the queenstown gray buffet.

I shared the ‘before’ picture of this buffet with you last week.

My friend Sue purchased this piece via Craigslist for herself.  She got as far as removing the hardware to get it ready for painting, but then she decided she didn’t really want to tackle it after all and she offered to sell it to me.

Since Sue lives only a couple of blocks away, this was one of my easiest ‘Craigslist’ pickups ever!

I waffled between using Fusion’s Midnight Blue or the General Finishes Queenstown Gray on this buffet and I think either one would have been a great choice, but in the end I went with the gray.  Had I realized I would end up posting this on St. Patrick’s Day I would have chosen green!  No, not really.  Green might be a bit much on this one.

Plus, there was a pretty good chance that the red stain on this piece was going to bleed thru my paint, so going with a dark color helps disguise that.

I’ve generally had really good luck with this strategy, but be forewarned that a dark color does not always solve bleed thru problems.  Sometimes you will have to seal a piece to prevent bleed thru from showing and you can use shellac or a clear primer for that.  I like using the Rachel Ashwell clear primer when I need to seal something.

But I did not seal this piece.  I sanded it very lightly, wiped it clean with a damp rag and started painting.  After giving the first coat of paint about 24 hours to dry (because some times bleed thru can take a while to show up), I gave it a close inspection to see if there were any spots of bleeding.  If there had been, I would have then added some clear primer to those spots before adding a second coat of paint.  However, there weren’t, so I added a very light second coat of paint and voila …

I staged it with a lamp wearing my Florence map lamp shade.

I purchased my lamp shade at Junk Bonanza from a vendor called Light Reading (check them out here).  They make gorgeous stuff, and it looks like they will be at the Minnesota Junk Bonanza again this spring.  So if you are in the Twin Cities and could use a cool lamp shade, check them out.

The 2nd drawer down on this buffet is very shallow and has dividers for silverware storage.  It came with some pretty grungy felt lining.  I replaced the felt with some toile patterned fabric instead.

When my sister popped by to pick me for another afternoon of house hunting last weekend, she really loved this buffet.  But she has to wait until she has a house before she’ll know whether or not she needs any new furniture.  And actually that may be soon, but I don’t want to jinx it so I won’t say more.

 In the meantime, this buffet is for sale!  Check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

general finishes milk paint.

There are several furniture refurbishers out there whose work I really admire and they extol the virtues of General Finishes Milk Paint.  So when I ended up in a shop that sold this product while out shopping with some friends recently I decided to pick some up and give it a try.

The first thing you need to know about General Finishes Milk Paint is that it isn’t really milk paint.  I know, confusing right?

Here is what they say about the paint on their website:  GF’s Milk Paint is not a true Milk Paint – it is premixed and does not contain any casein based ingredients. We named our product Milk Paint with the intention of putting a clear, bright, contemporary spin on an old fashioned furniture paint tradition. It is designed to mimic the low luster finish of old world paints.

So if you are buying this paint and expecting to find a powder you’ll mix with water inside the can, guess again.  And if you are used to using this ‘milk paint’ and then you buy some Miss Mustard Seed or other true milk paint, don’t be surprised to find that it’s totally different.  Also, just know that you won’t get the chippy look that milk paint is known for with this paint.

The fine print on the can says that this is an acrylic paint, and for that reason it didn’t surprise me to find that it is very similar to Fusion paint.  Much like Fusion, it does not require a top coat (whereas chalk paint and milk paint require a top coat to be water resistant).  It also has the same self-leveling properties as Fusion.  It also distresses in a similar fashion, and by that I mean that neither of these paints distresses as easily as a chalk or milk paint.  These paints are meant to be very durable, so the longer you wait between painting and distressing, the harder it will be to sand off the edges for a distressed look.  Just be sure to distress promptly, if you plan to distress at all.  For those who prefer a non-distressed finish, both of these paints are perfect for that.

OK, so now that we have all of that info out of the way, let’s see how it looks.

I started with this petite desk that a friend gave me a while back.

I have to admit, I thought this desk was kind of hideous but it was either me or the Goodwill so I took it.  If nothing else, it provided a great canvas for testing out a different brand of paint.

You got a little sneak peek at this one in my post about my painting chair

Yep, this is where I paint in the winter.  Smack in the middle of my house.  And that chair was the perfect height for painting all of those spindly legs.

And now that it has a couple of coats of General Finishes Milk Paint in Queenstown Gray, well …

it’s kinda cute now, don’t you think?

