how chippy is too chippy?

Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to leave a comment regarding the question of drawer pulls last week.  Pressed brass drawer pulls, should they stay or should they go now?  If they go there will be trouble, if they stay it will be double … is anyone else singing along?  For those of you not old enough, that song is by The Clash and was written in 1981.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about drawer pulls though.

Well, to clear up any mystery, here are the actual drawer pulls in question.

chippy title

And I’m guessing that some of you might be tempted to think that was a ‘before’ picture, but no, it’s not.  Thus leading to today’s question.  How chippy is too chippy?

Let’s start at the beginning though, shall we?

chippy before

A week or two ago I found three dressers in one day on craigslist.  Two were even right here in my own hometown, which was pretty awesome.  It was also Mr. Q’s day off, so he was free to run around picking them up.  In the end, we only purchased two of them.  The third was a little overpriced and the seller wasn’t budging on the asking price, so Mr. Q passed on it.  This dresser is the first one he purchased that day.

As you can see, it had that ugly orange-y/reddish stain.  I am not a fan.  Job no. 1 was to strip the top and then wax it.  Easy enough.

chippy top

Turned out beautifully.

Next step was to paint the body in Miss Mustard Seed milk paint.  Those of you who follow Miss Mustard Seed have probably been reading about the new color she has coming out, Farmhouse White.  I was so wishing I had that color for this dresser!  But no, I am just impatiently waiting for it like most everyone else.  Meanwhile, since I’d had such good luck with the Marzipan and leaving it unwaxed (on the book page dresser), I chose to go with that color again.  I was aiming for a chippy, vintage farmhouse look, so I opted not to pre-sand.  I did wipe the dresser down with some TSP substitute though.

I have to say, even after having painted, let’s see, maybe close to 100 pieces of furniture in milk paint, I still often can’t predict the end result.  I suspected I would get some chipping.  I wanted plenty of chipping.  What I got was A LOT of chipping.

chippy dresser 1

Personally, my heart still skips a little beat whenever I see an awesomely chippy piece of furniture.  One of my own favorite pieces is this chippy cupboard that resides out in my photo cottage.

studio cabinet inside lower

Recently I saw a very similar cupboard (much taller, but the doors were missing) for sale at my local Bachman’s and the price tag said $1,000 (Maplewood location in case any of you locals want to rush out and buy it).  No lie.

So when I saw how chippy this dresser turned out, I thought it was pretty fab.  My sister wasn’t so sure.

chippy corner

I could have opted to sand this all down to the wood and start over.  I have done that before and in general once you do the sanding necessary to take all of the paint off, the next coats of paint tend to adhere pretty well (not always, but generally).

But I was kind of loving the chippy.

chippy angle

When my friend Meggan dropped by to pick me up for some thrifting, she voted a resounding yes on the chippy as well!  So how about you?  Chippy yes or chippy no?

Lots of ironstone seemed like the right choice for staging this dresser.

chippy staging 3

chippy staging 1

Along with some old books and wooden utensils.

chippy staging 2

As for the drawer pulls, there were a couple of comments left on my last post about them that really made sense to me.  Kim made a comment about creating the look I want with the dresser and then deciding on the hardware.  And Nikkii’s comment about choosing a style really clicked with me.  I realized that this dresser was going to be vintage farmhouse all the way!

chippy drawer pulls

I think the existing pressed brass drawer pulls totally work with the chippy, vintage farmhouse vibe of this dresser.  I hope you agree!

chippy farmhouse dresser

This dresser is available for sale by the way.  If you are local and interested, feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to email you with the details.

53 thoughts on “how chippy is too chippy?

  1. Of course this looks amazing especially with the way you styled it with ironstone and that fabulous toolbox/caddy. I do have a question though. What’s to prevent further chipping as it gets used? Also when you did the book page dresser there was a comment about fingerprints showing up without adding the steps of either waxing or oiling. How do you address those concerns? Thumbs up by the way to using the original hardware – perfect!


    1. I’ve seen other milk painters say that after all of the initial chipping has occurred a piece won’t continue to chip. I’ve also seen others say that adding wax will keep it from continuing to chip. I disagree with both of those statements. I addressed that with this post, let’s talk about chipping. Since I haven’t sealed this piece with Tough Coat Sealer, I believe it will continue to chip. But much like the chair in my Q Branch, there won’t be piles of paint chips on the floor every day, but over time it will wear. As for the fingerprints, I haven’t notice that problem yet myself. Also, with this piece I don’t think fingerprints will be an issue. They’ll be disguised by the chipping! Ha! Thanks Victoria!


      1. Oops thanks for that reminder that you have already addressed this issue. My bad. When we did the ASC graphite fingerprints were an issue. I suspect that is the difference between using dark and light colors. I think there is a learning curve or adjustment period to understand there are differences in all these paints and their finishes. They are essential works of art and not mass produced lacquered pieces of the assembly line. For what it’s worth I love
        have totally fallen in love with the “new old” looks you create!


      2. You know, I was sort of thinking the same thing … that it could be the dark colors where finger prints are more of an issue. I have heard people say that fingerprints can be a problem with some of the darker Fusion colors as well. But I can also see where ‘unfinished’ (no topcoat) milk paint in lighter colors might absorb the oils in one’s skin, thus leaving a mark. Does that make sense? Either way, I do think the amount of chipping on this piece would act as camouflage for fingerprints. Thanks so much for your kind words Victoria! I’m glad you appreciate my ‘art’ 😉


  2. I think it just depends on the piece itself and where it will be used. I’ll tell you my sister would gasp at this dresser as she has done with several items in my home. It’s just not her thing. You have it styled so nicely and it looks great. And btw I remember 1981 and that song quite well. Have a great day.


