A couple weeks ago after arriving home from a long day at work, I was greeted at the door by my smiling daughter who announced she had a surprise for me. She had arranged a cardboard box upside down in the center of my kitchen island, and she told me to get ready for something BIG. You see, a while back, my sweet Emmi had told me that she was going to email a couple of companies I liked and request a sample on my behalf, in exchange for an honest review. I told her to go ahead, that it sounded like a great idea, but hadn’t expected much in return. So when she lifted off the box I found myself in the midst of having a small, but positive heart attack. Oh…my…gosh… is this really happening? Yes it is. It really is. I had received a very generous gift from Miss Mustard Seed that included three bags of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint, a mechanical stirrer, some help oil, a paint brush, and a look book. Is it my birthday, anniversary, mother’s day all rolled into one? Well, no, but if felt like it. Needless to say, I told Emmi with a great deal of urgency, “We need to get something to paint… NOW!” We both stormed the basement, taking stairs two at a time, snagged a couple of smallish wall hanging type of décor pieces, and started prepping. (which included a light sanding and cleaning)
Now, I have used milk paint in the past, but it was long ago and it was not Miss Mustard Seed’s brand, so I was anxious to give this a try, I have heard it is quite amazing, but can have quite a learning curve. And oh boy, did it ever. First off, our first mix was way too thin, but because we didn’t want to waste any more of our precious paint, we decided to just apply 400 layers of ultra-thin paint to our pieces (at least the dry time was quick). In the end, after hours of painting at my dining room table and watching two or more episodes of “LOST”, (we’re a little behind the times people) we had two cute pieces of home décor with a nice, smooth matte finish. Not bad.
But for this generous bounty, I knew I needed to give it “real” try, on an actual piece of furniture. And I knew just the one.
A few months back, a friend of mine had kindly given me a fabulous dresser. It had great bones, minus the fact that it was missing a leg and had several unfortunate coats of paint that had seen better days. Often, this dresser would sneer at me from across my garage, and I would wave my angry fist back at it in response. Not because it was a bad dresser, it was LOADED with potential, but because it was a dresser I was in no hurry to makeover. I knew it would require a complete and very time-consuming amount of stripping and sanding. Then there was the matter of the leg. The stinkin’ missing leg.
It was, however a dresser that would be a perfect candidate for milk paint. Classic lines and solid bones. A time-worn beauty she was indeed. Ug.
So Friday, when I got home from work, I went straight to my garage, and started stripping. (the paint that is…) The layers of paint were cooperative, not super cooperative mind you, I’d give them about a 6 out of 10. The rest of the job had to be done with my “favorite” technique. The devil sanding. So I masked up, and started out with a few drawers, stripping, scraping, and sanding. Did I mention it was 95 degrees out? Gross.
And on a side note, for some reason, instead of having a designated pair of painting shorts, I just roll my pink painting sweat pants up about 30 times, so it looks like I’m wearing one large donut around each thigh. And I tend to wear nurse clogs without socks while I work. And I was sweating, a lot.
I write this to give you a mental picture of how cool I looked in my driveway that day.
So I loved the old lines on this dresser, and since I was embracing milk paint, and hopefully a few of its quirks, I decided to NOT fill chips and other things I would normally fill in, and leave it looking a little worn. This was a hard decision and left me quite shaken. In general, I like to make things look new again, as in, completely smooth and pristine. But the dresser told me that I should be a little open-minded, and just “let it go”. (like the song)
So after all the stripping, scraping, sanding, and cleaning I had done. I mixed the milk paint. This time, I added the perfect amount of milk paint (it’s a powder) to water, and I mixed and mixed and mixed, and let it sit for 15 minutes, then mixed again. And then I painted my freshly sanded and cleaned drawers. Three of them, the last drawer was currently blocked so I just did the three, figuring I’d do the fourth later.
This would be my first mistake.
The color I used was a very subtle green called “Layla’s Mint”. Now, I was open to the idea of chipping, in fact, I had hoped for a little, and thought that painting in the super heat (a no-no) would possibly aid in the chipping. But it was not to be, most likely because I sanded too well. The piece was practically bare wood again, so the milk paint sunk right in. But that’s ok, the finish was really pretty, similar to chalk paint, but with some subtle color variation, which I was loving.
