Crackle finish is one of the best ways to "age" a piece of furniture, a picture frame or even a wall. Some things to remember when crackling: The thicker the coat of crackle medium, the larger the cracks; never go over the topcoat--one pass with the paint brush in one direction is it or you will ruin the effect; use a darker color for the base coat and a lighter color for the topcoat.
Reinvent a Hand-Me-Down Dresser
That old dresser that still functions but has all the appeal of a garage cast off can become the star of the boudoir with a faux paint job and new drawer knobs. Clean the dresser thoroughly, remove the drawers and take off the drawer pulls or knobs. Paint dresser and drawers with a darker base coat. Let it dry completely. Apply either white school glue or crackle medium to the painted dresser. (Glue is much cheaper than crackle finish and some crafters swear by it.) Before the crackle coat dries, paint a light top color over it, using a single layer of strokes in one direction only. The crackling will start right away and continue until the piece dries. Sand the edges lightly to mimic the wear of long use, and apply a thin coat of polyurethane to make the dresser easier to clean. Replace standard knobs with fancy porcelain or antique knobs from a flea market.
Cook up a New-Old Kitchen
Transform a bland kitchen into a vintage showcase in little more than an afternoon without replacing a single cabinet. Choose a darker base coat (matte) and the lighter top coat (semi-gloss); empty and wipe down the cabinets, and get out the crackle glaze. In a buttery yellow and crisp blue kitchen, use a dark blue base and pale, creamy yellow as the top coat. In a white with pastel accents kitchen, use a soft green base coat and white or linen top color. Paint the exteriors of the cabinets, drawers and cabinet frames in the darker shade, and let it dry. Brush on the crackle glaze in one direction. Right before it dries, brush on the top coat. Let the paint dry overnight, lightly sand the crackled finish and apply a coat of clear, protective lacquer. Replace the old hardware with vintage or reproduction knobs and drawer pulls.
A shabby chic or an old-fashioned nursery offers the perfect wall for a series of baby or toddler pictures in antique, coordinated frames. Select several identical unpainted wood picture frames to hang in a row or a grid. Or recycle a few old frames of varying shapes and sizes. Let the nursery colors dictate the base colors for your frames. In a pastel nursery, color each frame a medium shade of pink, blue, green, purple, pumpkin or butterscotch. When the base coat dries, apply the crackle glaze and finish with a coat of white or ecru matte paint. For a bright nursery, choose vivid primary colors for the base coat, and finish with white or ecru. Use pastel or bright satin ribbons to hang the finished frames and photographs.