Furniture Painting

Decor & Embellishments – Furniture Painting 101: Episode 5

Decor & Embellishments

When it comes to adding decor and embellishments to your painted piece of furniture, the big question is how much is too much? Well, as you may know, there are many different styles and about just as many opinions on what is actually too much.

Using regular design elements can be a helpful tool when trying to determine what is just the right amount of decor and/or embellishments on a piece. Adding these features can take your plain furniture to another level. Bringing your piece from average to center stage.

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Paint is the very first thing that you can use to embellish your piece. A popular option is using a blending technique, a lighter color in the center to draw attention, with darker colors around the edges to draw your attention inward. Blending is done in different shades to highlight and lowlight/shade and/or age different areas. Blends can be more subtle, or bold. The different techniques that you can use are:

  1. Blending
  2. Shading
  3. Framing
  4. Color washes

When using a misting bottle you can add paint, vinegar, or peroxide to your water to give you different artistic finishes. The reactions with the paint create unpredictable finishes.

Dry brushing

Dry brushing is when you would use an inexpensive chip brush. It is important to remember that very little paint goes on your brush, dab off the excess (offload most of the paint),  and with a practically dry brush go over the surface to leave small amounts of color. Concentrating mostly on the edges vs the center is a very popular look.


Layering is when for example, you put multiple layers of colors, then  use a wet or dry distressing technique to reveal the colors underneath.

To distress, you would sand to reveal the color you painted underneath. A fun technique is to put splotches of different colors on the piece. Once that is dry apply solid color over it. Let that dry. When you distress (sand),  pops of color will show through giving you a very cool and creative look. This give the illusion of lots of layers of paint, great for Boho pieces!


Patterns can be hand-painted or stenciled. Popular patterns like Buffalo Check, Harlequin, and even stripes, can be created with paint, or even colored waxes and guilding waxes to help you create a unique look.

When using DIY and Dixie Belle Wax you can add a spoon of your paint into the clear wax and create your own custom wax color.  Colored waxes are perfect for coming back to add a little color to the embellishments, too. These are great for giving your pieces an aged look or adding details that pop.

Aging and Details

Guiding wax is great for details, using your fingertip or a small brush to add detail to raised areas or edges to get a great finish. These are often metallic colors, DIY has Golden Rule, and Dixie Belle has gold, silver, zinc, black, cactus, apricot, and several others.

Dixie Belle Dirt comes in three colors, earth, ash, and charcoal, DIY Decrepit Dust comes in decrepit and white. These products are perfect for getting that old world, aged look. Apply clear wax,  and then add this into the crevices by sprinkling it on, or by dabbing it in with an old artist’s brush.


Create your own glazes by adding the your choice of paint color with clearcoat satin. Just brush it on, paying extra attention to the detailed areas, then wipe it back. A baby wipe is great for wiping back.

A color wash technique can also be applied (my favorite way). That is when you mix the paint with water about 50-50%, apply it with a brush or sponge, then wipe it off and it stays in the crevices. Easy peasy, and none of the tackiness that sometimes comes from working with glazes. Dixie Belle makes several different colors of glaze, if you want ready made, black Van Dyke brown, sapphire, pearlescent.


If you like the older look, Patina is another option. Dixie Belle’s color selection is Iron, Copper, and Bronze for 3 different results! After one coat of Dixie Belle Paint, apply one coat of Patina Paint, let dry. Apply a second coat of Patina Paint and while still wet, apply a Patina Spray. You get real, authentic patina, that is created from the metal particles in the paint, reacting to the blue or green spray. The green spray must be used with the iron paint, but blue or green can be used with copper or bronze.


Ready for a little sparkle? Moonshine Metallic chalk mineral paint is a one-step, rich and shiny metallic with beautiful pigments. Choose a matching base coat, then build up as much sheen as you would like with 2-3 coats of the metallics.

There is also DIY Making Powder. These are great and can be used in many different ways:

Debi’s Design Diary

-Sprinkle into your mouldings to make the details pop
-Mix them into the paint
-Mix with clear wax
-Mix with Liquid Patina or BIg top to make a glaze
-Use them as a dry rub


Fine glitter can be used with your topcoat, sprinkling glitter on top of wet clear coat leaving you a rough surface, then topping with another coat of clear coat.  Another option is to mix the glitter in with the topcoat. For best results, use a very fine glitter, stirring often. This will give you a visually textured surface, but feel smooth to the touch.

