in the works & in the wings

Marian ParsonsAntiques, Favorite Finds, Furniture Makeovers57 Comments

After the push to get ready for The Market on Chapel Hill, I took a bit of a break from bringing in new pieces of furniture.  I was actually trying to clean out the studio and weed out the stash, so I just had things to work on that I was really excited about.  We’re putting together a second look book for the MMS Milk Paint line and have a shoot scheduled at the most insanely beautiful manor next week and I realized I only had two pieces to shoot!  Time to get in gear, Marian.

I tripped across these chairs.  Almost literally.  I went to the Old Red Barn in Chambersburg, PA to teach a milk paint demo last weekend and spotted these barrel-backed cane beauties…


I mean…come on.





Initially, I thought there was no way in the world I would paint them, but they aren’t particularly old (1980’s most likely) and they sport that dated black speckled finish.  Who thought that was a good idea?

I know people will be asking that of us one day.  Why all the planked walls?  Who in the world would cut up a grain sack and put it on a chair?

Yes, people will shake their heads and sigh at us.

Anyway, I am considering painting them, but we’ll see if I can actually go through with it.

You have to look pretty closely to see the speckles.

I need to debate with myself a little more.


Then there is this little dresser.  I know he looks sweet, despite the unfortunate shade of brown he was painted in…


…but he’s really a jerk.

His hardware was a bear to get off, for one.



…and I decided to strip the top to reveal the beautiful oak and he is being totally stubborn.  I’ve hardly made a dent after two rounds of slathering stripper on and scraping with gusto.  This guy just laughed at me.  So, I’m going to take the sander to him tomorrow and show him who’s boss.


In contrast, this piece looks a bit dowdy and serious, but he has been so compliant and delightful.


I painted him in MMS Milk Paint Schloss and he wears it so well.  Like a great wool suit.

He even surprised me with some gorgeous crazing…

mms-1436  mms-1444

All on his own.


So, he’s getting a nice rub down with Hemp Oil tomorrow.

Good boy.


The pieces waiting in the wings should learn a lesson from these two…


in the works & in the wings

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57 Comments on “in the works & in the wings”

  1. I just moved to New Jersey from Texas a few months ago and was wondering if you had any recommendations on where to shop for pieces like your style! I LOVE it, but think you may be too far away from me. I am right outside Philadelphia. Any suggestions?? Thx again!

    1. Clutter – our brand new store in Collingswood NJ, just across the bridge from Phila. We have all kinds of vintage and remade treasure – 697 Haddon Ave Collingswood NJ 01808. Stop in, Cindy!

  2. I love Liz’s comment hahaha! These posts are my favorite. I love seeing your finds! Even your “before” pictures are stunning.

  3. Those chairs…be still my heart! Paint them! All those amazing details on the legs will just pop with some milk paint. I wish I could find dressers like those down here in Alabama that didn’t cost $200 and up. I would love to paint one! ?

  4. I find that a heat gun works best to get heavy paint off. Then you can follow it with the chemical strippers or the sander.

    Love those chairs – and Chambersburg!

  5. You are so funny! LOVED the dresseir dialogue!! And of course, I continue to LOVE all your work, ideas, the tutorials, everything. those are tough chairs to visualize for me; how about just your typewriter w/ edges sanded off?

  6. Hard decision on those beautiful chairs. Black specs always help me make a decision too! Love your last picture of befores. Most people would look at the pile and think, Ugh! Of course that is the beauty of a furniture make over and why us diyers get such good deals. 🙂

  7. This post made me laugh out loud in my office at lunch! Your blog is so dang fun! … and makes me happy I’m not the only one whom imagines a personality to ‘happily’ inanimate objects 😉

  8. Have you every thought of lining the top two drawers of a sideboard or breakfront with Pacific silver cloth? You can also buy a kit that has the slots for all the silverware and a top layer to cover them with. That funny brownish ochre dresser might be fun painted orange, then the brownish color could show through. If the cane chairs have machine made cane, and are not hand caned, paint them! That should be your rule. I think it is pretty hysterical that you have no items to shoot for the look book. You might have to rob your house and borrow some that you have sold already. Have you ever considered painting one of those pine Welsh dressers? I have a very light one in another house. It was expensive but most of those pieces are “married.” and it doesn’t go with my handmade 17th century colonial table which is walnut or something like that. I would love to paint it Duck Egg or Eulalie or Tricycle. Line up some interns from the colleges around you. Can’t wait to see what you are working on.

  9. Way to handle that obstinate little dresser, and I hope you paint those chairs into submission as well!!

  10. I painted a barrel back cane chair last year but it had a greenish bluish leather seat that I left alone. I even painted the cane. it looks SOOO much better!

  11. I would like to know what you will do with the chair with the metal legs and wood seat and back? I have one like it and can’t decide what to do. Thanks, love all your creativity!

