Antique Pie Safe Milk Paint Patina Restoration

This is a sponsored post as part of the Tide Oxi Blogger Challenge by P&G. #TideThat #BrightIdeas All opinions are 100% my own.

The Ghosts of Furniture PastTM

Epic Fail for Me! I have to admit a mistake. I purchased this beautiful antique pie safe several years ago in Georgia. I was thrilled with it, but was not so savvy in paint chemistry or antique value at the time. It was obtained circa 1986 during my yellow and blue French country decor days. This is a long story of woe, rehabilitation and transformation with some amazing images and how-tos. It is another chapter in my Ghosts of Furniture Past career.


I did the unthinkable – I stripped it. HORRORS!!!

I attacked the stripping process vigorously. I could not get all that paint off. It seemed as though it had become one with the wood…and it had. Some prophetic voice of reason in my head stopped me short of stripping one door. I went to the library; yes, this was before the Internet. I read about old paint and concluded that I had committed a terrible lapse in judgment  – I had stripped the pie safe of its original aqua milk paint finish. You can see the result below. Lesson learned – milk paint, done well, does not strip! YIKES!!! So it sat, untouched yet useful for some 28 years in this forlorn state. You can still see remnants of the beautiful milk paint below and the one surviving door.


Antiques Roadshow should have a photo of me in its Hall of Shame. Fast forward to 2014. I have embraced aqua and feel a sense of remorse {insert SHAME} every time I walk past this piece. In addition, I walk past it several times each day. That makes me one sad girl.


However, at Haven Conference this year, I entered the Bright Ideas booth (#BrightIdeas) and learned about the new Tide Oxi Multi Purpose Stain Remover:

  • Bring the cleaning power of Tide to your entire house. From the hallway to the driveway, almost no household stain is safe from the virtually limitless cleaning potential of Tide OXI Multi-Purpose Stain Remover.
  • Tide OXI‘s cleaning power can be used in carpet stain removal, bathroom and kitchen clean up, and as a tough fabric stain remover on living room furniture such as couches. You can get more ideas from Jonathan Scott of the HGTV show, Property Brothers here:

They said they were having a Tide Oxi Blogger Challenge #TideThat. A light bulb idea came to me. I could recreate/rejuvenate/restore the aqua milk paint finish on my pie safe. I joyously entered my idea and serendipity took charge. It was time – I was chosen as one of 50 bloggers to participate. Happy girl is dancing with glee…

 The Recreation of My Pie Safe


I went through a multitude of paint chips to find the color. It was not really green, it was not really blue. It had undulations of paint hues. It was not quite flat paint either. What was a girl to do? I finally took the door that I had not stripped to the paint center to have it matched by that very useful computer/scanner device. It came back with greenish tint, so I asked them to add a little more blue. Home again I did several sample boards to work out the technique. I decided to use three colors for the recreation. I could do this. I am a master decorative painter after all. So began the journey to recreation.

Tide Oxi Stain Remover at The Home Depot


The Home Depot here on my island didn’t stock the Tide Oxi. I looked online and found that it was at the Lem Turner location, so off we went Sunday morning after church. Well, it turned out that this location didn’t stock it either. Nor could they find it on their computer. HIMself was not himself in a bad way. So a delightful employee named René calmly, with great patience called other Jacksonville stores and found that the Southside location had seven on the shelves. She gave me directions the store and off we went. Road Trip.

As you can see in the above collage, I found the Tide Oxi Stain Remover. Giving a huge shout out to René who hung with me and dealt with a less-than-amused HIMself. Kudos René! :)

First, I/we scrubbed all the surfaces of the pie safe with the Tide Oxi Multi Purpose Stain Remover. I found that I didn’t need to scrub. I used a cloth on some areas. The Tide Oxi worked beautifully. It removed years of stains that we have added to the wood over the years. I allowed it to dry overnight.

OOPS!! The Air Return was Gross


As usually happens when you set out to fix one problem around your home, another one suddenly appears. And, just as we moved the pie safe away from the wall, we found…da, da, da, dum…a scarily grungy air return. {insert shame and Martha imposed guilt here} The dirt did not come off when we vacuumed. YUK! So I mixed a batch of Tide Oxi Stain Remover according to directions and set HIMself to work on it with scrub brush. I lightly sanded the pie safe and supervised his work. It worked beautifully! I bet this has not been this clean in years. It truly is a multi-purpose cleaner. Plus, I am sure we are breathing better tonight!!! :)


I loaded my palette with care. I would be attempting to match the 120+ year-old patina of the one surviving door over the entire piece. To make it work, I would need to be very thoughtful about where and how the paint is placed. I took my usual position n the floor and loaded a brush…

pie-safe-palette REP-painting-pie-safe

I used artist’s brushes to paint from a three-color palette – the greenish flat latex paint I had color matched to the door, a Golden Paints Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) and Phthalo Blue (Green Shade). Here we go…

The Transformation

Carefully I began with a portion of the pie safe that was the least visible – inside the door I stripped. I would work out the color and the strokes here. I flowed the paint on, dabbed other colors on and wiped it back here and there. It looked so close that neither my son nor HIMself could tell which was the newly painted one and which was the original. Scheeeeewwww. I was feeling empowered now. The two images below show the original door with the new patina finish on sections of the pie safe. Can you tell?

pie-safe-first-pass-compare pie-safe-upper-right-corner-first-step

I hit my stride and painted through the afternoon. It was therapeutic for me. I have taken a few steps toward recapturing my old life and career as a master decorative painter. I love to paint – murals, walls, furniture. I stepped away from teaching and painting in 2008. I had a rekindling of that dormant, restless painting spirit in Atlanta (at Haven) when I attended a Modern Masters painting session. I found tears rolling down my cheeks as I remembered all those years of training from French and Italian masters. The years I devoted to the art and craft of decorative painting. The students I have taught. It all came rolling back. This project is validation for me. I belong to this fun furniture-painting world! And I am pretty good at it! :)


Above are the finished pieces. However, the left door was a little light when I held them together. It bothered me. I needed to add some darkness around the door to emulate the years of hands that have opened the doors. I pulled out the shading gray airbrush paint. I wiped it on a few strategic areas…et voila! Can you tell which door is original?





Please let me know in the comments what you would like to learn from me next – as far as painting. I encourage you to try Tide Oxi Multi-Purpose Stain Remover. I am thrilled to be part of the blogger challenge. #TideThat

P.S. Tide Oxi cleans brushes too!! With more than 225 uses, the sky is the limit! What will you clean with it?

Tide-oxi-cleans-paint-brushes #TideThat

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  1. says

    Your timing is perfect! We just painted our living room & couldn’t get the brushes clean. Since they are $10 each at least, I was hoping they weren’t going to be single-use items. I’ve got to try that!

  2. says

    Wow! You did an amazing job, and I can’t tell which one was the original! That Tide Oxi sure does clean well – can’t believe the vent difference.

  3. says

    That is absolutely gorgeous! I love this look. I have used chalk paint to redo pieces before, but have never used milk paint. Will have to give it a shot.

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