Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | March 24, 2013

Testing Paint Color Using “Smalls”

Painting Series 101:

I am unveiling a new category on my blog, I am calling “Painting 101.” From time to time I’ll share various “tips and trade secrets” about painting I’ve discovered (and hopefully mastered) along this creative journey.

Painting 101 graphic 73in text

When I first began to paint with chalk and milk paint, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how chalk and milk paint would cover, color or turn out. I didn’t know what paint color combos went well together, or didn’t.


I found that working with a small wooden item was, for me, the best way to experiment without wasting a lot of time or effort in painting a big piece that just had to be repainted again.


Possible Smalls:

Wooden Stool

Magazine Rack

Camp Stool

Cigar Box

Silverware Tray

Candle Box

Bread Box

Letter Holder

Antique Mold

Tool Carrier

Plate Rack

We all know that chalk paint is a wonderful paint, but kind-of-expensive, and that way too, if the color did not work out to my satisfaction not a lot of paint was used.


This blue antique mold was used to test milk paint for the first time.

Every antique and vintage show has a collection of “smalls.” These are, as they say, small decorative pieces intended to decorate the furniture on display as well as to offer a variety of price ranges of items for sale. I’ve been collecting “smalls’ for this very reason and found another use for them when I first began decorative painting.


While some use wood trim pieces and others, like Miss Mustard Seed, uses stair banisters and posts to show paint colors, I developed my technique of painting whatever small wooden items I had on hand or could buy from Goodwill or a resale shop.


I like this technique because;

  1. It takes less time than testing paint on a dresser
  2. It takes less paint that painting a larger piece of furniture only to find I don’t like the way it looks
  3. It costs me less money
  4. Less paint is wasted
  5. I have a “sample” piece to show a customer in order for them to select a color
  6. I have painted props ready for staging photographs
  7. And, I have smalls already prepared if down the road I decide to sell them


Works for me!

Small House / Big Sky Donna

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