the Vintage Crawl is back!

It’s time once again for the Vintage Crawl presented by the Two Rivers Vintage Collective!

This year 8 shops along the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers are participating; five in Stillwater, two in Afton, and one in Hastings.

The Crawl takes place from Thursday, May 4 through Sunday, May 7.  Crawl hours:  Thursday 10 -7, Friday & Saturday 10 – 6 and Sunday 12 -5.

Doing the Crawl is a great way to spend a day.  Especially if you love vintage, repurposed, chippy, rusty, shabby, one of a kind items for your home!

I suggest starting in Stillwater and working your way south, or reverse that and start in Hastings and work your way north.  If starting on the Stillwater end, may I suggest beginning at Apron Chicks.

Apron Chicks is a vintage home/accessory occasional sale operated out of a charming little cabin at Bergmann’s Greenhouse & Farm Market (12239 62nd Street N, Stillwater) just north of highway 36 off Manning Avenue.

It is super simple to head from there to Reclaiming Beautiful  at 216 Myrtle St. W in Stillwater.

Just head north on Manning and take a right on Myrtle.  Reclaiming Beautiful is about 2.5 miles east on the left hand side next to the Post Office.  Reclaiming Beautiful is all about taking old pieces of furniture and making them beautiful again.  Their inventory is always changing; painted furniture, vintage, home decor and pretty things!  You will love their prices!  They are open every week from Thursday through Sunday.

Next, continue heading east down Myrtle and take a left on 2nd Street to visit the Strawberry Patch  at 217 2nd Street N, Unit 2, Stillwater.

Once upon a time three friends, one blonde, one brunette, and one red head, were looking for a way to incorporate their love of vintage, shabby chic, crafting and of course shopping. They decided that the red head should start a business so she opened the Strawberry Patch.  Katie is joined by an ever growing group of vendors in her shop on 2nd Street.

It’s easy to head from the Strawberry Patch over to Main Street and visit both My Sister’s Cottage at 226 Main Street S and Mama’s Happy at 324 Main Street S.

The owners of My Sister’s Cottage, sisters Terry and Diane, have long loved the cottage aesthetic. In 2014, they decided it was time to share that love so they opened their shop in downtown Stillwater.

My Sister’s Cottage is truly an ode to “cottage style”.  Terry and Diane run their shop in a different manner than most, everything you see in their shop has been found, restored and painted by either Terry or Diane. There are no additional vendors contributing to their vintage look!  Their division of labor falls perfectly into their passions. Terry is the furniture/accessories picker and stager and Diane is the painter, sign maker, jewelry maker and general handy-woman!

Mama’s Happy is a hip little boutique featuring fabulous, one-of-a-kind repurposed and vintage merchandise crafted by local artisans using Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan.  It’s located in the Grand Garage.

Come to be inspired and get all the supplies to create your own or let them do the hard work and buy an already finished unique piece to take home.

You might just be starving after visiting all five of these shops, so now would be a good time to get a bite to eat in Stillwater.  If you consider yourself a ‘foodie’ I’d recommend Marx Wine Bar and Grill on Main Street.  It’s not cheap, but the food is amazing (note:  they are not open on Sunday).  If you want something a little faster and cheaper, how about checking out Tin Bins (just across the way on Nelson).  They have some great sandwiches!

After lunch head south on highway 95 to Afton and enjoy the scenery along the St. Croix River.

In Afton you can park once and visit both The Foundry on the St. Croix  at 3290 St. Croix Trail S and dwell. at 3192 St. Croix Trail S.

The Foundry on the St. Croix is a hidden gem.

You’ll find amazing vintage inspired pieces carefully curated for your viewing pleasure.

dwell. is home to 20+ vendors specializing in salvaging, re-finishing, re-purposing, re-envisioning vintage furniture and home decor. They are normally open every Saturday, plus the last Thursday to Sunday of each month.

Their inventory is always changing!

From Afton, it’s only another 20 minutes down the road to Hastings.  I recommend taking St. Croix Trail south because it’s a gorgeous, winding, picturesque route.  Once in Hastings, head for Eye Candy REfind at 218 2nd Street E.

Stop in for reimagined, vintage, repurposed and handmade furniture, home decor and gifts!

And now you’ve completed the entire crawl!

