comparing topcoats: then & now

The most pinned and visited post here is one I wrote a couple of years ago about my preference in furniture topcoats.  There has been consistent conversation on that post.  I’d like to continue that conversation over here with a 2014 update.

While the products I was using then are certainly fine products, tastes & trends change and new choices become available.  Let’s check in and compare what I was using in 2012 vs. what I’m using in 2014 and why…

2012 #1 Minwax Paste Finishing Wax – I was using paste wax primarily over stripped and stained surfaces.

hemp oil

Current #1 Hemp Oil – This is my current go-to topcoat for stained surfaces and raw wood.  Basically it can be applied to revive and treat any porous surface including flat paint leaving a rich finish.  Hemp oil is 100% natural, no VOCs and food safe.  I even use hemp oil on my cutting boards and cast iron pots.  It has no harsh odor so I use it indoors.  Hemp oil has a multitude of other DIY uses but we’re just talking about topcoats today so I will limit it to that.  Hemp oil can be applied with a cloth or brush.  I typically use a brush.  I love the addition of oil to my repertoire.

drop leaf table with hemp oil finish on raw wood and paint

2012 #2 Johnson Paste Wax – I always liked the finish this wax provided over painted surfaces but the chemical odor is just so strong that I never use it anymore.

furniture wax

Current #2 Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Wax – When I want a wax finish over painted furniture, I always go for this one regardless of the brand of paint.  It is made of beeswax and therefore has no odor.  It is incredibly easy to apply and leaves a nice even finish.  I apply with a wax brush.  MMS furniture wax dries very quickly, in about 5 minutes, and lightly buffs out with a lint free cotton rag.

mustard seed yellow milk paint nightstand with furniture wax

2012 #3 & #4 Annie Sloan Clear & Dark Wax – These waxes are nice and thick which is why I liked them back then.  At the time I was using a lot of chalk paint so it complemented well.  A thick wax over a full body paint made sense to me then.  However, there has been a lot of conversation around the clear wax leaving a haze and fingerprints while the dark wax was mostly just too dark and hard to work with on its own.  The dark wax is very pigmented because it is meant to be more of a stain from what I understand.  I have experienced both of those issues and pushed through until…

antiquing wax

2014 #3 & #4 Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing & White Wax – No surprise here but I’ve fully converted to all MMS waxes.  The antiquing wax creates such a subtle warm patina with no fear of being too dark as referenced before. The pigment is easy to spread.

lucketts green over trophy milk paint with antiquing wax #mmsmp

On the other hand, white wax creates a washed out look to the painted finish that I’ve been raving about this summer.  The white wax also has a very light scent that is pleasant and not chemically at all.

Mustard Seed Yellow + White Wax #mmsmp

I use brushes to apply these waxes as it helps gets the pigmentation to settle into the paint creating an aged look.  I reserve one wax brush exclusively for each color wax for easier clean up.  It is fun to use both antiquing and white wax on one piece to create depth and the illusion of years of wear.  I like to think of it as highlighting and low-lighting.

white wax

In 2012, I also indicated that I was using a buffer and still receive many questions about my buffer today.  Well, I can’t remember the last time I used it!  I power buffed because all of the waxes I was using were thick and it was the best way to get an even, shiny finish.  My current choice in waxes are much lighter.  When needed, a cotton rag and elbow grease buffs them out in minutes.  Although the beeswax is thinner, it gives a very solid, durable finish when cured.

Of course, this is just my opinion and perhaps, no surprise.  I wouldn’t sell a line of products that I don’t truly love.  There are many, many new topcoat choices on the market including a range of tinted waxes and ones with low or no VOCs.  It is important to find what suits your style best.  Please share in the comments what your go-to products for topcoats are.  I’d love to hear what you’ve discovered!

a beachy combo

I had a wonderful afternoon yesterday meeting with some of our customers at The West End Garage who are interested in painting their old cast offs. We talked milk paint and also heard from our new neighbor at the garage, Eastcote Lane, who carries Maison Blanche furniture paint.  Oh the possibilities!

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4022

It is funny how chatting with creative minds about individual projects can get me excited about milk paint all over again.  As a result, I ended up painting until 11 pm last night!  Those pieces are still in progress but today I am sharing this Eulalie’s Sky side table that is in the shop now.  You may have caught a glimpse of it on facebook or instagram.  I managed to snap a few staged pictures before bringing it in yesterday.

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4040

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4035

This one just screams beach house to me.  The beachy, summer feel is all in the white wax details.  I like to let it collect in the corners and around the legs to give it a bleached-out, sun-faded look.

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4034

Would you believe the top was leather?  Well, it still is leather with the addition of milk paint.  Sorry, no before picture.  I am slacking in that department for sure.  Anyway, the leather absorbed the milk paint like a champ and even has some very subtle crackling that is hard to see in the photos.  I took a cue from Miss Mustard Seed and added a decorative design around the circular inset.

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4029

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4030

I’m sure you noticed that Cape May pillow too, right?  It is the most comfy, down pillow ever.  The cover is machine washable and handmade – both sewn and screen printed. It makes a great hostess gift if you’re crashing at your friend’s beach house.  Or a gift for yourself!  But they are going fast at The West End Garage…

eulalies sky + white wax table #mmsmp-4036

If you’d like to join us to talk paint at another free demonstration, just check on the demo tab here for future dates.  This information can always be found in the drop down menu below ‘milk paint’ at the top of this site.  I will be in PA next weekend to demonstrate for those on the other side of the bridge.

Happy painting!

a collected summer mantel

Memorial Day unofficially marks the beginning of summer but for me, it seems to be Independence Day.  Once the 4th of July hits, we’re all fully aware of the season; the rising temperatures and the long, lingering days followed by breezy evenings.  And it’s right around the corner!

