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Mid Century Modern Milk Paint Makeover

Hi friends, have you ever used Milk Paint?  I have many friends who love it but I hadn’t used it until this week when I made over a little but very ugly duckling Mid-Century Modern dresser as part of a paint challenge I participated in.

Milk painted mid century modern dresser.

The theme was “Farmhouse Fun” and was sponsored by Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company.  They’ve used all natural minerals for 42 years to create paints which are low VOC and come in 20 classic colors.

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I had a hard time choosing but finally settled on Soldier Blue and Oyster White.  You’ll also want to purchase their Extra Bond if you don’t want your finished project to chip.  And you can use tung oil to preserve your beautiful paint job.

A few months ago I happened upon a garage sale in my neighborhood and bought a few side tables that have been in the way in the garage.  I decided to use this mid-century modern table for the challenge.

She has such a sad face doesn’t she? That really fits her condition perfectly because it was obvious she’d been abused over the years.

beat up 3-drawer little dresser missing knobs in garage.

Some of the veneer was missing and needed repairing.  I pulled away all the loose pieces and used DAP Plastic Wood and a putty knife to fill in where needed.  Thankfully, this was the only spot where the veneer needed to be patched.  I had to re-glue one small spot on the top at the back.

Side of mid-century modern dresser with missing veneer.

While I was patching the veneer I also used the DAP Plastic Wood to fill all the knob holes.  While it dried I made a template for the new drawer pulls. I took measurements and found the center and the correct placement of the pulls.  I marked spots on the template I made from an old hanging file folder.

Once I had it perfect I lined up the template to the corner of the drawer. Using my handy dandy Scratch Awl I made indentations for the drill bit. Using a scratch awl ensures the drill bit will be perfectly centered.  I didn’t have much wiggle room with the pulls I chose so the holes had to be perfect.

Poking a scratch awl into a green template on top of dresser drawer

See the two black dots below?  Those are the indentations from using the scratch awl above.  Oh yes and all the lovely holes I filled with the plastic wood.  Once it’s dry just sand it like wood, but it’s harder than wood which resulted in some heavily sanded spots.

Patched holes in face of dresser looking down.

The legs were loose and needed some attention too.  The dowel that held the leg to the cross piece was broken.  I worked some wood glue into both spots and pushed it back together.  Next I set it on the ground and drove a wood screw through the bottom of the cabinet down into the leg to secure it.

Look from underneath at legs of mid century modern dresser.

After the repair work was done I sanded it all over to prep for the milk paint.  Sanding a previously finished surface gives it some “tooth” to which the paint can adhere.  I mixed the Milk Paint in equal parts with warm water.  The Soldier Blue was a bit too dark so I mixed in approximately 30% Oyster White powder (and equal water) to get a lighter blue gray.

First Time Tips for Milk Paint

Below are the items I received from our sponsors in exchange for this post review of their products.  All opinions are my own.

Milk paint containers and paint brush on brown paper.

This was my first time painting with Milk Paint and it’s important to follow instructions carefully.  I’m sure I didn’t mix the paint a full 2-3 minutes and even after letting it rest the suggested 15 minutes I had a few white spots show up in my first coat.

Soooo, set a timer and save yourself some headaches.  I have learned that using a Milk Frother really helps mix up your milk paint well and leaves no lumps.

I mixed enough and added the Extra Bond to do the entire body of the nightstand with two coats.  Extra Bond is important if you’re painting a previously finished surface and you don’t want chipping.  Milk Paint by it’s chemical makeup will chip.  I didn’t want it to chip.  More on that later.

After the body dried I tackled the sad metal feet on the front legs.  I used my trusted Frog Tape which I cut little slashes in to bend and wrap the painted leg.  I also used a white plastic table cloth to cover all but the ends of the feet and sprayed them with a Rustoleum Metallic Paint in Silver.  It’s such a beautiful improvement!

Collage showing how to mask off and paint metal leg caps on feet of dresser.

