Shabby Chic Bed




Introduction: Shabby Chic Bed

About: My father, who first started out in the French Polishing industry got me into furniture restorations! From a very young age we would tackle projects together, since then I have become an avid 'DIY' nut. Along …

For the longest time i have been obsessed with both French Provincial and Shabby Chic styled furniture. For the longest time i have eyed off an exquisite royal bedroom suite that is a combination of both styles, unfortunately that suite is $2000 out of my price range. So, when a wooden bed frame became apart of my parents 'I don't want this old junk' pile, i decided i would seize the opportunity to create my own design and make the bed over.

Upon starting this project i had a detailed plan in how i was going to execute this piece. I decided i would sand the frame down and be rid of all the old lacquer so i could then paint the frame a solid gloss white. After my second failed attempt at painting, i decided i would look online for some tips and recommendations on what brushes i should be using to limit the appearance of brush strokes. To my surprise i found others like myself who were struggling to paint furniture using white paint. After my third attempt at trying to prefect the painting application using all of my new knowledge and brushes i decided 'Nope, you suck. Move on Didem. Move on!' Now, it is very unlike me to throw in the towel but i thought it was time once i started to enjoy projecting a little less. First world problems right?

It was after the third attempt that i decided i deserved a coffee. Yup, that's what i'm going to do i thought, 'I'm going to enjoy my coffee and then I'll come up with a new design' and i did. The new design was that i would take the aged, wear and tear look from the Shabby Chic style and combine it with the ornate and gold finishing of the French Provincial style.

Listed below are the supplies, steps, and tools i used to refurbish this boring old wooden bed into this.. well i'm not exactly sure what word i am looking for here, but i love it. :P


- 120 Grit Sanding Sheets - $4.18

- ESP Easy Surface Prep (500ml) - $16.90

- 3 Piece Brush Set (Synthetic Mix) - $8.40

- Mini Foam Roller Kit - $6.95

- Micro Fiber Cloths x 2 - $4

- Sponge / Scourer

- Pascol 'Cotton White' Interior Paint (4 Litres) - $20
(You're probably thinking 4 litres sound like a bit much and you would be right but it was cheaper so i thought, I'll grab 4 and give my bedroom walls a re-coat whilst i was at it.)

- Amaco Rub'n'Buff Wax 15ml - Antique Gold - $6.90

- Minwax Wipe ON Poly - Clear Gloss - $15

Note: All prices are listed in Australian Dollars.


- Sander

- Paint stirrer

- Old rags/sheets or newspaper

- Bucket/Paint Containers

- Work boots, gloves and glasses (According to my partner, i am not allowed to project without them. So don't be silly bubble wrap, everywhere.)

Step 1: Dismantle, Clean and Prep

First and foremost; dismantle the bed frame. Bet you already knew that though.
Once all the parts were taken apart, i wiped the surfaces down with a wet cloth to remove any dust or dirt the frame had collected whilst sitting in garage.

I decided at the start of this project that i didn't want to spend a large amount of time sanding back the thick layer of varnish that coated all the pieces. Although i would have loved to expose the raw wood underneath, it would not have only been time consuming but also.. who am i kidding? Time consuming is reason enough. That is where i came across Flood ESP - Easy Surface Paint Preparation. ESP is a wipe on liquid that firmly bonds to glossy, non porous surfaces such as; tiles, plastic, enamel, ceramics, stainless steel etc. It prepares smooth, slick surfaces that are ready for painting or varnish, all the while eliminating the need for sanding.

When the surfaces were clean and dry i gathered all the things i needed to prepare this bed for its make over; these included: ESP Prep, sponge/scourer, microfiber cloth and gloves.

This was the first time that i had used ESP, so i made sure that i followed the directions on the back precisely. I soaked my scourer with the ESP liquid and applied liberal amounts onto all of the surfaces. When all of the pieces were coated, i allowed 5 minutes of drying time before i wiped off any excess liquid with a microfiber cloth. An additional 90 minutes of drying time was needed before i could start with the next step.

Step 2: Wear and Tear

Shabby chic is a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their appearance of age and signs of wear and tear or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique.

In order to achieve a shabby chic appearance, i began my first layer of wear and tear by sanding down all the surfaces using my sheet sander. Given that i wanted pots of maroon to come through in my final finish i only sanded the surfaces enough to create scratches and to expose some of the raw wood underneath. Once all the flat surfaces were sanded, i went back and lightly sanded down the curved edges by hand.

