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oak buffet reveal & new matte Tough Coat


Unless you follow me on Instagram, you last saw this piece with the top stripped and one coat of paint.  It’s in the “ugly stage” – the stage when you want to drop it on the curb and let someone else look at it.  But, that would be a mistake.

It may not look like it at this point, but this buffet is almost there.


The graining on the top was so beautiful and I didn’t want to hide it with paint or stain, so I just stripped it down (see the in-the-works post for details on that) and applied two coats of Hemp Oil to bring out the natural beauty.


As it was drying, I could tell the piece was crazing and cracking, but I didn’t know the extent until I ran a sanding sponge over the surface and the paint just flaked off!  My mom, who does not like the chippy look, cringed when she saw it.

I could read it all over her face.  “I know, I know!”

As I said yesterday, some people will love it, some will hate it.  There isn’t going to be a lot of middle ground on this piece.


Because it was so chippy, it was a perfect opportunity to test our reformulated Tough Coat.  We released the Tough Coat, our water based polyurethane a couple of years ago, but it had a finish that was somewhere between an eggshell and a satin.  This new, reformulated version is totally matte, which is much better suited to milk paint.


The matte finish is really beautiful and it brushed on like a dream.  It went on smooth and leveled out.  If you read my posts about top coats, you know that I’m a real lover of oils and waxes, but this new Tough Coat is really winning me over!

I took a picture at an angle, in the light, so you could see the sheen (or lack of) on it and how smooth the finish is…


And here is the reveal…



This buffet is a great example of milk paint doing what only milk paint does.  I didn’t do anything to this piece other than paint it and this is what it wanted to do.  I was speaking to it very nicely as I was distressing, so that may have been a factor.

The warm wood top plays so well against the chipping and it is rocking the Hemp Oil finish.


It is dramatic, but I love the chipping pattern on this.



The glass knobs were already on the piece, but one was missing.  I had one in my stash that was about a 95% match, so I decided to use it.  The one on the left-hand door is the mis-matched knob…


I had such a fun time styling this buffet…


Kriste stopped on the way in to get some flowers for the shoot and she did a little grocery shopping as well.  She let me borrow her limes for the shoot.




I bought the cloche last week and, on a separate trip, this chippy/rusty metal lid to an old milk can.  They were a perfect fit together.  Totally not intentional, but it was just meant to be.

Come on…a milk can lid with a cloche?!  They’ll be all the rage.


The painting is by Cindy Austin.  She is actually working on making prints of this original painting and I’ll let you know when those are available.  A lot of people have asked me about the painting, named “the ladies who lunch” by one of my readers!


There is so much going on in the studio that it’s hard to even focus, but Kriste is reigning me in and keeping me straight!

Lots more to come…

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  1. Terrie Schmidt says:

    Well…..I love the top. Enough said.

  2. Pamela Sullivan says:

    I think this is one of the best yet! It says “I’ve been used but I am still beautiful and very much loved.”

  3. Leslie Collison says:

    I can not believe I am about to say this but…. the buffet just has too much chippy paint for me. I keep re-visiting the picture to see if there is some way I can really love it as I do all your other pieces. It just doesn’t work for me. I, like some of the others see it looking like the cow in the painting, which I love. I have a painting that looks very close to that one that I love as well. Happy that there are many others that do love that much chippy paint and you will have no problem selling this piece. Thank you for sharing and showing us what a really chippy painted piece of furniture looks like.

  4. Mary Lopez says:

    It’s a very interesting finish! The finish actually goes well with the cow print — they have similar patterns! That makes for a nice vignette.

  5. Cindylou says:

    Love it

  6. Jodie says:

    Oh Marian! It is my absolute favorite! I am a big, big fan of the unpredictable results of milk paint! This is my favorite way for it to turn out.
    I found a round-headed cherry wood grandfather clock and I painted right over it with Shutter Gray. It chipped like crazy and I was so excited, it was exactly what I was hoping for! I literally jumped up and down! People are funny. The either LOVE it or HATE it, there is never any in between. But it does what chalk paint could never do and I appreciate that sooooo much. If we had a couple of glasses of champagne, we would toast that dresser and my clock.

