Distressed Bookshelves: Types for a Creative Storage Space


If you are looking for a unique storage system for your home, distressed bookshelves may be the way to go. The distressed look means you end up with a one of a kind furniture piece, plus the added bonus of going with a distressed finish on your bookshelf is that it hides a multitude of sins. With the right color choice, distressed shelves can fit in with almost any interior design style.

What Are Distressed Bookshelves?

You have surely seen beautiful old pieces of antique furniture that have a few cracks and dings in them. Those cracks and those dings are what give the furniture character - character that helps create warmth in many homes. Distressed bookshelves are like these old pieces of furniture - they have a "lived in" look that these old antique pieces of furniture have - but they are actually new. These bookshelves have been "distressed" to look older than they really are. After all, why should you have to wait around for your furniture to mature and gain those little character pieces? With distressed shelves, you can enjoy that character charm as soon as you bring your new bookshelves through the door. Further, antique furniture is often extremely expensive - too expensive for many budgets. Distressed bookcases are more budget friendly and easier for everyone to own.

Furniture manufacturers use a variety of different methods to create distressed bookshelves, including:

  • Rasping - A metal scrapper called a rasp is run over the edges of the bookshelf until they start to wear down and crack. This has the same effect as rubbing sandpaper in the corners of your furniture until some wear and tear begins to show.
  • Fly Specking - As the name suggests, specks of paint are flicked across the surface of a bookshelf in a random pattern. The "fly" name comes from the desired effect - a look that a bug dipped its legs in your paints and wandered across the surface of your bookshelf.
  • Burnishing - Have you ever seen wood that looks as though it has been singed or burned in certain areas - that is what burnishing does. The wood is actually burned and then stained over the burned part.
  • Hand Rubbing - Hand rubbing is done after your bookshelves have been painted or stained the color you want. Just before the paint is dry, a different color stain or paint is randomly rubbed into areas of the shelves to create an off kilter color effect.
  • White Pumice - White pumice stone is used to slightly scrape the surface of the bookshelves. The pumice leaves a white stain behind as well.
  • Cow Tailing - A paint brush is used to create streaks of paint across the surface of the bookshelves. The effect of cow tailing is very dramatic as compared to fly specking.
  • Crackle Finish - Crackle finishing gives the surface of your distressed bookcase a cracked appearance. The crackle finish is applied over the paint or stain, when it is dry.
  • Worm Holes - We all know that worms love wood, and many antique pieces show where worms have burrowed into the wood to have a feast. With distressed shelves, this effect is created by hammering a hot nail randomly into the surface of the shelf.

Where Can I Use a Distressed Bookshelf?

A distressed bookshelf makes a great addition to rooms of many styles, including Cottage style design, Country Farmhouse style design, English Country style design, and Old World style design, to name but a few. Of course, given the antiqued nature of distressed bookcases, they do work best in design style that incorporate at least some elements of classic design styles. Distressed bookshelves, for instance, would not be a great choice for Contemporary style rooms or Minimalist design styles.

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Distressed Bookshelves: Types for a Creative Storage Space