Well, it took a bit of time to develop (three times lifting that hutch up onto the base and lots of looking and discussing to be precise), but these two pieces finally came together to make one awesome, bead board hutch.
And wow-wee…some matches were just meant to be.
The piece was a group effort. As I shared, my dad and I worked together on rebuilding the base and I removed the rotted doors and all of the flaking paint. From there, Emily and I tag-teamed the painting, distressing, and finishing of this beast. (Emily, by the way, came up for a few days to learn and help. She is based in Raleigh and you can find her at PennyandIvy on Instagram.)
She spent the better part of those three days with her head inside this cabinet! It was a lot of painting, but we agreed that it needed to be painted, inside and out, in MMS Milk Paint Grain Sack, to make the two pieces work together.
The exterior of the hutch top was already a Grain Sack-ish white, so we just sealed that with Tough Coat. The interior was a bright blue/green and, even though it was a pretty color, it was too bright and looked off when the doors were open.
You can see all of the flatware I’ve been collecting for my “flatware bar” that I’ll have set up at Lucketts. I have oodles of forks and knives, but I’m still on the hunt to fill my spoon jar.
The linens are from my personal stash, but I am ordering more to sell at Lucketts.
And I’m so pleased with how this piece turned out. It would be perfect for display and/or storage in a home or commercial space.
While we’re on the topic of Lucketts, I wanted to share that I will be offerings holds again this year for VIP ticket holders. Pieces will be held until noon on Friday and then they are fair game. I like to offer this, so that shoppers who invest in the $40 for first pick can, hopefully, get the item they really want without feeling like they have to race to get to it first.
I’ll be sharing more details about that soon, but I wanted to let everyone know, since some of my veteran customers have already asked for pieces to be held.
Also, since I’m closing the studio in June, I don’t want to take a lot home. Everything left on Sunday will be heavily discounted, so it’ll be a great shopping day for bargain hunters and dealers wanting to resell.
Since we first launched our milk paint line, Tricycle (our red) was clearly red before it was even mixed with water. The color of the pigment was visible dry…
While this red pigment made a perfect shade of rich, yummy red, the powder was messy to work with and it was difficult to mix with water. If you’ve spilled or mixed Tricycle, you know just what I’m talking about!
After extensive testing, we have switched the red pigment used in Tricycle. This new pigment has a paler appearance when it’s dry, but it is much easier to work with and mix.
It looks a bit more like Arabesque at first glance…
…but, like our blues, when the water is added, the pigment wakes up!
And this pigment wakes up quickly and loves the water, so it’s very easy to mix.
Once mixed, it’s the same rich, yummy red that Tricycle has always been.
I have some things to share tonight, but I’m going to do something I don’t usually (or ever) do. I’m going to ask you to watch this video first and then read the post. The reason is that I’m going to talk about the video and I don’t want you to read all about it before you watch it. Okay? Deal?
Did you watch it? Okay, now you can read…
So, Saturday morning, I was showering to get ready for the day and I was thinking about the landscape dresser that I just finished. I was smiling at the fact that someone was coming to buy it that morning, despite all of my doubts and struggles as I worked on it. I was intimidated by that piece and I told myself that.
You’re going to mess this up. You aren’t good enough to pull this off.
But I pushed through it and, in the end, was really pleased with the results.
As I thought through those emotions, the lightbulb went off. This is how a lot of people feel when painting a piece of furniture, when using milk paint, probably when tackling most home projects. There is a moment of pause and those voices of negativity push in on you. You can decided to listen to them or you can prove yourself wrong.
Ah! This is my next milk paint commercial!!!
I literally hopped out of the shower, wrapped up in a towel, and ran out to get a scrap of paper and pen to write down exactly what I envisioned. It was rather silly, because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have forgotten it in the five minutes it takes to properly dry off and dress, but I wasn’t going to risk it!
As I envisioned the commercial, I knew exactly the words I wanted to say and the emotions I wanted to express. I also immediately pictured the face of the person I wanted to be featured in the video – Jen Baker.
I met her at 2015 Lucketts when she was shopping our space and spent some time chatting with me and Kriste. A few weeks later, she spent the day with us at the studio. Since then, I’ve followed her on Facebook and her blog, Eight Hundred Furniture, and she hung out with us for a while at Lucketts this year. Anyway, I pictured her face, clear as day, for this commercial.
If you did watch the video, as instructed, you know why I pictured her. She has the warmest, most contagious smile and that was going to be important for the ending. She also has an “every-girl” quality about her. That could be me or you or your friend painting that piece of furniture.