Be sure to turn in your completed Vintage Crawl card at the last shop you visit to submit your name for the prize drawings.

Reclaiming Beautiful turns two!

Reclaiming Beautiful is turning two!

To celebrate, they will be open from 3 pm to 8 pm today, and there will be door prizes, special event pricing and refreshments.  Plus as a added bonus they are giving away a Reclaiming Beautiful Candle with every purchase over $50!!!! (while they last, so get there early)

I just happened to swing by last night while they were setting up and I snapped a few pics of some of their latest merchandise, starting with these gorgeous chairs painted in one of Fusion’s newest colors, a fresh green called Park Bench

I’m afraid my mind was on dining sets since my sister will need one when she moves into her new house at the end of May.

They had several really lovely dining sets in the shop.

As well as this adorable hutch …

And don’t forget they also have some awesome jewelry from Mimi-Torias …

But really, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  You need to stop in to check out all of the great items they have in stock this week.

Reclaiming Beautiful is located in beautiful historic Stillwater, Minnesota next to the post office at 216 Myrtle Street West.  Hope you can swing by to help them celebrate!

using Fusion’s transfer gel.

We had a little taste of spring a week or so ago with our temps nearing 60 and even some rain.  The rain washed away the last of that pesky snow cover making it really feel like spring.  Of course, February is far too early for spring in Minnesota, right?  Winter came back with a vengeance for some poor souls south of here in the form of a foot of snow, but at my house we barely even got a dusting.  However, we did get some cold gusty winds, officially bringing an end to a false spring.


I don’t know about you, but that little bit of spring-like weather has me longing for gardening season.

Since it’s way too early to start that, I decided to turn an old bucket into a flower container instead.

I’m going to take this wonky old thing with some paint splatters and a warped bottom (hey, wait a minute, that sounds like me!) …


And turn it into this …


 For now I have it filled with cut flowers, but when spring really does arrive I can plant it with some pretty flowering annuals.

The first thing I did was clean it up by scrubbing it with a little dish soap and water just in case there were any oily residues on it.  Once it dried, I painted it with just one coat of Fusion paint in one of their newest colors, Brook.


This is such a gorgeous color.  It’s coming across as quite minty on my computer screen, but it’s got a little more blue in it in person.


I wanted to add a little extra pizzazz to my bucket, so I decided to use Fusion’s Transfer Gel to add a French graphic.


This stuff is so fun to play around with.  If you haven’t tried it, you should.

Here’s how it works.

First of all you need an image to transfer.  You can using any image printed onto regular paper with a laser printer.  It can be color or black and white.  The printer toner is what will transfer, so whatever color you see on your paper is what you’ll get in your transfer.  Important tip:  keep in mind that you will get a reverse of the image you see on the paper.  So if your graphic has words in it (like mine does), you’ll need to print a mirror image.  Personally I always have a hard time figuring out how to print a mirror image on my computer, so I have a bunch of reverse graphics saved on pinterest just for this purpose.  You can also find lots of great reverse images on the Graphics Fairy website.

The French beekeeper’s letterhead graphic that I am using today came from Graphics Fairy, and here it is …


Once you have your graphic printed, trim all the way around it.  The less paper you leave behind, the less paper you’ll have to scrub off your finished product.

Next, brush some transfer gel onto your surface (in my case, the bucket) where you want to put the image.  You just need a thin-ish coat, not a thick gloppy coat.  I use an inexpensive chip brush to do this, but one of those cheap sponge brushes will work too.  Then place your printed graphic image-side down onto the gel.  Be sure to press down and smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles using your finger, sort of like wallpapering or decoupaging.  Important tip:  do not put transfer gel over the top of your paper!  If you do, your paper will be permanently adhered to the surface.  You do not want that.

Then let your transfer dry overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

Now it’s time to remove the paper leaving the image behind.  First wet down your paper and give it a couple of seconds to soften up.  Then using a cloth start to gently rub away the paper.  I find it best to use a terry washcloth for this.  You want something with a little texture to rub off the paper, but not too much (like a plastic scrubby) so that it scratches off the design.  Frequently move to a new spot on your cloth as your cloth gets full of paper.  I use a gentle circular motion which seems to work well.  Important tip:  while the paper is wet it can be difficult to see if you really got it all off.  But no worries, once it dries you can see any remaining paper more easily and then you can just go in again with your damp rag and rub that off.  Also, the gel can take on a milky appearance when it gets saturated with water.  Don’t worry, it will dry clear again.  This step in the process is where you’ll really appreciate working with Fusion paint rather than a chalk paint.  It holds up to the application of the water, whereas a chalk paint will wipe right off along with the paper.


