Hello short cutters.

For fourteen days we are talking easy, fun, amazing, incredible decorating short cuts.

Tips that make your decorating life a little easier.

We’ve discussed the one thing every lamp needs and how to transform a builder-grade door for under $10.

And today?

We are talking paint.

Here is a simple paint treatment that takes an afternoon and looks like you spent days.

Easy, simple paint treatment Number 1:  Dry brushing and distressing

This is the paint treatment that makes a piece of furniture look like it came over on the Mayflower.

Like John Alden may have had it in his home.

Like it’s best friends with turkey.

Here’s our table.

It’s painted a light gray.

SW Repose Gray to be exact.

One quick tip before we get started:  if you are painting wood or a random surface that looks like wood that is not currently found in nature—make sure to PRIME.

I know it’s so easy to skip this step.

I know leaping ahead to painting is so tempting.


You want your paint to have a wonderful surface to stick to—something that’s a little rough and textury that gives that paint something to cling to when the going gets rough.

That’s primer.

Here’s our list of basic furniture prep:  Sand.  Prime.  Sand.  Paint coat 1.  Sand.  Paint coat 2.

Then repeat with the next yard sale find.

Here’s how our table looks when it’s done.

It’s really only two easy steps.

First, you’ll want to dry brush the table.

Start with your brush.

Lightly dip it in paint.

Then blot the tip of the brush on a paper towel.

You want the end of your brush to look like this.  See how you can see just the littlest bit of paint on the tips of the brush?

Avoid paint globs at all cost.

Then take your almost no-paint brush and drag it across the top of the table.

Keep the dragging in the same direction.

Start with a super light drag just to test it.

You can always go back and add more.

Start with the flat surfaces first to get your technique down.

Make sure to drag the brush across any edges of the table.

This helps to bring out the details in a beautiful piece like this table.

After you finish with the table top, drag the brush lightly across the legs and bottom of the table.

Just keep dragging until you get the look that you want.

And then?

For the final step?

Sand the edges of the table to give it even more character.

Start with 100 grit sandpaper.

Sand any edges of the table and the legs.

Finish off the sanding with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges.

Then clean with a tack cloth and seal your table with a water based sealer.

Here’s the finished table with a few friends.

It only took an afternoon to complete this paint technique.

And now?

They look distressed and vintage.

They look full of character.

And the table on the right?

It looks ready for Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂

PS  You can check out some of my other easy painting techniques here and here.

PPS  And now for a word from our 14-day decorating shortcut sponsor.

You can read the reviews of my first book, So Close To Amazing, here.

You can pre-order it here.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Angela McAlister Angela McAlister

    The painted items are gorgeous, but my question is: How do you already have fall leaves? That photobombing bush is glorious!

  2. Image for Julie Briones Julie Briones

    Really helpful, KariAnne. I'm thinking of dry brushing the top of my wanna-be-tv-console with gray (it's now painted white)... not sure what it will look like, but I can always paint over it! Hugs!

  3. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Love this technique so much! I have a piece or two to try it out on. Do you use flat paint or does it matter? Plus I just pre-ordered my copy of your book! Can't wait to have it in my hands!

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