(I received products from Old Fashioned Milk Paint in exchange for this post. All opinions are mine. I am super proud to be an Official Blogger and Retailer of OFMP. Feel free to ask me questions about painting your own MCM Geometric dresser or working with OFMP)
Sometimes you just don’t know what you are getting yourself into…
I found this dresser and bought it fast. I was thinking my renovation would be equally quick… a little sanding and slap on a bright color … et viola! This was not to be.
He arrived in my garage wearing shiny black and mauve, circa 1987. A Heritage House brand, which was made by Sears. Nice wood dovetails and thick walnut veneer but not amazing quality suitable for restoration. I started in with my sander and the latex black kept getting gooey and creating lovely pea green globs as I sanded into the under coat of bright yellow paint, circa 1974. Oh so much fun.
So I dug out the heat gun my husband bought in the 90’s while renovating wood windows on our old house. I suspect this thing is hot enough to be illegal now. Should work great! I was thrilled as the paint just magically peeled away from the first side once started with the heat gun. Look at this optimistic shot…going so fast I didn’t even clear away the peelings before I finished the side! Look at the nice walnut veneer under there! Yay!
Needless to say it got harder before it got easier. The second side and top required a LOT more effort and all the nooks and crannies where corners meet required additional stripper. By the time I got to the feet I was only willing to smooth them out but getting down to stainable wood was going to be too much effort, so they are WHITE DAMMIT! The drawer fronts didn’t have shiny paint on them, so they were less of an issue to sand and I got an acceptable smoothness. I experimented with homemade Gesso on the drawers. Essentially just homemade chalk paint with additional calcium carbonate and a little white glue added so there is extra body to smooth out.
The top drawer was ambitious. The original pulls had been a small center to center measurement, and it looks like in one of the past incarnations, someone modernized them by putting on stainless D pulls that were wider than the originals. They just added one hole though, so now the pulls were off center and there was already one filled hole. So I filled the other holes and drilled a new single hole that was centered in each half. There already was a score line in the center to simulate two drawers. I then used my dremel tool to incise lines to create the triangle shapes. This was challenging!! I ran a circular cutting disc along the edge of a metal ruler. Clamps didn’t hold well, so I just held it with the other hand as I went. Could have been a disaster really easily. (There are a few miss cuts, but I think the brush stroke-y quality of the paint camouflages most of them.)
THE PAINT!! Totally my favorite part of this redo. I used Old Fashioned Milk Paint for the colors, intermixing for variety, I used Federal Blue, Marigold, Snow White, Salem Red, and Tavern Green. I did not want a smooth, even, screenprinted look. That is why I incised the lines and used the milk paint. I love TEXTURE. OFMP has a painterly artistic quality that I think is fab. I left a few triangles wood, made a few white to tie to the drawers and then played with colors I am in the mood for right now. After I was done, I used just a bit of black mixed with water to create a glaze to “shade” the edges of the shaped and squish into the lines.
I like to use many shades of one color as it is then easier to blend into an existing room, especially when making a big statement like this dresser does. I didn’t have a client ahead of time, so I added the pink and purple to add variety and maybe add appeal for a more gender specific kid’s room. Plus pink is kind of hot right now and even though I have sworn it off in the past, it is calling me lately. One triangle isn’t going to hurt anybody…
This isn’t a fully staged photo, but you can see how even that little pink looks awesome with this thrift store landscape. Had I painted the triangles super flat and perfect they would not work as well with so many different styles of accessories.
As it worked out, I was with a fabulous client in her home and she mentioned she needed a second dresser. Her bed and nightstands are a painted off-white …the other dresser is a slightly lighter wood. She has tons of art in the house and a green bedspread. This dresser is going to be a PERFECT blend and statement all at the same time. It is kind of astonishing really. I may add a snapshot once it is installed, just so you can appreciate the synchronicity. Because she has off-white pieces nearby, I decided to finish this in Hope’s 100% Tung Oil from OFMP. (It is really what I wanted to use, since I love oil on wood instead of polyurethane) Sometimes oils can turn a little yellow. We call this “ambering” and if you really want to keep white things super white, you might want to choose an acrylic or poly finish. This particular Tung Oil is all natural with no toxic thinners. You just wipe it on with a rag and it cures over a little while to create a hard finish. It smells just a little nutty, and once dry adds a soft sheen. I really like using it.