grandma’s chair.

You may have noticed this chair in the pics of my front hallway.  It currently resides at the foot of the stairs.

grandmas chair before

It belonged to my grandparents, and in fact there is a seat cover under that Bemis grain sack that my grandmother needle-pointed by hand.

Originally there were six of these chairs.  They were split up when my grandparents moved out of their house in Minneapolis.  My mother took 2 and my aunt took 4.  When I moved away from home nearly 30 years ago, I ended up with one from my mom.  My brother had the other, but that’s a long story, let’s just say it fell off the back of a truck when he was moving … I think that was what he claimed.

Anyway … problem is, this chair has never really been my style, even though I love the fact that it came from grandma’s house.  In fact, I have photographic evidence.

chair vintageThis photo was actually taken before I was born.  That is my mom on the far right.  The blonde girl is my cousin Nancy who is somewhere around 8 years older than me.  And in the foreground, the chair in question.  So you see, it is older than I am!

I had been living with this chair in its original state for about 25 years when I finally decided to paint it.  I’m fairly certain that my family still thinks that it was sacrilegious, but I did it anyway.  However, this was before I discovered MMS milk paint, and since I find it rather putzy to paint chairs with a brush, I spray painted it.  Then I covered the seat in the Bemis sack, but I did retain the needle point cover underneath.

I thought I would like it in the grey, but I have to say, the spray paint grey was never quite right.

Recently, I purchased some MMS milk paint in Flow Blue.  I wasn’t at all sure what the color would look like in person, having never used it before.  I find that looking at the Miss Mustard Seed paint online doesn’t always give you an accurate picture of her colors.  I’m considering Flow Blue for a dresser I want to paint, but first I wanted to paint something smaller to see what it really looked like up close and personal.

First things first, I mixed the paint.  I think this is one of the reasons why I like MMS paint, I like mixing it.  It sort of reminds me of making mud pies as a kid.

Flow Blue paint

I purchased these measuring cups at a garage sale for a dollar.  Why not use something pretty to measure my paint?  So, I used about 1/4 cup of the powder and about 3/4 cup of warm water.  This made plenty for the chair.  As you can see, the color of the powder is no indication of the color of the paint.  I mix my paint in canning jars.  I prefer my paint shaken, not stirred.

I admit, I was a little scared when I saw the paint.  Quite a bit brighter than what I had pictured.

Here it is going on, and then as it dried.

Flow Blue

Oh my gosh!  I just realized, reading this post may be no more interesting than watching paint dry for some people.  If you are one of them, I apologize, please feel free to skip to the end of the post if you haven’t already.

But for those of you interested in milk paint, I’ll tell you that as this dried, I could see I would get a lot of chipping.  I’m sure this is because I painted over a spray painted finish.  I did sand the surface, and the well sanded areas didn’t chip, but the rest did.  Also, I can tell you that yes, it was still a sort of bright, scary blue as shown above.  However, after I sanded it down and added a topcoat of hemp oil, the color toned down a bit.

And here it is.

grandmas chair after

I have to say, it is not quite the color I expected.  I was thinking it would be a bit more of an indigo blue.  Not quite so teal.  You can see that the grey shows through where the new paint flaked off.  It is pretty, but I am not sure now if I will use it on the dresser I intended it for.

For now, grandma’s chair has returned to the bottom of the stairs.

grandmas chair

Those of you with a keen eye for detail will notice that the carpet has been removed from the stairs.  Shhhh … don’t tell the others, they may not notice.  I’ll post more on project domino effect soon.

One more little note to this story.  I mentioned above that my aunt ended up with 4 of the chairs.  A couple of years ago, she was downsizing to a much smaller home and she mentioned that she didn’t have room for the chairs.  She had offered them to her daughter (cousin Nancy in the picture above) and all of her grandchildren, and sadly no one wanted grandma’s chairs.  At that point, she said to me “I would give them to you, but I know you would paint them.”  Ouch!  I guess she knew me well.  Ultimately though, Nancy took them.  She removed and saved the needlepoint seats and tried to sell the chairs on craigslist with no luck.  Finally, she gave up and offered the chairs to me.  And yes,  I painted them and covered the seats in grain sack.  Then I sold them at my occasional sale to a lovely woman who is using them in her dining room.  Isn’t it better for them to be refurbished and go to someone who will use them?

grandmas chairs soldI’m sorry Aunt Marilyn, but I still think I did the right thing.

