guides waiting to inspire you this year.
For our first project, Jim is sharing another wonderful thrifted furniture transformation! Watch as Jim expertly gives a dull brown chest of drawers a charming new softer and delicate look. The makeover features a vintage inspired two-color distressed paint technique and a graceful stylish damask relief stencil pattern.
This tutorial is packed full of great tips and inspiration for your next project!
- Artisan Enhancements VP Antico (Venetian Plaster)
- Putty Knife or Plaster Spatula (to apply VP Antico)
- Sanding Paper 250-500 grit (to refine stencil)
- 37 MM Flat Brush (for painting)
- Detail Brushes (for painting)
- Clear Topcoat Sealer (Original/Satin) or Clear Finish Matte
- 37 mm Oval or 37 mm Flat Brushes for Sealing
Remove hardware. To make sure the surface was nice and smooth, Jim used an electric sander. Not all pieces require sanding prior to painting, but because this chest of drawers had been well worn, it needed a good sanding to remove some rough areas. A gentle sanding also helps remove years of old silicone-based cleaners, polish, and varnish for optimal paint adhesion.
Before applying paint and plasters, always make sure surfaces are free of cleaner residue, grease, dust, dirt, and sanding debris.
Stir Paints and VP Antico
We recommend stirring all paint and products from the bottom up before every use. Stirring ensures all of the paint’s or product’s components are fully incorporated for the best application. Do not shake. Shaking creates air bubbles which can be transferred to the surface causing undesired results. If bubbles appear while stirring, allow the bubbles to completely settle before application.
Apply Vintage Cream Paint Color
Paint the entire chest of drawers with your preferred Vintage Cream paint color. Jim used the Artisan Enhancements Oval Brush to apply paint. The Oval Brush has densely packed bristles for good product pick-up, retention, and release, resulting in more coverage in a single stroke. The Oval Brush also features fine-tipped bristles for a smoother final finish.
Since the chest drawers will stay a Cream color, Jim applied 2 coats of Cream paint to the drawers. Depending on the type of paint you’re using and coverage, 2-3 more coats may be needed for a full solid coverage on the drawers. The sides, top, legs, and face frame of the chest will be a two-color distressed finish. Therefore, only one coat of Cream paint is needed on those areas of the chest.
For optimal results, allow the paint to dry overnight before applying additional layers of paint and proceeding to the next steps.
Apply Soft Blue Paint Color
Using the Oval Brush, Jim applied a Soft Blue paint color over all areas of the chest except the drawers. To achieve a two-color distress paint finish, two coats of the Soft Blue are layered on top of specific Cream painted areas. A two-color distress paint finish is created by layering two colors of paint, then distressing back to reveal the color below.
Allow the Soft Blue paint to be dry to the touch before distressing with a damp sponge.
Pro-Tip: Try not to let the paint dry too long if you want to use a damp distress technique. Once the paint begins to fully cure it will be more stubborn to remove with a damp sponge.
Once the Soft Blue paint is dry to the touch, use a damp sponge to gently and lightly distress areas. As the sponge rubs across the surface of the Soft Blue color, areas of the Cream color below are revealed. This furniture distress technique is a softer alternative to dry distressing typically done with sandpaper or steel wool.
If you desire to see a bit more of the Cream color and the wood finish below the Cream, apply a bit more pressure when distressing. But be gentle! The piece should look softly distressed with hints of Cream and wood peeking through the Soft Blue paint layer.
Apply VP Antico Relief Stencil to Drawers
We prefer thicker stencils when stenciling with plasters to achieve nice clean crisp relief (raised) patterns. On the chest drawers, Jim is using a lovely Truly Posh Stencil by Posh Chalk WooduBend. The Posh Chalk WooduBend stencil collection is great for plaster work because they are sturdy, durable, easy to clean, and reusable.
Before applying the stencil, Jim pulled the drawers out slightly from the frame. Pulling the drawers away from the frame will help ensure the plaster is only applied to the drawers and not to the frame by mistake. Measure and mark the center part of the top drawer. Line up the stencil with the center mark and tape down the stencil with painter’s tape.
Using a putty knife or spatula, apply VP Antico over the stencil openings. Try to apply a nice even layer of plaster. Take your time with light pressure to avoid bleeds, moving the stencil, and pushing in the drawers. Once the first pass of plaster is applied, while the plaster is still wet, remove and clean the stencil. Make sure to clean and dry the stencil after each pass to keep the stencil openings clean and crisp.
Allow the first pass of plaster to completely dry before continuing the pattern across the drawers. Once the first pass is completely dry, reposition the stencil and repeat the plaster application process until the drawers are completely covered with the raised stencil pattern.
For optimal results, allow the plaster to dry overnight before applying additional layers of paint and proceeding to the next steps.
Visit our blog post Stenciling with Plaster – Raised Stencil on Furniture to learn more about the basics of raised stenciling.
Refining the Relief Stencil
Once the plaster is completely dry, lightly sand any rough or sharp pull-away edges. Pull-away edges are areas of uneven plaster and peaks that are sometimes left behind after lifting a stencil. Sanding helps refine and smooth the edges of the raised stencil for a cleaner and softer finish.
Apply Vintage Cream Paint Color Over Stencil
To unify the look and eliminate the bright contrast of the untinted VP Antico plaster, Jim painted over the relief stencil with a coat of Cream paint. For this step the Artisan Enhancement 37mm Flat Brush was used for a quick smooth application of paint over the stencil. Allow the paint to completely dry before moving on to the next step.
Paint Hardware with Two-Color Paint Finish
The chest hardware also needed a bit of an upgrade. Jim opted to apply another two-color paint finish on the hardware using the same Soft Blue and Cream colors he used on the chest. First, Jim painted the hardware with the Soft Blue paint using a detail brush. After the soft blue layer dried, he then applied a layer of Cream paint.
While the Cream paint was still wet, Jim used a cloth to lightly blot and wipe back a bit of the Cream paint to slightly reveal the Soft Blue undercoat.
Adding Highlights and Character to the Stencil
A coat of Soft Blue paint was rolled over the raised stencil to highlight the design. To make sure only the raised stencil gets the highlight, simply reposition the stencil over the raised pattern. Then using a small foam roller, apply the paint.
To add even more character, once the Soft Blue paint was fully dry, Jim lightly sanded the stencil to create a subtle distress.
To protect the painted, distressed, and stenciled finish – We recommend sealing the entire project with either Clear Finish Matte or Clear Topcoat Sealer Original (Matte/Satin). Make sure to also seal the hardware before replacing it. See Sealer Tip sheets for proper sealer application.
Visit our blog post, Clear Topcoat vs. Clear Finish – Choosing the Best Protective Coating, to compare Artisan Enhancements Sealers.
Thanks for following along <3