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Painted Bar Stool Tutorial – Part 1


I’m painting my kitchen bar stools one at a time, so my kids don’t freak out.  They sit at them quite often during the day for meals, snacks, drinks, treats, coloring, playing with the iPad, etc.  So, I’m working on number two and thought I would take some pictures along the way for a tutorial.

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The color I’m using is French Enamel in MMS Milk Paint.

I started out by lightly sanding the stool with 100 grit sand paper.  I wanted to take a bit of the shine off the finish and remove some of the dried oatmeal, yogurt and various other splats that have added a nice “texture” and “patina” to the chairs.  Sanding to prep a piece to paint doesn’t have to be a big intricate ordeal.    It’s just roughing up the surface to give it “tooth” for the paint to grip.  It only took about 4-5 minutes.

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I wiped away the dust with a cloth, mixed the paint (with the bonding agent) and started to paint.

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You can read more about what to expect when using milk paint HERE, but this is a peek at what it looks like after the first coat.  The color looks uneven and streaky.  Don’t give up at this point!  Wait until it fully dries and apply a second coat.  Not all colors/pieces are going to need a second coat, but the higher the contrast, the more coats you may need to get good coverage.

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Once the first coat was dry, I applied the second coat of paint.  I used the same mixture I had made up with the Bonding Agent in it, but the Bonding Agent only needs to be used on the first coat.

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As you can see, the look and coverage are much better with the second coat.

Since I still have one more bar stool to paint, I just wrapped up the paint in cling wrap.  It will keep like that for a few days and it will just need a stir when I’m ready to use it again.  (I’ll show what that looks like.)

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In addition to working on the bar stool, I couldn’t wait to get to work on this new Craig’s List acquisition…

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The sofa in my living room was given to me by my aunt and uncle.  It’s a beautiful piece that belonged to my uncle’s mother.  They’re coming up this way soon to pick up some furniture pieces, so I asked if they would like to have the sofa back, in order to keep it in their side of the family.  My uncle’s brother has use for it, so I’ll happily be passing it along and started looking for a replacement…something I love to do, anyway!

I had been hunting Craig’s List for a few weeks, but didn’t find anything.  Saturday night, though, I found this sofa, which had been listed for almost two weeks and I had somehow missed it!  It was a great price $100, in good condition and a quick drive for me to pick up.  I love the Scandinavian-ish style of the wood frame and it’s a super comfy sofa, believe it or not.

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It was a bear to strip, but I got it all ready to paint the frame, make some minor repairs and upholster it in some new fabric when it arrives (from Germany!)

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I almost always find unusual things when I strip furniture…coins, ladybugs, hair ties… and this time I found a bunch of Legos.

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I’m waiting for the day when I find a diamond ring or savings bonds…

Our new bathtub was also delivered today and I will admit I sat in it while I was on a business call.  I love taking baths and am looking forward to sinking down into a deep soaking tub.

It’ll be hanging out in the middle of my bedroom for a little while, though.  We start the demo this week…

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  1. Can’t wait to see the transformation! I have a long antique sofa that’s waiting for me to give it some love. Free from Craigslist!

  2. Sherri Eisenhauer says:

    I can’t believe you got that sofa for $100!! I’m never that lucky! For some reason the people in the Houston area seem to think that their pieces warrant a higher price tag than almost anywhere else in the country. It is ridiculously hard find deals like that here. Very frustrating. I guarantee you that sofa would have been priced at well over $500 here. Not exactly cost effective when I would do the exact same thing to it that you are doing. The best I’ve gotten was a gorgeous pair of Ethan Allen wingbacks in near perfect condition for $75 for both. I’m just going to slipcover them because, while not what I would pick, the upholstery is still in great shape. I wish I was closer to your area. You seem to find the greatest stuff. Oh and thanks for the post on your barstools. I have almost the same ones, but mine are black. I’ve been trying to decide what to do with them forever and you inspired me. I LOVE the color you used. It looks about the color of my entry way. Keep up the good work. And send some of those great deals down here!!

    • Sherri – totally agree with you here!

      I feel like Houston’s Craiglist is full of particle board furniture from IKEA and IF you’re lucky you can find some decent hardwood pieces every now and then, or a piece with great bones.

      Marian – I just love this couch and I’m totally jealous you snagged it for $100. This would be the jackpot if I found it on Craigslist. So happy that you found such a gem, can’t wait to see what it looks like once you are done with it. I can only imagine wonderful things!

      • Sherri and Lisa, I find the same problem with overpriced pieces on Craigslist here in Los Angeles. That sofa would’ve gone for well over $500, I’m thinking closer to $1,000. People here in L.A. put so much junk up on CL, IF you find something decent, the prices are outrageous. I wish I could find good deals on my CL like Marian does!

