vanity, thy name is …

vanity title

I sent Mr. Q out to rural Wisconsin to pick up this dressing table a few weeks ago.  There was some confusion about the location and he ended up at an abandoned farm.  He said there were overgrown weeds and rusted out farm equipment everywhere, and since we’ve been watching a lot of Criminal Minds lately, he was kind of creeped out.  It looked like prime serial killer territory.  Fortunately, he figured out he was at the wrong end of the road and was able to find the right house and no harm came to him.

And then he came home with this.

1902 vanity before

This piece seems older than the hills.  I decided to go with it and try to add even more age to it.  I painted it in MMS milk paint in Trophy.  Then, I added a stenciled pattern to the drawer fronts.  The gorgeous silver drawer pulls that came with the vanity worked perfectly with the grey of the Trophy.

vanity drawer close up

I added another stencil under the mirror, distressed heavily and finished with a coat of hemp oil.

1902 vanity stencils

And this would be about the moment where I realized that even though you can’t see that board at the back under the mirror while standing in front of this vanity, or while sitting in a chair in front of it … once you sit on the floor and start taking pictures shooting up it seems like a glaring omission!

So I went back and painted it, and then took some more pictures.  And voila!

1902 vanity title

A sweet little dressing table.  Or vanity.  What do you call them?  I must tell you, while surfing craigslist today I found one person calling theirs a ‘powdering desk’ and another called it a ‘sitting dresser’.  I generally call these vanities, but if you search ‘vanity’ on pinterest you’ll also get a bunch of bathroom vanities.  So, perhaps vanity, thy name is ‘dressing table’!  I don’t think I’ll go with ‘powdering desk’, although I do find it kind of quaint.

I staged the dressing table with a few of my favorites things.  Some vintage jewelry and buttons, and some crackly ironstone.

1902 vanity staging

Some old family photos.

1902 vanity photos

And of course, Lula, my dress form.  You can read all about Lula here.

1902 vanity with dress form

I got some great reflections of the photo cottage in some of my shots.

1902 vanity reflections

So, how about you?  Could you use a powdering desk of your own?

1902 vanity final

This one is available, leave me a comment if you are interested.  Sorry, this one is sold.

23 thoughts on “vanity, thy name is …

    1. Fall color road trip! Stock up on junk food to eat in the car, bring your camera to get lots of pictures of autumn glory. LOL. Yeah, it would be a bit of a haul from Texas. Maybe just a tad impractical 😉


    1. Hi Stephanie. Nope, no bonding agent. I rarely use the bonding agent. In my opinion, the bonding agent basically negates all of the properties of milk paint that make it special. When you use the bonding agent, you won’t get any chipping or crackling at all, in which case why not just use chalk paint (homemade if you really want to save some bucks)? If I have a piece that I think might chip too much, I either sand it more thoroughly to start, or I choose chalk paint instead of milk paint. But when I have a piece like this that I want to look old, worn and chippy, there is no substitute for milk paint without the bonding agent.


  1. I have one I inherited from my parents. My mother always referred to it as her vanity.
    Nowadays I hear the term dressing table more often. I call your incarnation charming.
    Your selection of both paint color and stencils are magnifete.
    (Upholstering the chair seats today – I know it only took me a ridiculous 10 months.)


    1. Thanks Kelsey! I’m embarrassed to admit it, but when a link party wants me to ‘grab a button’ and link back on my blog, I have no idea how to accomplish that. And since I’m such a rule follower by nature, I usually don’t participate in linky parties because I don’t know how to comply with that requirement. Yes, it’s true. I’m kind of a dork that way. Maybe I will take some time to try and figure it out this weekend. Then again, I may spend all my time this weekend painting furniture!


  2. Hi Linda, I looked them up in a 1930s Sear’s Catalog and they called that piece a vanity. You are spot on. I think most people would call it a dressing table now. You are right again. I had another comment which I’ve lost somehow, but I said that I love what you did with this piece of furniture.


  3. My grandmother had a vanity so very similar to this one, even down to the drawer pulls. I would sit and try on all of her jewelry and basically entertain myself for hours. I didn’t have the room for it when she went to the nursing home, darn my luck! I love what you did with this one!


  4. I call it a vanity as well and they are my best sellers especially with the trifold mirror. Have you heard them called bat wing mirrors? That’s what an auctioneer called them. I just did a cream one sold. I have a waterfall vanity to do next.


    1. I have never heard them called bat wing mirrors, but I like it! I find that vanities are popular as well, and it always surprises me just a little. I don’t know why. I am just finishing up a spooky waterfall dresser myself. You’ll see it on my blog on Halloween. Stay tuned.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.