Milk Paint Charmer: Sunny Success!

This is the story of a very old, sad, dresser that has, I think, a very happy ending. This poor thing had endured abuse during its 170 or so years of life. Once upon a time, a very talented woodworker took some wide pine boards and constructed, with his own hands, a very useful dresser. He dovetailed the drawers by hand, hand-beveled the drawer bottoms, doweled in the knobs, affixed bun feet (probably), and put a wash of off-white milk paint on it.

Then, at some point during the very long life of this workhorse dresser with the three handkerchief drawers on top, someone subbed out its original feet (perhaps some had broken off at the dowel) with machine-turned ones from maple, replaced the apparently sawed-off knobs with large, out-of-proportion British-style knobs, and sanded all the milk paint off, except for what was visible in the cracked side boards. Then, the offender committed the ultimate sin: slapped on thick, drippy polyurethane, which aged and ambered and turned it into the orange eyesore I found:

Old Pine Dresser before
So sad. It endured even more abuse in the ensuing years, in the form of dents, dings, and many scratches in that horrible poly finish. At some point, inappropriate molding was nailed around the bottom and then broken off. The poor thing definitely needed cheering up. So, I chose a bright yellow milk paint for the body and juxtaposed a modern, not-too shiny charcoal chalk paint for the top. New, better proportioned knobs got the charcoal treatment for contrast, as well. So now it looks like this:

sunflower dresser
sunflower dresser 4
hanky drawers

My dear mother-in-law, who only really understands mid-century modern design, unwittingly gave me the ultimate compliment: “It looks like it came out of a barn.” Ah, yes. Success!

This great piece went to live in California. Like City Girl Arts on facebook!
Original painting by me, called “City Girl”.


13 thoughts on “Milk Paint Charmer: Sunny Success!

  1. You did this piece perfect justice! I love the yellow & black together & think the chippiness just puts it over the top to perfection. And I would have to agree with you; that compliment from your mother in law has to be the best compliment ever.


  2. I just saw your feature at Elizabeth and Co. This is awesome! I absolutely love it! I’m not a big yellow person and really never use it for anything I paint, but this is great and makes me want to give yellow a whirl. 🙂


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