    1. Ooops, left out that little detail. I used my favorite Cece Caldwell Aging Cream on the top. Funny little sidebar about that. I had originally intended to go lighter on the top. I was going to use the MMS white wax. But I just grabbed the Caldwell wax without even thinking about it and started applying. I got a couple of swipes into it and thought ‘shoot! I was going to go light!’, but it looked so pretty I just kept going. Now I’m glad I did because I like the warmth of the top together with the amount of heavy chipping, so I think it worked out well.


  3. Good morning from beautiful, snowy Fruita, CO! I love the chippy, but this one seems somehow unbalanced. I kept staring at it and I think it is the long strip at the bottom that has so much coverage. It makes it look like the rest is just unfinished. I think if the bottom where more Chippy it would please my eye better. Just one gals opinion! I love the pulls. I would definitely keep them. Thanks so much for your wonderful blog. I always look forward to reading what you were up to!


    1. Hello Vicki in Fruita! Yes, that was one of the interesting things about how this piece chipped, and I noticed it as well. It’s definitely gets increasingly chippy-er as you move towards the top, and that is true on the sides of the piece as well. I don’t think it’s as obvious in person as it is in photos. But, I could go in with some tape and pull more paint off the bottom to even it out. I’ll have to give that some consideration.


  4. When the chippy-ness is done right (like that!) it’s amazing! That looks very natural, I don’t care for pieces that have obviously been distressed by means of electric sander. This piece looks like it was found in an old barn after a 100 years and I would be swooning! Just love all your work! 😃


    1. Thank you so much Decorating Enthusiast! You have exactly expressed what I love about the chipping I get with milk paint, as opposed to the distressing one does with chalk paint or similar products (not that I don’t also use those products, because I do, not every project is right for milk paint). But yes, ‘100 years spent in a barn’ is the look I’m going for! Can I use that phraseology on my next chippy milk painted piece?


      1. Love this!! How much is this fantastic piece? And do you still have the book page dresser for sale? Big fan of your work, Kristen


      2. Hi Kristen (who shares my love of number 22!) This dresser is $225. Unfortunately the book page dresser is no longer available. Too bad, because these two would have been great companion pieces. I could see them being used as mismatched bedside dressers (as some people are doing in place of traditional nightstands). If you would like more info on this dresser, let me know and I’ll send you an email with the details.


  5. There’s no chippy like old chippy, like no chippy I know. How’s that for dating myself? Wait, I’m not that old, how come I know that song?


  6. I love it…Jim would not. Lol. I think chippiness is a state of mind. I love the “used and loved” look, but Jim is solodly in the “you don’t paint wood” grouping. Love all your different projects! BTW the stenciled hat box you painted and I bought at Eye Candy Refined is now happily holding all my spools of thread!


  7. As a fan of early American primitive antique furniture, the chippiness looks very authentic in this piece. I think it is the “fine-ness” of the chipping that makes it restful to the eye and easy to live with (as opposed to when milk paint leaves huge chippy areas with high contrast). But like everything, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and In the circumstances of the specific piece. And the pulls look sweet and authentic with this dresser! I too, am excited to see the new Farmhouse White.


    1. To me that is the difference between spontaneous chipping (which is what happened on this piece) and forced chipping (which is what you get when you use a ‘resist’ method, like with hemp oil, wax or vaseline). If you look back at the “Q” I painted recently, that is a good example of forced chipping. It doesn’t look as authentic for sure. That’s why I’m always a little excited when I get true spontaneous chipping like I did with this piece. But I also get a little nervous because it’s very difficult to control and you get what you get, a lot or a little. As for the Farmhouse White, did you see Miss Mustard’s post about the golden ticket? If not, be sure to check it out!


    1. Thanks Darrielle! I think my readership is probably biased towards chippy (otherwise why would they be fans of my blog?), but it’s still nice to hear that so many out there like the chippy pieces!


  8. Thanks for the price on the chippy dresser! Could you please email me more info on the piece. That would be great!! Thank you, Kristen


  9. Hi Mrs.Q – I am just curious as to why you do not like an old dresser stripped down and stained a beautiful stain – instead of painting it and then chipping off the paint until (in my thoughts) It looks junky and I do not think it looks attractive. Of course this is just my thoughts. Betty from Ontario


    1. Mom? Is that you? Are you just pretending to be someone named Betty from Ontario? LOL, I joke of course, but my mom would totally agree with you Betty. I really don’t have an answer for you other than to say that the heart wants what the heart wants, and mine wants chippy paint jobs that look like they’ve been stored in a barn for 100 years. I can’t explain it, I just love it.


  10. Love the CHIPPY!! That is what truly makes Milk Paint so much fun! The organic nature it takes with the wood…yes, sometimes it is predictable, but the surprise is so much better! And, it looks so wonderful with the Ironstone, the original pulls, and your amazing staging flair. Love Love Love it!!


  11. This is EXACTLY what I’m looking for for my sons nursery! If I were local, I’d definitely be all over purchasing this from you! Wonderful job, this dresser is absolutely stunning.


    1. This would be darling in a nursery. Plus you would have the added benefit of knowing that the milk paint is totally safe for the baby with since it is all organic and has zero VOC’s. Too bad you aren’t local. Maybe you’ll have to try creating the look yourself!


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