If perfection is your goal, this technique might not be for you.  As you can see above, most of my graphic transferred but there are spots that didn’t quite make it.  I like a more distressed, worn look so this is ‘perfect’ for me.


And that is basically it.  No need to put a coat of anything over the top of this.


Currently Reclaiming Beautiful is not stocking the Fusion transfer gel, but if they get a few requests for it they will add it to their next Fusion order.  So if you want to give this product a try, be sure to let them know.  You can send them a message on Facebook here.

warm up here.


It’s January in Minnesota!  Brrrrrr….

But we don’t complain, do we?  No, we embrace the cold.  We build castles out of ice to celebrate the frozen beauty that is all around us.

This year Stillwater is home to an Ice Castle, if you haven’t heard about it, check out {this video}.  On Christmas Eve my family and I stopped by to check out the progress on the castle and it was looking pretty awesome.  It’s scheduled to open tomorrow.  Be sure to {buy tickets online} in advance if you plan to go see it.

Snow boots and warm clothing are recommended.  And if you do go see it, be sure to stop by Reclaiming Beautiful afterwards (see their hours at the end of this post).  They are just a couple of blocks up the hill from the castle.  They’ll be serving up free hot chocolate this weekend for anyone who needs to warm up after being outside for a while.

Just to get you in the hot chocolate mood, I stopped by the shop last weekend and Susan and I had some fun putting together a few different hot cocoa bars starting with this farmhouse style set up.


Isn’t the little cow creamer adorable?  If you haven’t tried adding a flavored creamer to your hot chocolate, you don’t know what you are missing.  I recommend a white chocolate raspberry creamer or peppermint.  Yum!

I love these green dishes, they have such a vintage farmhouse vibe.  There is a whole set of them for sale in the shop.  And who says you can’t serve hot chocolate using a vintage silver coffee pot?


We set up this cocoa bar in a rustic barn wood tray that was placed on this gorgeous blue sideboard.


I whipped up a couple of chalkboards for our photo shoot (and they are for sale in the shop).  I used one of them for this next holiday themed hot chocolate station.


I know, I know, Christmas is over.  But the shop still has some holiday merchandise at bargain prices.  I thought this set of red and white dishes was totally charming.  I love the gingham trim.

Why not use a rusty old caddy and some vintage canning jars to contain your cocoa ingredients?


I love the combination of the almost industrial looking galvanized tray with the soft furry faux sheepskin.


It’s all set up on this gorgeous empire style dresser that is marked down to $150.  Yep, you read that right, $150.  It almost sold right out from under me while I was staging it for these photos, but at the last moment the potential buyer walked away so you may still be able to nab it.


For our third hot cocoa bar we decided to get a little classy.


Silver, gold and white is always a classic winter-y combo.


You won’t go wrong serving up some treats in stemmed glasses.


This set up was perfect on top of this beautiful sideboard painted in a silvery grey.


We set up one last hot chocolate bar for you in the shop window.


There is a charming little red dresser in the window, so it was perfect for some more red and white.


Check out the farm animal knobs!  Adorable.


I couldn’t resist using that galvanized metal tray again here, and adding a sweet little ironstone plate full of cookies.



So remember, you have two options for warming up after visiting the ice castle.  Stop in at Reclaiming Beautiful for some free hot cocoa, or stop in and get some fantastic vintage supplies to set up your own hot cocoa bar at home!

Reclaiming Beautiful is open Thursday thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  They are located in Stillwater at 216 Myrtle Street West right next to the post office!

 Please note, inventory moves quickly at Reclaiming Beautiful and each piece is one of a kind.  The pieces I’ve featured were all available as of December 31, but may have since sold.  If you would like to inquire about a specific item, please feel free to send an email to

Amy’s amazing house, part 3.


Welcome to part 3 of our tour of Reclaiming Beautiful vendor Amy’s house.  For those of you who follow Reclaiming Beautiful on Facebook or here on their blog, but don’t follow my personal blog, q is for quandie, you may have missed parts 1 and 2.  I shared them on q is for quandie earlier this week.  But you can easily go visit them by clicking {this link} for part 1 and {this link} for part 2.