More First Time Milk Paint Oopsies

I told you I’d give you an honest review…

Remember when I said milk paint will chip?  And I didn’t want it to chip?  I also didn’t mix my oyster white correctly and may have added the Extra Bond too soon.  The first coat on the drawers wasn’t great but after it dried it sanded up nicely with a fine grit sanding block.

Phew, I think I dodged a chippy bullet.

I tossed the first batch and made fresh milk paint for the second coat.  The instructions stated that you only need extra bond in the first coat so I didn’t add it to the paint for the second coat.  I should’ve added some anyway since I had plenty for my project.

After letting the second coat dry over 2 hours it wasn’t covered completely so a third coat was needed.  A few hours later when I went to check, “ugh, what happened to my paint?!”

Oh, that?  That’s what the milk paint world calls “chippy goodness.”

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Update an old Night Stand with Metallic Cream

But it wasn’t good, or so I thought because I didn’t want chippy goodness!  Oh well, sometimes you have to just go with it.  I didn’t freak out, it’s very subtle (when your face isn’t 3 ” away) and the theme is “Farmhouse Fun” after all.  It’s more of a crackle so I can live with it 🙂

Milk Paint Success!

Here she is, finally, in all her milk paint “chippy goodness” glory.  But first I’ll remind you of the sad-face before.

Beat up dresser missing knobs in garage.

And the awesome after 🙂  Mid-century Modern goes Farmhouse Glam!

Completed blue and white mid-century modern dresser topped with a lamp and books.

Here’s a better angle of the drawer pulls I picked up at Home Depot for $3 each.  They’re square on the outside but curvy on the inside to contrast all the hard angles.

Top view of completed mid-century modern dresser in blue and white.

Look at the sparkly new shoes on those little feet.  And if you look close you can see the “chippy goodness” happening on the drawer.  I’m glad I didn’t go into full freak out mode, because I really like how it turned out!

Finished and shiny feet of mid-century modern dresser.

I enjoyed playing with milk paint and will definitely give it a try again. It’s fun getting to try out new products and expand your arsenal of DIY tools.

[UPDATE:  I am happy to report that after several months the drawers are still looking beautiful with no chipping.


Pinterest image of completed mid-century modern dresser in blue and white.


Thursday 26th of January 2017

Hi Toni: I can see this in a little boys nursery. So bright and cheerful now.


Monday 14th of November 2016

Toni, I love painted furniture and that is a beautiful piece. You did a great job! Thanks for sharing at the Family Joy Blog Link Party this week.

Toni Harvey

Wednesday 16th of November 2016

Thank you so much Melissa. I really love it but sadly I don't have any room for it in my house so I'm going to sell it.

Mary-the boondocks blog

Friday 23rd of September 2016

Toni that is quite the stunner. The beautiful blue color makes the piece stand out.

Toni Harvey

Tuesday 27th of September 2016

Thank you Mary! I love how that piece turned out. I couldn't get the shade right in the photos but it's still lovely. I wish I had room in my house for it but with my small house I'm hoping someone loves it and buys it soon :)

Susie from The Chelsea Project

Friday 5th of August 2016

Way to hang in there! You really turned this garage sale find into a treasure. Love the color combo. And I can honestly say I've never seen milk paint on a mid-century piece. Great job! I'll be sharing on my social media later this week. XO Susie from Chelsea Project

Toni Harvey

Wednesday 10th of August 2016

I'm glad I stuck it out Susie! Since I used the bonding agent the table has no chipping and looks more like chalky paint. I love it too and I wish I had room for it in my house. I might try to tuck it into the dining room for my old fashioned telephone (yes I still have a land line) :)


Tuesday 2nd of August 2016

Well, it was worth all the effort! It looks awesome!!

Toni Harvey

Wednesday 3rd of August 2016

Thank you, it was worth the effort. Hopefully someone will love it and want to buy it because I don't have room in my house to keep it.