prepping two pieces to paint

by | Apr 12, 2018 | All Things Home, Furniture Makeovers, Painting & Refinishing, Tutorials | 45 comments

For those of you who are missing furniture makeovers, a few are coming your way!  As I was working on these pieces today, I realized my back does not miss working on furniture, but I do.  There is something therapeutic about working on a piece of furniture to me.

Prepping these pieces to paint was not on my “big three” list today, but I got two out of three of my biggies done and I decided to shift gears.  We have had winter weather through most of March and all of April.  It’s just been too cold to work outside or in the garage.  I tried it a couple of times and it was just stupid.  Anyway, we’re expecting some snow and a wintry mix this weekend, so I figured I needed to take advantage of a (warm) 40 degree day and do some furniture prepping, which really needs to be done outside.

This is the first piece I’m working on…

I bought it back in December to use in my studio.  I needed a small table to use as a flat work surface and as a flat-lay photo backdrop.  This one has a great old top and pretty legs, but it needs a little freshening up!  Sanding the top was number one on the list, because the top was very rough.

I gave it a good sanding with my orbital palm sander equipped with 120 and then 180 grit sand paper.  I didn’t want to sand it too much, so the patina would wear away, but I didn’t want to get splinters from it, either.

After sanding, I brought it back inside and vacuumed off all the dust.

Next up will be Furniture Wax on top and our brand new MMS Milk Paint color, Aviary, on the base.

And, speaking of Aviary, our official launch of the color is next week, so I needed a dresser to paint to introduce it!  I have been looking for one on craigslist for a while, but haven’t found any I really love at a price I’m willing to pay.  I mentioned that on my Instagram stories and one of my friends from church offered up one of her dressers…

I do feel like I need to apologize to someone for painting this!  I know the grain is beautiful.  Since the owner gave it to me to paint, I don’t owe her an apology.  I’ll apologize to my natural wood-loving father-in-law.  Sorry, Mike.

If it makes anyone feel any better, the wood will still be under the paint.  Despite what some people think, painting a wood piece does not turn the wood into a sub-par material.  Also, this piece looks like it has been refinished, so it’s not sporting the original patina.  Lastly, it has a few water rings on top.

Feel better?  Maybe?  Maybe not?  Moving on…

This piece currently has a shiny polyurethane finish, which milk paint doesn’t stick to very well in some cases.  I don’t mind this piece looking chippy, but I don’t want shiny wood peeking through the chipped and distressed areas.  For me, that detracts from the look quite a bit.

So, I wanted to give this piece a thorough sanding with a heavy grit paper to completely take away any shine.  I used 60 grit paper for that and changed out the sanding disk when the first one was wearing down.

And, just a tip, you shouldn’t feel like you’re fighting your orbital sander, shoving it’s face into the surface you’re sanding.  If you find you’re doing that and using a lot of pressure, change to a lower grit paper or change out the sanding disc.  Your arm and your sander will thank you for that!

Here it is with all of the gloss knocked off…

The finish was pretty thin, so a lot of it was completely removed.

I know sanding has gotten a bad reputation over the past few years and I get that.  I get that we want to just paint!  That’s the fun part.  But, even with paints that have great adhesive properties, your piece is only going to benefit from a light sanding.  It took me about 10 minutes to sand this whole piece, so it’s worth it in the end.

The other advantage to sanding is you get to know your piece.  I rub my hands all over it, checking for places that might need to be repaired, loose veneer, scratches or gouges that should be sanded out, etc.  I don’t always sand, but I do it more often than not and it’s generally a good practice.

Now it’s time to break out the paint…


  1. Elisabeth

    What a lovely piece! That grain is gorgeous. I bet it’ll look just as nice painted though. Looking forward to seeing the finished product!

  2. Monica

    Oh, this one hurts – that grain is so beautiful. But like you said, she gave it to you to paint so no need to apologize. I know it will be gorgeous!

    Have you thought about doing a color mixing chart using MMSMP? You have a lot of experience mixing watercolors and oils now, so I thought it might be might be fun to see the secondary purples and oranges that could be made with the milk paints! We already know you have pretty greens 🙂

    • JeanFB

      I love this idea!!

  3. Linda

    Such a beautiful dresser! I can’t wait to see what the new paint color looks like!

  4. downraspberrylane

    I have missed the furniture makeovers too, and I can’t wait to see this one in your new color.

  5. Kate

    The legs on that table! I can see why you bought it. I’d probably be tempted to whip out a can of spray paint to do the legs.

