My Grandfather’s Dresser

I don’t remember exactly when my paternal grandfather’s dresser came into my possession, but it’s definitely been with me since college.  I’ve used it at every place I’ve lived in my adult life, six homes to be exact.  It’s sturdy and functional and has served me well.  But, my old friend really needed a makeover.  With years of love came scratches, water stains and a missing drawer pull.  Here is how it looked pre-makeover.


I’ve been using the dresser in my daughter’s room, and it fits in the space nicely.  In order to give it a feminine look in line with the ballet theme, I decided to paint it off white.  I’ve also had these lovely rose drawer pulls for years, and they’re a perfect fit.  I didn’t even have to drill holes for the new hardware.  Yay!


The next question: what type of paint?  Do I want a clean look or a distressed, chippy look?  As the dresser is quite old and has some curves and nice features I’d like to accentuate, I decided a vintage look was in order.  For maximum chippy goodness, it had to be milk paint!


When it comes to chippy paint, most people either love it or hate it.  I LOVE it, my husband hates it.  Why would I purposely want to make something look old and beat up?  You either get it or you do not.  I agree that not everything looks good with chipped paint.  For my daughter’s bed, I used pink milk paint with the bonding agent so it wouldn’t chip.  I don’t want every piece in the room to look the same.  It’s all about balance.


To prep the dresser, I gently cleaned it with a rag dipped in water and dish detergent.  When dry, I went over it with sand paper to give it “tooth” so the paint would adhere.  It had a shiny finish and needed to be roughed up a bit.  Then I removed the dust with a tack cloth.

note the water stains

I used Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint (MMSMP) in ironstone for the dresser.  This is my all time favorite paint.  It comes in a powder that you mix yourself with water.  You can control the amount of coverage you want by adding more or less water.  Thinned out, it acts like a stain.  It’s non-toxic, has no VOC’s and smells pleasant.  I find it a lot more forgiving than latex or chalk paint.  But the magical thing about milk paint is how it starts to chip as it dries in random places.  When dry, I just flick the areas where it’s chipping with 120 grit sandpaper.

first coat of milk paint

Here’s where the dresser is starting to chip.  Because the dresser is dark mahogany, I actually applied four coats of paint!  With most pieces, I can usually get away with 2-3 coats.  Besides the areas that chipped on their own, I also distressed the corners and the area near the pulls.  These are places that would show wear and tear from everyday use.  In addition, I also distressed around the drawer’s outlines to give them added definition.

check out that chipping!

If you’d like to learn more about milk paint, check out Miss Mustard Seed’s (aka Marian Parsons) blog at www.missmustardseed.com.  She has lots of great tutorials about how to use her products.  Plus, the blog is FABULOUS.  I’ve been a fan of Marian for years and was lucky enough to meet her in person.  She even inspired me to start this blog!


Finally, I finished the dresser with MMSMP Tough Coat.  This is the perfect finish for chippy paint because it not only seals the piece but it also prevents further chipping.  I find it a lot easier to apply than wax.  You just brush it on and let it dry.  DONE!  No buffing needed.  I applied two coats to the dresser. The last step was to attach the drawer pulls.  All I needed was a screwdriver and I was done.


So there you have it!  I’m so happy with how it turned out.

so pretty

Next I’ll be working on the button up curtains, so stop back next week for an update!





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  1. Good to see your trusty old chest of drawers get a makeover. I think I remember this fine fellow from your old college apartment. Nice paint job and love the knobs! They are a nice pop of color.

    1. Thanks Mere! Yes, he’s been with me a long time. I’m glad I held onto those pulls, they really complete the piece and make it special 🙂

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