After some light sanding, I painted a second coat, let it dry, sanded again, and decided to glaze the drawers using General Finishes Glaze Effects in Van Dyke brown.
Second mistake. For those of you who have glazed, you will know that glazing in almost 100 degree heat is…
impossible frustrating. Yes, I knew it would be problematic, I ain’t stupid. (just impatient) Let’s just say my shoulders got a really good workout trying to rub out all that excess glaze. But, the end results looked terrific. It was just the look I was going for. Now for the rest of the dresser.
Let me digress for a moment to give a shout out to the Milk Paint. I had literally painted the drawers only about an hour before applying the glaze. And as I said, it was so hot, the glaze just cemented itself to the drawer. I used all my strength to rub that glaze out, and the paint didn’t budge. That stuff is tough!!
Instead of stressing over exactly how I was going to fix the leg of the dresser, I made an executive decision and cut them all off. I know. It was hard, but once I started, it was quite liberating and I may have laughed maniacally during the whole process, which I barely ever get to do these days. And I actually like the results, a lot! Next was more of the same, stripping, scraping and sanding. I had been working on the dresser for about 7 hours now, and it was starting to get dark. BUT, I still had some paint mixed up from those three drawers, so I thought I better paint that last drawer. The paint had gotten fairly chunky (probably from the heat) so I added a little more water, and started mixing. It didn’t go very well, so I mixed a new amount, just to do that last drawer. Problem solved.
Or so I thought. Now, like I said, it was getting dark. So I painted the first and second coat and glazed the drawer like I had the others. It looked great, just like the first three. Until I brought it over to the other three and it was a completely different color. The other three, were definitely a muted green. The fourth. A toupey-grey.
But I was glad. I had met my first quirk. I had read in Marian’s look book just the night before about color variations, and the importance of mixing up enough milk paint to do the first coat on the entire piece to avoid such variations. She was right. Girl knows her paint.
And I should have known better.
I decided to sleep on it. (literally, I crawled into one of the drawers) Honestly, if it had been more than one drawer, I maybe would have kept it that way, because it was cool. But just having the bottom drawer gray was odd, so the next day, I mixed up the rest of the mix all at once, and I painted the entire piece including all four drawers again. This fixed the issue. After sanding, there was a delightful color variation in the dresser, and it had such a pretty authentic finish to it, like it had been around for ages.
And it sort of felt like it had to me too.
Next, I glazed the entire thing, again, in the heat and refinished the top using General Finishes Java gel stain. I decided I wanted to leave some of the old chippy finish to the lip around the top, and I also lightly sanded down the Java stained top to give it a worn look. When dry, I sealed it with the hemp oil, applying three coats with several days of cure time in between. I brought it inside for this process.
Next, I added the hardware, and drilled some new holes for the original castors, which is nice because this thing is HEAVY!
And here’s the finished look, it is exactly how I envisioned it, and I’m pleased as pie! (French Silk) The parts I didn’t fill, they just add to the look I was going for. While I’ll admit, it’s a lot more shabby chic than what I usually go for, I have fallen in love with this dresser, and all of its sweet, timeless character. I loved Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint, I loved that it gives a true authentic finish, that it is all natural, and mostly that is has a mind of its own.
I’d like to add a few notes on Miss Mustard Seed Milk paint. First, there are several ways to mix it, check out Marian’s website for tips and tricks. Also, you can mix colors to create your own unique look. (and OMG… the colors are amazing) For a chippier appearance, apply over an existing finish (but make sure to at least sand down the sheen for a more authentic look) And something to keep in mind, a lot of people think “farmhouse chippy” when they think of milk paint, and while you can especially master that look using these products, with the addition of a bonding agent, you can make your finish more predictable, and your piece perfectly pristine, leaving out all of the shabby, but none of the chic. (I bet you knew I was going to write that) I would highly recommend this paint and can’t thank Marian of Miss Mustard Seed enough for the fantastic gift. Stay tuned for a few more pieces I had the privilege of using this paint on. And just an FYI, Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint is available locally at Eco Chic in Fargo. Go get some, I most definitely will.
This little cutie pie will be available at the Junk Market, October 2-3 at the West Fargo Fairgrounds. I am, ahem… scrambling to get my booth ready and as always, guarantee a fantastic show. For reals.
Thank you so much for reading!