I was lucky enough to inherit a great armoire from our neighbors who were otherwise going to craigslist it (and according to my husband, I'm the adopter of lost furniture everywhere). The piece was totally solid and in great shape, with a 70s vibe. I've been seeking a piece to create a painted distressed chest for our home office and started working on this when my momma came to visit a couple of weeks ago.
After removing the drawers, doors, and hardware, I gave it a little rough up with an electric sander and 80 bit sandpaper. Wiped clean with a damp towel and allowed it to dry thoroughly. We painted it a wonderful neutral Martha Stewart. *Tip* Use a 4" high-density foam roller to paint so you don't get the typical roller marks a high-nap roller will leave. While the second coat was about 20 minutes into drying. we took a Scotch-Brite pad (like a green scour pad for dishes) and started roughing up the edges, doors, and some of the panels.
The great part about the rough up is that if you overdo it, you can just paint to touch it up. Once you reach your desired level of distress, allow to dry overnight.
The next day, I applied two coats of semi-gloss polyurethane with a disposable foam brush to protect and coat the piece, allowing to dry between coats. Re-install the doors, drawers, and hardware to complete!
Here are some shots of how we styled it. After all of that, mom consulted and it was decided the piece looked better in my living room, and it gives us TONS of storage in this space (photo albums, movies, tablecloths, placemats, and more!)