Distressed is when we paint the surface of the cabinet door, drawers and or furniture, and sand back on the edges to reveal the original wood underneath the paint. It gives it a cottage or shabby chic look.
Its a personal preference. Some people like nice even distressed lines, so like random distressing here and there. The more random and heavy distressed would be for someone that likes the farmhouse, shabby chic look.
The look you are going to get from distressing also depends on the color of the original wood surface. If you have light oak and we paint it white and distress, its not going to show up as much and if we started with a dark wood surface. See examples in the photo gallery below.