We’re in the middle of this little black dresser makeover and in this segment, it’s all about distressing the paint.  If you missed the first two segments, prepping & painting, you can find them here…

Prepping a Piece of Furniture to Paint

Little Black Dresser Makeover | Part 2 | Painting

Here is how the piece looked after 1 1/2 coats of MMS Milk Paint in Typewriter.  It wasn’t quite two coats, but more like one full coat with a light second coat where needed.  As I shared in part 2, it only took 6T of milk paint powder for both coats.

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

Because I like distressing and do it to almost every piece, I think that there is this idea that distressing is a must-do step with milk paint.  It’s definitely not.  It’s just my preference.  I usually paint old pieces and I like to create the illusion that they’ve been wearing this fresh coat of paint for a long time.  It’s also an easy way to hide any imperfections in the paint job, so it’s a little way around pesky problems that can arise when painting pieces with existing finishes.

It can make chipping veneer look like a part of the history of the piece instead of damage.  It can camouflage water rings and gouges.  It will smooth out any missed drips or sloppy paint strokes.

Distressing doesn’t have to be dramatic, though.

It can be very subtle; just a softening of the edges.   For this piece, I wanted it to be just a light distressing on the hard lines, corners, and to bring out the intricate details.

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

I used 120 grit paper, which is my favorite for distressing.  It’s not so rough that it scratches the finish, but it’s not so fine that it’s a workout to get the paint off.

In this video, I show how I distress to create an end result that looks naturally time-worn instead of fabricated…

We’ve talked about the “ugly stage” before.  With pale and mid-tone colors that usually happens between paint coats one and two.  For dark colors, the ugly stage is right here – after the distressing and before the finish…  
Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

It looks scratchy and blotchy and may have you wondering if this whole milk paint thing was a good idea.

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

 But, just wait.  When you put on that finish, it is magical…

Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover

Applying the Hemp Oil finish and a tip on getting a buttery smooth finish is up next…


Miss Mustard Seed | Little Black Dresser Makeover


  1. Donna

    I just love how this piece came out, are you going to keep it or sell…its just beautiful!!

    • Marian Parsons

      I am going to sell it. I do love how it turned out, though. Wait until you see it with the hemp oil!

  2. Krista

    It was really awesome to see the details pop out as you were sanding. Can’t wait to see it after the hemp oil.

  3. Crystal

    This one makes my heart go pitter patter! 😍


      I agree with Crystal… My heart is singing right now!

  4. LGWalker

    So lovely, Marian. Do you mind sharing how you treated the key holes on the drawers? They looks crisp and clean even when the singer surfaces around them are worn and distressed. Thanks!

  5. Robin Hempel

    Marian, I love it! Can you use hemp oil over chalk paint???

  6. Shelia

    I was in the camp of some people where I couldn’t see painting that gorgeous piece of furniture, I had no doubt you’d make it into a different but equally stunning piece. I wish however you’d distress it a bit more around a couple of the keyholes where it would’ve shown wear as well. It still is going to be beautiful though! I can feel your pain about not being able to find many pieces to paint where you live now. I live in coastal Mississippi and southerners do not sell their antiques. They’re past down from generation to generation. I check Craig’s list, flea maarkets looking for pieces to restore all with no luck. Antique stores here chRge an arm and a leg for their antiques or even reproductions because they know that if you want an antique or reproduction piece, they can charge what they want and get it. What kind of price are you going to charge for that piece, if you don’t mind me asking? I’m just curious as to what you can get for it where you live. I can’t wait to see what the hemp oil is going to do to it. And I have a question,….did you paint your cane back dining room chairs I keep seeing in your photos. I just bought some and I’m not sure if I’m going to like the color of the wood and had thoughts of giving them a whitewash effect. I love seeing you do your thing in painting these furniture pieces and I know this black one is going to be stunning!
    Have a great weekend and thanks for sharing!

  7. Pat

    Love this! Maybe I will give it a go.yu

  8. Karen K from Buffalo

    Love how this is going & I am almost there about painting my antique desk. Can’t wait to see the finished dresser. Completely off the subject, what is the tattoo of on your left arm??

    • Marian Parsons

      It says “sola fide”, which means faith alone. There are birds flying from the text, showing forward motion. To me, it conveys moving ahead in faith alone.

  9. mary m

    Also off subject…………. We just got back from a trip to Gettysburg, your
    former home. I understand why you loved it so much there. The history and the natural beauty is everywhere. Loved all the sober brick houses too and they made me think of your former lovely home. I think every American should visit Gettysburg for its history and beauty. It was 40* when we left this morning.

    I think I would have left the top the natural color…………That is what I did to a buffet that I painted black and stained the top cherry. Just a thought.

  10. Ann Gaines

    Amazing new color treatment…on your hair!!! Adorable picture…you look better than ever! Your house is just spectacular…👏👏

  11. Holley

    I knew I’d love it! And I do! After many projects using chalk paint/antiquing wax, I’m ready to use your milk paint & hemp oil & I can’t wait. I do have a question -would you paint Eastlake style pieces? Even those with white marble tops. Perhaps you already have & I simply missed it. I’m 72 & want to thank you for inspiring me to try new projects. Although I must confess, I’m jealous of your energy level, this is the hardest part of ageing to adjust to!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yep, I’ve painted a lot of Eastlake pieces and they look beautiful painted!

  12. Kelly

    Oh my!! These last few posts have been SO inspiring! I can hardly wait for the finished results! I can’t help but want to run my hands over that LBD!! Lol

  13. Karen bahr

    Off the subject of this dresser: would your hemp oil hold up on an unpainted piece of furniture that is being used on a semi-enclosed porch? It is wood and has been there for years and looking shabby, not in a good way.It is a slatted bench and I once finshed it with tuna oil and consequently grew mildew. Now bleached and pressure washed, better but very dull. Help!
    Avid reader, Karen
    By the way, I think you are amazing!

  14. Maureen

    Beautiful job on the dresser! On a different subject…does Hobby Lobby still sell your ‘laundry’ signs? Haven’t been able to locate and would love to buy a few. TY!

    • Marian Parsons

      They did, but I’m not sure if they are currently in stock.

  15. Patty

    Hi There, your projects are very inspiring! I’m new to milk paint & have jumped right in painting old chippendale chairs black. Is hemp oil the only recommended finish coat for black paint? Are there any wax products that you would suggest? Any tips & suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, no! You can use Hemp Oil to finish any color or even raw or stained wood. You can use it to revive old, dried out wood, water-damaged wood, etc.

  16. Chrissy

    Hi! I followed this process and loved how my furniture turned out. My only qualm is that there are lines that look like scratches on the top. I am wondering if there is a product you recommend putting on top of the hemp oil to give it a more polished look?

    Thanks so much!


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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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