If you like a good old-fashioned Miss Mustard Seed makeover, well, I think it’s safe to say that you will like this post.

Today was a great day in the studio.  It was busy, but I was able to finish two pieces and photograph a third.  I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when a piece is finished and the process of styling and taking pictures is one of my favorite things about my business.  So, I was in my element.

The piece I’m sharing today is this antique dresser I found on craigslist.  It had a sloppy coat of black paint on it, but I knew I could work with that.  I usually like to buy pieces that are wood, so I have a “clean slate” so to speak, but black can look almost like dark wood when it peeks under a coat of distressed milk paint.

It had a bit of a shine to it, so we gave it a light sanding and also removed the glass knobs to prep it for painting…

This dresser is so nondescript that I didn’t have a clear vision for it, so I decided to just start with a pretty color and take it from there.   I have really been into custom blue/greens lately, so I mixed one up for this piece.  It’s equal parts Eulalie’s Sky and Shutter Gray from the MMS Milk Paint line.

I don’t think I’ve ever mixed up that exact ratio before, but it made the prettiest robin’s egg blue.

It sat in my studio just like that for a few days and I had to think about where to take it from there.  The longer it sat, the more I knew that it needed something, so I chalked out a design, mixed up some white artist acrylic paint with some matte medium, and went for it.

And I’m glad I did…

It’s very similar to a piece I painted several years ago and it’s always been one of my favorites.

The key to decorative painting in this style is to keep the brush strokes loose and add lots of them!  Having the strokes and designs bunched together makes the eye focus on the design as a whole, not on each individual brush stroke.  That prevents the eye from resting on imperfections.  For that reason, this style is very forgiving.

I distressed the edges of this piece with 120 grit paper to allow the hints of the black to show through.  It’s just enough to add a bit of dimension.  I then sealed it with a coat of Tough Coat.

I had a great time styling this piece, humming to music, scooting furniture around, picking accessories from my stash…

I added a small collection of victorian ink bottles, which were the perfect color and added a little sparkle.

I made the chalkboard out of a large antique frame I purchased a few weeks ago.  I happened to have a piece of luan in the basement that was a perfect fit for the frame and I painted it in the custom chalkboard mix I used for Lucketts last year.  (You can find details on that HERE.)

It really is the perfect “vintage chalkboard” color once it is seasoned with chalk.  It is a little bit large for the small dresser, but I still like the way they paired together and decided to let the scale mis-match slide.

It was the perfect place to write a little quote and to hang this sweet baby dress…

One of the cast iron bunnies holds extra pieces of chalk.

And those flowers!  Those were clipped from the snowball bush I planted in my yard a couple of years ago.  It is weighed down with blooms now and I decided to help myself.  I’m a bit in love with them, so they are making their way into a lot of pictures until they wilt.

You have been warned.

This custom blue is a pretty simple recipe, but here it is in a handy. dandy little graphic in case you want to file it away for future reference…

And, if you want to get a similar hand-painted look, but don’t feel like you can paint it freehand, I created a stencil that can help you out!  You can find more information about this one and other designs HERE.


  1. Angie Boughton

    Hi again Marian! How much will this adorable dresser be? We are moving soon also and my daughter is getting a bigger room. She doesn’t even have a dresser in her current tiny room! She loves this pretty blue with the stencil. Is it something that can be put on hold for Lucketts? I have my VIP ticket!😊

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I’ll e-mail you.

  2. Lisa

    What a beautiful piece of furniture! Gorgeous!

  3. Brenda

    What a pretty dresser! I love the color! Great job!

  4. Lisa P.

    This is beautiful!! I love it. It reminds me of one you did years ago that I fell in love with too. I have the Eulalie’s. Now I must get the Shutter Gray and the stencil. Thanks for the formula. I know someone will snap this up. I would if I was able to go. 🙂

  5. Karen

    Stunningly beautiful>

  6. Randi

    What a lovely piece! And that color is perfection!

  7. Sue

    It doesn’t get more Miss Mustard Seed than this LOL. LOVE this makeover…every single thing from the color to the hand-painting to the glass knobs is perfection. Thank you for indulging us Mustard Seed fans from wayyyy back 😉

  8. Becky

    The color is perfect and as always so is the handpainting. It’s beautiful.

  9. Susan

    It was one of your earlier painted-design pieces like this (a yellow dresser perhaps) that I saw on Pinterest which first led me to your blog. I remember thinking, “I have finally found a blog that speaks to me!” I’ve been checking in with you almost daily since! LOVE this dresser, Marion! Hope to see you at Lucketts.

  10. Angela allis

    Hi Marion, what I would like to know about the ratios is did this dresser take 1 cup of each colour and did you do two coats. I am definitely replicating this one, it’s a beauty. I love it.

    • Marian Parsons

      I did two coats and I would estimate it took about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of each color.

