Furniture Dilemmas | Connie’s Queen Anne Highboy

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Furniture Dilemmas, Furniture Makeovers, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, Painting & Refinishing, Tutorials48 Comments

Let’s talk about furniture, shall we?  That seems like a welcome diversion!

Today, I’m going to share the step-by-step how-to for painting and finishing a piece like Connie’s Queen Anne highboy….

Here is how it looks in the context of her room…

  Isn’t that a lovely space?  It reminds me a lot of my Opa’s house.  And I mean that in a good way, not in a way like it looks like an “old person’s” house!  It looks welcoming and traditional, but tasteful and stylish.  It’s collected and comfortable.  I think it also has something to do with the fact that they had a similar rug and an almost identical gooseneck rocker.  Anyway, I love her room!

The dresser in the corner was a piece handed along to her and she feels like it’s a little dark in the room and just another heavy wood piece next to that beautiful armoire.  While I don’t think it looks bad as it is at all, I think it would look lovely painted and would make it more unique next to the wardrobe.

Given Connie’s aesthetic, the other pieces and colors in the room, and the style of the dresser itself, I think painting it in Boxwood, a rich green, would suit it and the space quite well.

I actually painted a very similar dresser that exact color a few years ago.  To me, Boxwood suits Queen Anne pieces.  If I didn’t use green, I would use another dark, rich color like Artissimo (navy), Typewriter (black), or Tricycle (red).  But I like the idea of Boxwood in Connie’s room.  Similar shades of green are in the rug, vases on the fireplace, and a few of her paintings.  It would also compliment the pale yellow walls.


What you’ll need for this project…



step 1 | prep the piece to paint

Since this piece has a shiny finish, it’s really best to sand the entire piece to knock off that shine.  It should only take 10-15 minutes with an orbital sander, so it’s not that big of a deal and you don’t have to get into every little nook and cranny.  Just give it a good, all over sanding with 80-100 grit paper.  While you can apply the paint and finish inside, you’ll want to move the piece outside for this step.   I would also suggest wearing a dust mask to prevent the fine dust from getting in your nose, throat, and lungs.


HERE is a tutorial showing how to prep a piece of wood furniture to paint.

step 2 | paint the piece

HERE is the post showing the complete transformation of the Boxwood Highboy I’m using as an example for this post.  I was concerned about that red stain bleeding through the paint, but it wasn’t an issue in the case of my Queen Anne high boy.  I’m hoping Connie’s highboy will be just as compliant!  If not, then I would suggest sealing the first coat of paint with Tough Coat before applying the second coat of paint.  This will seal the bleeding.

This piece will definitely need two coats of paint and I wouldn’t add the Bonding Agent (to help with adhesion) since I’m suggesting sanding off most of the finish.  Connie just needs to apply two coats, leaving about an hour of dry time between coats.  HERE is a video tutorial showing how to mix MMS Milk Paint and HERE is a tutorial showing how to apply the paint.

step 3 | apply the finish

For this particular piece, I would suggest applying a Hemp Oil finish.  I love how it brings out the richness of dark colors and provides a soft, matte finish.  HERE is a video tutorial showing how to apply Hemp Oil and get a super-smooth finish.  If Connie does want to distress the paint, I would just suggest running a 150 or 180 sandpaper along the edges to soften it a bit.  I don’t think a lot of distressing is right for the piece or Connie’s style.

And that’s it!  It’s a pretty simple makeover that can be done in a day (maybe two if you want to do prep one day, painting & finishing the other.)  The dresser can be put back in place immediately, but it will take 30 days for it to fully cure.  During that time, some excess Hemp Oil might leach out, but I take care of that by giving it a quick wipe with a microfiber cloth when I notice it.  This isn’t a place that’s likely to have a lot of drinks set on it, but I would have coasters handy during a party or get-together, just to protect the painted finish and prevent water rings.

Good luck with your project, Connie!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to sharing a lot more furniture & decorating dilemmas in the future.

I have plenty in the hopper right now…

You can find other Furniture Dilemmas HERE and furniture makeovers HERE.

Furniture Dilemmas | Connie’s Queen Anne Highboy

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48 Comments on “Furniture Dilemmas | Connie’s Queen Anne Highboy”

  1. That’s a beautiful color and will look great in her room! I wish I would have been able to see you at Luckett’s. I love your booth!

    1. I wish I was still a vendor there. It was always an exciting time. Maybe one day I’ll do it again. I think I have an open invitation. 🙂

  2. The one you did is lovely, but if Connie isn’t ready to paint, what about just switching the Dresser and round table. Wouldn’t it balance the two heavy pieces better? Just a thought.

    Can you tell I need something to do?

    1. She was interested in painting it or giving it a makeover, but moving it might do the trick! It gives her an alternative.

    2. Thanks for the suggestion Graham; will be worth trying before I attempt a makeover! My plan is to loose the skirted table or replace the skirt fabric; also have a dresser in a lighter wood that could go there.

