Distressing a paint finish successfully is an art. It isn't simply loading up a palm sander and attacking.
A light edge distressing is extremely attractive look and shows all the detail of your piece.
The more detailed the more it stands out in a crowd!
First lets talk sand paper ...
I hand sand all my distressing,
NO ELECTRIC SANDERS HERE!!!
I fold my paper over twice as shown in the photos.
To get into recessed areas I curve my paper as seen below.
Another trick is to highlight flaws.
When you come across something unusual in the finish like a knot or dent make it more noticeable.
See below how I've sanded a little extra around the dent.
Distressing is meant to simulate age. Imagine the wear and tear furniture goes through in 50 years. Kids sitting rubbing their feet over the same rung of a chair as they grow up, or
Mom wiping down the cabinet doors during each week of house cleaning. The paint starts to wear
in the same areas over time.
I hope this will help you with your distressing projects and gives you some great ideas.