13 thoughts on “grandma’s chair.

  1. I am not sure how painting a “never before painted” piece of furniture became a sin but it must be in the bible somewhere. My love of painted furniture has gotten me over it,..well almost. I am one who reads with interest about the learning curve involved with milk paint so please continue to give us the details, and pitfalls, and unexpected results.


    1. I’m pretty sure it’s the 11th commandment and there just wasn’t enough room for it on the stone tablets. Thou shalt not paint good wood. If so, I am in BIG trouble. I’m glad to know that you are getting something out of my milk paint diatribes. Not everyone should have to learn the hard way!


  2. Count me in for one interested in the process of the paint journey. The whole surprise surprise what color will it turn out is a little intimidating though. I had to giggle at salvagejunkie’s comment about painting wood to be a sin. She nailed that. When my Mom passed inherited my parents bedroom suite. It was from the 1930’s and truly vintage but stained that reddish mahogany color perhaps it was mahogany who knows. It is now SW gray can’t remember the exact color it was 2009 when we painted it. I still need to wax or oil it to give the carvings and lines a bit more emphasis. But the transformation was amazing dated and dull to absolutely striking. I was sold. My husband is a decorative painter he has little time or energy for our stuff.
    I am pretty much left to my own devices at this point. I like the chair I am a bit into the Swedish/ Gustavian look myself so I preferred the set you sold. The grain sack is a very nice touch. By the way I showed your pieces to my husband he thought your stencil work was fabulous. Paint on!!!


    1. To be honest, I also prefer the set I sold! I am not loving the Flow Blue. It was an experiment that didn’t quite turn out. I also love, love, love the Gustavian look, although I have not gone that direction in my house … yet. I bet your bedroom set is gorgeous!


  3. This is one instance where the name of the paint is no indication of the color. We would all think Flow Blue would be the color of, oh, I don’t know, Flow Blue? No offense to MMS, I have purchased two of her paint colors and the bonding agent and I think, personally, that she is a role model for all.
    A man came in the shop this week who wanted to sell me six of those exact chairs, I said no because I remembered how long it took to sell the last set. I wish I would have bought them now. Painting them certainly gives them the pop that brings out the details.
    About the no painting wood debate that goes on endlessly, I really think that refers to pieces that are made of woods and veneers we will never see again and that are in beautiful, original condition or can be restored by someone who knows what products to use to restore. Some can’t be restored, so painting is completely in order. I think painting is better than refinishing. Refinishing, the go-to project in the 1970s and 1980s removed the history and took the life out of pieces. That’s why I love this resurgence in the beauty of time worn and old finishes. That’s where the life is!


    1. Thanks for your comment Ginene. I really appreciate your insight on refinishing taking the history out of pieces. That is so true, and I’d never been able to put those same thoughts into words.


  4. I love this chair for a single. I do like the grain sack for the set, though! Can you tell me your wall color on your stairway wall? I am buried in swatches trying to get that color! I painted once and it turned out brighter than I wanted. I don’t want to do it again until I find what I am looking for!


    1. Hi Barbara! I have had a couple of people ask about that wall color, unfortunately it is a Hirschfield’s color called Favored One. I say unfortunately because Hirschfield’s is only in Minnesota. If you are local, you are in luck … otherwise, not so much. I know exactly how you feel though, it took me a while to find just the right shade of pale aqua blue. Once I found it, I used it all over my house and I love it!


      1. Sigh…I hate answers that contain the word, “unfortunately!” 🙂 I’m not local, but I am checking out their website. Thanks!


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