I’ve saved my favorite room in Amy’s house for last, but before we get to it we’re going to make a quick pit stop to peek out onto her back porch.


I don’t think Amy intended for me to head out there.  After all, it’s not heated so it was pretty chilly.  But I was drawn out there like a moth to the flame.  She has a lot of cool stuff out there, including the dollhouse that she purchased from me last fall!


She dressed it up for Christmas with some tiny wreaths and some lights.

While I was snooping around on the porch I couldn’t help snapping a shot of these amazing vintage green items.  Green is the 2017 Pantone color of the year, so you’re going to be right on trend with these Amy!


OK, now on to my favorite room.  I didn’t ask Amy what she calls this room, but I’m going to call it her music room since she has a piano and several other musical instruments on display.


Personally I love any room that has to accessed via french doors, don’t you?


Amy purchased this amazing daybed from Craigslist and paid only $25 for it.  This amazing piece had all of the Reclaiming Beautiful ladies drooling when Amy had us all over for a Christmas party.

She’s got some great vintage suitcases tucked underneath it.


Just around the french doors on the same wall is Amy’s piano.

What?  Doesn’t everyone have a propeller on their keyboard?

I absolutely love the way she has displayed a tiny Christmas village on top of the piano.


 The contrast between the giant books and the tiny buildings is perfect.

This charming clock is tucked into the corner next to the piano.

Amy has a knack for creating collages of interesting items on her walls.


She obviously loves old maps.

In the end though, I think the thing I was most looking forward to sharing with you in this room is the Christmas tree.


First of all, did you notice?  It’s sitting in an old drawer that has little legs added to it.

You can sort of see it in this next photo behind the stool (P.S.  if you ever decide to part with this chippy old stool Amy, I call dibs on it!)


To really appreciate this tree though, you have to take a closer look.  There are all kinds of lanterns tucked into it.


Seriously, I am so enamored with this idea that I might have to borrow it next year.  Is that OK with you Amy?


This rusty one is my favorite.


And of course, the music room Christmas tree wouldn’t be complete without a musical instrument tucked in.


 As we head out of the room, you have to take note of the Titanic life preserver hanging over the door.  Love it!


I hope you enjoyed seeing Amy’s house as much as I did.  I hoping to share a few more of the Reclaiming Beautiful team’s homes with you in 2017.

Until then, I hope you were inspired to create some vintage magic in your own home this holiday season!

Fusion paint.

Woo hoo!  It’s official.  Reclaiming Beautiful is now carrying Fusion paint!

In the interest of full disclosure, Fusion has been providing me with free samples of their paint for a couple of years now.  That being said, I love their product and use it frequently.  Although they provide me with paint, they don’t pay me or otherwise buy my love.  All opinions I provide are my own.

 I’ve been hoping that eventually Reclaiming Beautiful would carry it, and now they do!

A quick note about Fusion paint.  It is an acrylic paint that is self leveling, contains zero VOC’s, has a built in top coat (no need for wax or poly), and is fully washable and water resistant once cured (after about 21 days).  When using Fusion paint there is no need to buy additional products, you don’t need a primer or a top coat in addition to the paint.  Fusion does have a product called Ultra Grip in their line.  You only need to use this product as a primer of sorts to add extra paint gripping power when you are painting a tricky surface like laminate or glass.  Also, you can choose to use a wax over Fusion if you want to, but it’s not necessary.  For example, I have used a dark antiquing wax over it for aesthetic reasons (read on to see an example of that in action).

Today I thought I would share some before and after photos of some projects I’ve done using Fusion paint.  Please note that none of these pieces are currently available, I’m just sharing them as examples of what you can do with this product.

One of my early Fusion projects was an old vintage school desk that was being thrown away.  It was quite literally labeled as trash!


It had one of those plastic-y finishes on the top that were supposed to be impervious to daily use by school children.  As you can see in the photo it was all scratched and dinged up.  The base of the desk is metal.  I painted the top and the inside of the desk without using the Ultra Grip and had no issues with adherence.  Here’s how it turned out.


The colors I used were Seaside (the blue), Champlain (the white) and Bedford (the grey).

