I’m constantly scoring amazing antique pieces of furniture from my two local Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Whenever I’m in their neighborhoods, I make a point to stop by. This dresser came from my last trip.
It had good bones and sturdy structure. The knobs weren’t original. You can tell because there was an outline of a backplate embedded in the wood surrounding each knob. See the circle around the right nob on the second drawer? Regardless of the knob situation, the dresser was a fantastic piece for a makeover. I didn’t feel bad about painting this one because the finish was pretty tired and worn.
Here’s a close up of that decorative piece in the middle.
I really wanted to paint this piece in Outback Petticoat, which is the newest color in the Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint line. It’s a beautiful rusty orange that gets its inspiration from the orange soil of the Australian Outback.
The “petticoat” part of the name comes from the pioneer woman who lived near the Outback. The hems of their petticoats would get stained orange from the soil, hence the name “Outback Petticoat”.
My inspiration was the dresser that Marian painted when she first debuted the new color.
My piece has almost exactly the same shape with minor decorative differences. My hesitancy in using this color is that I was afraid it wouldn’t sell. I try to paint pieces that will appeal to a wide range of customers and orange is a risk I’m not 100% sure I’m ready to take quite yet. I’m crazy about the color though when it’s executed tastefully, like Marian’s dresser. Marc suggested that I try using it on a smaller less expensive piece, which I think is a good compromise.
While I was deciding on which of the 24 gorgeous colors to use, I scuffed my piece in preparation for it to be painted. Scuffing is not removing the original finish completely, but rather roughing up the surface and giving it “tooth” so your Milk Paint can adhere better. Here’s what a properly scuffed surface looks like. (You can really see the outline of the original knob backplate in this photo.)
During my demo at Consign-It Furniture this weekend, the most frequently asked questions were in regards to prep work, so thought I would make a little video to further document the process. Enjoy!
From start to finish, the prep work on this dresser took about 15 minutes (if you exclude the time it took to set up my iPhone to take video). It’s time well spent in the long run.
At this point, I had finally decided on the color scheme. I was inspired by this photo of an antique dresser that Marian painted to showcase her warm almond color, Marzipan, in the European line. I liked how the bright white of the ironstone pieces popped against the creamy Marzipan paint, so I decided to go for a neutral two toned look.
Here was another inspiration piece from The Ironstone Nest.
Before I started executing my neutral two toned look, I had to take care of the original finish. It had a reddish/orange tone to it, and I was a bit nervous that I would get bleed through because I was using a lighter color. Tough Coat is the perfect product to use if you want to prevent bleed through. It’s the water-based sealer in the MMS Milk Paint line and can be used as a topcoat, primer, or sealer. It’s a fantastic product to seal in chipping paint too! (If you’re within driving distance of Morgantown, PA, you can pick some up in my booth downstairs atMorgantown Market.)
I usually pour mine into an ironstone or ceramic cup.
Using a paintbrush, I applied one coat, taking care not to overwork it.
Can you see that reddish tone I was nervous about?
I gave the dresser a good solid 2 hours to dry. I wanted to make sure that Tough Coat was fully and completely dry before I began painting. If you read the label, that’s the time that’s recommended in between coats. (Make sure you read your labels on your paint products. That sounds like a total no-brainer, but you can avoid a lot of painting issues if you simply read the instructions and use products as they’re intended.)
Once the Tough Coat was dry, I started work on the top of the dresser. I taped it off and mixed up a 50/50 blend of Curio and Typewriter. My plan was to create a rich and dark stain because there were quite a few blemishes, despite the fact that I had completely stripped it.
These marks would have come out if I sanded the top down with my orbital sander, but the northeast is currently recovering from a winter storm. There are 20 mph winds whipping outside so lugging the dresser down the stairs and sanding outside wasn’t very appealing.
So….dark stain it is!
If I’m going to stain the top of a piece, I always do it before I paint the bottom. I find I make less mistakes this way. If you work in the opposite order, I won’t tell! Mixing Curio and Typewriter is becoming one of my favorite combinations for staining wood. The Typewriter adds a cool richness that’s very appealing.
I painted my rich stain on in full strength because I wanted as much coverage as possible. Whenever you stain wood with Curio, or this custom blend, it always looks dry and ashy when it dries.
See what I mean? It always looks better when you apply a topcoat and I highly recommend using Hemp Oil. You see the difference almost immediately (but you’ll have to wait until the end of the post for those pictures!)
Once the top was finished, I began work on the bottom. Here’s what the first coat of Marzipan looked like.
The first coat is always the worst. It’s streaky, uneven, thin, and is very unsettling if you’re not expecting it. If your first coat looks like this, give yourself a high five because you’re totally doing it right!
Here’s my second coat going on.
The second coat provides the coverage you’re looking for. This is the stage when you sit back and realize it’s all going to be ok!
I wound up putting 3 coats of Marzipan on the dresser. I probably could have stopped at 2, but there were a few spots where the wood was peeking through and I knew I would feel better with 3. When I work on furniture, there are always opportunities to cut corners (for example, stopping at 2 coats of paint). I feel that what separates true high quality painted furniture from all of the rest is going that extra mile. Spend the time to put on that extra coat of poly. Sand just a little longer to make your piece smooth. Take the time to adjust that wonky drawer. In my head, I paint every piece of furniture as if it was going to God’s house. Being a Christian, it’s my aim to do everything as if I were doing it for Him because in actuality, I am doing everything for Him. I feel that He has blessed me with the opportunity and skill to paint furniture, so I want to do it well.
After 3 coats of Marzipan, I highlighted some of the decorative parts with Farmhouse White to add some interest. I did the medallion in the middle and the grooves on either side.
Next, I applied Hemp Oil and wet-sanded. You can read all about that process onmy tutorial I wrote for the MMS Milk Paint blog. I even rubbed some Hemp Oil on the rusted and dried out caster wheels.
They shined up well!
I gently distressed to add some age.
I exchanged the knobs with ring pulls that help pull in the dark top.
The inside of the drawers were a bit…orange.
To dull it down, I picked up some pretty white and beige drawer lining,
and cut pieces to fit each drawer.
And here it is!
I staged this piece with a cow print from Marian’s Society 6 collection, some dried lavender in mini milk bottles, and an alabaster lamp.
This little cow has the sweetest face ever, doesn’t she?
Here’s a close up of the white details on each side.
The ring pulls really pulled this piece together and made it feel finished.
UPDATE – I had every intention of delivering this dresser to Morgantown Market, but a friend of mine from my church has already purchased it! This is the second piece of furniture that sold before I could get it out the door. What a wonderful problem to have!