Hey guys! Sorry for the brief absence, I’ve got a lot brewing here that I can’t wait to talk to you about, but I just need a few more days to work on it. In the meantime, I wanted to share some info on a toy chest makeover for our son. He didn’t have a toy chest and I really like the idea of just needing one container for all of the toys (large toys like push-carts and inflatable pools excluded). So when we were at Urban Ore picking up that chair I’m reupholstering, we saw this chest for $8 and thought it was just perfect!

Toy Chest $8, Before www.thesimplelane.com

Toy Chest $8, Before www.thesimplelane.com

Since I try to be eco-conscious by not bringing any toxins into the house and by minimizing waste, here were the products that I used:

Eco-Friendly Painting Kit, www.thesimplelane.com

Eco-Friendly Painting Kit, www.thesimplelane.com

The paint is Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. Is it really made from milk? Yes! So it can go bad, and you have to make it in batches. It comes in the cute cardboard container you see, inside of which is some paper (read: compostable) filler, and a plastic pouch containing the milk paint powder. Unfortunately the plastic pouch is waste, but at least it’s not a large container of acrylic paint that I’d feel conflicted about recycling because of the chemicals in it. The Furniture Wax is also from Miss Mustard Seed and is mainly beeswax that smells lovely, with a little bit of mineral spirits to make it spreadable. The paint brush is just a boar bristle brush from any hardware store, but the round wax brush is the 1.5″ Wax Brush from Lady Butterbug (recommended by Miss Mustard Seed). That brush would work well with any wax, including all the Annie Sloan products.

What I feel is an ingenius move here is the glass vase that I use to mix the paint. Miss Mustard Seed normally uses a plastic cup, and that just doesn’t work for me. So I went to Good Will and found two lovely glass vases that were the perfect size for mixing small batches of paint. The first time I used milk paint I didn’t use a stick blender and it ended up all clumpy. So for this toy chest I got an attachment just for crafting (it’s good for soap-making too) so I don’t have to worry about paint pigments contaminating my food! So I put the mixture in the vase, blended it up, and then painted the chest. The cleanup isn’t very hard, you just have to scrape the paint off the glass, and it comes off pretty easily with our bamboo food scraper we keep in the kitchen.

Using milk paint is incredibly easy. If you’re okay with a potentially chippy look, there’s absolutely no prep work that needs to be done. I didn’t sand the chest, and didn’t even wipe off the dust. Seriously, this is a fabulously easy product. Oh, and it dries within 30-60 minutes, so you can go back and repaint really quickly. And without any VOCs (literally zero), you don’t have to worry about smelling up your work space. After 3 coats (MMS says 1-2 coats are all that is needed, but I’ve found that 3 coats work best for me, maybe I paint too thin?), I used the wax brush to apply the furniture wax. You can see below where I’ve applied the wax (the top, darker part), and where it’s just paint. Milk paint can feel a little chalky, so I like that the wax seals everything in. I also like that it gives the paint some depth, kinda like what lead paint would have looked like but without the lead.

Toy Chest Redo, Waxed Top, Unwaxed Bottom, www.thesimplelane.com

Toy Chest Redo, Waxed Top, Unwaxed Bottom, www.thesimplelane.com

I decided to leave the hinges and front latch untouched because I liked the rustic look, but since the chest was pretty old the screw holes were pretty stripped. If a toddler is going to be opening and closing this multiple times per day, I want the lid to stay attached! So how do you fix large screw holes? I’ll show you a trick I learned from my dad. All you need is some toothpicks.

Fixing Large Screw Holes, www.thesimplelane.com

Fixing Large Screw Holes

Stick the toothpick into the hole and note how deep the hole is. Break off the toothpick at the surface level and stick the measured part in the hole.

How to fix large screw holes, www.thesimplelane.com

How to fix large screw holes

If you need, you can add 2-3 toothpicks if you feel like the screws aren’t catching the wood.

How to screw into stripped holes, www.thesimplelane.com

How to screw into stripped holes

Then just add the screws. And there you have it! The screws are solid. I’m not sure why the middle hole wasn’t screwed in originally, but since I didn’t have any short wood screws, and since the lid seems solid without it, I didn’t bother adding a new screw.

For the top I was originally going to write “JUDE,” but then realized that finding a similar size chest for subsequent children might prove difficult, and what if toys end up in the wrong box? It’ll be so much easier just having one box. And if the box doesn’t close? Well, then it’s time to get rid of some. So I decided to just stencil “TOYS” on the top. I’m doing gray tones in the room, and since I didn’t have gray milk paint, I just picked up a small container of acrylic paint from the art store, along with 6″ reusable stencils. Not too much waste, and hardly any toxins! And here’s the after photo:

Toy Chest, After, www.thesimplelane.com

Toy Chest, After

Jude seems to like it too :). And you can see that his little buns are much better than before! Diaper free is, well, going. But more on that in another post.

Toy Chest, After, www.thesimplelane.com

Toy Chest, After

Have you ever used milk paint? What’s the last piece of furniture you renovated? What do you think of painting over wood?