I sent her a text only hours after writing down the idea and she agreed to be my “model”.
And she was available on Tuesday.
Okay, this is happening and I didn’t have a piece for her to paint!! So, my mom and I went out shopping on Monday and I found a sweet Eastlake dresser that was perfect.
I found a few other awesome pieces, too, which I’ll share in another post.
Last night, my brain was buzzing with the anticipation of the day ahead, so I started looking for a piece of music. I listened to clips for a couple of hours until I found the one I used and it was perfect – moving, beautiful, and hopeful. I even took the time to make a mock-up of the commercial with the music and some old video clips, so I could share my vision with Kriste and Jen the next morning.
Today, everything came together. The day was overcast (mostly), so it was perfect for shooting outside. Jen was a dream to work with and totally got the emotions I wanted her to convey. The piece turned out great as well (although I am going to get simpler hardware for it, but that was all we had on such short notice!)
I edited the video as soon as we had all of the footage. I felt like I needed to get it done while it was fresh.
The finished product was just what I hoped for.
Yes, a commercial is about promoting a product, but my goal has always been more than that. I want to encourage and inspire and I wanted this video to convey that – to flesh out what my tagline, “move mountains in your home”, means.
It’s not about pretty decorating. It’s about experiencing the process of creativity and working with your hands and ending up with something you’re pleased with…not because it’s the best thing ever made, but because you made it. It might be wonky and crooked and imperfect, but it’s your wonkiness and crookedness and imperfectness. You learned and you grew through the process.
One of the reasons I love milk paint is because it can chip and flake in a way that makes a freshly painted finish look authentically old. This chipping can be a bit random, though.
I’ve tested out a lot of different products and techniques to consistently force chipping to happen and, while I’ve achieved some great finishes, the consistent, authentic-looking chipping has been illusive.
Last week, I had several of my milk paint retailers in the studio for some refresher training and we played with some products and techniques to see what we came up with. On of the favorite teachniques was painting a coat of milk paint, followed by some 100% Beeswax Finish in select places, then another coat of paint, another coat of Beeswax Finish, and so on. I think I did five coats altogether, using a heat gun to help dry time. The result was a really chippy, crusty finish that looked a lot like an antique painted counter in my studio.
Now, that is a pretty specific finish that would have to be used on the right piece in just the right way, but I was excited about the potential and tried some other variations on a few more sample boards.
On Thursday, Kriste and I decided to test it out on a table. It was already painted when we bought it, but I liked the tongue and groove top and the shape of the legs.
Once the first coat was dry, Kriste brushed some Beeswax Finish here and there on the table base.
The paint will chip wherever the wax is applied.
Kriste immediately applied a coat of Farmhouse White over the wet wax.
And we waited.
Sometimes watching paint dry is actually fun.
And why not eat lunch on the table you’re working on?
We both worked to sand the green paint off the edges of the table top. I didn’t mind a few little remnants of paint hanging on, but I didn’t like the entire edge painted in the green. We also lightly rubbed the painted surface with a fine sanding sponge to remove the loose paint.
Kriste finished the top and painted base with Hemp Oil and a little bit of Antiquing Wax on the areas where crackling occurred to bring that texture out.
We sighed and fawned over the finish, pointed out our favorite spots.
And here is the result…
It has that look of a piece that has been painted a few times and each layer has been worn from the bumps and dings of family life as it was gathered around this table.
And the Hemp Oil brought back the warmth and patina of the wood top.
If the chippy look is not really your thing, just wait until I show how buttery smooth the finish is on the piece I painted for my mom’s bedroom makeover…
My love of upcycling furniture started when I was in my 20s and living in New York City in the early 1980s. I furnished my apartment with curbside finds and discarded antiques. I think I painted everything matte black back then! I even hand-sanded the old oak floors of my apartment.
Fast-forward many years later after a successful career working as a marketing professional and raising a family in Toronto, my husband and I decided to buy a 10-acre country property just north of Toronto. We traded our city life for a world where we are now surrounded by beautiful forest trees brimming with chirping birds, our 2 dogs, some chickens, tapping trees & making maple syrup, and growing lots of organic vegetables.
I had always dreamed of having my own retail store so last year I decided it was now or never. There’s a charming small town near us called Alliston. It’s quaint and country, but also has a hip and growing feel to it with lots of young families from the city moving there because it’s more affordable than Toronto. The local Business Improvement District has a campaign called “Rurban Living – the best of both worlds.” And that’s so true. All around us are farmer’s markets, antique and vintage shops, and so many talented artisans. I’m also a craft fair junky and knew I wanted to highlight artisan work, so I decided to launch the “modern general store” style venture and focus my business on Canadian and artisan products as well as furniture painting and craft supplies. I currently carry Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint and FAT Chalk-style paint – both Canadian companies.