  3. Connie, that’s a classic piece in a beautiful room. I echo what Graham said. Don’t paint it, just move it to the other side of the room. Give that a try before getting rid of that beautiful patina. Once it’s gone, you can never get it back.

    1. This piece doesn’t look like it has a “patina” to me. It a reproduction with a shiny poly finish, so I think paint will improve the look. I agree, though, that trying the piece in a new location is easier than painting it and worth a try!

    2. Good suggestion Marc & think I will follow your echoing of Graham’s advice before painting (although I really want to change it up)!

  4. I agree with Graham about switching the table and the dresser. I would then angle the dresser in the corner so that it’s not flush up against the wall.

    I love the idea of the boxwood green paint. It’s such a warm, rich color. However, I would not distress the paint. I don’t think the style of her lovely room lends itself to that more casual country look.

    That’s just my two cents worth.

    1. I agree. I wouldn’t suggest distressing the piece in the case of this piece and room. I think it should just have a nice, clean painted finish. Nice ideas about some new arrangements to try.

    2. Thanks Dayle! Boxwood is my favorite color in Marian’s paint line but we have a new darkish green velvet sofa currently being made to replace the white slip-covered one, so I willl need to see how the 2 greens work together. Typewriter was what I had in mind for this piece, but Marian’s suggestion of Artissimo has me thinking! I like your idea of trying the piece angled in the corner if we follow Graham’s suggestion of moving it to the other side. We have a beautiful lighter ‘brown’ wood angled in the corner on the opposite side of the room behind the wing chair, so I’m wondering how two angled pieces will look.

      1. Yes! Artissimo would be beautiful, too, and might work better with the new sofa. I would get the new sofa in the room first and then decide. All of the steps will still be the same.

        1. Thanks Marian! That is pretty much what my sister & I decided yesterday after taking stock of the room – just leave everything for now until the new green velvet sofa arrives! We thought about going ahead & swapping out the 2 pieces but noticed that the skirted table corner wall beside the door opening is smaller than the opposite side where the dresser now resides & after measuring, it is 4 inches shorter, so that might affect how it will look.

  5. Marion….can you explain what Luckett’s is? And where? I have a feeling it’s an antique and vintage show but don’t know too much about it.

    1. It’s an antique store in Lucketts Virginia called The Old Lucketts Store. They also have monthly fleas, a design house, and a spring market. I used to be a vendor in the store and sold at their markets for years. It’s an amazing place!

  6. I have several pieces of that style of furniture, most likely from the 1940s. While I would never dream of painting English pine furniture or a true antique, these pieces in my opinion actually look better painted. My home is very traditional and isn’t decorated country or farmhouse and the pieces I have painted add a nice touch. The secret is as Marion stated is to do it correctly because if not done properly it won’t look elegant. Love everything you do, Marion! Your taste is impeccable! Stay well!

    1. I agree! There are some pieces I wouldn’t paint, but this one is a reproduction and a good candidate to paint and give it a fresh look. 🙂

    1. That piece is so beautiful as it is. I wouldn’t suggest painting it. The highboy isn’t a valuable piece, since it’s a reproduction and Connie was interested in changing it.

  7. Boxwood. . . perfect choice. And add a couple of green or earthy pottery pieces. It seems like a lot of furniture to me, but that is hard to tell from afar. The rocker??? I have learned from my blog reading that it sometimes works to “shop your house”, rearrange from what you already own. P.S. Pinterest has an incredible amount of green painted furniture & how to style it. It seems like a live plant or two adds to a room when this color is added. Or maybe I just like green plants, like ferns and jades.

    1. Haha – the rocker! It was purchased for $25 from an estate sale & just plopped down there! I love the rocker; it’s comfortable & in beautiful condition except for the out of date upholstery which will be recovered after our new sofa is completed & shipped. It probably won’t stay in this room – there’s really not space or a spot in here for it.

  8. I agree with Graham about switching it with the round table. Marian has painted some beautiful pieces but I think I would hold back on this. The patina is beautiful and as said, once it is gone it is lost forever. I am also not sure a painted piece would blend well in this lovely room.

    1. I used to think it was wrong to paint furniture, but this piece isn’t a nice antique & the finish is in poor shape. I like traditional style but this room leans toward formal & I want it become a bit more casual & warm, in an old-world elegant yet lived in way. Our dining room has traditional dark wood pieces, some purchased new & some antiques, except for our buffet, which is my favorite piece in our home, & has a painted finish that is original; it is an antique & is what made me realize the highboy would look great painted!

  9. Marian:
    I have a few old pieces of furniture but am hesitant to “repurpose” them because the inside of the drawers have a bad musty odor. Is that ever the case with pieces you transform? If so, how do you get rid of that odor? I am afraid to have all my items I place in the drawer smelling like grandma 🙂

  10. I can’t wait to see what she does. It would be so pretty. I love boxwood. However, one of my favorite pieces that you painted was the artissimo dresser. It was gorgeous! Have a great day!