One of my favorite Fusion colors is called Inglenook.  This is a gorgeous pale-ish, blue-ish, green-ish, robin’s egg blue sort of color.  I think it’s perfect for french provincial pieces like this nightstand.  It was really nothing special to begin with.


But add a little paint and voila!


This color also really brought this sideboard to life.



I’m never afraid to use Fusion paint on metal.  I used another of my favorite Fusion colors called Laurentien on the metal bases of this pair of vintage school desks.


The pop of aqua really gave them more personality.


This is an instance where I used a little dark antiquing wax to tone them down just a tad.


I also used Laurentien on another of my favorite metal pieces, this bar cart.  The drawer is painted in Fusion’s Picket Fence (the white).


I added some white vinyl lettering to the top of the bar cart just for fun.


I also used dark wax over one of the Fusion metallic paints, Pale Gold,  on this chair.  Here it is before I painted it …


Here it is with the gold paint but before the application of dark wax.


and after the wax …


It can be fun to mix your own Fusion paint colors too.


My sister and I combined Liberty Blue and Homestead Blue to come up with a color we called Lake Superior Blue.



 Fusion has a line of colors that they call Tones for Tots that were specially formulated to be extra safe for babies and toddlers.  They met some very stringent safety standards.  This paint is lead free, phlalate free, formaldehyde free, ammonia free, virtually odourless and is Zero VOC.  If you want to paint something for a nursery you can feel totally comfortable using the Tones for Tots.  I tested out a shade of pink called Little Piggy on this dressing table.


It was quite the transformation.


Recently Fusion added a bunch of new colors to their line up.  One of my new favorites is the perfect navy blue.


After removing some fussy carved details from this buffet, I painted it in Midnight Blue.


Another of my favorites among the new colors is called Brook.

This chair went from drab …


to fab with a couple of coats of Brook


One last comment about Fusion paint.  It is perfectly safe to use indoors and doesn’t have much of an odor, so for those of us stuck painting indoors for the next 4 to 5 months, this makes it the perfect paint!

So if you have a painting project you’ve been meaning to get to, stop in to Reclaiming Beautiful and check out the Fusion paint!

the holiday table.

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast. ~William Shakespeare


It’s officially November and now that the weather has gotten cooler and the days are getting shorter it feels like the holidays are just around the corner.

That makes this the perfect time to spruce up your dining room in anticipation of some holiday feasting.


I recommend starting with a trip to Reclaiming Beautiful!  They had several lovely dining room sets in the store the last time I stopped in, as well as some gorgeous buffets and hutches.

I like the neutral grey base and light wood top of this farmhouse style table.  And pairing it with some unpainted mismatched chairs that all have the same wood tone was the perfect choice (chairs and table sold separately).


Mr. Rooster looks right at home with this table setting, doesn’t he?


Perhaps you prefer clean lines and a more industrial vibe for your decor, in which case this next dining set will definitely appeal to you.


I love these metal industrial chairs.


I saw several hutches and buffets on my last visit to the shop, but I was woefully neglectful when it came to getting good photos of them.  But I did get a good shot of this turquoise buffet.  This would be perfect for adding a pop of color to your dining room and it would have all of the relatives talking about how stylish your home is.


But maybe you don’t need to splurge on new-to-you furniture for your dining room and just want to spruce it up with a few new accessories.  You’ll find some great options for those at Reclaiming Beautiful as well.



Adding these hanging lamps over your table would have a big impact.


So be sure to stop in to Reclaiming Beautiful soon, and then let the feasting begin!

Please note, inventory moves fairly quickly at Reclaiming Beautiful and each piece is one of a kind.  The pieces I’ve featured were all available as of October 24, but may have since sold.  If you would like to inquire about a specific item, please feel free to send an email to

And if you need further motivation to stop in, they will soon be stocking Fusion paint!  I’m so excited that they are adding this paint to their line up.  It’s one of my favorite paints to use.  It has a built-in top coat, requires minimal prep, has zero VOC’s and is so easy to apply.  It also comes in some gorgeous colors.  Plus Fusion’s motto ‘paint it beautiful’ seems to fit perfectly for the shop, right?


If you’ve always wanted to try painting your own piece of furniture but were hesitant to attempt milk paint or chalk paint, this is the perfect paint for getting your feet wet the first time.  Be sure to check it out the next time you visit the shop.

refurbish an old toolbox with paint.