We opened on the first day of Spring in March of 2018 so it’s only been a couple of months for us so far. Since then we’ve had an amazing embrace from the Alliston community and have held about 8 different workshops and events already! My shop is filled with beautiful antiques that I collected to use as fixtures. All have been painted with milk paint and are a great way to showcase colours for my paint customers. We also offer custom furniture painting services for people who don’t have the time or space to do it themselves.
I think my favorite MMS colour at the moment is Aviary. For my store fixtures, I wanted the palette to be light colours so Aviary was a welcome break from all the white and cream tones I’d been using night and day. The launch of Aviary happened to coincide with our first live demo day so we painted a small table with it. Shortly afterward, I had a customer give me a beautiful birdcage which, of course, we painted in Aviary!
I realized I totally dropped the ball on our Milk Paint 101 series! I left you at the first coat and promptly forgot about you.
So, you’ve applied the number of coats needed in order to get the finish as opaque as desired. In most cases, two coats do it. Sometimes more are required if there is a high contrast between the color you chose and the surface you’re painting.
Once everything is dry, this is when I like to distress. Some people like to apply wax or oil finishes first, then distress, then apply the finish again, while others like to dive right into the distressing. I fall in the latter camp. It’s one less step and it uses less product. The advantage to waxing or oiling first is that it cuts down dramatically on the amount of dust that is produced.
Now, the paint is dry, the distressing is done and you’re ready for a topcoat.
Let me insert here that you can leave milk paint raw and I often do. Raw milk paint is matte, chalky and so beautiful on certain pieces and in certain colors. If you like the piece as is, then just leave it! I wouldn’t leave a tabletop or other well-used horizontal surfaces raw, but it’s fine for table legs, chairs, dressers, hutches, etc.
If you want to apply a finish, you have a few different options within our product line. You can, of course, use whatever topcoat you want, but I’m going to cover the ones I carry in my line in this post. If you’d like my take on other topcoats I’ve used in the past, you can check out THIS POST.
This is a long, packed-with-information kind of post, so let’s dive in…
Furniture Wax goes on clear. It can be applied with a brush (a fluffy, natural brush is best) or a cloth. I prefer a cloth when I’m applying to large, flat surfaces, and a brush to get into nooks and crannies of spindles and carvings.
The key with any wax is to apply it in a thin layer. If you ever have trouble with wax being smudgy, sticky, smeary, tacky, etc., it means you applied too much wax. Think of wax like a skin lotion. It needs to be worked into the surface evenly, allowing it to be absorbed. Too much will just sit on top and be a mess.
It should feel dry to the touch almost immediately. It might feel a little cool and waxy, but the piece can be touched and used right away.
It gives a super smooth, hard, water-repellant finish without any brush strokes.
Wax is a finish that absorbs, but it’s also a “buildable” finish. You can build the finish by adding more (thin) layers of wax, which can make the finish glossier and thicker.
The gloss can also vary based on how you buff it. If you just buff it with your brush as you apply it, it will be matte. If you buff it by hand, with gusto, or with an electric buffer/buffing pad, it can have a nice gloss to it.
If a wax finish is marred/scratched, it can be repaired. Lightly sand the marred area and reapply more wax.
It is labor intensive to apply wax. Our wax is soft, like the consistency of margarine, so it spreads on easily, but it still takes some muscle.
It can be tricky to get it really smooth in appearance on a large, flat surface, like a table top. An electric buffer or a buffing pad on an orbital sander really helps with that.
It is wax and it will melt if it gets too hot. It does have to be pretty intense heat and sunshine, so being inside under a window would be fine. Just keep it in mind, especially if you have pieces on a porch or are putting them in a garage or storage unit that isn’t climate controlled.
The tinted waxes, White Wax and Antiquing Wax, are applied in the same way and the pros and cons apply to them as well. As few tips on working with tinted waxes…
Remember these are a decorative technique and a finish in one. It’s not necessary to apply another finish over Antiquing or White Wax.
If you want more control over the intensity of the tinted wax, apply it over Furniture Wax. The clear Furniture Wax will act as a barrier, sealing in the color, preventing the tinted wax from staining the paint. It makes it easier to slide around, too, for a more subtle end result.
