Here, decorative painter Ingrid Leess used the technique to add depth and interest to a big blank armoire. "It works best when there are finish details, like molding, which suggest the piece has a past," she points out. In other words, it's easy to make an ornate mirror look timeworn but less convincing to turn a streamlined Parsons table into a find with a treasured painted patina.

Another plus: There's no need to prep the surface before you start painting. Any imperfections that could cause the paint to flake off will only add to the piece's authentic history—as faux as it may be.

Shown: Two coats and two colors of paint—Behr's Sonata over White Truffle—cover the exterior of this armoire. Sanding the finish in spots lets the lighter one show through.
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    Tools List

    • Sanding Sponge
      Medium-grit sanding sponge
    • Natural-bristle chip brush
      3 disposable chip brushes

    Shopping List

    1 quart of primer for the interior2 quarts of latex paint for the exterior