How to Heavily Distress Furniture (and a DIY Kid’s Table)

I have about a zillion project ideas whirring around in my brain at the mo’, though for now I’m still sloooowly grinding through my ‘To Do’ list for Charlotte’s bedroom. My most recently crossed-off project being this cute little table…

How To Distress Furniture | The Painted Hive

I should probably mention that the ‘after’ shots were not actually taken in Charlotte’s room and have been temporarily styled purely for photographic purposes (is that cheating?). Aside from the fact I’m still yet to decide on actual décor (though the chair, which I just bought from eBay for $20, will be staying), Charlotte’s room is sooooo tiny I couldn’t properly capture the table in situ anyway. Oh, and please excuse the fact the chair is un-finished.  I’ll be re-upholstering it shortly (with accompanying tutorial!).

I originally envisaged something old and primitive, naturally mellowed by the years, though quickly discovered that finding something with appropriate proportions was gonna be tricky. Given the space restrictions, I needed something pretty compact, though I found that most tables of suitable height were too deep, and most of suitable depth were too long. So, after three months of fruitless searching, two minor headaches and one ridiculously over-priced custom quote (gheesh!), we decided to build something ourselves (by ‘we’ I mean me, and by ‘ourselves’, I mean hubby – don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to turning my hand to a bit of carpentry, though in fairness Luke does trump me here).

Kid's Table Before

Sorry, though I don’t have a tutorial for the table construction. Luke whipped it up whilst I kept two ‘helpful’ kids out of his hair! Ana White has some great tutorials for stuff like this though.

I  was pretty tempted to build something quirky, like a ‘shelf table’ (attached to the wall in some clever and creative way), or a folding table (which could be stowed away completely when not in use), though as this will be Charlotte’s main play table, I decided to stick with something simple, sturdy and re-positionable, as she will likely try and drag it around the whole house!

I originally wanted a timber finish for the table, though once I bought an old wooden chair to pair with it, I felt there needed to be more contrast between them, so I decided to paint and distress the table instead. Problem is: Charlotte’s bed is already lightly distressed and I didn’t want the table to look matchy-matchy, so in the interest of differentiation I got totally carried away with the palm sander to create a HEAVILY distressed finish.

Distressed Kid's Table | The Painted Hive

And here is the process I used…

Of course, there are endless ways to distress furniture, and numerous starting points for said furniture (raw, varnished, already painted, etc). This is simply how I chose to transform my particular piece of raw furniture. If you’re looking to re-create a similar finish, of course you may need/want to tweak the process to suit your specific requirements.

How To Heavily Distress Furniture | The Painted Hive

I removed the hardware (hinges) and lightly sanded all timber surfaces with fine grit paper. I then removed any dust residue and grime by wiping with a damp cloth. This step just creates a smooth, clean starting point.

I applied two coats of timber stain (I used Cabots Water-Based Interior Stain in Walnut, though you could use any type of stain). The stain helps provide dimension, and a more realistic impression of age, once the furniture is distressed. I love the look of layered wood tones peeking through the painted top coat!

I applied two coats of standard acrylic wall paint (you could use any type of paint though keep in mind that some distress better than others – generally, water-based paints perform well). I mixed up a colour using left-overs I already had. It ended up being a fresh, cool white with a hint of blue-green.

I used a palm/mouse sander, with a medium-heavy grit paper, to heavily distress the paint work. Rather than sand in selective areas I decided to just go with it, and sanded the entire surface – in some places expanses of raw wood were revealed, in other areas hints of walnut stain peek through chippy spatterings of intact paint. I worked in both small and large circular motions in an attempt to keep the distressing somewhat organic and to better disguise the subtle lacy swirls that the palm sander vibrations tend to create. If in certain areas the initial distressing appeared too perfect and purposeful, I concentrated on manipulating the sander to take further paint off in a more random manner (a contradiction, I know, though sometimes it’s the things which appear most natural that have actually required the greatest amount of intervention!).
I chose not to seal the table to retain the matte finish and because I’m happy for it to wear over time. To create a smooth, silky surface I finished by hand sanding with very fine grit paper (you could also use steel wool).
REMEMBER: Creating a certain look might take some practice and technique, and the result is almost always dictated by the individual piece (wood species, type of paint, thickness of paint, etc). Sometimes it pays to be bold and brave (as I have been here), at other times a more subtle and cautious approach is best. Just remember, in the end it’s only paint. If you don’t like the way something looks you can always easily change it.

