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Using Coffee and Stain to Age White Paint

When it came to finishing my new Apothecary Trundle Coffee Table, I wanted to do something a bit more subtle than glaze. I like glaze and all, but I wanted my white to still be white, you know? Yet when I finished the initial stain and painting, the white was really harsh. It was too white. So, what could I use to dinge it up, just a tiny little bit? Coffee! Then with a touch of sanding and stain (to bring out the raw edges and pull the color of the top on down) I think I hit a killer combo.

The coffee gives a very mellow, subtle age to the harsh white paint. It helps pull out the brush strokes and add a little texture. Follow the jump to read the step-by-step on how to distress bright paint with a cup o’ joe!

I started by staining the top and interior with Rustoleum’s Ultimate Stain in Golden Oak. The top has two coats, the interior has one. The lower half is painted with two coats of Olympic No-VOC Ultimate Interior Paint in Semi-Gloss. It’s just straight out of the can, no tint added. It’s my go-to paint for trim and doors, but sometimes I like to use it on furniture too.

See how white it is? Pretty harsh. The next step was to do a little distressing with the sander. I hit all the edges of the false fronts, and the edges of the main piece.

I also sanded the lines between the planks on the sides.

After the sanding was finished, I brewed up a dark cup of coffee. I’ve got a Keurig, and used French Roast. Use the darkest brew possible.

Use a paintbrush and apply liberally all over the white paint.

I gave it a couple of coats and let it sit for a while. It gave the white just a tinge of yellow, a slight aging. I wiped off any puddles with a clean rag. Once that dried, I used a foam brush to carefully apply stain to each sanded edge.

I wiped it off with a clean rag, let it dry, then hit the whole piece with two coats of spray-on polycrylic. I decided the top needed one extra coat to give it a boost of shine.

Here’s a closeup of the side:

And the front:

So there it is! A slightly less intense distressed look. I think it gives it just the right amount of age. Do you have any hidden tricks up your sleeve when it comes to aging or distressing furniture?

 





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  1. Maria

    Super cool! I’ve heard of tea-stained, but never coffee-stained and I’m loving this look. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Kimie

    Love the look! Great job :).

  3. Jen

    Love this! I have coffee/tea stained fabric, lace & paper but never thought to try it on furniture … gives such a beautifully aged appearance and fumes you’ll actually want to enjoy :~)

  4. Joy

    Is it coffee you did the edges with or the same stain as the top? This is perfect for an old sewing desk I want to redo. Thanks!

    1. No, the top is two coats of Rustoleum’s Ultimate Stain in Golden Oak.

  5. b.wheeler

    you only used the golden oak stain on the edges you sanded? not all over the white? i love it :)

    1. That’s right! The only thing I used over the white paint was coffee. You can even get a stain pen if you’re just doing edges like this

  6. Sam

    I’m in the middle of this project and just finished sanding down the edges and so far I love it ! Just one question, how did you get the random distressed areas where it looks almost grayish/black ?

    1. I lightly sanded over the areas with sandpaper, then used the coffee to distress the wood.

  7. B. Walker

    What brand polycrylic did you use? I used this method on some cute dining chairs but the spray on finish turned the white yellow. It still looks fine but I would have preferred to only have the coffee stained look.
    Thanks!

    1. I use this brand (http://www.bigpaintstore.com/min-25555.html?cmp=googleproducts-wiz&kw=min-25555&utm_source=google+shopping&utm_medium=cse&utm_term=min-25555&gclid=COyHuLHh7bICFQmmPAodARUAfg) and so far haven’t had yellowing problems. But I’ve heard that polyurethane yellows less often (and is preferred with whites) if you don’t mind working with oil-based products.

  8. teddy

    Sup B? You do amazing work! I noticed the false fronts dont have much depth to them, how thick are those or is there maybe a trick to just router or dado that piece?? Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    1. They’re false fronts, I used 1/4″ ply squares and nailed them onto my 1×12 drawer base. Though I like the idea of using a dado or router, it would be a lot simpler and eliminate the excess wood from the decorative pieces. Gotta save where you can!

  9. Marie

    Hi Brooke – Did you prime and stain/paint all your pieces before assembly? Or did you assemble and then prime and stain/paint?

  10. Rosanne

    This is great! As a novice, do you do the back of the piece also? Thank you, Rosanne

    1. Brooke

      Personally I don’t finish what cannot be seen.

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    [...] I remembered a tactic used by Brooke of Killer B Designs. Coffee! I sanded down the edges and painted it with a layer of dark [...]

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