The idea is to work the tinted wax into all of the recesses of the piece and then wipe it off of the “high points”, so the wax remains more intense in those recesses. This highlights texture, dings, dents, crazing, carvings, etc.
You can mix the two waxes together to make a “gray wax”, which is lovely, especially over whites.
The tinted waxes can also be used directly on raw wood, almost as a staining wax. The Antiquing Wax gives a beautiful warm stain and the White Wax lends a pickled/limed look.
100% BEESWAX FINISH
This is the new wax on the block. We introduced it, so we could have a food safe, all-natural wax. It is stiffer than the other waxes in our line and, for that reason, I prefer to apply it with a rag, using a brush only to get it into nooks and crannies. A little bit goes a very long way with this particular wax.
This wax can be used in all of the ways Furniture Wax can, but it is food safe, so it can be used on cutting boards, rolling pins, butcher block counters, wooden children’s toys, etc.
I wasn’t even sure I was going to carry this finish with the milk paint line when it first launched. I was new to oil finishes and wasn’t 100% sold on them. Now, Hemp Oil is probably my favorite product in our line and my favorite finish ever. It is so versatile, so easy to use, and it gives consistently good results.
You can use it on raw wood, stained wood, porous paint, metal, leather and more. Like wax, it’s a finish that absorbs, but unlike wax, it isn’t “buildable”. If you apply more layers of Hemp Oil, it’s just going to sit on top and get sticky. You only want to apply as much oil as the surface can absorb.
Just brush it on with a natural bristle brush and wipe away the excess with a clean(ish), lint-free cloth. We started using microfiber cloths in the studio last year and those are the best for this. They don’t leave lint behind and they are great at wicking up the oil and leaving the finish nice and smooth.
Some tips for working with Hemp Oil –
You may notice the oil leaching out of the surface a day or two after application. Just wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. It will stop, but the surface is just letting you know it can’t absorb that oil and it should be wiped up.
In dryer climates, as the hemp oil dries out, it can be reapplied at any time to bring back richness and a slight gloss to the finish.
One of my favorite techniques with Hemp Oil is “wet sanding”. Apply Hemp Oil and don’t wipe up the excess. Leave the surface wet and then sand it with a fine sand paper. Once you’re done sanding, wipe away the excess oil. The result is a buttery smooth finish like no other. It’s just divine.
TOUGH COAT (water based poly)
I was really hesitant to add a water based poly to our line. I like finishes that absorb, like waxes and oils, not ones that sit on top, like poly finishes. The problem comes in when moisture gets under it and they chip, flake, etc. They aren’t as forgiving with gouges, scratches, heat and watermarks. BUT, before I talk you out of it altogether, there are some great uses for a water based poly, which is why I decided to add Tough Coat to the line.
Tough Coat is a buildable, durable finish that is the hardest finish in our line. It is self-leveling and non-yellowing. You can apply it with a brush, roller, sprayer or applicator pad.
We have been carrying it in a satin finish, but the “new & improved” formula is matte.
I personally like to use it for two main things…as a sealer for chipping paint (new milk paint or old paint) and as a sealer/primer for pieces that might bleed.
One thing to keep in mind is that almost all finishes, including these, require about 30 days to fully cure. This means that you cannot expect the topcoat to perform at its best until it’s been allowed to cure completely. That’s like expecting a fresh manicure to hold up while you’re fishing your keys out of your purse. The finish needs to dry AND cure before it’s heavily used. You can use pieces finished with all of the products above the same day they are finished, but just be gentle with them. Don’t place things that are heavy or wet on top. Be careful as you’re moving them and living with them.
You will notice a difference in the feel and durability of the finish once it’s cured, so be patient!
WHICH FINISH IS RIGHT FOR YOUR PROJECT?
I wish there was a clearcut answer. There are just so many variables and a lot of it comes down to preference. I hear of people combining our topcoats and using them in ways I hadn’t tried or even thought of and the look is brilliant.
In the studio, we use Hemp Oil about 80% of the time. We keep it in a cup sitting out when we’re working on furniture a lot, because it’s just our go-to. I know other people who love Tough Coat or love Waxes. I think there are projects that are well-suited to one finish or the other, but there really aren’t set rules.
Remember that furniture painting/refinishing is part technical, part art. The art part of that equation gives you license to experiment, play, break from convention and discover what you love.
I hope that sharing the details about each finish will give you a point in the direction of which finish is right for you!
A few weeks ago, I took a trip out to one of my favorite antique stores (Beaver Creek Antiques in Hagerstown, MD) to pick up a pie safe I had been mulling over for a while. It was perfect. Chipping, creamy-white old paint, still wearing all of the original tins and she is an old girl who has lived a good life and has gotten even better with age.
