Creating Shabby Chic French Furniture

By | 8 Nov 2015

Bottom half of the painted buffet – awaiting distressing.

I’ve been remiss in posting for a while.  Along with visitors, the works on part of our barn have been advancing at a pace and every day there have been things to do or sort out.

Part of the ‘things to be done’ was preparing movable furniture for the kitchen as the area will change as soon as we do the rest of the barn up.

Through one of my favourite places for finding second-hand items – – I found a cheap buffet in a nearby village for 40€ , then started the experiments to get that shabby chic look.

Having read about milk paint, it sounded just my sort of thing, so I gave that a go first, but even trying 3 different paint recipes that I found online, it didn’t work so well on this wood veneer.

The paints were too thin, took ages to cure and gave more of a sheen than I wanted.  They also seemed to react with the undercoat.  Would probably work well on a better wood though.

One recipe used powdered instead of fresh milk (I like easy) but this gave a very yellow tinge and was rather grainy – not bad, but not what I wanted here, and it smelled of baby milk for days.

In the end, I went back to what I had originally thought of using – artists’ gesso with a touch of blue colour.  This gave a nice thick covering that I painted on roughly, that stuck well and that further paint would still well to, and was a cheap alternative

I like cheaper options.

I then used a white chalk paint recipe from here:

You can buy these paints in DIY shops – in France the term for the effect is ‘chaulé’, but they’re expensive.

I’m hoping the blue will show underneath in the odd spot when I rub/sand off to distress.

The final result I don’t know yet as I’m still waiting for the inside paint to dry as the garage has been quite damp, but I wanted to at least get this post out.

For another piece of furniture – a bedside table that I picked up for 8€ – I used liming wax.  Here’s the result:


Probably would have been better to prepare or paint the wood better than I did before liming, but I  also like to take shortcuts and this was really easy and quick to do.

The liming wax gives a sheen with an added bonus that it should protect the surface.  I may even use it on top of the painted buffet.

More shabby than chic, but they’re both only for my use so they’ll do fine.

Do you have any tips for creating shabby chic furniture?


Lou Messugo

One thought on “Creating Shabby Chic French Furniture

  1. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

    I admire your persistence in trying lots of different recipes and methods. I’ve hand painted all the furniture in my gite Lou Messugo and I must say I just bought the expensive ready prepared chaulé stuff. But I’ve got one side table to do still (after 6 years!!) (very like yours above) and I might give your chalk recipe a go (I like cheap too!!) Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance


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