As you can see, I did distress this piece and I did it about a week after I painted it.  So it can definitely still be done, it just takes a little more effort.

I lined the drawer with some pretty map paper.

Although I’ve called this piece a ‘petite desk’, it’s definitely too small for me to use as a desk.  It would be perfect for a youngster’s desk, but I think it would also work really well as a console table in a foyer or behind a sofa.  It also is the perfect height to be used as a nightstand.

Back in the day, it would have made a great telephone table, but nobody needs those anymore, right?

In the end I think this paint is very comparable to Fusion paint.  It’s just a bit more expensive (at least at the shops where I buy my paint), but not a lot.  If you love working with the General Finishes Milk Paint, you will also love Fusion paint and vice versa.  But obviously, if you’re looking for a true milk paint you aren’t going to find it here.

If you noticed in my first photo, I also bought a can of General Finishes Flat Out Flat topcoat.  I did not use that on this desk.  I have heard really good things about it as well, and I hope to test it out on something soon so stay tuned.

In the meantime, this little desk/nightstand/telephone table is for sale.  Be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

the shoemaker’s children go barefoot.

The shoemaker’s children go barefoot.  You’ve heard that expression, right?  In this case it’s more like the shoemaker herself who is barefoot.  I am always painting things to sell and often don’t get around to projects for myself.

But it has been a slow couple of months in the world of furniture sales, or at least for me it has been.  So this past weekend I decided to tackle something of my own that I’ve been meaning to paint for quite some time.

It’s another small chair that I use while painting furniture.


This chair is nice and low and allows me to paint the bottom half of furniture in comfort.  Normally it’s out in my carriage house workshop and it really doesn’t matter what it looks like, but in the winter I bring it in the house.  When I’m not using it, it sits in the corner somewhere, so it would be nice if it weren’t quite so ugly.

Initially I was going to paint it in Fusion’s Laurentien, which is a pretty turquoise, but after finishing the cutting board makeover I did last week I decided to go with those colors instead.

So I started by painting the entire chair in Fusion’s Putty.


Hmmmm, pretty blah, right?  I almost switched gears again at this point and just painted it turquoise.  But then I reminded myself that I still had to add a few details.

So I added some grain sack stripes in a creamy white, and then a fun stencil.


I ordered this stencil from Etsy a while back, but hadn’t had a chance to use it yet.  It fit perfectly on my chair seat.



Now I have a charming little chair to sit on while I paint furniture smack in the middle of my piano room (which is where I paint in the winter).

And I won’t have to hide it in a closet when people drop by for a visit.

What do you think?

black & white.

Black and white has always been one of my favorite combos.  Back in June 2015 I painted this fun mid-century piece

black and white title

And then about a year ago I painted some black & white suitcases

inspiration title

I was really itching to do another black & white piece when I saw this dresser on craigslist and decided it would be perfect for it.


From the outside it looks like it’s in great shape, but in reality it was pretty wonky.  One drawer was completely missing a bottom, and most of the bottom sides of the drawers (where they rest along the glides) were pretty worn down.  So I sent it over to Ken’s workshop and he fixed it right up by replacing the missing bottom and adding new wood to the bottom sides of several drawers.  He also removed the top and re-glued the corner joints and added some wedges of wood for more stability.   All I had to do was add the paint!


The black is Fusion’s Coal Black and the white is Fusion’s Casement, two coats of each color.  Every time I paint with Fusion I am reminded of how ridiculously easy it is to use.  A quick sanding to rough up the surface (especially on this piece because the existing finish was very shiny), a wipe down with some vinegar water, two coats of paint, and a little sanding to distress the edges and you are done.  No need for a top coat.  Fusion has pretty much replaced chalk paint for me for that last reason.  Originally when I first started using Fusion I felt like it was hard to distress compared to chalk paint.  However, when I distress a piece of furniture I mainly just wear down the edges and that is pretty easy to do with Fusion as long as you do it shortly after the piece dries.  Don’t wait until the paint has cured because this paint is very durable at that point.

I really debated doing this look again because that earlier black and white piece took a while to sell.  But in the end, I’m so glad I went for it.  I think this dresser went from boring to interesting with just some paint and some new glass knobs.


The white is wrapped all the way around both sides.


This is one instance where I didn’t discard the mirror that came with the dresser.  I painted it white and the future owner can choose to keep it in place, or not.


By the way, have you noticed anything about my photos today?