    Yes, the second part of this post is very painful. Is that tiger oak? If I were your best friend, I’d get on my knees and plead with you to leave it alone. If that didn’t work, I’d chain myself to it. But then again, it’s only a dresser; someone will probably strip it in the future. Through the years, I’ve asked myself why people cover wood flooring with carpet or linoleum. I guess there are other reasons I can’t wrap my mind around (and no insult intended).

  6. Sue from Indiana

    I miss the furniture makeovers too – plus I love working on furniture myself, although it is extremely difficult to find reasonably priced pieces here in NW Indiana – they want a fortune for broken down junky pieces. I’m sure this will be beautiful when finished, but yes, I am in the wood loving group and it hurt my heart to watch this happen…..

  7. Teresa

    You Minnesotans are a tough bunch with 6 month winters! Its got to be frustrating not being able to work on pieces outside or in the garage still in mid-April. I know many hate to see that beautiful oak grain dresser get painted but its all about preference. I will tell you my mothers friend had many beautiful tiger oak pieces including a beautiful dining set. She had to downsize and sold much of her antique furniture.

    She had a difficult time selling it because younger people want painted furniture versus wood grain. Most of the younger age group doesn’t go for brown furniture and prefer painted for a fresher, more modern look. So I think if you love a beautiful wood grain piece and are keeping it for yourself then don’t touch it but for re-sell I think painted furniture sells faster.

  8. B. Folk

    Yes, it is beautiful wood. But, its only wood, not a person. Looking forward to seeing the reveal!

    I agree with Teresa’s comment about many people currently wanting painted furniture . Even when they are told that it could be painted, and given advice on how to go about that, many don’t want to/ are unable to do the work, so a painted piece goes out the door more often than an unpainted piece.

    Had six-month winters where I used to live in California. Loved the sunny, cold, snowy days, but definitely couldn’t do furniture refinishing/painting much of the year! It’s frustrating, but makes one enjoy the (relatively) warm weather all the more.

  9. Deborah Raney

    Can’t wait to see how these pieces turn out! I often get grief when I choose to paint a wood piece…even if it’s cheap wood in bad condition. I understand that some people just love wood. But having painted a lovely dresser early in our marriage, and then sanding it all down a few years later, successfully returning it to its original glory, I’m not nearly so nervous about painting even nice wood. Like you said, it really isn’t permanent. In fact, I’m probably going to be doing a paint treatment on that same piece again soon! 🙂

    • Marian Parsons


  10. Julie

    Can’t wait to see the finished products! Love the table’s legs too!! (whistle whistle) 🙂 I, too, am looking forward to you bringing back Friday Furniture Makeovers…one of my favorites! Thanks Marian! 🙂

    • Marian Parsons

      I know! Those legs are what got me. I’m definitely a leg person when it comes to furniture!

  11. Robin W

    Little tear. How about a wash instead of paint. Such pretty grain. That’s what I truly deeply love about the Mustard Seed paint – as a paint wash. So silly simple. That Farmhouse White – love love love it as a wash!

  12. Patty

    Oh this is what I have been waiting for!
    I am a recent blog follower and the furniture work is my favorite part of what you do.
    Can’t wait for the reveals!

    • Marian Parsons

      Thanks, Patty!

  13. Monique

    I have a grandfather clock I want to to..I love this tutorial..and the “shoving it’s face”

    • Marian Parsons

      Ha! I was laughing when I wrote that!

  14. SUSAN

    Yay furniture!!!

  15. Lynn in DG

    Just some unsolicited advice! I am a PT but, just like everyone can, suffered a severe bout of low back pain/“sciatic” pain last year. I received great PT and obviously was able to help myself but the absolute best method I have found to stay pain free is I have ZERO affiliation with them and only did the free videos off their site and YouTube for months. I am a member on their site now for streaming videos. I can’t see any instructors in your area but there are some awesome ones in Minne.
    Your library may have the books which are so so. The techniques are simple to incorporate every day and you will seriously WANT to do them to feel good which is the perfect feedback loop!
    Your occupation and mom job require a solid spine so I wish you well no matter how you choose to address it! Be well!

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, thanks! I’ll check that out!

  16. Jeanna

    Marian – How do you maneuver around details in or on wood furniture without damaging it? Your piece has raised edged between the drawers I notice. My dressing table has lined grooves carved in and details in the spindly legs. I’m concerned I will chip off that beautiful detailing when sanding. Is this where I have to sand by hand?

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I just sand those places by hand.

  17. Addie

    Quartered sawed wood!!!!!! …..sorry…..cannot justify that. Ouch!!!

    • Marian Parsons

      Ha, I know! It’ll still be there, though. 🙂

    • Kimberly

      Oh, gosh, me either! It’s so beautiful as-is! I love the new milk paint color, it’s totally in my preferred range of shades, but I am so sad to see it go on that beautiful dresser!

