I find it hard to resist a good empire-style dresser.  They are impressive pieces that have a balance of masculinity in their massive size and handsome features, and feminine in their curves, glass knobs, and carved keyhole escutcheons.  The downside to these pieces is that they are massive.  They are tall, heavy, and bulky, and, for those reasons, I made a point to shift my focus to smaller dressers.

But, there are exceptions.

When a well-priced sturdy empire crossed my path a few weeks ago, I just couldn’t walk away.

Here’s how it looked when I bought it and it sat like this for a while…

I needed time to think about this one and how I envisioned it.  I had considered refinishing the gorgeous wood on those drawer fronts and just paint the body.  But, I really wanted to use a color on it and I didn’t see how the color would play well with the red in the wood.  So, after thinking it and overthinking it, I was running out of time, so I finally mixed the paint and just went for it.

I painted it in a custom mix (we call those “Bespoke Colors”) of one part Eulalie’s Sky and two parts Layla’s Mint, both from the MMS Milk Paint line, naturally.  This imposing piece that felt a little buttoned up and stodgy, suddenly took on an airy quality and I was loving it.

When I distressed the paint, it chipped and flaked off in a delightfully dramatic way.

As with most chippy pieces, this isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, but I could eat it up with a spoon.

The fresh coat of paint doesn’t look like a fresh coat of paint at all, which suits this old piece nicely.

I sealed it with Tough Coat to prevent any additional chipping and give it a smooth finish.

Oh, those keyholes!  They are what talked me into buying this piece.

And I warned you about the snowball blooms…

I’m beating that one to death and I’m not sorry for it!  I wish they bloomed all year.

More furniture makeovers on the way!

I also ordered more cast iron bunnies, so I would have (hopefully) plenty, and I received my shipment of German dish brushes, fly swatters, and other household goodies.  Lots of exciting things happening as the days to Lucketts count down…


  1. Brenda

    For some reason I love the aqua’s and duck blue’s that are so popular this year. They just look so clean! I love how you styled this piece! I totally understand about the flowers. Have a great and creative day!


    It’s gorgeous, as usual!!!!!

  3. Barbara

    Beautiful dresser!!! I love how you styled it too!!!! So jealous of your hydrangeas!!!!! I am a bit south of you and mine aren’t quite ready!!!! They are so beautiful. You can’t show them in your pictures too much!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them. Blessings!

  4. Ashlea

    I planted 3 snow ball bushes last year because of you! I had never heard of them- and would you believe they grow and apparently thrive in my Canadian Zone 3 climate! Only few varieties of hydrangeas will grow here, and mine is shrimpy. I’m watching my snowballs with anticipation- hoping for lovely blooms like yours! Also love the color on this piece- and all that chippy goodness!

  5. Marian Parsons

    My bush is only 2 years old and it’s growing fast and producing well, so you should see some good blooms in a year or two!

    • Sheri

      And to think you will be moving away from your flower bush!! Going to have to buy another one for sure! 😉

  6. Julie

    Marian I have read that if you cut the bottom of the stems, and dip them in boiling water (stems) add them back to cold water they will refresh once again ! You could try it. Love hydrangeas!!!!

  7. Carla from Kansas

    I think Marian’s plant is a viburnum.

  8. Jan

    I think the white snowball shrub is viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ not a hydrangea variety. It is too early to be a hydrangea. imho. But still very beautiful. Get both and you will have these lovely snowball blooms twice a year!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, you’re right that its’ not a hydrangea. It looks a lot like them, though! 🙂

  9. Linda L.

    I adore this empire chest! I agree that the chipping isn’t for everyone – but this just makes my heart skip a beat.

  10. Mona S Kennedy

    The dresser looks great. What is the price for the bunnies? Thanks

  11. Karen K from Buffalo

    Where do you find such sweet & beautiful furniture pieces? I’m so envious!!

  12. Rebecca M

    I loved it before you distressed it! Well, to each his own!

  13. Cheryl

    Love this painted dresser
    I have some of your paint, BUT I’m afraid to use it
    I wan this chippy look that you achieved
    What did you use to distress it?

  14. Naomi S.

    Oh, gosh, my boundaries are being pushed with this mega-chippy dresser! I love the dresser but I don’t think I could live with that much chipping on the drawers. I might have to own one this chippy to know for sure!

    I do love those viburnum blossoms, though. I think I need one of those bushes.

    I am getting nervous when you talk about how close Lucketts is! And I’m not even going! Nervous as if I were the one responsible for getting it all together and on the road. I know you’ve done it many times, so I needn’t worry, right? It will all come together just as it’s supposed to, I know. Maybe I’m not nervous but excited for you! I think that is it!

  15. Naomi S.

    P.S. Yes, the bunnies. How much?

  16. Shawnetta

    I get a Rorschach inkblot vibe from the wear of the chipping on the front.

  17. Sue Pagels

    When I was a little girl, maybe 10 or 12, I had a gorgeous empire dresser that had glorious big glass knobs. I LOVED it, even as a little girl. When my sister left, I moved up to her bedroom with her white 1960’s furniture and she took the empire dresser. When she got divorced, somehow, her ex-husband who didn’t even LIKE antiques (but his new girlfriend did) ended up with that dresser. To this day, I am looking for that perfect empire dresser! Yours is beautiful and it would be very tempting if I was closer to Lucketts!! I hope you family ends up close to my area – I would be in heaven (and probably divorce court too…lol…)

  18. Mae

    One of my favorite piece you’ve done. Love the brightness of it.

  19. pamela

    Love the dresser, it looks great!! But then Im a sucker for most things with the light blue color and most anything in Denim blue.

  20. Angie

    Oh just love this piece and have an empire just sitting in the same state that could use a beautiful new coat like this one. Your always a wonderful inspiration! Hope to see you at Lucketts!! Im a brand new vendor this year and am excited to share in all the Lucketts goodness! I just hope to be able to sneak away from my booth to see you for a minute and hopefully pick up a few things for myself 🙂 I have to mention the amazing piece of bird art on the dresser…is it going to Lucketts too? Im interested!

  21. Pat Cusyck

    Love it! All of it, love the “chips”..

  22. Susan

    I can’t tell you how beautiful this piece is! I was fortunate enough to purchase it here in NC today from the lovely woman who purchased it from you at Luckett’s. I can’t wait to get this in my room!

  23. Marian Parsons

    Yes, from Rusted Roots! I loved that piece, too, and I’m glad it’s found a happy home. 🙂

  24. Kathie

    How do you distress your pieces? Do you sand first or just paint over everything? Thanks.



  1. Custom Mixed Milk Painted Dresser - […] is from Miss Mustard Seed’s blog ) So I mixed Layla’s Mint and Eulalie’s Sky at a one-to-one ratio with…

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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