Yes!  I’m out in the photo cottage.  Are you having this amazing warm spell where you are too?  Sunny and 60 is practically unheard of for February in Minnesota.  I have taken full advantage by putting the top down on my convertible, grilling steaks for dinner, watching Mr. Q trim trees, hanging laundry out on the line and staging furniture in my photo cottage.  Woo hoo, it feels like spring!


This dresser is for sale.  If you are local and interested, please check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

But first, tell me, what do you think of the black and white?

Sharing at Finding Silver Pennies Sunday!

the reluctant seller.

I am just starting to recover from the head cold from hell.  Yep, it was so bad it made me swear.  It also made me miss 3 days from the day job, and quite honestly I shouldn’t have even gone back in on day 4, but it was Friday and I had some things I really needed to take care of before the weekend.  I warned all of my co-workers to keep their distance and wash their hands frequently.  I hope they listened because I wouldn’t wish this particular virus on anyone.

Fortunately, I had this next dresser already finished before illness struck.  I just hadn’t been able to get any photos of it yet.  I finally felt well enough yesterday to pull together a photo session, and the weather cooperated by providing some sunshine.  Bonus!


But let’s go back and start at the beginning.  I found this dresser on Craigslist a while ago.  Before I continue on with the rest of this post, I have to share a little story with you.  I have a friend who tried online dating after her divorce (this was quite a few years ago).  She had an interesting strategy.  She decided that taking several weeks or more to get to know someone via email was a waste of time, why not just meet them right away because you’ll know instantly whether or not they are worth spending more time on.  And let me tell you, she ended up with some very entertaining stories about the men she met and instantly knew were very wrong for her.  I kept telling her that she should write a book, it would have been hysterical.  And by the way, her strategy worked.  She is now engaged to a very nice man and living happily ever after.

Well, the tables have turned and now she keeps telling me that I should write a book about Craigslist transactions.  I definitely meet some characters.  The seller of this dresser falls into the category that I like to call the ‘reluctant seller’.  There are two kinds of reluctant sellers.  First there are the people who are selling a ‘family heirloom.’  They don’t want to keep it themselves, but they want to sell it to someone who will cherish it properly.  You can usually spot them right away because they say something like “this belonged to my great grandmother Ruth, it has been in our family for three generations, but I just don’t have room for it …”  They definitely do not want to hear that you are going to paint it, or really alter it in any way whatsoever.  When dealing with those sellers I usually just play along.  What they don’t know won’t hurt them.  They can rest easy in the knowledge that their family heirloom has gone to a good home.

But there is a second type of reluctant seller that is sometimes even trickier to deal with.  This is the seller who can’t be bothered with the actual transaction.  They post their item on Craigslist, but then when it comes to setting up a time to meet with you and exchange the goods for the cash, they can’t be pinned down to a date and time.  You contact them and they say “I’m going to be out of town for the next week, I’ll get back to you.”  Then you finally hear back and set up a time, say Sunday at 3 pm, and they agree but they don’t actually give you their address.  Then you don’t hear from them again until Sunday at 7 pm when they text and say “sorry, I got tied up.”  And then that happens again the next time too.  I can be a little more flexible than most buyers since I don’t need something ‘right away’, but it’s still frustrating.  However, after about 3 weeks of this, I did finally pin this seller down and Mr. Q and I went and picked up this dresser.


It probably didn’t take you long to see why I wanted this one.  Yep, the mirror frame.  I’m going to make another chalkboard shelf out of it.

But in the meantime while that project was over at Ken’s workshop, I decided to do a quick Fusion paint job on the dresser.  The dresser without its mirror was pretty much a ‘plain Jane’ except for the vintage drawer pulls and key hole escutcheons, which are gorgeous, so I decided to add some interest with a two-toned paint job in neutral colors.  I pulled out my Fusion paints in Algonquin, Putty, Limestone and Casement.  I felt like the Algonquin was just a bit darker than I wanted and the Putty was a bit lighter, so I started mixing.  When mixing colors I’ll often paint them on a craft stick (a larger version of a popsicle stick) to see how they look when they dry.  I picked up a package of 100 of these sticks at Hobby Lobby and they really come in handy for this.


I write the color mix on each stick.  You can see the Algonquin at the bottom is fairly dark while the Putty at the top is quite light.  Even the Algonquin mixed with the Putty was darker than I wanted.  But the Algonquin mixed with Casement was just right.  Likewise, the Casement itself was too bright of a white on its own, so I ended up going with a combo of Limestone and Casement for the white (that’s the stick that is under the Casement stick).