We’ve all seen those fantastic old metal toolboxes with a gorgeous vintage patina, right?


photo source here.

If only they were all this fabulously chippy.  Instead, I tend to find old toolboxes that look a little more like this …


Not quite so fabulous, a little more shabby than chic.

But, all is not lost!  This shabby old thing can be refurbished with some Little Billy Goat paint.  Didn’t know you could use it on metal?  Well, you sure can.

I painted this toolbox inside and out with just one quick coat of Little Billy Goat’s Old Pickup.  Once dry I added a couple of stencils using acrylic craft paint.  Then I sanded down the edges just a bit to make it look more worn, and less freshly painted.  I finished with Little Billy Goat black wax.


Be sure to use a light hand when sanding.  Any raised spots will sand off more quickly.   Since this toolbox had lots of white paint drips, you can see them trying to peak through.


Not sure what you would do with an old toolbox?

How about storing craft supplies inside?


This one has a lift out tray that I painted as well and then lined with old book pages.



So the next time you see a cruddy old toolbox, don’t just pass it by.  Refurbish it with some paint!

You can find Little Billy Goat paint at Reclaiming Beautiful.  Stop in soon to check out their selection of colors!

little billy goat paint

we have a winner!

A big thank you to everyone who signed up to follow the Reclaiming Beautiful blog via email!

We used a random number generator to pick a winner from among everyone who signed up to follow or left a comment mentioning that they already follow the blog.

milk paint

And the winner is …  Patty!

I’ll be emailing Patty directly with the details on how to claim her prize.


milk paint for beginners.

Are you a milk paint beginner?  Or maybe you just want to brush up (pardon the pun) your milk paint skills.  If so, this post is for you.  Be sure to read to the end because Reclaiming Beautiful is sponsoring a giveaway of some Real Milk Paint products (disclaimer:  you must be local and able to pick up the prize in person at their shop to be eligible to win)!

milk paint

I’ve been painting with milk paint for several years ever since I discovered it for the first time at a booth at Oronoco Gold Rush where Jody from Farmhouse Inspired was selling samples of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint.  Shortly after that, Lori from The Round Barn Potting Co asked me to attend the Miss Mustard Seed retailer training with her at The Ironstone Nest in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.  The rest is history.  I believe I’ve painted well over 100 pieces of furniture in milk paint.  I have to confess that I did not fall in love with milk paint on the first try.  I thought it was putzy to mix, expensive, tricky to apply and the results were unpredictable (just being honest here people).  However, I kept on with it and after my 2nd or 3rd piece in milk paint I fell in love with it.  It’s now my favorite paint to work with.  Bottom line, in my opinion there is no other type of paint on the market that will give you the same authentically chippy, ‘been sitting in grandma’s attic for 80 years’, aged look that you can get with milk paint.

There is a second, and possibly more important, reason why I decided using milk paint was worth the extra expense.  It is made from 100% organic material, it’s safe for the environment, and also protects you and your family from harmful fumes.  Remember those ‘over 100 pieces’ I’ve painted in milk paint?  I wouldn’t want to be using a product that releases potentially harmful gases or dust particles with that kind of frequency, would you?

So I was excited when Reclaiming Beautiful started carrying a line of milk paint from The Real Milk Paint Co. (hereafter to be called RMP).   They asked me to give this brand a try and let them know how I thought it compared with Miss Mustard Seed milk paint (spoiler alert:  I think it is just as fabulous).  I thought this would be a good opportunity to write a ‘tutorial blog post’ for you guys about how to use milk paint.

I picked a gorgeous rich blue green color called Dragonfly to use on a pretty little vintage serpentine dresser.  Here is how it turned out.


But let’s go back and start at the beginning, shall we?

Although the RMP comes in a can that looks similar to those that contain pre-mixed paint, inside the can is a pouch of powder and a marble.

dragonfly milk paint

The manufacturer recommends mixing the paint in the can, but I didn’t go that route.  You want to mix only as much paint as you think you’ll need.  In my case that was going to be about half of the contents of the pouch.  I wanted to keep my can clean and dry and use it to store the leftover dry powder for next time.  So I chose to mix my paint in a canning jar instead.

mixing paint

I put equal parts water and powder (a good rule of thumb) into my jar, dropped in the marble and started shaking.  I’d never used a marble before and I gotta say it was pretty fantastic.  Whoever came up with that idea was kinda brilliant.  After mixing just a bit, I open the jar and added a drop of RMP’s anti-foaming agent, put the lid back on and kept shaking for about a minute.