This post is not about that pie safe, though. This post is about the one that had, shall we say, issues.
But, it also had potential.
And things with potential are my favorite.
So, some obvious issues…the neon green curtains.
Well, as Kriste put it, “Someone tried.”
The other issue was that this poor pie safe was basically in pieces.
The bottom was missing and one side had come apart. Fortunately, the missing tins from that side were in one of the drawers.
I would write a tutorial on how I fixed this, but I basically figured it out as I went along!
I started out by glueing the wood rails, the cross pieces, back in place. They had tongues on each end that fit into a groove. I clamped them, so the glue had a chance to dry overnight.
I took some measurements for the bottom shelf and to cut a piece of wood for the missing rail along the bottom of the side.
I found a scrap piece of wood in our workshop and asked Jeff to cut it to size for me (I don’t do table saws) and cut a groove in the top of it, so the tin has a place to rest.
Since this piece doesn’t have tongues, on the inside of the board, I drilled two Kreg pocket holes on each side, so I could screw it in place.
I had an old piece of wood on hand that was almost exactly the right size to make a new cupboard bottom. Jeff cut that piece down for me, too, so it fit perfectly.
I like that it’s an old piece that looks like it has always been there. I tacked all of the shelves and the new/old bottom in place with finishing nails.
And now it’s ready to paint…
Now, I know some people aren’t going to like this piece painted. That’s okay. I wanted to paint it to camouflage the repair on the side and because this wood didn’t particularly speak to me. I can’t explain it, but this wood didn’t look as old as it actually was and that bugged me. I could tell from the interior wood, hardware, tins, construction, etc. that it’s an old piece, but the wood on the outside read too “1980’s country reproduction” to me, even though it wasn’t.
All of that to say, it’s getting painted. If you like it wood, take one last look at it…
I applied a couple of coats of a custom-mixed MMSMP white. It was a little bit of Mora and Grain Sack mixed with Farmhouse White.
The wood on the interior of the cabinet was very dry, so I applied a generous coat of Hemp Oil to hydrate it and bring out that pretty patina. I lightly distressed the edges and areas where the paint chipped a bit and sealed the paint with the new matte Tough Coat.
Lastly, I needed to deal with the big, gaping holes in the doors. The best option I could think of was screen. The gray color would match the tins and is fitting for a pie safe. More than glass would be.
I cut it with a utility knife and tacked it into place with wood strips that were used to hold the fabric in place. I used some fiberglass screening out of an old window screen, so it was lightweight and easy to work with.
Given the shape it was in when I bough it, I am so pleased with how it turned out.
And it really is a perfect piece for my “Farmhouse White” themed booth.
Did you happen to notice the pretty ironstone compote in the pie safe?
I spotted it and practically leapt towards it. There was absolutely no doubt, unless the price was obscene, that this piece would be coming home with me. It has a flat bottom, so it’s more like a mini cake pedestal with decorative edge. I’ve never seen one like it.
The price wasn’t obscene and it, of course, came home with me…
Since the very beginning, I’ve asked you to say “hello” to each new color I add to the MMS Milk Paint line. Now, for the 27th time, I’m asking you to “say hello” to Aviary!
Aviary is a smoky blue/gray with green undertones.
It was designed to match the paint on an antique French birdcage I purchased a couple of years ago. It was a cool piece, but I bought it mostly because I loved the color.
As I was thinking about a new color to add to the line, to replace Dried Lavender, I kept coming back to this one, knowing it would look lovely in milk paint.
Like many of our colors, it’s a chameleon. It looks gray next to blue and blue next to gray. It looks light and soft next to darker colors and rich and smoky next to whites.
Here is how it compares to the blues and grays currently in our line (Aviary is the background color)…
And, here is how it looks on the dresser I painted last week!
I shared how I prepped the piece in THIS POST and how I painted and finished it HERE.
I opted to apply only one coat of paint, to allow a little more variation in the color and for the grain of the wood to show through. Those are qualities that are unique to milk paint and I think they make for a more interesting finish, especially on an old piece of furniture. It looks like this piece has been wearing the paint for a while.
I used the original hardware, because I liked how the soft brass played against the blue.
It’s such a subtle simple piece and I’m glad I didn’t add decorative painting or things that may have detracted from that beauty.
If you want to get your hands on some Aviary, here are US, Canadian, and Australian retailers who I know have it in stock in their online shops (while supplies last)…