A beautiful french provincial buffet in general finishes empire gray chalk style paint
French Provincial furniture is a style that always looks good painted, in my opinion. Whether it has the original stain and poly on it or white paint with gold trim, the curvy shape of French Provincial furniture lends itself well to sporting a painted finish.
At the moment, I’m in full production mode for my upcoming antique market event – the “Witches Fly North Antique & Artisan Show” on October 4th and 5th at the Lebanon Expo Center in Lebanon, PA. If you want the full details on the show, click here.
This French Provincial buffet is my latest piece for the Witches market, and I’d love to share how I created this look!
Prepping the buffet
When I first got this buffet, I took it right out of the Sorento and plopped it in the driveway. It desperately needed a solid scrub-down with blue Dawn dish detergent and a Scotch Brite pad.
I washed this puppy inside and out using our garden hose and let it dry in the hot sun. The piece didn’t smell per-say, but it was very grimey from years of being neglected. The scrubbing was exactly what it needed!
empire gray chalk style paint by general finishes
When it came time to choose a color, I opted for a lovely neutral gray.
This particular product is General Finishes Chalk Style Paint in the color “Empire Gray”. Now I have good and bad news regarding this product. The bad news is that General Finishes discontinued their chalk style paint line. The good news is that Empire Gray was such a popular color that they created a Milk Paint product in the same color!
The only reason why I had a can of the discontinued chalk style paint was because I won it in General Finishes’s 2018 Design Challenge. I had yet to use it, so I thought this buffet would be the perfect opportunity!
sealing the buffet in white wax by miss mustard seed
Wax finished are a great option when you’re working with a chalk style of paint. To soften the Empire Gray, I opted to use White Wax by Miss Mustard Seed.
This buttery soft wax finish goes on like a dream! If you have ever had issues using a wax sealer before, you’re going to love Miss Mustard Seed’s waxes. They are all spreadable, malleable and don’t have a strong odor. If anything, they smell pleasant like a natural lotion!
When I apply waxes, I always use a Wax Brush by Miss Mustard Seed. I recommend using a Wax Brush because the natural bristles help smush the wax into all of the areas it needs to go. Plus, I feel that when I use a rag, most of the wax winds up on the rag rather than my piece.
The White Wax easily settled into the recessed areas of the buffet, providing protection and subtle areas of white here and there.
If you want to see how I did this, you can head to the Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint Instagram account and watch the highlight I created! (Note: To use this link, you’ll have to sign into Instagram on your computer or phone.)
Refinishing the top
My signature look on my pieces is having a refinished wood top with a painted base, so I carried that tradition on with this French Provincial buffet.
This top was a bit of a process, and it took some trial and error to get this final look.
I started by stripping the original finish off, which was quite the affair! There was an industrial-strength primer on this piece and it took several rounds of stripping to remove it. Once the gooey mess was removed with mineral spirits and it was completely dry, I sanded it down to the bare wood.
Originally, I envisioned a whitewashed wood top. To start, I applied a layer of General Finishes High Performance Topcoat in Satin on the raw wood and followed up with a layer of their Winter White Glaze Effects.
The natural color of the wood was a bit on the orange side, so when it combined with the white color of the glaze, it actually made the top look purple! To tone that down, I applied a layer of my favorite Water Based Wood Stain, Graystone.
This definitely toned the orange down and gave me a gorgeous gray base. Unfortunately, it also toned down the whitewash look at the same time. So I let everything dry very well and topped the entire top off with more White Wax by Miss Mustard Seed.
The effect is lovely!
Cleaning the drawers
Most of the drawers were in pretty good shape. The top right had felt along the bottom and it was dirty and dusty. I ripped it out and replaced it with a lovely gray paper.
It took a little bit of effort to wiggle the paper under the built-in slats in the drawer, but it was worth it to have a clean surface.
I also carried the gray paper onto the shelves inside the doors on each side.
Now I didn’t line every single drawer because most of them were in fantastic shape. I only lined the surfaces that needed a liner. I used a Beeswax and Orange Oil furniture polish on the rest.
Plus, it would be a bit tricky to cut paper to fit the curves along the front of the drawers!
Unifying the hardware
The hardware was in great shape and was all in tact. Nothing was missing, but some pieces had tarnished more than others over time. The resulting patina was a bit uneven from one handle to another.
To unify the hardware, I applied Rub N Buff in the color Ebony to each piece (affiliate link).
This gave me consistent color across the piece and a nice contrast against the Empire Gray Chalk Style Paint.
I carried this contrast into my staging with the use of dark accent pieces. A few tarnished silver tea items, a bundle of dark bound books and a vintage camera carried this dark accent all the way up the piece.
The doors are actually from my MMS Milk Paint display cabinet at Morgantown Market.
I took them off early on in my booth arranging because they stick out too far into the aisle. It’s easier to grab MMS Milk Paint products without them being attached.
But boy do they look pretty as accent pieces!
witches fly north antique and artisan show
This piece will be available at the “Witches Fly North Antique & Artisan Show” on October 4th and 5th at the Lebanon Expo Center in Lebanon, PA. If you want the full details on the show, click here for more information and to purchase tickets. Most of the pieces I’m painting right now are reserved for this market event. It’s production time!