How to Distress New MDF Furniture

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Make your new furniture look like it's been in your family for generations

The key to any good distressed finish is to create a plausible ‘history’ for the furniture or cabinet. We’ve all had hand-me-down furniture that has been scuffed, scratched, painted…and painted again over decades of use. With a little imagination, you can easily create a back story for your newly-built MDF or wood furniture that can guide you to making it look like it’s been in your family for generations.


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Feeling a Little Wonky

JR’s grandmother was a Brit who used to talk about feeling “wonky” every now and then, when she was a bit unsteady on her feet (age, not vino) and had to sit down. I wonder if this (wavy-wobbly furniture) was the way she saw the world, at those moments!

The Mini Wonky Jewellery Box here, a little chest of drawers just under a foot high, is the bold primary version of a whole clan of these woozy dance-y little stash boxes from Canadian craftsman Paul Szewc at Masterpiece Cabinets

In fact, there’s a whole gallery of even more groovy one-of-a-kind hand-painted boxes (and full-sized cabinets, real furniture, as well) to gladden the heart of your Alice Through the Looking Glass.

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Driftwood Horses

Beachcombing, a few years back, my friend found a piece of driftwood that looked exactly like three horses’ heads rising from the waves. Very cool. But that’s nothing compared to the driftwood horses of artists Matt Torrens, Heather Jansch, and Deborah Butterfield.

Matt Torrens driftwood horse sculpture Spirit The differences between these different artists’ interpretations of “driftwood horse” are striking, but all have achieved a remarkable combination of driftwood’s naturally weathered graceful lines with the powerful majesty of the equine form.

Matt Torrens

Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta (“Cow Town”) and now living in southern California, the horse rendered in driftwood is a natural subject for sculptor Matt Torrens.

“Spirit,” the driftwood horse head sculpture by Matt Torrens shown here, was exhibited at the California State Fair in Sacramento, August/September 2008. Photograph by laura.bell.


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Natural Wood Knitting Needles

My sister insists on wooden knitting needles. As she’s a genius knitter, I bow to her expertise when she tells me that wood is the best choice for working with real wool.

Lightweight yet strong,  wooden knitting needles are naturally warm to the touch, which is apparently much nicer for those knitters who are troubled by arthritis. Or, I suggest, for those who just love the feel of smooth wood!


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