Distressed Cabinets: Vintage in an Instant

Distressed cabinets are new cabinetry that are made to look worn or vintage despite being made out of new materials. This weathered look can be achieved with a number of materials and techniques, each offering character to a number of kitchen decor themes. Below, we’ll cover some distressed cabinet options to help you decide if this look might work in your kitchen.

 Distressed Cabinet Effects…

 “Distressed” is a generic term for a variety of effects that can be used individually or combined to achieve a look unique to your kitchen. Some of the effects are surface-only, while others affect more of the wood itself, resulting in a deeper textured finish.

 Wearing is one of the lightest forms of distressing, often only affecting the cabinet’s paint. This method removed parts of the outer layer of paint, stain, glaze, or other finish to reveal the color underneath. The wearing is often concentrated on the edges of the cabinets to appear natural.

Another method of distressing cabinets is rasping. This method involves changing the straight, even cuts made possible by modern tools and making them slightly less regular in order to imitate a craftsman’s work with handheld tools. Similarly, careful gouges can be made in the wood to imitate purposeful hand-tooled designs or accidental scrapes that one might expect on a cabinet of the age you’re trying to achieve.

Some of the deeper effects that can be used on distressed cabinets include cracks and wormholes. Both of these reflect the natural damage that would have occurred to older cabinets over time in most settings, and can lend an air of authenticity to your distressed cabinets. However, these methods should only be completed by an experienced professional, as mistakes on these deeper styles of distressing can cause structural damage to the cabinets.

 When to Distress?

Because of the different kinds of distress that can be done, distressed cabinets can work in a wide variety of kitchens. They are especially fitting in kitchens with a rustic or country theme, or in period homes striving for an air of authenticity. However, certain kinds of distress can be beneficial even in kitchens with a more modern appearance; for example, wearing is a great way to add some texture to cabinetry and bring in a bit of depth to the kitchen.

 It is very important to be aware of the wood being used in your distressed cabinets. Most types of distress will cause the natural color and texture of the wood to be visible under the paint or stain, so it is essential that the two complement each other well as well as working with the other colors in your kitchen. High-contrast does well for distressed cabinets; for example, dark paint or stain over a light wood. Cherry wood might work well under a light-colored coat of paint, or a distressed darker paint might be striking when used over a light wood such as birch or ash.


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