Monday, August 30, 2010

Autumn Comes in Coastal Blue Milk Paint

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This week at WhisperWood Cottage is all about projects. I've got a ton of 'em that I've been working on. Today's project is about transforming this pair of child's chairs that I found recently on a junking adventure. The orange-y dated finish was not trippin' my design trigger, and I wanted to try something that I had never tried before...milk paint.

I had heard of milk paint before but never really knew much about it. According to, "The oldest painted surfaces on earth were colored with a form of milk paint. Cave drawings and paintings made 8,000 years ago, even as old as 20,000 years ago, were made with a simple composition of milk, lime, and earth pigments."

When I think of milk paint, I think of east coast cottages with their historic New England furniture. I thought I'd try the stuff and see if I could bring a little New England flavor to this mid-western cottage. I used Coastal Blue water-based milk paint from Rockler to transform the finish on this child's chair as shown below.



STEP 1: I gathered all my supplies.

STEP 2: In preparation for sanding, I used a hammer to hammer in any nails that were sticking out.

STEP 3: I sanded all surfaces of the chair using the Norton Sanding Bug from Rockler. I started with the heaviest grit...the 60-grit sanding sponge (blue).

STEP 4: I changed out the Norton Sanding Bug to the mediumn grit (red) sanding sponge. This was done by simply pulling off the blue sanding sponge and pressing on the red one using the easy hook-and-loop. I sanded the entire chair again with the medium grit.

STEP 5: I sanded the entire thing one more time using the fine-grit (yellow) sanding sponge attached to the Norton Sanding Bug. This gave it a really smooth finish!

STEP 6: I used a tack cloth (not shown) to wipe away any dust created by sanding. I wanted to make sure the dust did not interfere with the paint finish.

STEP 7: I opened the milk paint and stirred it with the stir stick.

STEP 8: I placed the chair on the Painter's Pyramid turntable so that I could spin the chair and get every angle during the painting process.

STEP 9: I applied a single solid coat of Coastal Blue milk paint on the entire chair using a foam brush.

On the left is the original chair finish. On the right is the chair after a solid coat of Coastal Blue milk paint was applied. I looooved the rich finish, but it seemed a bit too solid and new-looking for me, so....

STEP 10: Using the heavy grit sponge (blue) on the Norton Sanding Bug, I sanded back parts of the chair to give a well-loved and distressed look. This included the edges...

...the top of the chair, and...

...the seat.

Now, this child's chair has a cozy new home in the living room as a side table for reading materials and a warm cup of cocoa in the upcoming fall and winter month. Anyone care to join me?

UPDATE: Based on questions left in the comments, here are some extra details..
  1. PRIMER? I did not use any primer on this project. I wanted an authentic milk paint effect.
  2. WHAT DID I THINK OF THE MILK PAINT? I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the can and saw the deep, rich color of the Coastal Blue. At that point, I couldn't wait to start painting. Rockler's milk paint was high quality. I am happy with the outcome and will definitely be using it on future projects.
  3. MUST-HAVE #1: That Painter's Pyramid Turntable from Rockler is the bee's knees! I tend to miss portions of my painting projects because of all the angles. With the turntable, the project spins while you stay in place. Whoever invented it is brilliant.
  4. MUST-HAVE #2: I've raved about it before, but the Norton Sanding Bug from Rockler has changed my "I hate sanding" attitude to "Sanding is a breeze." See? Even sanding can be easy and breezy!


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  1. Love your color choice. I have not tried milk paint before but it really looks wonderful on your chair. The turntable looks like a very handy tool.

  2. i am so grateful to you for this post. i have been wanting to try milk paint, and i think you have just inspired me! can you tell me about the adhesion? does it stick really well? no primer needed i guess, huh? any help is appreciated! and when i finally do use milk paint, i will thank you in my post!!

  3. I love the color. But what did you think of the milk paint itself? Is it something you would use again? It doesn't seem like you had to do a lot of sanding with it which is good.

  4. ~*~LOVE how it turned out!It looks adorable now~*~ Thanks for the paint tips..Im thinking I will use milk paint to redo my french bistro table~*~Blessings,Rachel :)

  5. What a beautiful color! The chair turned out so cute! I never thought of using milk paint. I will have to look into that a bit more, thanks!

  6. the milk paint I've used in the past had such a flat finish that I didn't care for - but your chair looks like it has a little sheen to it - maybe a better quality paint - your end result is charming!
    amy of four corners design

  7. me, me, me! and i'll bring the marshmallows. ;D

    love the final distressed finish and the use as a "chair" side table.

    judi ;)

  8. Oh love love love. Instantly charming.

  9. Love the finish too, I may have to try that paint. You have the best photos.


  10. Love it...very coastal feel to it.

  11. I love the colour, and what a brilliant way to use the childrens chairs.

  12. Love how it looks with its new color. I also love that you are using it as a little side table. Enjoy that hot chocolate...

  13. I so want one of those turn tables! The milk paint is something I have wanted to try for a very long time. Love how the chair turned out and the paint is a beautiful color!! Great job Amy!


  14. That turntable is amazingly awesome. I must get me one too! And the sanding bug looks like the perfect tool...especially for furniture projects.
    Loved the paint and the color. I too have never used milk paint. Must look into it

  15. Just did a post about you all make these beautiful transformations look so easy. Prime example. Can you come over here and lend a hand? :)

  16. It's whispering... that is a perfect finish on that chair! I love it even more after the finish sanding. Just perfect!!

  17. Gorgeous! I love the color of the blue!

  18. Love it, Amy! Fabulous, as always!

    Rockler Woodworking and Hardware
    Create with Confidence

  19. Hi! great idea!!! and super nice to meet you on my farm blog...thanks for stopping by and the encouragement!

    Anne Marie

  20. Never heard of milk paint but that chair sure looks fab! Love the farmhouse vibe it has going.

  21. The chair looks great! But please note that if you use "milk paint" from a can, it is actually an acrylic (imitation milk paint).
    Genuine Milk paint comes in a powder that you mix with water. It is very flat and will adhere beautifully to bare wood. An additive, Extra-Bond, should be added to the first coat on nonporous surfaces.
    To obtain a bit of a sheen on the painted surface you can rub it with beeswax or tung oil, etc.

  22. very pretty... I hav never used milk paint before but what you have done looks really nice. It seems easy enough too...thanks for sharing.


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