And ta da, here is the finished dresser.


Adding the wide stripe down the middle helps draw more focus to the hardware, don’t you agree?  For reference, scroll back up to the ‘before’ photo, you barely even notice the hardware right?

Now it steals the show.


I would have loved to strip the top of the dresser and go with a waxed wood top, but there was some unattractive damage that would have been hard to camouflage.  It looks as though someone set a container of some sort of bad chemical down on the dresser in a couple of spots.

Whatever it was ate right through the finish and even into the wood a bit.  So I felt like paint would be the best choice for me here.  I could also have gotten out a heavy duty belt sander and taken the wood down until the marks were gone, but that’s just not my style.  The truth is, I’m afraid of belt sanders.  Before painting though, I sanded the spots down by hand and covered them with a couple of coats of Tough Coat Sealer just in case something might want to try and bleed through my paint.

This next photo is a bit misleading as it seems like you can’t see this damage any more at all, but in reality if you catch the light just right you can still see the indentations in the wood.  It is fairly well disguised though.


I’m always drawn to the sides of dresser when they are paneled in some fashion (rather than just being a solid flat piece).


I struggled with finding a spot for this photo shoot.  I knew the horizontal stripes on my walls would compete with the vertical stripe on the dresser.  Unfortunately, I have very few options for winter photos.  The photo cottage is snowed in.  So I tried to distract the eye with lots of layers.


Player piano music, an old cupboard door, a gold frame, my grandpa’s water color, a lamp and a stack of books are all lending more vertical and horizontal lines.

Did they do the trick?


One last thing, you may be wondering if I’ve picked some winners for my wax giveaway, but I haven’t yet.  I’ll be working on that this evening and will try to notify the winners within a day or two.  Did you notice that I didn’t limit the winners to being in the US or Canada?  I just hate doing that because I want everyone to feel welcome and included on my blog.  So far I haven’t ever actually picked a winner who lived outside the United States.  In fact, the winner of my last giveaway lived less than five miles away!  And I swear to you it was totally random.  I had no idea where she lived until after I contacted her.  I’ve done a little research into international shipping costs, and yes, they are kinda high.  A bit higher than the costs quoted on my vintage postal scale …


But the shipping costs I pay to send out giveaway prizes are one small way that I can ‘pay it forward’ and say thank you for following along on my blog.  So I’m putting in every person who took the time to leave a comment (except Mr. Q because he doesn’t need any wax!) and we’ll let the chips fall where they may.

Furniture is another matter.  I only sell furniture to local buyers who can pick it up.  If you are interested in the dresser from the reluctant seller, check out my ‘available for local sale’ tab for more details.

the buttermilk cream dresser.

I was checking out one of my favorite blogs the other day, Ranger 911.  Vickie from Ranger 911 is a fellow Minnesotan although she is way up north.  I’ve always considered the Twin Cities to be in a ‘warmer’ climate than the truly hardy souls who live anywhere north of Duluth.  As I write this post it is currently 36 degrees in St. Paul, but only 32 degrees in Hibbing, MN.  See?  Way warmer!

But anyway, not only do Vickie and I live in the same state but we have another, more important thing in common.  Here’s a clue …


Here’s another clue …


Yep, we both love tiny dressers!  Be sure to visit her blog and look around because she has more!

But today’s post isn’t about tiny dressers.  It’s about gorgeous, vintage, pale yellow dressers.  Vickie recently posted about a makeover in her ‘bedroom no. 3’ and it included this gorgeous pale yellow dresser.


I love that subtle pop of pale yellow in her mostly white room.  And that shade of yellow is perfectly vintage isn’t it?  And check out that authentic chipping!  Vickie tells me that she purchased this dresser ‘as is’ at an estate sale and she thinks this finish is authentically vintage.

As I was drooling over it I remembered that Homestead House sent me some of their milk paint in Buttermilk Cream.  I knew it would be very nearly that same shade of yellow.  And although there is just something about an original old painted finish, you can get pretty close to that look with chippy milk paint.


And now that I am armed with my foolproof method for creating the perfect chippy finish, well, I knew this was going to be a slam dunk.

I happened to have a lovely vintage dresser on hand too.


And sure enough, it was just that easy.  I followed the foolproof method and 3 coats of Buttermilk Cream later, voila!