We’ve kept things casual in the seasonal decorating department lately.  Just a rotating collection of vintage and handmade favorites on the mantel.  For summer we have a fish painting on a barn door that was gifted to us along with a handmade swan sculpture, a wedding gift.  Surrounding the art are our own handmade baluster candlesticks plus an endless collection of vintage lanterns.  The yellow planter is borrowed from my McCoy collection which is dispersed throughout the house.

vintage summer mantel

The mantel itself is not original to the house but the art deco piece seems to fit proportionally.  We popped a mirror inside.  This was actually a happy accident as it is doing a great job of bouncing light into this otherwise dark corner.  Over the winter, we painted the wall that it is on.  The previous blue accent wall had to go.  The neutral backdrop is much more conducive to a rotating cast of collections.

And that chair!  Still our favorite rehab to this day.  I’m so glad we decided to keep it.  It was a full gut job, shopped from the curb and saved from the landfill!

vintage collection summer mantel

I’m having a moment with these vintage arrows as well.  So bright, fun & cheerful.  They coordinate well with the Crate & Barrel recycled rag rug in the room too.

vintage collection arrows

That’s where things stand in my current vintage collections.  Seemingly high between lanterns, McCoy and arrows, among other things like aqua mixing bowls and ship captains, not pictured.  What are you collecting this summer?

DIY laundry detergent

We’ve taken DIY to a new level over here. It was only a matter of time really. DIY rooms, paint jobs and furniture were our gateway. Then there was lighting. And we dabbled in sewing – not necessarily a strong suit, for those keeping track.

Then it happened in the kitchen. I began making things from scratch such as soups, juice and bread. Which got us thinking about all of the processed food and drinks we used to eat and how that directly correlates to our health and just generally feeling good. We’ve cut out as much processed food as possible.

That mindset begged us to ask what was in our detergents and certain cleaning supplies that we come in close contact with.  As a result, our DIY laundry detergent was born…

DIY Laundry Detergent Recipe

After much research we settled on 3 simple ingredients…

  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 bar fels naptha soap

DIY Laundry Detergent-3992

The fels naptha must be grated.  Don’t let that deter you if you are interested in making your own laundry detergent.  It really only takes about 3 minutes to grate a bar of soap.  If you’ve grated cheese before, you can do this!

DIY Laundry Detergent-3986

After that, all that is left is measuring 1 cup of the other 2 ingredients.

DIY Laundry Detergent-3988

Combine it all in a jar or canister.  You’ll just need a tablespoon of the detergent for each load of laundry; 2 tablespoons for extra dirty loads.    This detergent smells so truly fresh and clean too – not a manufactured scent.  It also doesn’t suds up making it a good candidate for high-efficiency washers that call for low suds detergents.

DIY Laundry Detergent Recipe

Did I mention that this detergent is dirt cheap to make?  Get it?  Dirt cheap!  I couldn’t resist.  But it really is inexpensive.  Do you make any of your own cleaning supplies?

 

the fate of the mohair chairs

A few weeks ago I shuffled the chairs around the dining table leaving my beloved vintage ones homeless. Or at least table-less.  But only temporarily. They’ve been displaced to my new favorite seating area in the house – what shall now be known as the living room.  Along with an old cage-turned-coffee-table, that we’ve had for years, in a similar green hue.

Ward Bennett chairs, vintage nautical living room

We’ve been working on carving out different areas in our great room to make it most functional.  Using furniture as a divider, or floating it, seems to be working with our current layout.  (But that doesn’t mean I won’t rearrange again soon.)

diving spaces, nautical living

I’m happy with how the space under the bay window has evolved.  This cozy little sitting area is saturated in deep colors from the walnut & mohair Ward Bennett chairs to the over-dyed blue and orange kilim rug.  The space can handle all of the dark, dramatic color thanks to all of the natural light that pours in.

walnut & mohair Ward Bennett chairs

The “living room” is conveniently adjacent to the bar where we store glassware & mix cocktails

eclectic living room

modern bar in a vintage world

…beside the captain.  The count is getting pretty high on sea captains around here.  This is Gorton.

ship captain oil painting

So that is the fate of the chairs.  I know you were worried about them.  They are indeed one of my favorite vintage finds ever.

vintage walnut & mohair Ward Bennett

What is your best vintage find ever?

P.S. For more inspiration on what to do with your vintage finds, check out the recently updated (and always evolving) Home tab which features our vintage home style.

 

 

 

a whole lot of legs

I picked up this drop leaf table while in Brimfield. I have a growing drop leaf table collection. It is an addiction really. I don’t know what it is about them. Their versatility. The timeworn tops. Not sure. But I’ve never met one I don’t like.

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Well that’s not totally true. When the tops are impeccable and shiny, I don’t usually like them. I like a worn stained finish and of course a chippy worn paint job to match on the legs.

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And that’s the exact treatment this table got.

mmsmp resist layers-3637

Oh the power of milk paint and the chippy goodness it can create.

mmsmp resist layers-3635

The first coat on the legs is Trophy.

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The second coat is Grain Sack.

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I followed a similar suit on the ladder back chairs which I previewed here before.

mmsmp resist layers-3639

This chair features Apron Strings & a custom mix of French Enamel and Linen…I think.

mmsmp resist layers-3640

The options are endless when it comes to milk paint.  But to get this layered look you need to create a resist between colors and coats.  This can be achieved a number of ways including applying the wax puck or hemp oil as a resist.

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See, milk paint naturally wants to absorb into the surface unless, of course, there is a previous finish there for it to resist.  That’s where it gets interesting.

mmsmp resist layers-3641

All three pieces are available individually at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.

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