Like the vintage Osman family singers, this milk painted dresser is a little bit of country…and a little bit of rock and roll.
Okay, I admit it, I’m a milk paint virgin. This is because I really like the more “finished” look of chalk paint applied and waxed. So I’ve been a bit hesitant to try the less finished, often chippy look of milk paint. But after finding a local source for the Real Milk Paint, a 1800 handmade formula made in Bucks’ County, PA., I decided to give it a whirl.
You likely know this but milk paint is all the rage right now. And, milk paint, in my opinion, is definitely not for the faint of heart! However, I am determined to at least try it as an option and see if it sells in my part of the country. The colors that were available to me were blue and white and I choose blue for this four-drawer, tilt mirror dresser.
This old hard wood dresser, purchased at an auction last summer has a tight grain of undetermined origin, possibly walnut. Though the wood has some figure to it, it also had a very old and odd colored stains on its top and the finish was nearly worn off. The top had a thin crack in the wood and it needed quite a lot of work, so no one else was interested. I was able to scoop it up for just $10.00. With its “repurposed spirit” four VERY deep and roomy drawers, I felt, with some effort, it could be brought back to life.
My “child’s room” staging includes a thrift store globe, a homemade hobby-horse covered with brightly colored tissue paper, a large letter “B” and a second-hand art box.
First I set about locating two missing wooden mushroom-style pulls. I found two pulls for the two top drawers at my favorite local vintage hardware shop, B & C Emporium in Allegan, MI., b-c-e.biz. Again, I am praising this locally owned and run business since I can affordably replace drawer pulls, hardware, locksets and other types of hardware there.
While my husband set about restoring the top of the dresser, I refreshed the inside of the drawers by painting them in several costs ASCP Old Ochre. They took three coats or more than one half of a qt. of chalk paint. Gene sanded off the old finish on the top and the drawer fronts and glued and clamped a small crack on the surface of the top. (He prefers to sand over stripping whenever possible due to less water being used and less of a chance of the veneer unexpectedly lifting up and having to be replaced. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know what a pain that can be.)
The top of the dresser has been sanded. Note the missing mushroom pulls and the lovely curves of apron front and side.
This top to this piece isn’t what I’d call “top quality” wood but still it is quite presentable. Being tightly grained this wood did not easily take my stain so before I was satisfied I had used one coat of Minwax dark Walnut, two coats of Jacobean, and a final coat of Ebony before I was satisfied.
Time for milk paint. The Real Milk Paint Company milk paint originated in the 1800’s using a handmade formula made in Bucks’ County, PA. I painted one coat and WOW, and thought, “Whew, this is bright!” In fact I thought, this is much brighter than I had hoped, but there is no going back now. I painted the frame of the piece and reserved the top and drawers for staining. I felt that having about 40% wood stained surfaces would help to tone down the bright blue color and help to make it not so, as we use to say in the 1970’s, psychedelic!
This dresser is special, I think, with its front curved apron, inset side panels and the unusual half-moon-style curved part of the side panel base. Together the dresser style and the bright blue paint make this dresser, as Donnie and Marie Osmund would say, “A little bit of country and a little bit of rock and roll!”
After the first coats of paint dried I did a bit of sanding to distress. Some parts came off easily and some parts held like iron. By rubbing my hands over the side panel I could feel that the water in the milk paint had raised the grain somewhat. I ran a dry towel over painted wood and that smooth them down enough for my satisfaction.
I was uncertain what wax to use and although I could have purchased some Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil I would have had to make a 45 minute drive (each way) to do just that. So I experimented with ASCP dark wax on a test board but did not like it-too dark. Then I tried ASCP clear soft wax. That wax left a bit of a whitish substance on the surface but I decided I could live with it.
As an aside, the milk paint came off easily from my brush though it somewhat tinted the clear wax in the can. But a thick glob of undiluted Palmolive Dish Soap cleaned up the wax brush as well as my hands.
I painted the tops of the wooden pulls and waxed them creating an interesting soft velour-like-surface. The mirror was painted blue and the mirror holder stand was sanded and stained like the rest.
I also tested two other wooden items to see how the milk paint performed used under chalk paint. One experiment was a vintage cheese box that I layered first with blue milk paint and then lightly dry brushed with CCC Alaskan Tundra green-love how that turned out!
This four-drawer dresser with a tilt mirror is 40” W X 33” T X 19” D.
It is a very roomy piece with lots of storage in its four deep drawers and would make a great addition to a child’s room, entryway or playroom. This piece is for sale though White Oak Studio Designs. Priced at $190.00.
Small House / Big Sky Donna