You can create a chippy, textured and weathered look with Sea Spray, an all-natural, texture additive.

Mix two scoops of Sea Spray with 8 oz of the Dixie Belle Paint. If needed mix another 1/2 scoop until you achieve a thick, brownie batter-like consistency.

Using a brush dab and smooth the bristles to form mountains and valleys. Once tacky, gently brush down the valley and peaks, calming the texture. For more dimension, add a glaze or another paint color with or without Sea Spray.

DIY also has a new product called Frosting. You mix the frosting liquid into your paint, as it sits, it begins to fluff up, and give a frosting-like consistency. Spread the frosting with a putty or palette knife to give a layered look, or use it in raised stencils.

Here are some other great products you can use to create texture:

  1. Dixie Belle Mud
  2. Drywall mud (home improvement store)
  3. Sand

Embellishing Tools

Another way to embellish and decorate your work is to use your tools. Such as sanding pad, electric sander, wet distressing, chains, wrenches all will bring you a distressed look. In my opinion, less is more when it comes to these types of techniques, but some people love to beat the heck out of their pieces!

Stamps can be used with stamping ink or paint. There are decor stamps from Prima, or you can use your paper crafting stamps.

The wood graining tool is easy to use, you just rock and pull, then repeat randomly, for a faux wood grain on your piece. Creativity is at your fingertips with this one. No rules on color, it can be natural-looking wood grain or bright and festive colors.

Furniture Transfers, (rub-on transfers) such as Belles & Whistles can add art-looking detail to the pieces in a fraction of the time. So many great styles to choose from, depending on the look you want to create. Visualize your design, stick them on with painter’s tape if you are the type that needs a visual. Once you know the placement, rub on! Resign by Prima and Paint Pixie have a nice selection of transfers, too!


Who doesn’t love to decoupage!! When I first started out, we didn’t have all the options there are today! Mostly, I would use napkins! (I have more tips on using napkins in my video below.) Decoupage can be done with napkins, paper, wallpaper, rice paper, etc., be creative!

Rice paper is very common now for decoupage. When you are adding the medium, the rice papers stay brighter than the napkins do.

You can do a heat activated dry decoupage. Apply  clear coat satin or Mod Podge on your piece, let it completely dry. Cut out your wrapping paper, napkin, rice paper, etc., to size, and use an iron (medium heat) to set the paper. Watch this tecnique here> Dry Decoupage

Decoupage Medium

Decoupage Medium is an all-in-one sealer, glue, and finish. For example, Dixie Belle clear coat Satin. In addition, DIY Big Top, Mod Podge, and DIY Liquid Patina can also be used.


So as previously mentioned, stencils can be used to create a pattern, in addition, to creating patterns, they can be a quick and easy way to add flowers, birds, shapes, and so on. There are so many great options. Above all, it is user-friendly for people that are not as comfortable painting freehand designs. For more detailed tips, please reference the video below. If you work with a vinyl cutter such as Cricut or Silhouette, you can create your own stencils.

I love the large furniture stencils from Belles & Whistles and Prima for designs, and Essential Stencil for words and signs.

Wood Moulding

Wood Moulding can really add some great detail. Wood U Bend manufactures flexible wood. Use your blowdryer or heat gun on the wood embellishment, and it becomes “wood that you can bend”! Really awesome embellishment. I carry all of the ones that Dixie Belle offers. The wood embellishments really bring your piece to a new level.


Paint Pixie has some great flexible moulds, as does ReDesign with Prima. When you have the mould,  you can make multiples of each piece, to create a matching suite of pieces. This saves you a lot of money vs. purchasing multiples.

Pixie Doh, paper clay & modeling clay can be used to create your designs, as well as hot glue, Amazing Casting Resin, and Apoxie Sculpt. ( TIP! Those should be primed before painting)

I really appreciate you joining me for these Furniture Painting 101 episodes.  I hope you have found this helpful and feel ready to create some unique detailed pieces! If you missed one,  they are all published on YouTube weekly.


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