  11. Pam from Maryland

    Just simply wonderful !!!! as always… 🙂

  12. Karin Dhar

    Classic Miss Mustard Seed- hooray! My daughter has one copied from your earlier yellow piece in Annie Sloan’s Paloma, and she loves it. I have the stencil in my stash too. Thank you!

  13. Mimi

    So pretty!
    Love the quote!


    Marian, Ii just love everything about this antique! You have done a gorgeous job!


  15. Noelle

    I adore this piece & the styling….. I WANT, but sadly live in NY, too far away!!!

  16. Kathy Nordmann

    Hi Marian, I’ve noticed that you’ve been using Tough Coat a lot instead of Furniture Wax. Any particular reason?

  17. Marian Parsons

    Furniture Wax can melt in the heat when pieces are sitting outside in May in VA for a market, so I just use Hemp Oil or Tough Coat for this event. I’ve also grown to love this finish. It’s easy to apply and durable.

    • Kathy Nordmann

      Thanks!, Marian! Didn’t even think of that. I totally forgot that I have had that happen to me at a show before!

  18. Lori

    Love everything about this dresser! Thank you for sharing it with us! I am one of your “old-fashioned” followers on the blog! 🙂

  19. Julie Briones

    What a transformation! Love it!

  20. Sue Pagels

    Love the color! I can’t remember if I bought Tough Coat yet or not, but it’s on my list to try!

  21. Elizabeth

    The dresser is enchanting. With the custom blue-gray base color and wispy white embellishment, the finished pieced makes me think of clouds.

    I like the styling you did for the photos, though the baby dress gave me pause for thought. I mean, I know you’re the mother of two boys. Are you trying to tell us something?

    • Marian Parsons

      Ha, no secrets here! I would love decorating a room for a little girl, but I love being a boy mom. 🙂

  22. Teresa Freeman

    Hi Marian, the dresser is gorgeous as usual. What size brush did you use for the decorative painting please?

    • Marian Parsons

      I believe it was a #6 filbert

  23. Debbie

    Every single thing shown in this post is purchase worthy! You are sooooo incredible and I feel so blessed to read your daily posts. Forgive me but I must say, I wish this color was an actual blend available because it is PERFECTION! Well done, dear girl, well done…. every single piece of it!

  24. At Rivercrest Cottage

    Marion, I really think you need to have a daughter. Why that thought popped into my head I don’t know, but it just hit me. I’m trying to get down to the nearest stockest to buy some tough coat. I’ve seen you use it so much, I think it’s just what my pub table needs. Thanks for all the inspiration. I might need some Shutter Gray too! Love that color.

    • Marian Parsons

      Ha! Don’t say that too close to my mom! 🙂

  25. Colleen

    Great job on this dresser! Did you use regular chalk, like for a chalkboard, to mark your pattern first?

  26. Pamela R LePage

    The dresser looks awesome!!! The whole photo looks looks great…..

  27. Barbara Ann

    I’m eagerly awaiting for my snowball bushes to bloom. They’re just beginning, so I figure by the time we have our 3D house tour video done in mid-May, I will have fresh flowers to add to my interior.
    I adore what you have done with the simple chest, to make it new and fresh.

  28. Dianne

    THIS is why I started following you Marion and it’s great to see your style again. Fabulous piece reflecting your talents!

  29. Lynada

    I enjoy reading your posts and have learned a lot!!! I love the color and stencil you chose for this little dresser but I’m especially in love with the ink bottles. Would love to start my own collection.

  30. Jackie B

    I enjoy the diversity of your blog! I just never know what a day will bring when I read it. Thank you for all you bring to the table and enrich our lives. By the way, what is the color of the paint in the last picture with the stencil? It is fabulous!

    • Marian Parsons

      That is French Enamel.

  31. Naomi S.

    Now that is gorgeous, Marian! I see it is already sold! Have you ever heard the saying to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”? Well, that’s what the before and afters of this dresser remind me of! You did, indeed!

  32. Jen C.

    Absolutely love this! And the color is gorgeous too. I love all your makeovers, especially the “classic MMS style” ones.

  33. Laurel

    Marian, beautiful as always! You always give me confidence to play around a bit at home because it just seems so artistically satisfying! I am wondering about the Tough Coat. I have a dresser that my grandmother painted in black and stenciled flowers on way back.. I love it because she did it but since I use all my things it is starting to chip. I’d like to preserve it….do you think Tough Coat would be my answer even though I have no idea what paints or coatings were used? And if so, do I order it from your online shop? Thank you for your advice!

  34. Lori

    This is going to be my favorite piece of the year!!!

  35. Deb

    Love this piece it is so pretty. I was wondering it lookeded almost black you didn’t strip black paint off you mixed the two colors and painted over the black?

  36. Melanie

    You’re pieces like this one in the past are what inspired me to try hand painting myself, and then pass along my own tips and tricks to my readers. It’s absolutely gorgeous, I love everything about it! Thank you for all the continued inspiration!



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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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