  7. charlotte cannaday says:

    Too chippy for my taste too, but the play of the beautiful oak grain top against the white body is awesome. I truly love your styling of the buffet (I was a Visual Merchandiser in a former life), and I always look forward to your excellent work!

  8. Bonnie Formisano says:

    The oak buffet is not talking to me, but the cloche and milk can lid sure are!

  9. Linda says:

    I love this cabinet. So gorgeous! I am going to use my hemp oil for the first time this week. So anxious to use it.

  10. Vicki King says:

    Oh my, the cabinet has mange. Really icky mange. Why wasn’t it at least sanded? Oh my. Like the first post-er, I love the top. Glad so many like it.

  11. Jamie Bowers says:

    Love it!! It can go casual or even formal with the right furnishings. Thinking out side the box always pays off!

  12. Marianne Davies says:

    I love how this buffet turned out!! Funny how a piece of furniture tells you how it should look!!?

  13. Ingrid says:

    Sorry, too “chippy” for me. The finish distracts from the simple lines of the piece. I am glad others like it.

  14. I’m surprised at myself. I like it! Usually not one for chippy finishes, this one works for me. The staging may have something to do with it. Perfect!

  15. It’s perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! bought your milk paint and can not wait to try it:)
    Capers of the vintage vixens

  16. Vanessa says:

    A quick question about the Tough Coat. Does it prevent any further chippiness ? So much to love about the styling and oh I do love those lunching ladies!

  17. Do I remember correctly – Did you remove the Hemp Oil from your range Marian? :(

  18. Cheryl says:

    IT did its thing!!! And fabulously ?, the top really lends the permission to be so chippy and contrasts beautifully! Exactly what I love about your paints. Like a box of chocolates… You never know what your gonna get. That’s life❤️?.

  19. Cheryl says:

    And… You staged it beautifully❤️?!

  20. Jennifer says:

    Love, Love, Love This!! It looks like it was found in an old barn or farmhouse — I think it’s perfectly imperfect and love that everything just flaked off. Sometimes when things are purposely distressed you can see the sandpaper marks etc. and they look “fake” — This is fabulous!!

  21. Patricia says:

    Mostly Love. Maybe a little too chippy for me but I would gladly put this in my home.
    Thank you for the step by step look at how you did the top- I needed that!

  22. Nancy says:

    I love the top, the way you styled it, Cindy s painting, the limes, but….. welll, you know . To quote my 88 yr old mother, “I don’t get it, my mother would never allow that.” In regards to chipping paint. I’m with her on this one. But, to each their own?

  23. It is perfect for this time of year…it looks like a mottled egg…spring and Easter! Sorry, couldn’t resist. ?

  24. Sue Pagels says:

    A little too chippy for me, but I still love everything you do! I tried the hemp oil over some chalk paint and although it is supposed to be pretty odor free, it really bothered me and took a long time to dry and un-smell (LOL) I love the top and I love the milk can top – I have one as well that I bought at a flea market and I love it. As always, thanks for the inspiration!!

  25. Love the medullary rays on the solid quarter sawn oak top! Bravo!
    Love the chippy milk paint on the body of the piece! Double Bravo!

  26. Naomi S. says:

    I don’t know—I sort of like it and sort of don’t. I agree with the reader who said she tho’t the extreme chippiness detracted from the lines and design of the piece. I will be interested to see how it is received at the market. I think it’s just a matter of taste, really. It’s the difference between rustic and RUSTIC!

    The styling is interestlng, too. I surprised myself by thinking that it was a bit too cluttered, although I like each piece displayed. This is from someone who cannot see a wall space in a room without putting a piece of furniture or decor in it! Maybe I am changing and becoming a more “sparse” decorator!

    Thanks for the unveil and the example of going with the flow with the buffet.

  27. Elizabeth Menard says:

    Sorry, I’m with your Mom on this one! Love the top, though.

  28. I think it’s great that your mom is there helping you, even when she doesn’t always agree with how you finish pieces. That’s a great show of support for what you do.

    I love all the green in the styling shoot. I’ve been looking at spring dceorating posts today, and while I saw a lot of yellows and blues, I didn’t see much green. It will be interesting to see how you style this piece again for Luckett’s.

