purple and green!

If someone had predicted that I was going to be stenciling purple flowers on a green dresser I would have said they were absolutely cray-cray.

purple and green clock

But never say never is a good motto!

In this case it was sort of a custom job.  When my niece, Kristine, mentioned that she wanted a dresser for her new apartment and that she wanted one with doors at the top rather than all drawers, I began the hunt on craigslist.  I found one relatively quickly, and it was just over in Stillwater so not far away.

kris dresser before

Fits the bill perfectly, right?

It had a little flaw.  Some of the trim above the left front leg was missing.

trim missing

Ken took care of that in short order.

Kris wanted green, so I lobbied heavily for In a Pickle milk paint from Sweet Pickins.  I just love that shade of fresh green, and I thought it would add a modern twist to a vintage dresser.  But no.  She wanted MMS Luckett’s Green.  I’ll admit I cringed a little.  I’ve had trouble with Luckett’s before so I was reluctant.

But this dresser was for Kris, so I decided to suck it up and get out the Luckett’s.  I mixed up my paint and started prepping.  Then I got sidetracked.  I can’t even remember what now, but something came up and it was another two days before I started painting.  I’ve certainly used two day old MMS milk paint before, so I didn’t think anything of it.  However, shortly after I began painting I noticed something strange.  The blue pigment in the paint kept rising to the top in my cup of mixed paint.  I kept stirring, and it would blend back in for a few moments, but then rise again.  To make matters worse, I noticed it was also rising to the top on the surfaces I’d already painted.  I kept painting and hoped for the best.  Unfortunately, that was a bad plan.  When the paint dried it looked like this.

bad paint example

Can you sort of see how the blue pigments were floating to the top?

I was puzzled, so I emailed Jennylyn Pringle, the President of Homestead House Paint Co, the manufacturers of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint.  She very kindly got back to me right away and explained that the blue pigments are lighter (in weight, not color) than other pigments, go figure, and the best way to solve the problem was just to mix a new batch.  So, I did.  Here is a comparison of how the paints looked in my cups.

paint comparison

See that blue film in the “bad” cup, sort of like an oil slick?  That was my problem and it just wouldn’t go away.

So, another lesson learned.  Some of the milk paints can’t be kept hanging around for two days once they are mixed!  I know there are a lot of you out there that believe that milk paint just isn’t worth the effort because of issues like this.  I will totally agree with you that it can be finicky sometimes.  I certainly have run into my fair share of problems with this paint.  However, I still go back to it over and over as my favorite.  There is just something about the end result that makes it all worth it for me.  And on the bright side, I am learning these things the hard way and sharing them with you so that you don’t have to!

Anyway, I mixed up a new batch and painted one last coat and it looked fab!

Luckett's green

Back to the custom paint job.  My niece wanted Luckett’s Green, but she also wanted a creamy white on the doors with a flower stencil in purple.  Well, it’s her dresser!  If she wants purple flowers, that’s what I’ll give her.  I painted the insets with Fusion’s Casement and the purple was an acrylic craft paint that Kris picked out.

purple flower stencil

Kris also purchased the stencil herself.  I’m not sure where she got it, but I can tell you that it definitely was not of the same quality as the stencils from Maison de Stencils that I am used too.  It was rather warped, which made it difficult to get nice crisp lines.  But Kris is very happy with the end result, and that is all that matters!

kristine's dresser

You may have noticed that I changed out the hardware on this one.  That came right after Kris made ‘that face’ when I asked if she wanted to keep them.  You know ‘that face’, the one that says “gag me with a spoon”.  OK, maybe people don’t use that expression anymore, but you know what I mean.  When I asked her “what don’t you like about them?” in an attempt to figure out what direction to go in, she said “they look old.”  Oh boy.  That’s usually precisely what I do like about things.  Hmmm.  I wonder what she thinks about me!  I’m pretty sure I look old.

Fortunately I had these ivory ceramic knobs on hand though, and once I held them in place we both realized they were perfect.  They even mirror the shape of the stenciled flowers.

kris dresser angle

They definitely gave it a newer, more updated look.

I thought I would have trouble finding the right props to stage this one for photos, but as it turned out I had some great vintage purple and green books.  And at the last minute I threw in my potted lavender.  The purple was a perfect match.

dressers and lavender

I certainly never pictured using a green and purple color scheme anywhere else but in the garden when I potted it up last spring, but hey, you just never know.

Kris seems very happy with her new dresser, and I’m certainly happy I was able to pull it together for her.  We brought it over last night and she’ll have just enough time to get it in place before their house/apartment warming party this weekend!

25 thoughts on “purple and green!

  1. Wow, that actually turned out awesome! Not something I would choose for myself but I can totally see how a teenager would be in love with it. You did an amazing job on it. I rarely comment on blogs but I just had to tell you I am totally impressed with this piece!


