This month, our team is celebrating Independence Day and feeling especially patriotic, something reflected in our newest project. We’ve transformed a lackluster chest into an eye-catching piece of furniture that would look fantastic in almost any room in your home.

How did we do it? It was surprisingly easy, thanks to a can of Betsy Ross Red milk paint and a few of our experts’ tips.

Creating a New Look with Milk Paint

Milk paint is a stellar choice for reimagining household furniture for many reasons:

  • It adheres to many surfaces including unsealed brick, drywall, raw wood, plaster, and concrete
  • You don’t need primer, even if you’re painting raw wood or other porous surfaces
  • You only need one extra step (mixing in a bit of Ultra Bond) to use milk paint on top of latex
  • It’s ready to go—just add water!
  • It’s easy to use
  • Milk paint is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and safe for use around kids and pets
  • It dries fast and has virtually no odor

Basically, if you’re interested in a high-impact project that won’t cause a mess, stink up your house, or endanger the Earth or your family, milk paint is a no-brainer.

The color we used for this project is called Betsy Ross Red. We carry milk paint in a bevy of shades including several reds; this version carries plum undertones that add warmth and a touch of nostalgia thanks to the unmistakable link to the red strips on the United States flag.

Once we made sure the chest was free of contamination (no wax, grease, or oils, please), we mixed up the milk paint and applied it to the entire chest.

How to Make the Details Pop

Even with such a bright color in play, using one hue across an entire piece of furniture can cause some of the detail to fade. To prevent your finished project from looking flat, take an extra step and emphasize the curves and embellishments that give your piece character.

For our July project, we used Ebony Soft Wax to add a bit of patina and depth. This dark-hued combination of bee’s and carnauba wax dries hard but retains a matte sheen that results in the intriguing contrast you see around the top and feet of the chest.

Finishing It All Off

Once we’d applied paint and then sealed the piece with finishing cream, we rubbed the top of the chest—going in the direction of the grain only—using 0000 steel wool. The abrasive material helped smooth out the finishing cream even more than usual, then we buffed in some Soft Wax – Clear for a semi-gloss look. This slightly shiny finish is why you can see the reflections of our decorative objects in the top of the chest, and it’s the perfect way to add a touch of elegance to this DIY design.

Finally, we reaffixed the hardware and this once bland and unappealing piece was born again into something beautiful and celebratory (in more ways than one).