I used the Salad Bowl Finish around the edges of everything, but didn’t use it on the big flat expanses (the drawer fronts and the top) which gave me chipping just where I wanted it.

My original ‘vision’ for this dresser involved replacing the hardware with glass knobs, but the original hardware is so gorgeous and it was all there.  I had to keep it.


It seemed apropos to stage my Buttermilk Cream dresser with a tiny dresser.

Thanks again for the inspiration Vickie!


If anyone local is interested in purchasing this perfectly adorable vintage dresser, please check my ‘available for local sale’ tab to see if it is still available and other details.

another chippy farmhouse cupboard.


I was surfing craigslist just before Christmas looking for a large cupboard.  I have an idea in my head for a piece for my q branch (a.k.a. my study).  It’s one of those ideas … you know, the ones where you can picture exactly what you want in your head but trying to find it is like searching for a needle in a haystack.  But every once in a while, I search for ‘cupboard’ or ‘cabinet’ on craigslist on the off chance I’ll find it and it will be less than $1,000.

I am still searching for that large cabinet, but luck was on my side on this particular day because I did find this …


I call this a jelly cupboard.  I’m not sure if that is exactly right, but I’m going with it.

I almost never see these on craigslist.  When I do see them, they are usually priced way out of my budget.  This particular item had only been posted for about an hour and the price was not fantastic, but OK.  So I totally snatched it up!

Milk paint was a no-brainer for this piece.  I wanted a chippy (be careful what you wish for), been in the barn for 75 years, held all of the homemade jelly, farmhouse look.

I debated color.  Black would have been easy.  I could have probably gotten away with one coat, possibly needing two.  White might have been most marketable, everyone loves white, right?  But what I really wanted to go with was aqua.  You all know it’s my favorite.  And Homestead House had sent me that free sample of their Laurentien milk paint.  I just couldn’t resist.  I don’t plan to keep this cabinet, but my thinking was this:  if no one buys it, I will just have to find a spot for it.  Or repaint it white.

Well, as I hinted, be careful what you wish for when it comes to chippy.  I mixed up my paint and while the pigments were getting good and dissolved, I sanded the cabinet lightly and then wiped it down with a damp cloth.  I didn’t want to over-sand, because as I mentioned, I wanted a chippy look.

I painted on my first coat of paint and then went downstairs to check on my laundry.  Then I washed some dishes.  Then I walked back into the room where I paint and out of the corner of my eye I saw this …

Then I panicked.  I did not see this coming.  That paint is not sticking at all.

Then I reminded myself that I have been here before.  No need to panic.

I got out the sandpaper and as I suspected would happen, sanding took off nearly all of the paint.  OK, no problem.  I vacuumed away the dust, wiped it down and then added a coat of Miss Mustard Seeds’ Tough Coat Sealer.

Take that you chippy cupboard!

Once the sealer was dry, I added a fresh coat of paint.  As it dried, I noticed that it was still chipping quite a bit.  This cupboard really wanted to be chippy.  By this point it was getting late.  I decided to just go ahead and add another coat of paint and go to bed.  But as fate would have it, I ran out of paint with just one side left to finish.

The next day I sent an email off to Jennylyn at Homestead House and asked if they could please send me just one more package of Laurentien, stat.

I spent the next week looking at the cupboard ‘as is’.  Except for that one side that still needed another coat of paint, I realized that I really loved the way the cabinet looked.  My own rooster cupboard is just as chippy and judging by how often it gets pinned on pinterest, I think there are others out there who love that look too (not you Betty from Ontario, I know this is not your cup of tea).

When the paint arrived I mixed up a small batch and painted that last remaining side.

And now it looks like this …


I left the inside of the cupboard alone.  Personally I like how rustic it is.



And I love this little wooden latch that can be used to keep the left side door closed.


The cupboard will likely continue to chip a little over time.  Although I sanded and vacuumed and got as much off as I could, I didn’t seal it.  I have found with other super chippy pieces that they continue to chip unless you seal them with the Tough Coat Sealer.  But that’s OK with me.  I like pieces that wear over time.


I debated removing the door insets and replacing them with screening, which would be quite easy to do.  I think that would be a really awesome look for this piece.  Something similar to this photo from pinterest …


If I was keeping it I think I would definitely do that, but I’m not keeping this cupboard.  I am selling it (check my available for local sale tab to see if it is still available).  So … I thought I’d see if I get any takers with this look first.

And who knows?  If it doesn’t sell I can always go back to the drawing board and paint it white.