    1. That is actually one of our painting chairs. We have a small rolling stool and that chair that we sit in for painting dressers, etc. It’s just the right height.

  12. Another great post! Paint those darn chairs, I am sure that is what they would tell you if they could.
    And and book coming, woo hoo!!!!

  13. Drool over the barrel chair…I have two, one was left that original, spotty finish, and the other is painted. They don’t match, so are in different rooms. I love both. Looking forward to seeing what you do with them, whatever, they are GORGEOUS! I laughed at the naughty furniture, just like humans, they all have their own personalities and temperament. lol!

  14. Hee hee hee you made me giggle! Love those bad boy (and good boy) pieces. And yes, I would definitely paint the chairs, and wax them (or wash over them with a darker color?) to show all of that gorgeous carved detail! Just my two cents. 🙂

  15. Those chairs! I love the beading detail! And I’m waiting for your answer “to paint or not to paint”. I’d have no problem painting a piece from the 80’s with those tiny black speckles. I remember when it was the rage.

    “Bad boy” dresser has the loveliest handles!!!!!! Can’t wait to see his coming out party.

    And that “serious” boy is such a charmer with those beautiful legs!!!! I love the pulls you added.

    Now I pondering what you’ll do with that stately wing-back armchair waiting in the wings. Something you’ve never done before? Or – a combination of old and new??

    Another shooting, a forthcoming book, painting, housewife, mother, woman of God….so blessed!

  16. No, all dressers are not girls. The ones that are painted that horrid caramel/brown color are definitely boys. But ugly boys can grow into beautiful men…Cannot wait to see what happens!

  17. Such great pieces..I love how the dresser crackled….Paint the chairs! You know they will look awesome…

  18. Oh… This post totally made me smile, as they often do! & then it brought tears to my eyes- in a sweet, sweet way!
    I live in TX now, but my dad is from McConnellsburg & I have so many menories from that area throughout my childhood- seeing “Chambersburg” totally did it to me!
    His whole family is spread out somewhat around there now (but not too much!) York, Carlisle, Spring Grove, etc. but it wasn’t always that way- My paternal grandfather was the HS Principal in McConnellsburg & my grandmother & uncle teachers there as well. Not to mention that my grandmother taught in THE one room school house there many, MANY years ago & they really LOVED that town! It’s in the “Crouse” blood for sure!
    All I can think of now are “trips up the mountain” to the orchards when peaches were in season – gosh, I can almost taste them… NOTHING compares –
    Oh, & then the Apples in the fall…! When you mention them it takes me right back to their deliciousness~
    Even though I grew up in the near Pittaburgh, you managed to bring that feeling of home comfort to me in just one word!
    Thank you Marian ?

  19. Funny, I actually go one step further then a male or female persona. I name all of my furniture that I sell. It is advertised by name! When I paint them and sometimes before, they scream out whether they are male or female 🙂

    And I can say all dressers are not females, haha, as I recently painted Sebastian. He has an undercoat of Typewriter a layer of grey and accented with gold. Clearly a masculine piece.

    So, on to the chairs!! I LOVE them. I mean, I REALLY love them. I am not sure if I could paint them. Though I guess I would have to see those dreaded “speckles” in person to really make up my mind. I am not a fan of the speckles but god gracious I am drooling over the beauty of those chairs <3 <3 <3!

  20. I love your find Marian; those chairs are gorgeous with all that detail. I’m excited to see what you do with them also. Whatever your deciison, I’m sure the results will be gorgeous because you have the magic touch.

  21. Haha Marian! I just wrote a post and I talked about how I put an uncooperative piece of furniture in the naughty corner. I thought I was the only one that treated them like they are kids. Looking forward to the full reveals especially the schloss painted dresser, the details look divine.

  22. Some great pieces & finds!! I say leave the chairs or only paint the back or the seat of the chair maybe? They really are beautiful 🙂

    Can’t wait to see what you do with the rest!

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor

  23. Any update on the barrel chairs? Looking forward to seeing what you do, especially as I have the same that I’ve been pondering…

  24. It makes me smile just thinking about you doing what you love each day and sharing your skills and talents with so many other on line friends.
    Enjoy your days!!!!

  25. That icky speckled finish is horrendous. I just redid my hubs grandmothers bedside table and it was slathered in that dark dark speckled stain and when I finally removed it, I sanded it and put MMS hemp oil on it, and there is no comparison. The natural wood was gorgeous on that piece! What was the person thinking when they dipped their brush into that stain and stood over the table? ‘I’m so sorry little guy, I hate to cover your beauty up, but the speckled finish is IN’

  26. I have searched all over the site to find the reveal of the these chairs, and have not found them! Have a very similar project and I’d love to see the finished products!! Thanks!

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