I've been reading a lot of crafting and decorating blogs lately, and I've been seeing LOTS of heavily distressed finishes. Now, I love a distressed piece here and there, and I love old things. My decorating style is informed somewhat by my trip to Italy a few years back (especially Florence). And many of these items are things I would love to have in my garden, if I didn't live in a climate where they would rot or rust away within a year. But to me, having a heavily-distressed urn sitting on a heavily-distressed table next to a heavily-distressed chair is a bit much. Having the exact same thing outside would shout loveliness and sophistication to me. But having it inside shouts something more along the lines of "dirt."
These are some random photos I found, but picture this lamp on this table in front of this armoire. All are cool pieces of furniture. I especially like the lamp. But, to me, each one would look best with some contrasting furniture and accessories. For example, put the lamp on a dark-wood table, with a lush velvet reading chair nearby. Put the armoire in a bedroom with thick comforters and glass or porcelain lamps. Put the table in an otherwise modern kitchen.
Perhaps my style is too...eclectic...to have that much of one finish all together. But I think, too, that too much distressing gives something of the same feel that too many slick, modern finishes give. Don't we distress things to give something of an authentic feel, the sense of age, about something? I like that something slightly distressed already has that "first scratch" in it--I don't have to be worried about messing it up so much. But really, how much "authenticity" is there to something that was given an appearance of age in two days? If everything is hugely distressed, in a way that would only happen if you left it out in the weather for half a century, but you know you (or someone else) did all that weathering, to me that feels the same as having a room full of plastic, metal and glass that's all shiny and new-looking.
Perhaps I'm coming at this from the wrong angle, and perhaps I'll change my mind later on. But for now, I'll let things age naturally--with perhaps just the tiniest bit of help on occasion.