How To Heavily Distress Furniture | The Painted Hive

As I’m sure is the case with furniture in many small homes, much of my furniture does double-duty as storage. Charlotte’s little table is no exception. We managed to sneak in a shallow storage cavity by hinging the top and installing a base in line with the apron. It’s the perfect place to keep books and little crafty knick knacks. For a touch of fun I painted the inside with a cheery pop of yellow…

Kid's Table with Hinged Lid | The Painted Hive

The hinges are inexpensive steel T-hinges from the hardware store. I could only get them in silver, so I simply spray painted them black and once they were attached I coloured the screws with a marker to match.

In the close-up shot below you can make out some of the subtle lacy swirls made by the palm sander vibrations. You can also see the colour variation between the raw and stained wood, and areas of natural contrast where the lovely timber grain has been revealed.

How To Easily Heavily Distress Furniture | The Painted Hive

Distressing is such a sure-fire way to inject some personality into a piece that might otherwise have been lacking a little life!

How To Heavily Distess Furniture | The Painted Hive



In Print

Once again, I am fortunate to have had a project of mine featured in Reloved Magazine!

My DIY Customised Timber Knobs (from waaaay back in 2010 – an oldie but a goldie!) can be found on page 24 of the Autumn 2013 issue.

DIY Customised Cabinet Knobs

A big thank you to editor Sally FitzGerald for thinking to include me.

This month I was also lucky to be featured in the German style magazine Couch (September 2013, page 103 – Tripod Lamp from a Music Stand) and the DIY Dutch publication Woonstijl (September 2013, page 42 – Magic Canister Decals).

Magazine Features

It’s still such a compliment to be considered share-worthy in any capacity.


No Bake Candy Crumb Cake

I don’t usually post recipes on my blog. Well, actually, that’s not entirely accurate – I have never posted a recipe on my blog! Yet, here I am, posting a recipe that’s devoid of any actual cooking, and is for a cake that’s by no means an actual cake! You’ll all think that perhaps I should have stuck to decorating (though, in my defence, I am actually an okay cook – if I do say so myself :-)

Something about the nostalgia (this was a childhood favourite), simplicity and versatility of this treat just made me want to share it. It is unashamedly sweet, unnecessarily indulgent and unapologetically immature, though it is also undeniably yummo!

No Bake Candy Crumb 'Cake' | The Painted Hive


No Bake Candy Crumb 'Cake' | The Painted Hive

I used mini marshmallows and licorice allsorts though this is the kinda recipe which lends itself to experimentation so be creative with your choice of candy, try using different types of cookies, incorporate dried fruit, nuts or seeds, and consider adding spices, syrups, spreads, essences or other flavourings, or even substituting the coconut coating for a drizzle of chocolate or spattering of sprinkles! And, of course, instead of a log, you can flatten the mixture and create shapes with cookie cutters, or roll balls then stab them with sticks for easy and delicious party pops!

Here are just a few alternate flavour combos…

Candy Crumb 'Cake' Flavour Variations | The Painted Hive

The possibilities are almost endless!

No Bake Candy Crumb 'Cake' | The Painted Hive


Thanks so much to Kristy of House of Evans whose post about ‘Lolly Cake’ inspired me to create this ‘Candy Crumb’ adaptation.

How I (usually) Finish Natural Timber Furniture

I was gonna write this post in conjunction with the ‘before and after’ reveal of Charlotte’s new table (which was going to have a natural timber finish), though I kinda changed my mind about the look I was going for there, so instead I decided to write it with a more general focus (I’m still working on Charlotte’s table so will share it in an upcoming post).

Of course there are endless ways to approach timber finishes, this is simply one of my common methods. It’s a process I use often because 1) it produces good results, and 2) it is pretty fast and super easy.

It’s how I finished all these pieces…

How to Stain and Seal Wooden Furniture

1 | 2 | 3

It’s a simple process which can be broken into three basic steps…

How To Finish Timber Furniture

The amount of preparatory work needed will depend on the particular piece you are working with (new/old) and the type of look you want to achieve (rustic/clean).
Some items will require paint stripper (there are loads of different paint strippers available – always read the manufacturer’s instructions and, if possible, choose something natural) or heavy sanding (I usually use a belt sander, palm sander or sanding block – or a combination of all three), other pieces may simply need a good rub with steel wool.
Ideally, timber should be uniformly smooth and raw for the penetrating stain to look consistent, though for a more rustic, uneven appearance some residual stain or varnish is usually okay.
Remove any dust and grime prior to staining by wiping the timber with a clean cloth dampened with methylated spirits.

