MMSMP Featured Artisan – Farmhouse Gear

Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint can be used to achieve a variety of different looks.  Mix it with Bonding Agent to get a full coverage non-chippy look.  Apply any of our tinted waxes to add a limed effect or depth and age.  Or, layer colors on top of one another and let the natural consistency create an authentically gorgeous primitive finish.  You know, something like this:

Or this!

We could seriously stare at those layers all day!  These lovely creations have been painted by our newest MMSMP Featured Artisan, Brian Downey of Farmhouse Gear.

Brian was born and raised in Southampton (aka “The Hamptons”), New York.  In the summer of 1985, he started doing construction work during his summer break from college. From that first day, Brian fell in love woodworking and the freedom that it provided.  Working in the Hamptons afforded him the opportunity to work in some of the finest homes in the country.  It was there that he fell in love with the simple elegance of an old English pine farm table, which became the inspiration of a lot of his work today.

Soon, Brian was making furniture just for fun as well as for friends and family.  As time went on, he was looking for a change from the rigors of construction and embarked on a complete change to financial services.  With his wife, Karin and their two children, Lauren and Evan, Brian made the move to beautiful West Chester, Pennsylvania in Chester County.  It was there, immersed in the rich history of Chester County, that he realized his heart was not in financial services, but rather in woodworking.

Brian builds furniture that you would typically find in an old farmhouse out of reclaimed lumber from Pennsylvania barns.  The state is immersed in a rich history dating back to the late 1600’s with William Penn. Take a ride in just about any direction in Pennsylvania and you’ll see the historic barns and stone houses that make up so much of the landscape here. While Brian doesn’t dismantle them personally, there are several local companies that do, and they are his primary sources for the reclaimed lumber he uses to build his farmhouse furniture. The goal at Farmhouse Gear is not to make new furniture using old wood, but rather to make pieces of furniture that appear to have been made hundreds of years ago, and have simply been brought back to life.

Brian’s most favorite wood to work with has always been reclaimed pine. Depending on the project at hand, he likes to use reclaimed attic flooring, granary boards, or barn flooring. Reclaimed pine, in all its forms, is a wood that lends itself to the primitive style.

The name “Farmhouse Gear” is a nod to the essential equipment or “gear” that you would find on a typical farmhouse property.  These are the pieces that Brian loves to recreate!  Brian’s kitchen and dining room tables are gorgeous, but his favorite pieces to make are those with drawers and doors (such as cupboards, cabinets, servers, etc.).  These pieces give Brian the chance to incorporate authentic, vintage hardware wherever he can.  Brian is a pretty simple guy, and he has always felt comfortable and at home with primitive style furniture. For him, it’s always been about comfort. He never felt at home around fancy, high-gloss, ornate furniture. The worn in, simple nature of primitives, has always been what’s drawn him in, and this is the style that he continues to create and sell in his space at Pheasant Run Antiques.

Brian paints most of his furniture with Milk Paint.  He was first introduced to Milk Paint in the 90’s, when he saw it in an antique store in Bridgehampton, NY. The store specialized in painted furniture using reclaimed pine. The colors were historical and muted.  Later, Brian discovered Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint on social media, and immediately fell in love with our rich and vibrant colors colors.

Brian’s favorite MMSMP colors to use are Kitchen Scale, Flow Blue, Luckett’s Green and Linen.  He did admit that each new color he tries seems to quickly become a favorite!  (We know this is a typical experience with most of our MMSMP painters!)  Brian’s signature style is layer upon layer of our Milk Paint, creating an aged look.

He typically does two layers of paint, with the first usually being Linen.

The second coat of paint is any of the other primary colors.  Occasionally Brian will add a third.

Brian’s most recent coffee table was layered with Linen, then Artissimo, followed by Luckett’s Green. It barely lasted a day before it was scooped up by an eager buyer!

Brian said that he honestly loves everything about MMSMP including the simple ingredients, the vibrant colors and the ease of use. What he loves most is MMSMP’s versatility.  It allows you to create an authentic chippy look or a smooth elegant look.  You can even thin it out and use it as a stain!  It does whatever you want it to do and you can’t mess it up!   (Those are Brian’s exact words!)  He also shared that the support that our website provides is second to none.  From our FAQ’s to the videos, tips and tutorials, all the resources a milk painter needs are right there!  (Honestly, we didn’t prompt him at all!)

We always ask our MMSMP Featured Artisans if they have any advice to offer someone who is brand new to our paint line or who may be too intimidated to try it out.  Here is what he shared with us:

“One of the most important things for a beginner to know that you can’t mess it up, even if you tried! It’s a very forgiving paint. I would encourage them to begin with something small, maybe a shelf or small side table. I would also say that preparation is the key. Make sure that if a piece you’re considering painting already has a finish, that it is free of any grease, oil or dirt, and especially wax. No paint will adhere to a waxed surface. Once that is done, lightly sand the piece to provide better adhesion. Of course, painting on raw wood, avoids all that.”

See?  We’re not making this stuff up!  Prep work really is THAT important, and you’re hearing it directly from a super-talented furniture maker who has woodworking in his blood!  (Brian’s great grandfather was a ship carpenter from Denmark and his two brothers were in residential construction.)

(This is a photo of Brian’s Great Grandpa posing for a picture while building his childhood house.)

You can check out more of Brian’s work on his website and follow along with Farmhouse Gear on Facebook and Instagram.  To see his creations in person, visit Pheasant Run Antiques in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania.

Do you know any talented artisans who are using Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in creative and unique ways?  We want to know about them!  Contact us and perhaps they’ll become the next MMSMP Featured Artisan!

3 thoughts on “MMSMP Featured Artisan – Farmhouse Gear

  1. Sue Gorney

    What a great article! I was just thinking about doing some layering on some small items and this clinched it! Thank you for the insight.

  2. Becky

    Amazing talent! All those beautiful layers of paint. Gorgeous furniture pieces with even more gorgeous finishes.


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