Improve Your French Dresser Or Sideboard With Faux Marble

Faux Marble Painted Chest From Old Town Crossing

Marble painting has been an art form since the sixteenth century, and was quite popular in India. In Rajasthan there are around 4000 marble mines and because marble was so widely available, it became a canvas for the local painters. The intricate designs were captured on stone with paint, and sealed to preserve it’s extravagant beauty.

Marble has always been considered a luxury, and can be more expensive in the areas of the world where it isn’t naturally located. The look of marble is the result of interlocking mosaic of carbonate crystals. The swirls and veins form patterns as a result of the mineral impurities such as clay, silt, sand, iron oxides that are present in the layers of the stone. Pakistan is one of the largest marble exporters of the world with exports totaling to around a 100,000 tonnes.

The textured look of marble can add a regal and sophisticated touch to any interior space or piece of furniture, however the trouble is, marble can also grab a chunk of change out of your wallet. Faux marbling is the practice of copying the look of marble with paint.  You can improve the tops of your chests, dressers, sideboards and buffets with faux marble.

Faux stone painting was known to be an art used in Pompeii, but it really took off during the Renaissance in Europe where two schools taught the art of faux painting.  For professional artists during this time, it took an apprentice 10 years or more to fully master the art.  Many of these  techniques were used widely by the 17th century and remained useful in architecture well into the 20th century.


Start by identifying the style of marble you want to replicate.  Marble comes in varied hues of white, pink, gray and black.  Go on to the internet and look through the various pictures and decide what look of marble you want to transfer.

Step 1- Sand down the top of your chest or dresser, then paint it with a satin paint.  Satin paint will allow all your other paint layers to be able to move around easier.  Flat paints will only eat up your paint, and cause them to smear.  Start with eggshell.

There are a number of ways to paint marble.  Here are a few ways to start as a beginner:

-One very easy way of getting detail and depth without over thinking things is to use plastic.  Take a garbage bag, and cut it a little larger than the size of your dresser or chest top.  Second paint the plastic, and crumple it slightly before you press the plastic on to the surface.  With your hands or a kitchen dough roller, press the plastic into the paint.  Next, pull the plastic off, and let the paint dry.  When the paint is about dry, smooth out the pattern using an over-sized badger softening brush.This technique works quite well if your paint isn’t thick, but rather thinner.  Ideally, you want to build up several layers of detail. I have found using wood stains, which are tinted and transparent, you can get the depth that is seen in marble.

-Another easy technique is creating marble patterns with a sponge.  Take the sponge and dab it lightly along the surface to produce a “marble-like” pattern.  Take paint and glaze and combine a mixture of 60% transparent glaze to 40% paint.  This will enable your pattern to look a bit more organic in nature.

-In the past I have created marble “veins” using a feather, or a paint brush which you can alter, by notching out some of the hair to create a a three prong comb.  The smaller paint brushes are usually the best.  Drag all your lines diagonally using a twisting and turning motion. Soften the marble lines as the paint is near dry.

The key to faux marble is lots of softening, and transparent layers.  You don’t want your marble to appear like it is a two step process, but rather marble that is deep, and takes on the appearance of rich marble.  A couple prominent veins really go a long way, amongst softer features.

When you are ready to “seal” in the marble look, use poly-crylic clear gloss or satin.  Apply it with a sponge applicator, and let it dry overnight.  Then, using 320-grit sandpaper, lightly buff the surface before sweeping off the dust and apply a final coat with a spray can.  You can buy polycrylic both in a can and in a spray.  The final coat creates a stroke free finish when sprayed.  You may want to repeat this process once after the second coat dries.

Using paint to portray a marble finish isn’t as difficult as you might think.  Don’t over think the finish, and you will love how it turns out.


Faux Marble by Pierre Lefumat- $28 Amazon

This is a monument to 60 years dedicated to decorative painting. The first part of the book is a step-by-step guide for painting the most widely imitated marble varieties including white breccia, yellow sienna, sea green, and more. The second part of the book is a gallery of Lefumat’s photorealistic faux marble. Each page represents a closer and closer detailed view. Experts and beginners alike will draw inspiration from this magnificent book

Step by step instruction for recreating Lefumat’s masterworks in Faux Marble. Over 140 pages of rich close-up color photographs of Lefumat’s painted panels. Hundreds of pages of faux marble for reference and inspiration.

