Transforming an old vintage dresser while maintaining it’s vintage charm can be accomplished with the right tools and a little bit of creativity. With Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint and General Finishes Java Gel, an old, forgotten dresser springs back to life. In this post I’ll share step-by-step how I refinish this antique beauty, giving it a vibrant yet simple makeover. So let’s dive into this Milk Paint Vintage Dresser Makeover.
And, as always, if you are new here and new to painting furniture check out Chalk Mineral Paint Basics for tips on how to get started.
The Original Vintage Dresser
This dresser is quite old, honestly not for sure how old. I purchased this on Facebook Marketplace locally. My plan is to add color to the dresser base but enhance the dresser top with a gel stain. The wood is pretty but overall a bit beat up from years of use. There were lots of rough edges and splintery wood pieces here and there.
- SurfPrep Sander 3×4 Electric Ray & Surf Prep Sanding Pads
- Wood Glue/Repair – Minwax High Performance Wood Filler
- Screwdriver – Flat Head (to remove hardware)
- Redesign With Prima Eternal Gilding Décor Wax
- Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Boxwood Green
- Miss Mustard Seek Milk Wax in Clear & Chalk Wax Brush
- General Finishes Java Gel
- Dixie Belle Clear Coat Satin
- Paint Brushes: Dixie Belle Synthetic Flat Medium and Cling On S30
As you can see, the list of supplies for this project is not extensive. The goal is to keep the makeover simple, combining color and stain. A combination which I absolutely love, especially for vintage pieces. I wanted a product that would enhance the nostalgia of this piece rather than cover it up.
The Paint Choice: Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint
And, complement this with the Java Gel by General Finishes on the dresser top, and you’ve got a contrasting duo that spells out vintage allure. Milk Paint and Java Gel work together to create a striking contrast between the body and top of the dresser.
This was my first time trying out Milk Paint and while it was extremely different from my typical chalk mineral paints, I wasn’t displeased! It was just different, but so easy to use.
What Is Milk Paint?
The appeal of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint is that it is made with all-natural ingredients, making it biodegradable, zero-VOC, and non-toxic. It is primarily made up of milk protein, also known as caseins, with other ingredients like pigments from earth that provide the natural colors.
Notably, the pigments used in milk paint are derived from natural sources like plants, clay, or minerals, and they provide the paint with its rich, lasting color.
And, milk paint, with its all-natural composition, can absorb into the surface, which makes it great for raw vintage wood furniture. Instead of laying on top of the surface, it soaks into the wood, thereby enhancing the grain and texture.
Prepping The Vintage Dresser For The Milk Paint Makeover
As mentioned above this dresser was in pretty “vintage” condition. First, I applied the Minwax Wood Filler to a few spots that needed repair. This Minwax Wood Filler dries super fast. Once dry I was able to sand.
To sand this piece I used my Surfprep Sander. This sander is usually my go to choice for any project. I connect it to my Shop Vac using the Surfprep hose. This really cuts down on dust. I still wear goggles and a dust mask and typically sand outdoors when possible. Safety is always first when sanding, painting, or staining.
I sanded the body with 220 grit just to smooth out some rough edges on the dresser body. The top of the dresser got a more intense sanding starting with 120 grit, then moving to180 and then 220 to obtain a smooth finish. I wanted to get as close to the raw wood as possible on the top.
that I gave this piece another quick spray cleaning with Krud Kutter followed by a good rinse with clear water. To say this piece was dirty was an understatement!
Applying the Milk Paint To The Vintage Dresser Makeover
Mixing The Milk Paint
Okay, this is the first place you’ll notice a big difference from regular chalk mineral paints. Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint is powdered and must be mixed with water. Following the directions on the packaging I mixed the green powder with water. The powder smells very natural, almost reminds me of a baby formula smell, but not bad.
To mix I use a small whisk and then add MilkMix-EZ Anti-Foaming Agent and mixed a bit more with an electric whisk also. The result was a pretty green mixture. It is thinner than chalk paint but you certainly can make it thicker by adding a bit more powder. You control the consistency depending on how much water you add.