  29. Cecelia Krajcar says:

    We all have such different taste… but, for some reason , most everything you do, pleases my eyes… :)

  30. Laurie says:

    To me it looks afflicted. Maybe I look at too many medical photos? But I’m sure it will be to someone’s taste. I do worry about it reflecting badly on your other pieces at Lucketts. Because of the high contrast it’s going to jump out visually. Since it’s not representative of your work I’d place it facing the back. Let someone discover it!

  31. Laurie says:

    What color furniture do you usually sell the most of? I miss the colored pieces.

    • marian says:

      I pretty much sell everything, so it’s hard to say. It is usually the dramatic pieces that sell first. I will go back to color, but I really want to do a mostly white booth this year. It’s just fun for me to work within a theme and color palette.

      • Laurie says:

        You aren’t concerned about sales?

        • marian says:

          I’m confident that the things I’m working on right now will sell well, even though they are neutral. I already have many pieces “spoken for” or have people asking to buy them.

          • Laurie says:

            oh good!!! since color is what you are known for [and usually sell] i was worried. you probably are ahead of the next trend!

  32. I’m in the middle on this one, I might like it better with different knobs. The top is beautiful and I love the refreshing green. Kriste needs to buy lemons next week! The cloche is so cool, I even have a milk can lid, if you need another one!

  33. Carol says:

    The beautiful detail gets lost in all the chippiness…just a little too much

  34. yes yes yes! perfect authentic looking chippiness.

  35. This is so pretty in every way. I especially love the top. I’ve always steered away from wood top finishes with painted bases. I love them though, but always thought it would be too hard to finish. Thanks for the easy instructions! I want to do this in the future.

    Have a beautiful Easter weekend!

  36. Something I love about your readers- we all like to weigh in on the discussion, and explore with you as you create :-) I really like how this piece turned out- saw it on instagram- paired with that ticking chair!! SO much farmhousey goodness! I love it!

  37. beautiful! the chipping is rhythmic yet unpredictable. very pleasing to my artistic sensibilities. not everyone appreciates the primitive look but i love it! thanks for sharing today, karen

  38. Ronda Petrasek says:

    Your work is stunning as always! I know there are some who don’t LOVE chippy… but there will always be someone who does and will snag it from you the moment you put a price on it! I am writing to say how EXCITED I am about your new matte Tough Coat! I cannot wait to get some! And the cloche with the rusty milk lid… GORGEOUS!!!

  39. Alason Jones says:

    This dresser literally took my breath away. I know it may not be everyone’s bag, but for me it is love at first sight! ?

  40. I love the heavy distressed paint with the smooth wooden top… it can give so much character to a room! Love it, well done!

  41. It’s funny to see how this piece gets such different reactions… I suppose it has so much character, you either hate it or love it!

  42. Well, the top is pretty, but enough of this milk paint will do what milk paint does! It’s just too unreliable in my book. I have to go with a product with which I have more control.

    • marian says:

      It can definitely be more predictable if you prep the piece properly before painting. I just like to see what happens! :) Milk paint definitely isn’t for everyone, but, as I’ve shared on my blog before (in my mom’s room makeover most recently), it doesn’t have to look chippy. That’s just the look I love.

  43. I Love it! Keep up the amazing work!

  44. I love it! Your milk paint does a beautiful job of aging a piece naturally instead of the random spotting that I see when people try to mimic what time achieves naturally

  45. Megan Bergman says:

    When or where are we able to buy the reformulated Tough Coat?

  46. kathleen mehus says:

    I love this piece! It is perfect in my eyes. Yesterday I bought my first milk paint, your “apron strings”…I can’t wait to use it, maybe tomorrow~Thank you for all the inspiration and the time you take to rev us up!

  47. Looks beautiful…really love it.

    Lauren | Lovely Decor

  48. Patsy says:

    Love love love the buffet I think it looks amazing, I did an antique wash sink, not sure of the proper name but anyways I basically put the paint on and let the piece decide what was going to happen, I love the way it turned out. Thanks for all your tips on using your milk paint. :)

  49. I think it’s perfectly beautiful.

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