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Antiquing can be used to lighten darker woods -- a novel way to subtly brighten a somber shade -- or to simply add character to a piece of furniture.
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Step 1: Get the Right Primer
Before you begin, check with your paint dealer to make sure you get the right primer for the type of surface you'll be painting (1-2-3 Bullseye works well because it is both a sealer and a stain blocker). If you're working on a chair that doesn't need reupholstering, make sure you cover the seat with a piece of kraft paper secured with tape.
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Step 2: Strip Varnish and Apply Primer
Using a sanding sponge, prepare the chair's surface for the primer by stripping off all the old varnish. Apply the primer with a natural-bristle brush; let dry.
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Step 3: Apply Undercoat
Apply a generous undercoat of one color of paint with a nylon-polyester brush; let dry, about six hours. This undercoat will be the accent color.
Photography: JOHNNY MILLER5 of 11
Step 4: Apply Topcoat
Apply a lighter topcoat of the other color of paint; let dry. This topcoat will be the chair's dominant color.
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Step 5: Distress Chair
After one hour, use steel wool to rub the chair's surface in small sections. This will take some of the paint off, so your undercoat will show through, giving the chair a distressed look. The more pressure you apply, the more paint will be removed. (If you think you've taken off too much, just paint it again and repeat this step. To distress the chair even more and to give it a smooth finish, go over the surface with a piece of fine 220-grit sandpaper.
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Step 6: Apply Wax
With a paper towel or polishing cloth, apply a thin coat of tinted wax to give the chair a protective coating. Make sure you work the wax into the grooves. After about 15 minutes, wipe away any excess wax. Buff the chair with a clean, dry cloth.
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This romantic "antique" mirror is actually a clear piece of glass made softly reflective using eglomise, a glass-gilding technique popularized in the eighteenth century.
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Antique a Frame
Speed time's passage by applying liquid shoe polish to a new silver- or gold-painted frame, giving it an "antique" patina. Choose a frame with raised details, and use a cotton rag to rub the surface with brown polish (reach into crevices with cotton swabs). Continue until the desired look is achieved; let polish dry.
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A contemporary chair that has been refinished can acquire the look of an antique in hours, not years. Choose a piece of furniture -- perhaps a bed you spotted at a flea market or a table you've grown tired of -- then get to work. You'll need nothing more than basic skills and a handful of materials.
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This simple technique lends new, shiny glass ornaments the muted, authentic appearance of antique mercury glass in just minutes. (As mercury glass ages, it loses some of its luster and tends to darken in spots.) All you need is a little paint and small sponges with which to apply it.