Reupholstered Chair using Milk Paint

One of the perks of writing a do-it-yourself blog is the ability to acquire random furniture from the people in our lives. Over the past year, many of our family or friends have given us their otherwise bound-for-the-garbage furniture in hopes that we can turn it into a treasure and make use of these old pieces. That’s exactly what happened with this little project. A great friend of Bridget’s found this chair for a steal at a local garage sale, and she decided to “donate” it to the DIY Playbook.  Since we’re always up for a furniture challenge, we decided to take her home and clean her up (the chair that is, not Bridget’s friend).
Here’s the sad looking before…

This little guy was seriously beat up and was unfortunately covered in lots of nicks and scrapes. It also had a yucky, shiny varnish all over it’s wood frame.

The cushion wasn’t much better. The fabric was old, faded, outdated and had a purple satin underside? Not a good look for 2014…

On a positive note, this chair had a strong foundation and “good bones”. Because we knew this bad boy was dripping with potential, we were determined to breath new life into our four-legged friend and give him a DIY Playbook Makeover. We hemmed and hawed over what exactly we could do, and eventually, we decided to try something totally out of our comfort zone. A bright splashy fabric and snow white milk paint. Say what?!
Milk paint supplies

Whenever either one of us has painted furniture, we’ve always taken the safe route. Sanding, priming, and latex paint. But this time we were determined to try something new. We’ve heard wonderful things about both milk paint and chalk paint, so we went to a local shop determined to find one of those two paints.

Old fashioned milk paint
This is what we found…Old-Fashioned Milk Paint.  At first we were a bit perplexed. Why was this paint in a powder form? But the lovely shop owner gave us all of the scoop and assured us that this powder would work even better than the paint we’ve been using all this time (thanks Alana!). We decided to take her word for it and we brought that little pouch home.
We quickly found out that there are some serious perks about using milk paint.  It is an all-natural, non toxic, environmentally friendly product. That means it is a-okay to use indoors. No crazy smells coming from this stuff. Because it was a balmy 10 degrees on the day we tackled this project, there was no hesitation about bringing this painting project indoors.  Another big perk for these lazy rookies…no need to sand or prime the wood. Say what?! Yes, you heard that right. You can just paint this right onto the finished wood. NO.SANDING.NECESSARY.
Okay, so lots of perks. But how the heck do we get it from powder…to paint.
Good thing we were DIY-ing together for this project, because mixing up this milk paint was a bit intimidating. We read the instructions front to back and finally had the courage to mix this stuff up. We grabbed a mason jar and a spoon and got to work. All it took was some warm water, some milk paint powder, and a little squirt of milk paint extra bond.

Stir, stir, stir and we were in business! We put three light coats onto the wood with a bristle brush, let it dry overnight, and bam this chair was looking nice and bright white!

We are both obsessed with the way it turned out and we think the milk paint provides such a cool finish. But, we did learn a lot about milk paint during the process. Here are a few tips…
Rookie Tip #1: Keep on stirring that paint! About every 10 minutes, we gave our mason jars a really good stir with a spoon. If it was getting too thick, a tiny bit of warm water helped get it back to the correct consistency.
Rookie Tip #2: Be careful about chunks. If you don’t mix it up well enough, you’ll notice little grainy pieces in your paint. We were able to easily wipe these away, but it could become a nuisance if you don’t catch them right away. Just be sure your paint is thinned out so you don’t have any lumps.
The reupholstery process was a lot less exciting than the painting project. Just some new batting, new fabric, and a heck of a lot of staples (similar to this reupholstery project).
The fabric is a bit out of both of our style comfort zones, but we figured why not go a little crazy with color?!
We’re totally digging this bright floral chair. What an upgrade from that dingy before pic! The new look reminds us of spring, and it’s giving us hope that soon we will be outside tackling many more painting projects. Keep those “furniture donations” coming….
Have you ever tried milk paint? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this product!

  • KristyDoyle

    As usual, I love it. I’ve been thinking about refinishing a kitchen table/chairs I have for my porch. Do you think I could use the milk paint and go over it with some sort of weather proofing finish?

  • KristyDoyle,
    We did a little research for you. Here’s what we found out…
    “We do not recommend milk paint for exterior use as it will water spot in the rain (except for white paint). However, multiple coats of a clear exterior finish will seal the paint and prevent water spotting.”

    So looks like it is possible to use for outdoor furniture! Good luck with your table and chairs.

    B & C

  • Amye

    This is a great look! Thanks for the tips on milk paint – I’ve heard a lot about it (and chalk paint) but haven’t been brave enough to try yet. Thanks!

  • Thanks Amye Mae!! You can do it – – we promise it is not as scary as it looks!

  • LOVE THIS TRANSFORMATION!!! The lil chair that could…. because of you fab ladies!!

  • Erin

    LOVE this project! Do you think I could paint a whole dresser using milk paint!? I’m thinking of giving it a try!

  • Erin,
    This would absolutely work for a larger piece of furniture like your dresser! Give it a try and let us know how it goes!

    Good luck,
    B & C