French Painted Enfilade With Faux Marble Top- Foxglove Antiques

Faux Marble Painted Chest From Old Town Crossing


French Painted Enfilade With Faux Marble Top- Foxglove Antiques

Provincial Style Marble Top Painted Side Table

Provincial Style Marble Top Painted Side Table Doyle Auction

Faux Marble Writing Desk- Hideaway Antiques

Swedish Giltwood And Cream Painted Table With Faux Marble Top- Christies 

Pair White Granite Urns on Faux Marble Pedestals- Gottlieb Gallery

Italian Neoclassic Faux Marble Scagliola Pedestal- David Neligan Antiques

A Painted Faux Marble Serpentine Bombe Commode From Christies

Italian Painted Console Table- Piet Jonker Architectural Antiques

A Pair Of Painted Wooden Night Stands- Piet Jonker Architectural Antiques

A Pair Of Painted Wooden Night Stands- Piet Jonker Architectural Antiques

Set of Four 18th Century Faux Marble Columns 1st Dibs Paris

Louis XV Painted Console Table With A Faux Marble Top- Wirthmore Antiques

Pair of Faux Marble Painted Columns- LEBRETON INTERIEURS

Modern Louis XVI Style Giltwood Table Painted Faux Marble Top- Seller Glo

A Florentine Gilded Console With Faux Marble Top- Valobra Jewelry & Antiques

Pair Faux Marble Columns- Greenwich Living Antiques & Design Center

Located 30 miles south of Paris and widely considered one of the most spectacular examples of 18th-century style, the Château du Marais is home to the apartment of designer Juan Pablo Molyneux and his wife, Pilar. The castle was built by the architect Jean-Benoît-Vincent Barré for Master Jean de La Martinière, Treasurer General of Artillery and Engineering, and has been considered one of the most remarkable examples of castle style Louis XVI located near Paris. This castle has been owned by families like Noailles, Castellane, Talleyrand-Perigord and Pourtales.

Additional Links:

New York Social Diary– The Hotel Claude Passart, the 17th century Paris residence of Mr. and Mrs. Juan Pablo Molyneux.

Designer Juan Pablo Molyneux refurbished the 17th-century structure at Château du Marais with rich tones to suit his grand style. An 18th-century gilt-wood chandelier hangs above a Régence bureau plat, a Louis XVI armchair, and a rug from the 19th century; the oil painting is from the 18th century. (Photo Credits- Architectural Digest September 2006)

Check out the beautiful marble walls

A Pair Of Painted Wooden Night Stands- Piet Jonker Architectural Antiques

19th Century Italian Carved Wood Bust On Faux Marble Base. Thomas Jolly Antiques

20th c. French Faux- Marble Column or Pedestal- Olivier Fleury Inc.

Pair of Italian Faux Marble Planters- Dragonette Ltd


How To Create Patina On Furniture

This lovely french Provincial Dresser features a detailed layered paint finish not typically seen on vintage furniture.  This chest has what looks to be a blue paint, accented with gold around the drawer frames.

Sold by Karina Gentinetta, an antique dealer in New York, this provincial dresser sure hits it out of the ballpark.

The distressing seen on the wood, and wear over time gives it that antique appearance.  As you look closely at some of the photos, the chest does have some dirt which might be just normal use over time.  It certainly adds to the overall time-worn appearance. 

When painting blue,  many people go wrong by just painting the dresser a shade of blue, and calling it a day.  Going the extra mile by adding the gold accenting can really push a vintage french provincial dresser from something typical to a dresser that looks to have antique worth and value.

Achieving the antique blue finishes are easier than you think.  Often times in the past I have used brighter pastel colors with a darker glaze.  The tip here is pastel paint.  Brighter colors wouldn’t normally be seen in the 18th century, and no matter how much dark glaze you might use over modern day brighter paint colors, the finish never turns out right.  Pastels are typical colors that were associated with Marie Antoinette  and commonly seen on Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture.  Sticking with antique color palettes will give your furniture an authentic appearance.