  11. Well, I join the chorus, leave it unpainted but give it a lovely wax caress and buffing. Some pieces of furniture are crying to be painted, as they are very modest and plain in shape and looks. This one is not the type. Perhaps just move the highboy away from the large furniture, on the right of the door opening. The distance would lighten up the 2 brown pieces being together. Voila, simple solution.

    1. Love your comment Diane, it made me smile! Think this will be fun & make this shiny, dark, tired old piece look relaxed & happy!

  12. Your song on Instagram is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. God is in control. We may not understand, but we know we can trust Him. I became acquainted with that song several years ago and thought it was beautiful.

  13. Thank you Marian for featuring my furniture dilemma; I’m enjoying readers input & suggestions too! The lists of dealers who carry your products and all the links to your helpful tutorials will make this project easier to navigate, especially since I’ve never attempted this sort of makeover. May take a while, but will send photos of the after!

  14. Great thoughts! Makes me think about a couple of my pieces. Marian, you are such an inspiration to me!
    Connie, your room is lovely and I will always be traditional as well, but also mix some warmer, interesting pieces to bring it down a notch. May I make one little suggestion? I would remove all those little pieces that are in the MIDDLE of furniture. The little pillow in the middle of the sofa. The little swan on top of the highboy in question. The little vase in the middle of the mantle. (maybe ALL those vases on those pieces!). One of my favorite tricks is to remove all accessories from a room now and then and put them some back very selectively. You’ll be surprised with how much you eliminate! Another blogger I follow has the mantra that “ Bigger is better and less is more“, and I think she has something there. Good luck on your project!

  15. Connie, my sister has the exact same piece? We felt like we were committing a felony when we painted it…..yes, in boxwood no less. Now we’re of the mindset that the color is a true treasure and we thank Marion for bringing it to us.

  16. What a lovely color! I should try this on our wood furniture since we’re staying in the house due to lockdown.

    Phlanx’s Marketing Specialist

  17. I think Boxwood would be amazing on that piece – and trust me, I don’t paint everything – but with those pieces of green – oh it would be gorgeous. I think Marian’s Boxwood Green is the most loveliest green of all time. Love love love it.

  18. Hi Marion
    I enjoy your blog and your Instagram, however here in the Boston area we are in self quarantine and cannot go to the store to buy art supplies to do your projects.
    Isn’t Minnesota on lockdown like the rest of us.
    Since you want to do a community project we could call a Senior in our communities for support
    Or do something in our homes because we cannot go anywhere unless is the grocery store or pharmacies
    We can walk our dogs or go for a hike if we are 6 ft from each other.
    I wish you could help us all get rid of this virus by paying attention to the President and doctors mandates.
    I hope you understand that our priorities are staying home and taking care of ourselves and the elderly

    1. Martha, I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand this comment. I am not encouraging people to go to stores to get supplies, but order online (which is why I linked to small shops that have had to close their doors.) Yes, Minnesota is on lockdown like the rest of the nation and we are complying 100%. One of my children has an autoimmune disease, so we take this very seriously.

      Yes, stay home except for necessary trips, go on walks outside, work on projects at home. I didn’t say anything that was contrary to that.

  19. Hi Marion! I was wondering if you can use hemp oil to seal chalk paint? Have you ever tried it? Thanks! Love your blog

  20. I once heard a wise, experienced designer talk about stained wood pieces in a room. She said it was good to have three in the same wood tones scattered throughout the space so they would balance each other out. They didn’t have to be the same size, but it was more important they were in the same color family. I wonder if you could try moving the dresser to the opposite corner and placing something else in that place? My rules of thumb for paint vs. stained is: if it’s ugly or unrestorable, paint it; if it has beautiful wood grain, keep it that way; if it is a rare wood on a vintage or antique piece that is not seen today, keep it.

  21. This dresser should be painted white, the same white used on the trim and doors. The room is calm except for this bossey piece of furniture and painting it boxwood green will draw even more attention to it. If you study the pictures of this room, what is creating the off balence is that the “eye” has no place to rest as you scan through the room. Green will only further entrench the off balence. Many times less is more, you don’t necessarily need a piece of furniture there, stacked artwork, 3 or 4 pieces would look beautiful or even just one large piece of art to compliment the art on the other side of the entrance to the living room.

  22. It looks amazing. I have several handmade pieces by my uncle I want to refinish. Do you ever refinish the insides of drawers and cabinets? If so, what are the things I should do to those parts?

  23. Thanks for your step by step how-to and the list of materials needed for the project! I have a lot of free time now and I think, it’s a perfect moment to remake my old furniture. Miss Mustard Seed Boxwood Green will be the perfect choice for our furniture.

  24. Love reading your ideas, Marian, and the comments, too. Was all in on the boxwood, but Kate’s suggestion to go white and so visually calm the room makes sense. I thought my discomfort with the furniture was that it’s not my style. But, perhaps it is just too much. Either paint out, or replace it with art or a tree. Especially since Connie is changing out the sofa upholstery from white. And I agree the rocker should go to another room.

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