        • I’m outside of LA and I don’t think anyone even has nice furniture out here. You can’t find these classic pieces even at the Rose Bowl Flea Market! Plenty of Mid-Century Modern, which has its own beauty. But, I never see beautiful dressers and especially a sofa like this. You’re in the perfect area for what you do, Marian.

  3. Excited to see the finished sofa!! You do beautiful work!

  4. Anne Boykin says:

    Dear MMS, That new sofa is The Bomb. Can’t wait to see it after you have finished it! Hugs, Anne Boykin

  5. That sofa is amazing. I have to start shopping Craigslist again. I stopped after a few bad experiences.

  6. I love those sofas but, they’re usually too small, that one is perfect! Can’t wait to see what you do with it

  7. Donna says:

    Can you say SCORE?!!! Gorgeous sofa (except the fabric, and I love toiles). Cannot wait to see how it turns out. You are going to paint it, right? Cannot wait to see bathroom remodel. We will be finishing up ours this summer at some time. :)

  8. Brenda says:

    While you have a weakness for french chairs, mine is for old sofas. It is lovely! What a score with the legos! (Ask your kids what they like best about the sofa. Bet it’s the Legos!) I do have a question about the milk paint. I have a built- in vanity that has a orangish color antiqued finish on it. It is very high gloss and almost feels like plastic. I think the hardware was put on while the finish was damp because you can see the outline of the handles after they were removed. My question is strip or sand…Alot?

  9. That sofa is really to die for…and only $100?! Amazing. Loving the bar stool too, I’ve been tossing that idea around for ages…maybe I will give milk paint a try for the first time :) Thanks for sharing the steps for beginners!

  10. Love the sofa. I have a weakness for carved wood. And reading the comments here has made me grateful we live in this part of the country where antiques and really cool vintage stuff are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. I was at Salvation Army yesterday and saw the most gorgeous empire twin bed set, head and foot board, tall dresser, stool, vanity/desk/mirror, and bedside table. It was in wonderful condition and the whole thing cost $429! I was wishing I had a place for it all. Well, It will be a lovely find for someone else.

    And I would totally hang in my tub before it was installed. Just because it is so freaking exciting to upgrade like that. I’m so glad all your efforts have made things like this possible for you. It’s amazing where God takes us when we’re brave enough to listen, isn’t it?

  11. I LOVE that sofa! It is a beauty and I can’t wait to see it “mustardized”. Again, I will agree with so many other posts–wether I don’t have the eye (or determination) but the one time I looked at Criagslist it all looked like pure junk. The tutorials with up-closes of the painting process are so helpful–thanks–they will come in handy someday when I find a piece to paint :(

  12. I cannot wait to see what you do with that sofa. I know it will be amazing! You do an amazing job.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Lord we did our master bedroom/bath renovation kicking off on the day after Easter and wrapping up Memorial Day (I keep time by holidays) and I thought I would die! Slept in a little girls twin bed & cleaned up in a teenage boys bathroom the entire time . . but it was so worth the end results! Good luck~ seeing your blog I know it will be awesome!

  14. I concur with Sherri. I can’t believe you paid only $100 for THAT sofa! It looks great! Also, I can’t wait to see what it would look like when you are done with it.

    I am off this afternoon (after work) to look at a rocking chair I found on Craigslist. Have to see what shape it is in. Hopefully a very, very good shape as they are asking $60 for it. My husband wants a rocking chair in our new living room. :-)

  15. Your stools look great. :) That sofa was a fantastic find as well. Can’t wait to see it transformed along with your bathroom.

  16. I saw that sofa too and wondered why nobody had snapped it up yet! I was very tempted . . . I liked the toile, but I know you will make it look even snappier!

  17. Oh, the things I have found when cleaning old furniture! Goldfish crackers, keys, hurricane evacuation maps, earrings, a reindeer pencil topper… no diamond rings, yet! I’ll keep my fingers crossed, though! :)

  18. The stools look great! I have two in my breakfast room that I have been meaning to paint for quite a while. So many projects, so little time! That sofa is awesome! I have yet to tackle something that complex. I have an old wingback chair that I have been contemplating reupholstering. A bit scared but excited to see if I can pull it off.

  19. Hi Marian…love your barstools – they will look fantastic when you are finished. It’s one of my favorite colors!

    I have a question if you have a few seconds to help. I just did a sample of a barstool that I am doing in your Typewriter. Love that color. I am doing a wheat shaft type of decorative painting over one of the upper wrungs and was planning on doing a French typography thing on the other wrung. Trouble is I am soooo used to a more forgiving/slicker surface when I do my artwork. Should I seal it first – with what? I would hate to use something that takes away the Milk-paintiness but I am having some issues with the “flow” – which would help me paint over this surface more easily. The wheat bundles have a “shoots” coming from them – that I have always been able to do simply but the Milk Paint seems to hamper the flow. Help – let me know how to make this surface more accommodating to my paint technique.



