As Annie likes to say, “Happiness is priceless and paint is cheap.” So we’re all for experimenting with a little color, especially when it comes to milk paint, that lean, green, nontoxic and biodegradable brushstroke of genius that yields some pretty extraordinary looks.
Rumor has it (though it’s hard to sustantiate) that this type of coloring dates back to cave paintings of the Neolithic period, which were reportedly made with a mixture of milk, lime, and earth-based pigments like iron oxide. Even King Tut’s tomb coughed up some amazing artifacts, including figurines and furniture, painted with milk paint. Though the formula has been modified over time, the basic recipe remains the same: milk protein, lime, clay, and pigments (such as ochre and lampblack). Because milk paint doesn’t contain hydrocarbons, petroleum derivatives, mercury, lead, mildewcides, solvents (like the dreaded VOCs), or other additives, it’s about as safe as you can get . . . and it doesn’t stink up the joint, save for a mild milky odor when still wet.
We love the ease of applying milk paint—in many cases, you don’t even have to sand or strip the surface—as well as the range of colors you can custom mix, and its ruggedly durable finish. Best of all, it’s simple to create the stunning vintage-inspired looks you see here with just a couple packages of milk paint pigment, warm water, a brush, and a bit of furniture wax.
Take a few minutes to ogle these beauties, courtesy of Lifehacker, Design*Sponge, This Old House, and Miss Mustard Seed, then head over to our favorite milk paint manufacturer, the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company to pick out your colors. For the lowdown on how to get these looks, check out this primer and these excellent video tutorials from the milk-paint maven herself, Miss Mustard Seed. Just don’t blame us if you get hooked.