  2. I love that dresser!! Agree with you on the color scheme, but I now want to find a dresser with doors on top. What would be the best search words to type in on craigslist to find one? Thanks for sharing!


    1. That might be tough. The ones with drawers behind the doors (like this piece I painted) are technically called a ‘linen press’ because the drawers were meant for linens. But, I don’t think very many people know that. I just tried searching craigslist for ‘linen press’ and did come up with two of them, but both were priced a little high. When looking for this piece I just searched ‘dresser’ and paged through lots of them to find this one. Also, FYI, this one does not have drawers behind the doors, just some divided cubby type space.


  3. Love the green and the purple not so much the door color change or the style of the stencil but I get why she goes for it. I could see that same purple done in some hand painted flowers like MMS has done in the past. That said I think your creativity with stencil placement was brilliant. Rock on!


    1. Actually, just between you and me (and anyone else who reads the comments) I really liked the cream color on the doors before the purple flowers were added. It worked really nicely with the cream color knobs and it gave a sort of tailored look to the piece. I agree that hand painted flowers would have been nice, but unfortunately I don’t have that skill! Some vintage wallpaper would also have been nice on those doors!


      1. Yeah Linda wallpaper could be neat as well. Still this is a fun piece for your niece very imaginative. Once again….rock on.


  4. Can I say that I actually really liked the ‘badly behaving paint’ picture? Because I do. Is that really bad? 😉
    But then I also like the green paint as it was meant to be. Not so sure about the (purple) flowers but I can see why a young girl would like it. It must be really awesome to have an aunt that can make you a unique piece of furniture.
    It seems to have a bit of a hippie vibe, probably because of the flower power details. Vintage wallpaper on those doors would have been really nice.
    But the most important thing is that you made your niece a piece of furniture she really loves, that’s what it was all about.


  5. I have never tried MMS paint, but only because I bought a lifetime supply of milkpaint from Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co. and can’t justify the cost of MMS paint. I do love her colors though. I have never had the colors separate when I mix colors of milkpaint, which I do all the time. And I use leftover paints often. You have got my curiosity up now; I might have to do some experimenting.

    I love the old vintage handles. I think you lucked out getting those for your stash.


    1. Funny enough, I have a lifetime supply of MMS milk paint! I bought a bunch of Lori’s stock at the Round Barn when she decided to close her doors, and she gave me a sizable discount on it! Much like you, I also mix colors all the time. But just to clarify, this color was straight out of the package. And also like you, I often use leftover paint. My personal opinion is that the Luckett’s Green is one of the most persnickety of the MMS colors when it comes to getting the pigments mixed well. I’m not sure why that is. Oh, and the handles aren’t vintage. They are from Hobby Lobby!


      1. Oh! LOL! Duh. Re-reading your comment I get it now. Yep, they have been added to my stash. Hopefully I’ll have just the right piece for them down the road.


    1. Did you knock on wood when you wrote that? LOL. I am kidding. I’ve just happened to have some bad luck with it. I usually use it as an undercoat with other colors on top of it (and I do love it for that!) The handful of pieces where I’ve used it by itself have all given me problems. They were easily resolved, but a little frustrating and time consuming. So hopefully I’m helping some others out by talking about what I’ve learned about working with this color.


  6. You are very generous to share your talents with your niece even though her choices are not quite to your taste. It can be hard to allow young people to exercise their budding decorating skills to discover what they really like. Your niece will love her dresser and will use it to learn about her own style and preferences.


  7. Even though it is not your style, it matches my room very well, I painted some frames in green and hung them above the dresser and strategically placed some purple flowers in two of the 6 frames to tie it all together 🙂


  8. It turned out great! A very fresh piece! Did you use a bonding agent? It doesn’t seem to have any chipping. I am about to do a piece in MMS and I don’t want too much chipping but have not used the bonding agent before. Thanks!


    1. I did not use the bonding agent. I am not a big fan of adding the bonding agent since I think it gives the paint a different look (more sheen, a different sort of texture). Plus, the cost really adds up when you are buying the paint plus the bonding agent. Usually when I have a piece that I don’t want to chip, I’ll use either the Fusion paint or a chalk paint. However, in this case my niece specifically wanted the Luckett’s Green and little to no chipping. Rather than use bonding agent to achieve that, I sanded the dresser really well before painting. I use a handheld power sander (a Black & Decker Mouse) with medium grit paper. You don’t have to sand it down to bare wood or anything like that, but just rough up the previous finish so that the paint will adhere. The pre-existing finish that you are painting over will be the factor that determines how much chipping you’ll get on a piece. My advice is to try the sanding first. In the worst case scenario, if your paint chips way more than you wanted it to, you can always sand it down again and start over. I had that experience with this dresser, check out this post to see how it turned out.


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