Timber stain is a penetrating tint available with either an oil or water base, and in a myriad of different colours. I don’t personally find there’s much difference between oil and water based varieties, and usually just use whatever I have on hand. One of my favourite colours is Walnut, which I sometimes blend with black for a rich, dark hue.
Of course, refer to the manufacturer’s notes of your particular stain for precise application directions, though as a general guide; I usually apply stain by sweeping a dipped cloth in the direction of the timber grain, then, if necessary, sweeping again with a clean cloth to remove any excess. I keep strokes long and continuous to avoid uneven colouration (short, stuttered strokes can leave noticeable ‘lines’). I apply as many coats as necessary to achieve my desired depth of tone, allowing drying time between applications.
Keep in mind that the colour of your timber substrate may effect the hue of the stain and that your seal coat may enrich any dullness.

Danish oil (also know as Scandinavian oil) is a blend of oil (usually tung or linseed) and varnish. Unlike oil it is hard drying, long lasting and durable. Unlike varnish it is super easy to apply and produces a natural, mellow sheen, rather than a glossy shine. It is one of my absolute favourite sealers. I first mentioned it on my blog a few years back (in one of my very early posts) and received a surprisingly appreciate response from many of my readers who, after having tried it, were super glad to have been introduced to it!
Of course, refer to the manufacturer’s notes of your particular oil for precise application directions, though as a general guide; I usually apply Danish oil with a brush or cloth in long continuous strokes in the direction of the timber grain. Around twenty minutes following application, if necessary, I wipe off any excess with a clean cloth (thick coats can look quite glossy). I usually apply around two – three coats, allowing ample drying time between applications.


Hopefully this post has been helpful or enlightening for some of you guys :-) And next time I actually finish a piece using this method I’ll be sure to write a detailed tutorial with photos.
At the mo’ I’m still slowly chipping away at Charlotte’s room and will try to publish a progress post next week!


Easy DIY Narrow Floating Bookshelves (for behind a door)

How To Make and Mount Narrow Floating Shelves | The Painted Hive

As mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to capitalise on the modest proportions of Charlotte’s new little bedroom by making use of as much space as possible. This includes taking advantage of the often forgotten area behind the door.

Behind Door Bookshelves Before

One of the first elements I envisaged for her room was a series of simple narrow bookshelves, reminiscent of those from my very own kindergarten, which display the face of the books, rather than the spines, in a semi-haphazard, layered fashion. Given most of the wall space (reachable by a two year old!) will be occupied by furniture, I thought the slim cavity behind her door would be perfect for this. Of course, a quick Google search revealed my idea wasn’t original (damn you Google – computer directed fist shake), though it is still a clever way to use a defunct wall, and whilst floating shelves aren’t exactly unique either, the design and construction of these babies is all mine (well, Google would probably contradict me there too, though I decided that ignorance is bliss!).

This tutorial is based on mounting the shelves to a hollow cavity plaster wall. If you have a solid wall or access to studs, obviously you can omit the use of anchors. These shelves are super thrifty – they cost me less than $15!

How To Make Floating Shelves | The Painted Hive

1 Lengths of timber.
I used Pine DAR (Dressed All Round) – two lengths of 3cm wide x 1.2cm deep x 120cm long (1.2″ wide x 0.5″ deep x 4′ long) which I cut in half to make four pieces, for the shelves themselves, and two lengths of 2cm wide x 1.2cm deep x 120cm long (0.8″ wide x 0.5″ deep x 4′ long) which, again, I cut in half to make four pieces, for the ‘lips’. Of course you can use any timber you like.

2 Stain/paint.
I wanted a natural timber finish so used walnut stain and danish oil. I was tempted to go for neon spray paint which I think would add a pretty cool colour pop.

3 Drywall anchors/plaster plugs/cavity wall fixings.
I used nylon toggle anchors rated to 8kg (that’s plenty of strength for my purposes). Ensure the head of your anchors is smaller in diameter than the depth of your shelf timber otherwise they will be visible.

4 Screws.
I used 8cm (3″) long screws as specified by the anchor manufacturer. Keeping in mind that a large portion of your screw will be inside the shelf, make sure they are long enough to easily penetrate the wall. Ensure the head of your screws is flat and is smaller in diameter than the head of your anchors.

5 Finishing nails.
I used slim 3cm (1″) long nails.

6 Books!

DIY Narrow Floating Bookshelves

STEP 1 Drill pilot holes width-wise through your shelf base.

If necessary, first cut your timber to length and lightly sand all pieces to smooth any roughness. For now, set aside the ‘lip’ lengths. Use a reasonably fine bit to carefully drill small pilot holes width-wise through the shelf base around 10cm (3″) in from each end (refer to pic).

