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While modern furniture can be nice, rustic and farmhouse furniture tends to have so much more character than anything that is new. Even if the piece isn't genuine, it still looks like it has lots of history.

For this reason, understanding how to make furniture look rustic can be a great way to give a home a more rural, historic and sophisticated kind of atmosphere.

However, it isn’t always the easiest thing to build farmhouse furniture from scratch. That said, you can buy rustic table legs and similar components and learn other techniques for how to make furniture look rustic pretty quickly, thereby achieving such a style in a fraction of the time.

If you are a fan of a farmhouse look and feel, here are some tips and tricks for making your regular or contemporary furniture look like a rustic piece of old.

Purchase Rustic Furniture Legs and Feet for Your Custom Build

What Is Rustic Furniture?

Before diving into how to make furniture look rustic, let’s make sure we are all on the same page. In a nutshell, the rustic design style of furniture tends to refer to pieces made from natural materials and appears to be manufactured in a relatively unsophisticated manner.

A rustic piece of furniture will typically have a weathered or distressed appearance and the color palette tends to stick pretty close to nature. Similarly, rustic furniture will often feature rough-edged wood and exposed elements like stone or brick, and it will utilize simple lines.

Let’s take a look at some techniques that will give your furniture a warm, rustic appearance.

How to Make Furniture Look Rustic

When it comes to giving furniture a more homespun look, the techniques utilized will depend on the piece you are modifying. Some strategies include:

Distress Wood

While there are various methods for distressing wood, the easiest is likely to be the vinegar and tea method.

minimalistic home decor

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Using this method, you still begin by sanding the piece you wish to distress. Next, simply fill a glass jar with vinegar about halfway, shred some steel wool and add it to the jar. Let this sit for approximately 24 hours. This will cause the steel wool to dissolve.

After a day has passed, mix some hot water and black tea in another container. This will ultimately react with the previously made solution to create a darker finish. Paint this mixture onto the furniture and allow it to dry. You will then apply the vinegar concoction. Give this time to dry, as well, and then add a second coat of the vinegar solution.

When you have achieved the desired look, protect it with a polyurethane or a paste wax.

Use the Correct Hardware

Another way to ensure that your furniture has a rustic feel is to pair the style of hardware with the distressing technique that you have chosen for the piece. Therefore, you will likely want to remove anything that is currently on the piece and pick up some antique hardware instead.

Hardware from antiquity will look amazing on distressed wood furniture with saw scars and planing marks.

Grab Some Antique Furniture Knobs to Give Your Piece a Rustic Feel

Add Dents and Other Marks

Part of what gives rustic furniture its historic look are the dents, marks, scratches and gouges that show it is aged and has been around for a long time.

well worn farmhouse table top

Source: Jack Cronkhite/

To add hand-hewing marks, simply use a masonry chisel and a hammer to create a small mark across the wood. If you wish to add dents to your wood, place a small length of chain on the wood and hit it with a hammer, moving it around the piece to keep marks random. To crack wood in places, simply place the edge of a painter’s tool on a grain mark at the end of the piece and tap it with a hammer.

Of course, all of this should be done after sanding your piece but before distressing it so that the stain can get down into all the small marks and crevasses.

Adding Old Character to a New Piece

The fact is that learning how to make furniture look rustic isn’t terribly difficult. After all, rustic furniture is characterized by its rough and unrefined nature. Use the techniques listed above to give some of your new piece of furniture that old-world look and feel.