Glaze is a combination of binder and pigment.  Binder is simply the glue that holds together the paint) Glaze can give a translucent look to a piece of furniture when it is applied over the furniture paint.

In the past I have used simply paint alone, but to be honest it doesn’t do a great job.  You really have to be skilled to pull off the look working with paint alone without glaze.  It can frustrate you in the end.  With the method of working with paint alone as a wash, you have to work quickly with a bucket of water and a cotton washcloth beside you.  I paint it on, leave it for a few minutes and wipe it off, and pull the paint around on the surface as it begins to be watered down.  It takes a little bit more skill working with regular paint, but the overall effect can be much the same as a glaze.

There are many ways to use Glaze.  Ralph Lauren some time ago advertised his glazing techniques at Home Improvement centers as as a way of transforming modern day patterned or tole wallpaper.  Glaze can be mixed with any color.  Lauren advertised a series of colored glazes and showed through  by simply rolling on a layer of glaze it could transform wallpaper.


Ralph Lauren Wallpaper Glazing- Faux Finishes


Painting on glaze and allowing it to dry works terrific with wall finishes, because it builds up a translucent finish that paint alone cannot achieve.   With furniture I find glaze works really well by simply painting on the glaze, and after a few minutes working the paint off with a damp cloth gives it the authentic look of dirt building up in the corners over time.

With my green paints, I usually add a dark olive green glaze over top, which is then rubbed off giving it the look that it is old and worn and slightly blue than  green.

As you look closely with this french provincial chest by  Karina Gentinetta, you can see marks on this chest which gives it an old worn look.

Get some ideas of your own of how to create natural wear by using typical things around your house like the slapping the back of an old shoe with a black sole on the chest or something else that might leave a mark without indenting the chest.

The trick is to create marks that appear sporadic and subtle, and not giving any clue to what tool you used.


French Provincial Dresser Sold by Karina Gentinetta
French Provincial Dresser Sold by Karina Gentinetta

I cannot remember where I got these pictures, but they have been sitting in a folder of mine forever, because the paint finish is so beautiful!   As you can see this antique chair was painted with a pastel blue, and then finished off with a lighter gray toned blue in the details of the frame.  From my opinion, I would go about re-creating this look by starting out with a pastel blue base paint.  After it dries, you could use an olive glaze to leave a slight appearance of dirt and patina over time.

Painted French Finishes – Author Unknown
Cyan Duchess Chest By Belle Escape

Check out the layers of paint and glaze on this chest by Belle Escape

French Provincial Slipper Chairs are tremendously popular because most people  feel as though they take up less room than the typical armchair. They are perfect in a living room, office or bedroom as accent chairs.

Todd Alexander Romano sold this lovely Louis XV Style Carved and Painted Slipper chair with a lovely colorful print, showing us how incredibly attractive a vintage re-upholstered chair can look.

Chairs started being developed with upholstery around the mid 1650’s chairs. By the mid 1750’s designers started incorporating beauty and design rather than just chairs that served the basic function only.

During the 18th century, before furniture production began, chairs were being made with even more curves than ever in history.  The French had a great effect on the development and evolution of the chair as they truly were were the first ones to develop a lightweight and comfortable chair.

French designers were the first to develop chairs with incredibly ornate frames, while at the same time being comfortable to sit in.

The process of making one chair required an incredible amount of skill and talent.  Before the process of mass production the process of making a french chair was extensive and the materials that were required were considerable.

The Louis XV chair required more wood because the chairs frame was curved and was often made out of ONE piece of wood.

Chairs during this time has bow shaped backs and curved legs making the whole process quite involved.  The french were one of the first ones to come out with a whole line of upholstered chairs, including arm chairs, wing chairs, slipper chairs,  lounge chairs and sleeping chairs.

French chairs are still some of the most fascinating chairs to look at and still some of the most prestigious furniture a person can own.  I don’t think we will ever get tired of the French chair.

Louis XV Walnut Duchesse 1750, From Marinni Live Journal Russia