    PS I have been using an acrylic-like paint but it is more like a water-color type look. I can make it a bit thicker (which seems to work for the heavier motifs on your Milk Paint) but for the “shoots” I need it to be thinner (ie with a glaze added0 and when I go over the milk paint – you can’t even see it. Hope you can help.

    • Very good question! Yes, I know just what you’re talking about with the flow over the porous surface, but it hasn’t bothered me. You can certainly seal the paint first with the topcoat of your choosing or even buff the paint a bit with a cotton cloth to smooth it out a bit. Whatever you prefer.

  20. I love that sofa! Te carved, natural wood is awesome. :) You find the yummiest furniture on Craigslist! I’m hoping to get lucky soon too cause I’m looking for some end tables! The stools look nice too! Great job as always. :)

  21. Eleanor Bruce says:

    I really hope you have a walk out basement since that is where your work shop is. All that furniture and stairs would be a bear!!! Love your posts.

  22. Linda says:

    Love the colour of your bar stools. Both of them …. the first picture is pretty but I like the way they look in the other pictures! Which is closer to true French Enamel?

  23. Scribbler says:

    I cannot believe what you girls in the northeast find. Craigslist here should be called craigsbust. That sofa would have been at least a thousand or more here.

  24. Nancy B. says:

    That is a very lucky sofa to be rescued by you! It obviously had plans to be yours, waiting around for two weeks to be discovered by you :) The frame is beautiful, I can’t wait to see it finished.

  25. I think that many urban areas, big ones, don’t have much nice things on Craigslist because people don’t want to bother. I would try estate and garage sales, thrift shops and big annual church sales. Patience is the key here. Keep looking and eventually you will find something. Marian, great find! And that’s nice that the sofa is staying in the family. I forsee a well photographed piece! Ann

  26. Nancy B. says:

    Oh and thank you for the painting tutorial! I think I’m ready to try milk paint! A friend gave me a really old wooden school desk. It is really cute but in great need of a “lift”. The perfect “first” project to try out my painting skills.

  27. WOW, that is one amazing couch you found on craiglist. I am so looking forward to see how it looks once it is done. The sight of the Lego’s in your hand made me giggle. :)

  28. Marian…I so love the new color of the bar stool!..thanks for the tutorial…and what a fabulous sofa..just love the detail on it…great find Marian!!

  29. Love the Sofa! I think I need to start watching craigs list.

  30. Marian, that sofa is a major score, it’s just gorgeous, and of course when you get done with it, it’s going to be incredibly beautiful.

    I have a question about your milk paint: is it a good idea to refrigerate left over mixed paint, particularly if it’s not going to be used for a few days? How long does it keep if refrigerated? I know it’s a natural product and is not going to keep indefinitely before it spoils or goes bad, but am curious whether what effect the refrigeration would have on the paint’s consistency?

    Thank you!


  31. Brenda Rumbellow says:

    I have a question. I have an old stewing machine desk that I want to milk paint in French Enamel. My question is two-fold. 1. Some of the veneer on the top has peeled off on the edge, and I’d like to know how to deal with that. 2. It had obviously been stored outside,and none of tho original finish is left on. How do I prepare the surface before painting? This is my first attempt at milk paint. Thanks.

    • Since the original finish is work away, I would just give it a light sanding to make sure you get off anything that’s loose. You’re then set to paint. As far as the chippy veneer, as long as what’s left is secure, I would just paint over it as is. Some of my favorite pieces had chippy veneer and it looks kinda cool when it’s painted over! :)

  32. that sofa is awe-some! i know it’ll be amazing with some new fabric. can’t wait to see it all done!

  33. ohmy, that sofa is gorgeous! can’t wait to see what you do with it and how it’ll turn out! great, that’s for sure!

  34. Marian! Cassie and I have been stalking that sofa on CL. We thought about getting it but waited to pull the trigger. Looks like it went to a good home after all. Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  35. Patti says:

    I did have a friend who found a ring box in a chair she was re- doing, and to her surprise there was a diamond ring in it!! Don’t give up. You never know where people hide their valuables.

  36. I am glad I am not the only one who sometimes sits in a tub while talking on the phone! I did the same thing when we reno’d our bathroom and I needed to make sure the bath tub was good since I had ordered it online. It was so I called the contractor right then and there to tell him he didn’t need to pick up a replacement while he was at Lowes, LOL.

  37. Rebecca says:

    I love your stools! Can you tell us where you purchased them or the manufacturer?

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