You can certainly get by without the anti-foaming agent in which case you just want to let your paint rest longer after mixing, or mix by spoon instead of shaking.  I found that the anti-foaming agent also made my paint a little creamier and smoother to apply though, so I’ll definitely continue using that product.

One tip I learned in my Miss Mustard Seed training that has served me well is to mix my paint first, then let it rest while I prep my piece to be painted.  This gives the natural pigments in the paint a chance to fully dissolve.  So while my mixed paint was resting, I prepped my dresser by removing the knobs from the drawers, sanding the dresser lightly and then wiping it down with TSP Substitute (which will help remove any oily residue from the surface).  One thing I’ve learned over time with milk paint is that any prep you do will impact your resulting finish.  Lots of heavy sanding will result in less paint chipping.  Do you want a super chippy finish?  If so, don’t sand too much.  Do you prefer less chipping?  Then sand a little bit more.

Let’s talk briefly about chipping and why it happens with milk paint.  Most other types of paint are designed to sit on the surface of the piece you’re painting.  Milk paint is designed to be absorbed into a porous surface, sort of like a wood stain.  If you use milk paint on raw wood it will absorb into the wood with no chipping and be permanent.  This is why our forebears used it on their houses, it was the original ‘low maintenance siding’!  However, if you use milk paint over a pre-existing finish then the more impervious the finish, the more it will ‘resist’ the paint resulting in chipping.  Any oils on the surface of the piece will also resist the paint.  Personally I love the chippy look, but not necessarily the super duper chippy look.  So I tend to sand my pieces just a little before painting, especially if they have a very shiny poly finish.  All of this being said, sometimes a chippy finish can be elusive and unpredictable.

OK, so my dresser is prepped, my paint is mixed and it’s time to paint.  Milk paint is thinner and a little runnier than other paints, especially chalk paint which tends to be pretty thick.  Don’t panic if your first coat doesn’t cover well and looks kind of awful.  You’ll see as you start the second coat that it improves greatly at that point.  I almost always do two coats of paint when using colors other than white.  With white I often need three coats.

Another important tip is to keep mixing your paint as you work with it.  The pigments will settle, so be sure to give your paint a little stir every few minutes while painting to keep your color even.

One of the beauties of milk paint is that it dries very quickly.  I usually start with the drawer fronts first, then the body of the dresser.  By the time I’m done with the first coat the drawer fronts are dry and I can start right in on the second coat.  In fact, I was painting my dresser outside in low humidity with a slight breeze and the drawers were drying really quickly.


That first drawer at the top was more than halfway dry by the time I got the 3rd drawer painted.

Once your piece is fully painted and dry, the next step is to lightly sand your whole piece with a fine grit sandpaper.  I want to emphasize the word lightly.  You don’t need to use much pressure or go over each area any more than once or twice.  This will smooth out any grittiness in your paint, distress the edges and loosen any chipping paint.  Once sanded, I also like to vacuum my pieces to remove any last flaking paint.

As I’ve mentioned, milk paint can be unpredictable when it comes to the chippy factor.  If you start sanding your piece and you find that almost all of the paint is chipping off, again, don’t panic.  At this point you can always sand the entire piece more thoroughly and then go back and add another coat or two of paint.  The additional sanding you do to remove the chipping will also help create a more porous surface for the paint to stick to on round two. On the opposite side of this equation, if your piece isn’t chipping at all there is a trick you can try that might work.  Use masking tape to pull off some of the paint.  Simply press your tape onto the dry paint and then pull it away (much like you would if you were trying to de-lint your favorite black sweater with masking tape).  Keep in mind that these strategies need to be employed before adding a top coat.

Fortunately with my Dragonfly dresser I got just the perfect amount of chipping without having to resort to using any special tricks.  Sometimes it just works.


The last step is to apply the top coat of your choice, should you choose to use a top coat.  I used to think that a top coat was absolutely required over milk paint, but I have since learned that it’s not.  A top coat will protect your piece from water marks, and some top coats will make a piece more ‘washable.’  But keep in mind that top coats will also change the color of your paint (darkening it to varying degrees) and also change the sheen.  Lately I have been leaving more and more of my milk painted pieces raw.  I recently painted this bench for myself and left it raw.