I used two holes for each of my shelves. You may require more holes if your shelves are longer. So, why bother with pilot holes? Well, if you’re super confident you can forgo them, though given the narrowness of the timber creating straight central holes is imperative (so the timber doesn’t split and the screws aren’t visible) though also tricky. Using a smaller drill bit first to create pilot holes to act as a guide is just a little easier. If some of your pilot holes get a little wayward, simply fill them with putty (or similar), move along and try again. I may, or may not, have had one, or more, slightly wayward holes :-)

Behind Door Bookshelves

STEP 2 Drill through your pilot holes with a larger bit.

Using your pilot holes as a guide, drill through with a larger bit to create holes big enough to comfortably accommodate your screws.

DIY Floating Bookshelves

STEP 3 Counter-sink the holes.

Using a larger bit again, carefully drill a shallow depression, deep enough to counter-sink the heads of your screws by around 2mm (.05″) (refer to pic).

Behind Door Floating Shelves

STEP 4 Finish your timber lengths as desired.

At this stage, stain or paint all of your timber lengths. As touched on in the ‘Supplies’ section above, I tinted my timber with walnut stain and sealed it with danish oil. Don’t forget to look super cool when you’re undertaking this step – wearing a highly fashionable pair of ill-fitting pink latex gloves should do the trick.

How to Make Floating Shelves

STEP 5 Insert your anchors into the wall.

Decide where you want to mount your shelf on the wall then measure and mark accordingly (use a cable and stud finder to ensure the wall cavity is clear, and a level and tape measure to ensure everything is straight). To accurately and easily determine where you will need to insert your wall anchors, hold your shelf in position against the wall (ensure it is in the exact location you want it) then push each screw tip into the wall to create small indentations which will act as your guide (refer to pic). Using a drill bit just large enough to make a hole which can accommodate your anchors, drill into the wall through the indentations, then push your anchors in until they sit flush against the plaster (you may need to use a hammer to tap the anchors in). Certain anchors do not require pre-drilling and can be screwed directly into the wall. Refer to the manufacturer instructions for your particular anchors.

How To Make Narrow Floating Bookshelves

STEP 6 Mount your shelf to the wall.

Align the tips of your screws with the wall anchors then screw them in until the shelf sits flush against the wall and the heads of the screws are nestled into the counter-sunk depressions. If, like me, you are using soft pine, the screws will probably recess further upon tightening. This is fine.

Behind Door Storage Bookshelves

STEP 7 Attach the ‘lip’.

Hold your ‘lip’ in position in front of the shelf then create pilot holes for your nails, around 3cm (1″) in from each end and one in the center (obviously avoid where the screws are already located), by drilling through with a very fine bit (note; fine bits can snap easily, so take care – um, no, I’m not speaking from experience here…okay, maybe I am :-) Ensure your drill bit is slightly smaller in diameter than your nails and try not to drill in the entire length of the nail. If the holes are too big and deep the nails wont ‘grab’ the timber. Still holding your lip in position, carefully hammer in your nails. If needed, use a punch to tap the nails so they are slightly recessed. If desired, use a pen, marker or paint to camouflage the nail heads. I used a black marker to mimic small imperfections in the timber grain.

DIY Floating Bookshelves

STEP 8 Done! Adorn your shelves with lovely children’s books and create a library-esque feel in your little kiddie’s room!

Easy DIY Narrow Floating Bookshelves Tutorial | The Painted Hive

Easy DIY Narrow Floating Bookshelves (for behind a door) | The Painted Hive

:: I chose to use nails and no glue so if ever I want to remove the shelves I can simply pry the ‘lip’ off to access the screws.
:: If you are installing shelves behind a door, take note of where the handle sits and allow enough room for its protrusion. And, if you don’t already have one, install a good door stop or catch.
:: I purposefully designed these shelves to be slender, simple and discreet, holding only a portion of Charlotte’s book collection at a time (her other books will live on our bookcase and in baskets beneath her bed – we will rotate them occasionally).
:: The narrowness of the ledge means that some care and restraint is needed when adding books so they are configured in a somewhat balanced manner, otherwise they might have a tendency to topple over (this basically means avoiding stacking them too deeply – they need a slight lean).
:: Of course, there are heaps of variations you could make to this design, both style and function wise, to best suit your needs.
:: Whilst I’ve positioned my shelves behind a door to hold books there is no reason you couldn’t use them in a more prominent position to display photos or artwork.

Floating Bookshelf Behind Door Storage | The Painted Hive

I really love the way these little shelves turned out. I was tempted to install them floor to ceiling though restrained myself because I want the added practicality of coat hooks on the upper portion of the wall (still yet to buy said hooks). Soooo, onto the next project I guess!



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