Of course how bold or subtle you want your finish to be is a matter of preference. If sanding it back isn't giving you the aged look you are after, take a chain or hammer and beat it up a little.

Once you have finished, give the surfaces a wipe to remove any dust.

Step 3: Painting

Once all of your pieces have been wiped clean and are dry you may begin preparing for the painting process by laying down any old sheets, newspapers or tarps to protect the ground from any paint spills.

Make sure you stir the paint before applying it. Quite often the ingredients can and do separate. By stirring the paint before hand ensures that the color and consistency of the finish looks great.

Once it has been well stirred pour small amounts into an empty container, this will prevent the rest of the paint from drying out and hardening.

Using a round detail brush i painted all the curves and edges of the frame. I then went ahead and used my mini foam roller to paint the flat surfaces. Do keep in mind that half of the paint will be scraped and sanded off, so your application doesn't need to be perfect. This is about the only time where a 'rush job' works in your favor.

When all of the surfaces have been painted allow 1-2 hours of drying time.

Step 4: Stripping It Back

Shabby chic items are often heavily painted through the years, with many layers showing through obviously time-worn areas. This step is all about distressing the surfaces.

When the paint is touch dry, sand back all of the surfaces just like you did in Step 2 - Wear and Tear. Your aim here is to have a combination of the raw wood, the existing varnish and the new coat of paint coming through. Once you have sanded back all of the pieces you will end up with 3 distressed layers.

Note: If you wanted to add more layers to the frame you can simply by adding different colors of paint.

Step 5: Antique Gold

In all honesty after using Amaco Rub 'n Buff for the first time it has since became one of my favorite products to use.

Amaco Rub'nBuff' is made from imported carnauba waxes, fine metallic powders, and select pigments. This unique blend gives objects decorated with Rub 'n Buff a finish that no paint can duplicate! Rub 'n Buff is ideal for restoring cherished antiques, stenciling, frame finishing, restoration and craft projects. It is available in 14 colors, i chose Antique Gold simply because it matched the gold i have already furnished my room with.

Rub'n'Buff is extremely easy to apply. Just rub onto any random surface areas with your finger or a soft cloth, then buff to a beautiful luster with a dry microfiber cloth.

Now i know what you are thinking, 15ml doesn't seem like enough to make over the entire bed but trust me you will be surprised with how far a small dab of wax can get you.

Once applied, i let the wax set and dry for the rest of the afternoon. Drying time isn't very long at all, however due to the fact that i wanted bolder pots of gold, i coated over some areas twice and felt like they needed more drying time.

Note: I don't care who tells you that Amaco Rub'n'Buff is easy enough to get off your hands, they are lying. If you don't want to be scrubbing away at your hands or soaking them in mineral turps for the next half hour, use gloves.

Step 6: Surface Protection

When all your layers of distress, paint and wax have been finished, you're going to want to protect the finish. For this i used Minwax Wipe-On Poly; which is a high-quality, durable clear finish that combines polyurethane protection with classic, hand-rubbed beauty. Wipe-On Poly is ideal for any project, especially wooden furniture, railings and trim.

The great thing about Minwax Wipe-On Poly is that you don't have to worry about any drips or brush marks. You simply shake the Wipe-On Poly container thoroughly, pour a liberal amount on a clean, soft, lint free cloth and rub onto all of the surfaces. You will need to allow 2-3 hours of drying time before sanding the surfaces down lightly by hand and applying your second coat.

Step 7: Assemble and Enjoy

When your second coat of Minwax Wipe-On Poly is dry, you can re-assemble the bed and bask in the ambiance of your finished design.

Note: apologies on the dark room shot, unfortunately due to the rainy weather i was unable to capture what the bed looks like when the sunshine reflects off it. I added a collage of what the finished surfaces look like dismantled outside in the sun.

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    6 years ago on Step 7

    I love this and I love your review of the products. I have been refinishing old furniture for about 5 years now. I am not the greatest so when people use different products then I use I am like YAY :) I can go try that! :)


    Reply 6 years ago

    Oh bless your cotton socks, thank you for your kind words. I am much the same as you, I know that when i am reading an instructable i am very appreciative of added details regarding new products and their uses, so i am glad to hear the inclusion in mine has been helpful. :) Happy projecting! :)