sugar & succulents DIY: Milk-paint Chair Makeover

My first milk-paint project y’all and I am THRILLED with the results. 

Right before we moved we popped into this place called Construction Junction in Pittsburgh, PA where I loved to look around at all sorts of reclaimed things. Unexpectedly, we found a kitchen/dining room set in good condition but it wasn't our style.  I noticed the turned-style legs and was drawn to it.

My thought process: Its nothing special. I do’t like that traditional honey-oak stain. We don’t need it. We’re moving in two days. Oh, but its solid wood. We have no place for this,. But that’s cheap. 

We took it home.

Fast forward to last week when I was staring at it siting in our dinning area. I’ve got a lot of small projects going on and numerous unfinished “works in progress” but I was compelled to start the chairs immediately.

I knew I wanted to redo the table top to a rectangle shape for a more traditional farmhouse look. I saved some inspiration photos:

From the amazingly talented Joanna Gaines 

Bought my materials:

And got to work…

From what I read, the bonding agent will allow you to paint over any surface without sanding or stripping, but I also wanted these chairs to look worn and old and I wanted a natural wood finish under the paint. 

If you’re completing this project at home and don’t mind the oak stain showing through, you can definitely skip out on the sanding process which will save you an entire week of labor. Seriously. 

I took my little mouse sander to town on these chairs. It was really difficult to get around the legs and any round edges, as well as the spindles on the back of the chair, so I skipped those in the beginning.

I committed myself to sanding one chair per day because of all of the awkward sitting, standing, bending, and kneeling positions involved. At the end of the week the chairs looked like this:

Pretty good start in my opinion! I then added the little extender attachment onto the sander and sanded down all of the smaller/hard to reach areas. The end result-

A set of beautifully naked chairs. Lovely. 

I filled in any large holes and screws with wood putty. 

I took a finer grit sandpaper and lightly sanded over them so that the paint would stick better and we wouldn't have rough spots pulling at our clothes when we sat on the chairs. After this final sanding session, I did a small happy dance and put the sander away. I took a damp cotton rag and wiped all of the dust off of the chairs and moved them to the drive way for painting. Wiping with a cloth not only cleans the surface but the water helps to open the wood pores for painting. 

This was my first time working with milk-paint. I watched all of the video tutorials I could find, so naturally I was uncomfortable with the method of “mixing until it feels right.”

I mixed until I couldn’t feel any more lumps in the paint, the consistency resembled a runny pancake batter. The first coat went on and dried very quickly, using much more paint than I anticipated. Despite the paint feeling so thin, the coverage was actually pretty good

After a quick trip (by quick I mean driving 45 minutes to the closest store that carried Miss Mustard Seed paints) to the store to buy more milk-paint, The second coat required a lot less paint to cover, probably because the natural wood took in a lot the first time around.

I wasn’t sure if I should attempt a third coat. My husband insisted two was enough, but after all of that work sanding and painting I didn’t want to skimp out on another layer of paint and ruin all of the work invested. He told me to sleep on it, which I did, and the next day I really liked the way the chairs looked with two coats. Whoo-hoo!

At this point I reluctantly rekindled my relationship with the sander. 

I put wear marks on the edges of the chair in places I thought would naturally show marks over time. I experimented a little and sat in the chair, taking notice of areas where my thighs/butt hit. I sanded those areas a little more thoroughly to give the appearance of wear with lots of use. I also removed more paint on the front of the legs where people would be kicking/resting their feet. After another overall light sanding with a  fine grit hand block, I wiped down the chairs to expose these beauties:

….and I am in love. I really cant believe how great they turned out and for once a project actually lived up to the expectation/vision I had in my head. Success!

I do want to seal them with Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat but I wanted to make sure I was happy with the look and not want to distress them further before sealing. 

Now that the chairs are finished, the table is up next! What do you think of them? 

Do you have some honey oak stained furniture you’d like to convert to a milk-paint masterpiece?


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  • Sara Syrett

    These look so great! I am just as unfamiliar with milk paint as you were. I am going to work with it soon and this was great to check out and see how it worked out! Thanks or sharing at Merry Monday. Visiting from Have a great week!

  • Cindy

    They turned out great!
    So nice having you share at AMAZE ME MONDAY!

  • Kate

    Oh I love how they turned out!! Really changed the look of your dining space!! Beautiful!

  • Jann Olson

    I think they turned out beautifully! You really did a ton of work getting them back to the naked stage. I have a packet of milk paint waiting for me to try for the first time. I am going to paint some shutters and an old stool aqua. I will be using them at my grandsons wedding. I will just be painting on what they are now and hoping for shabby chippy layers of lovely! :) Thanks for sharing with the garden party.

  • Maria de Tía Keko

    Those chairs are great, good job with the chairs.

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