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We’ve had a couple of rattan chairs out on our balcony for the past 5 years or so but to be honest they were looking a little tired and washed out.

My wife made a couple of cool black and white cushion covers (warning mono-chrome will be something of a theme on this blog!)  for them so I thought it should freshen up the chairs too.  We did debate whether they should just be a flat black but in the end I went for grey with black showing through.


The first thing I did was give them a quick coat of black paint. I didn’t need to be too careful while doing this or ensure a super even coat as this would be covered in the final finish. I should also mention I didn’t do any prep work to the surface at all either just wiped them down so they were free of dust.


The next step is the most important when creating the lived in shabby look. I’ve seen a few different ways of doing this but the simplest and the one I almost always use now is to take a candle stub and rub it over the areas you’d like the under colour to show through. You need to imagine where the wear and tear would happen. So on a chair this is the arm rests,  top of the back, seat and the bottom of the legs.


As you can see from the photo I’m usually quite liberal with the wax as this helps stop the next layers of paint stick to the chair. The next step was over painting  with the final colour which in this case was a light grey I mixed myself from the various odds and ends of half finished pots we had left over.

It took two good coats of grey to cover the black and with it being rattan I had to pay particular attention to getting into the weave with the paint. Again I wasn’t super strict with getting a completely even finish or complete coverage with the over colour as the final finish wasn’t going to be perfect.

2013-05-05 08.22.33When I first started trying to recreate the shabby look I spent ages trying to get a perfect finish but as I’ve gone on I’ve realised this isn’t necessary.  The next step is to remove the paint from the areas you rubbed the wax on so the under colour can show through and create the look of wear and tear.  For this I first used a stiff scrubbing brush to work all the areas I wanted the paint removed from. As a final step I also used some medium sandpaper to rub a few areas back to the wood to give a bit more depth to the finish.


So there we have it a super simple was to add a bit of life into a tired old pair of chairs.

Thanks for reading the Shabby Side of Chic