Applying The Milk Paint
With the Dixie Belle Synthetic Brush in Flat Medium and the Cling On S30 I applied the paint to the wood. It went on so easily and does appear to absorb into the wood. To be fairly thin, It does not really drip or run. And the color is more concentrated than I expected. However due to the thin consistency you could still see the wood grain texture beneath. And that was perfect for this particular vintage piece.
This paint dried very fast! I applied three coats total, letting each dry completely. Each coat took about one hour to really dry. But the color was amazing and rich, yet natural. The finish does have a more chalky matte appearance than my typical chalk mineral paint. And there is more variation, not streaks, but variation in the color, adding to the vintage charm.
Overall the paint went on easily and was fun to use. For the right pieces of furniture and home décor I would certainly use this product again. And next time, I’d love to try a different color.
Sealant For the Milk Paint Vintage Dresser
To be fully immersed in trying the brand, I opted to seal and protect the painted finish with Miss Mustad Seek Milk Wax. I chose clear because I did not want to change the Boxwood color. The green is gorgeous and natural looking as is so I wanted to keep it that way.
I applied Miss Mustard Seek Milk Wax in Clear using a chalk wax brush. Then using a lint-free rag, I wiped away any excess and with a third soft lint-free rag I buffed the wax into the wood. This was a bit time consuming, given that I usually apply a brush-on poly, but it wasn’t cumbersome.
The Milk Wax seemed to enhance and enrich the original color of the paint. The Milk Wax did seem to offer fairly good protection. I did notice as I was applying the wax that the Milk Paint finish did naturally chip and “distress itself” in a few places. I saw this as a positive since it enhanced the vintage appeal.
Applying The Gel-Stain To The Vintage Dresser Top
Next, I focused on the dresser top. General Finishes Java Gel is one of my go-to stains. I love the rich coffee color of the stain. And paired with the green, it was the perfect combination!
The Java Gel Stain by General Finishes is a remarkable product that offers an incredibly rich, deeply pigmented color. The dark hue of this stain, like a cup of java, enhances the grain of the wood, bringing out its natural beauty and character. This gel stain adheres well to the surface and offers a smooth, even finish.
Before staining the top I wiped away any dust with a Tack Cloth. Then I applied a few drops of the stain to the dresser top. Next, using a stain applicator pad, I worked the gel stain into the dresser top, moving across starting at one side and going across in straight line to the other side. Making sure to fully cover the edges and wipe away any excess stain with the applicator pad or a lint-free rag.
You can apply 1-2 coats of gel stain, but let each coat dry fully, usually overnight about 24 hours. I did two coats for the perfect richness of color. Once fully dry and cured for 72 hours, I applied three coats of Dixie Belle Clear Coat in Satin.
Adding The Hardware To The Milk Paint Vintage Dresser Makeover
Okay, a few final touches really added to the vintage charm. These drawer pulls were the ones that came on the dresser. Opting to reuse those, I noted the center screw tops were a bit tarnished. So I used a little dab of Redesign With Prima Décor Gilding Wax in Eternal on my finger to remedy that.
Using that same gold wax I dabbed a little on the metal keyhole in the center of each of the drawers. Talk about a little touch adding something special. So pretty! just a little gold never hurts any makeover!
Finally I added some thick wrapping paper in a pink and green floral print to line the drawers. This added a really pretty simple touch that gave these very old stained drawers a much needed freshening up.
Summary: Milk Paint Vintage Dresser Makeover
This makeover showcased how Miss Mustard Seek Milk Paint in Boxwood green and Java Gel stain combine to elevate the rustic appeal of this vintage dresser.
Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint enriches the wood’s beauty, showcasing its natural charm without overpowering it. While the Java Gel stain revives the dresser top, allowing the delicate wood grain and texture to shine through.
Although I typically opt for traditional chalk mineral paints, experimenting with Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint has opened my eyes to its unique qualities.
For future projects, particularly with vintage rustic pieces, the milk paint offers a special finish that is both visually stunning and enjoyable to work with. I’ve no doubt I’ll be reaching for this product again at some point!