  18. Anne

    Add me to the “yeah furniture”. My favourite blog topic.

  19. Gail

    I have the same vintage dresser with the oranate mirror harp. It came with many layers of awful colored old paint. I worked on it=stripping and refinishing for a full summer and it is my bathroom vanity with vessel sink. I couldn’t paint this the wood was too pretty. I love it !!!

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, this is a perfect piece for a vanity! I bet that’s beautiful!

  20. Anonymous

    It’s funny/interesting how everyone has different tastes! Although some pieces I would choose to leave wood, I personally don’t care for that wood grain at all…it’s too harsh for my taste! I would paint it in a heartbeat! Can’t wait to see the final product 🙂

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, to each his/her own! I love wood, but I like painted pieces, too. 🙂

  21. LIZ

    Way too beautiful to paint. Just say’in.

  22. D.

    Yup, come to think of it, I was missing the furniture makeovers. Those table legs really intrigue me. Some furniture maker made indents/grooves above, and then reversed them to protrude lower on the legs. If you could fold up the legs they look like they would fit together. There’s something in that which actually reminds me of certain classical music treatments (or perhaps I’m just way too overtired!).

  23. Sue

    My heart started beating a little faster when I saw “furniture makeovers.” Nobody does them like you and boy, have I missed them. As far as the dresser, you are enjoying the creative process of painting it and someone in the future may enjoy the creative process of taking that paint off and discovering the beautiful wood pattern beneath. It’s all good 😀

  24. Kathy

    YEA!!!! I’ve been hungering for furniture!!!!

  25. Mickey

    Oh no, quarter sawn oak painted… I get you need to apologize… I love this type of wood. I am sure it will look beautiful but oh no… oh no… oh no… 😉

  26. MaryLisa Noyes

    Looking forward to seeing the dresser painted. I don’t think you need to apologize for painting any piece! So many of those wood pieces go astray if it weren’t for breathing a new look to them. Let the painting begin on both pieces!,

  27. mary

    Hi Marian – just saw your stories about not losing weight this week and didn’t know where to comment so I’m doing it here. What struck me was how wonderful you look, skin, hair, glowing. So there’s that : )

    But wanted to add that I had good results by limiting my eating window – not obsessing over food, counting calories, etc, just eating well kinda like you are, but delaying my breakfast as long as I could in the morning, so for me that’s between 10-11ish, and then stop eating at 6pm. Go to bed hungry. It was very effective, a form of intermittent fasting (there are other ways to do it but this was simple for me – an 8 hour window). I got great results, about 2 pounds a week and felt great. Your body rests at night and feasts on the fat! : ) Just an idea. Good luck!

    (also had to cut out caffeine so that wasn’t controlling the start to my morning, as the first thing I did upon getting up was to start brewing and that would trigger wanting to eat 😉

  28. Robin Leach

    Marion, I have been off my keto diet for 1 1/2 years. After losing 50 pounds, I’ve put 15 back on, and they are coming back FAST. Restarting has been difficult, but I’ll keep trying. Maybe we should check in on the Facebook page occasionally! I’m rooting for us!

  29. FIL

    Some natural wood pieces are more amenable to painting than others. My DIL is a very talented lady and I am sure she has put a lot of thought into this. So, go for it, M. You have my support whichever way you choose to go.

  30. Diane

    ahh that is sad…the grain is beautiful..what about if you were lime it rather than cover it with paint…just an idea?

  31. Rose

    I totally get not wanting a shiny finish peeking through where the paint chips, but if you sand it everywhere doesn’t that prevent the milk paint from chipping? Or do you use a resist to get chipping when you need to sand?
    Love the new color! Can’t wait to see the finished dresser.

  32. Kerry


    I see that you removed the little keyhole pieces. Are they attached with little tacks/nails and, if so how did the go back on okay?

    I’m in the process of painting an old armoire and the hardware has been my biggest obstacle (including the door hinges). Just take it all off?

    Absolutely love Aviary and kno just the piece I want to use it on. That dresser is beautiful!!

  33. Birchi

    Very Nice, Good Post on home decorative items cleaning specially craft sofa set and other carved wooden furniture items which are are in huge demand as these are man made and solid wood structure. People really impressed how to make over bedroom. This post is simply executed to understand everything to cleaning furniture items myself . Thanks for writing such a good Article writing on this Topic. Really impressed with your ways of article writing with this depth. Furniture specially carved wooden furniture is first need for an interior decoration and home decoration. For home decoration it is always in demand and people enjoy the items with style.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


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…


Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!

decorating, projects, and recipes for winter


Articles by Date


our sponsors

Bliss and Tell Branding Company