I’ll give it some time to see how it wears, but if your initial goal was to get a chippy, vintage finish that looks as though it has been there for 100 years, then a little more wear isn’t going to be a bad thing, right?  You’ll have a very flat look with almost no sheen without a top coat.

That being said, no one wants water rings on the top of a table or dresser, so in those cases you definitely want to use a topcoat for protection from water.

Here are your options for top coating your milk paint going from least protective to most protective.

Hemp oil.  Hemp oil is the least protective of the top coats.  It will also darken up the color of your paint the most.  It dries to a fairly matte finish.   It’s easy to apply with a rag or a brush.  Be sure to not over-apply because excess oil will become tacky after 12 hours if left on the surface of your piece.  Just brush on and wipe off excess with a clean, dry cloth.  Hemp oil is all natural and has a mild weedy sort of smell.  It’s perfectly safe on food prep surfaces, so you can use it to liven up an old cutting board for example. Hemp oil should be reapplied once a year or so.  I have an oak buffet that I painted in milk paint and top coated with hemp oil about 3 years ago.  I had never reapplied hemp oil.  A while back I noticed that I’d left a water ring on the top.  Yikes!  It was such an easy fix though.  I simply lightly sanded the top of the piece and re-applied hemp oil and the ring was gone.  So no worries.

Furniture wax.  Wax is more protective than hemp oil.  It will darken up your paint color some, but not as much as hemp oil.  It can be buffed to add more sheen.  It takes a little more elbow grease to apply wax as opposed to hemp oil.  You can apply with a rag or with a wax brush and then buff with a clean, dry cloth.  I waxed this dresser with Miss Mustard Seed furniture wax.  The RMP Co sells a product they call Low Sheen Finishing Cream to be used in place of wax.  I haven’t tried this one yet, but both of the Reclaiming Beautiful shop owners say they love it.

As I mentioned, the wax will change the color and sheen of your paint.  This drawer is in the process of being waxed.

applying wax

You can see how much it darkens the color, but it will lighten back up a bit as the wax ‘dries’.  Wax should also be reapplied periodically, especially if you like that subtle sheen it adds to your piece.

Water based sealer.  A water based sealer can be applied over milk paint for a more protective finish.  It can also be employed to ‘seal’ really chippy paint.  Sealers can be brushed on, and some can also be applied with a rag.

All of these top coat options can be found at Reclaiming Beautiful.

If you are new to milk paint, I definitely recommend starting with a small project to get a feel for the product.  Or better yet, take a class.  Reclaiming Beautiful will be offering an intermediate painting class that will focus on milk paint, Beauty School 201, soon.  If you’re interested in a class, be sure to mention it in a comment here.

And before I let you go, let’s not forget the give-away (remember, you must be able to pick your prize up in person in Stillwater, MN)!  For a chance to win 1 pint of paint (color of your choosing from those available in store), the anti-foaming agent and some Low Sheen finishing cream …

milk paint

all you have to do to be eligible is sign up to follow the Reclaiming Beautiful blog via email.  This is very easy to do if you are viewing the blog on your computer, simply click on the “Follow” button at the top of the right hand column just under where it says “Follow Blog via Email” and fill in the necessary info.  Be sure to include a valid email address so that we can notify you if you win.  What happens after you sign up?  You will get an email notification every time there is a new blog post.  Currently we are posting only once or twice per month, so your email in-box will definitely not be inundated with junk mail.

Once you’ve ‘followed’, then simply leave a comment mentioning that you did so on this post.  Or if you already follow us via email, leave a comment that says that.

Don’t know how to leave a comment?  Just click the ‘dialog balloon’ to the right of the blog post title.  Scroll back up to the title, see it there?  There is probably a number in it unless you are the very first person to comment.  Just click that and type in your comment and fill out the required info.

One name will be drawn from the comments left by email followers by midnight (US central time) on August 31 and that lucky winner can pick up their prize at Reclaiming Beautiful during regular business hours.  The winner will be contacted via email and announced here on the blog.

Best of luck!

And even if you don’t win, I hope you’ll consider giving milk paint a try on your next painting project!