Okay, it’s not that I like ‘new paint’ as much as I appreciate the look of a completely painted something, all nice and covered and smooth and pretty – and here’s the kicker – THAT HAS NOT BEEN DISTRESSED.
What the hell is distressed furniture for? If you want a new bedroom suite, you go to the sales floor of the local Armstrong Fordbender Furniture Store run by Armstrong himself and pick one out, right? And if you should see a ding on one of the bedposts or a scratch across the otherwise shiny smooth surface of the dresser, you would point the damage out and say “What kind of crap are you trying to unload on the unsuspecting public, Armstrong? I’m not paying good money just so I can take your second-best stock off the sales floor. You’d better show me some quality things before I drive on down the street to Miss Amy’s House of Decor, next door to the Biscuit Hideout Cafe.”
What is all the hoopla over distressed furniture? Watch any DIY show on television – HGTV is especially guilty about this – and you’ll see the ‘host’ (actually one of the crew’s handiwork) put a nice coat of paint on a piece of furniture. Then no sooner does it dry, than the silly ass take sandpaper and scrape along every edge on it, and then picks up a hammer and just starts slamming it against the item willy-nilly to make it look “old fashioned” or “antiqued.” I say it looks “Like shit.”
I say all this because I saw a photo on Pinterest with a good idea: take an old ladder, hang it on the wall sideways and make a cool-looking bookshelf:
Yeah but see the splattered paint on that ladder, obviously the result of years of use and mistaken dripping? Suppose someone bitten by the Decorating Bug doesn’t have such a ladder? You know what DIY Donna’s going to do – “Simply dip your brush into the paint can and then slooo-oo-wly drip it up and down the ladder surface, and repeat this process with other colors to get a layered look!” Oh, and be sure to make it look like you tried to wipe some of that away, and be sure to grind in about fifteen years’ worth of garage or basement dust, and break off tiny chunks of it from where the dog would have chewed on it (while you were up on the ladder at the time and turning pale) and somehow find a way to make the first layer of drippings look cracked with age! What do you want to bet HGTV has some sort of “Insta-drying agent” to add in?
Get a used piece of furniture, paint the damn thing and then LEAVE IT ALONE! I wasn’t exaggerating about any of those descriptions; I saw a host take a hammer and bang away with no regard to why there would be a dozen ball-peen depressions on a table top. Jeezus! Were you trying to swat flies with the thing and didn’t have a rolled-up paper handy; what’s the deal? There ought to be no more than one or two little dings on a table before Mom or Dad swoop in and snatch that hammer away from their recalcitrant child, with a side order of “What the hell are you doing?!” You don’t see Armstrong Fordbender put signs in his showroom windows saying “Antiqued Furniture for Sale, Same High Price as the Perfectly Good Newly Manufactured Stuff.” Why not just buy a can of paint called “Faded Into A Nasty Piss Hue” and just forego the Smooth Coat of Lemon Yellow?
Tell you what. If you want some distressed furniture, leave a trio of four-year-olds in a room with the furniture and a pile of sandpaper blocks, crayons and a set of spoons. Granted, it might not have the clever chic of a designer-distressed piece but if you mar a perfectly good paint job and then put it on display, you’re opening the door for every visiting child to figure it’s okay to tear up the place.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love to pour over photos of made-over rooms and furniture and clever decorative ideas. I just don’t understand the distress issue. If you want good furniture, buy it. If you want an antique piece, find it. But if you want to buy perfectly good unfinished furniture and then beat the crap out of it and deliberately sprinkle it with drops of paint and sandpaper it down to the nubs, you cannot expect everyone to oooh and ahh over something that would make Armstrong Fordbender shudder and put in the ‘Damaged Goods’ corner.
And oh God don’t get me started on distressed jeans.