How to Transform A Family Heirloom

A MMS Red Tricycle Painted Dresser by Front Porch Mercantile

Ok. Maybe “heirloom” is not a great choice of words, but “a piece of furniture you love that was handed down” seemed wordy.

Do you have a piece of furniture that is special to you but is tucked away in the basement?

As we were planning pieces for our cottage renovation, I remembered we had a small dresser in the basement that my husband’s uncle had made. I was excited to use this family piece. It has been handed down and at one point was in my daughter’s room but, it needed some re loving so it ended up in the basement. 

A family piece re loved with mmsmp Front Porch Mercantile


It was dark and had many layers of poly and other different coating. I’m not even sure what was on this piece. It was crackled and dark and glossy. I knew I wanted it red for the master bedroom and I knew Tricycle Red would be the colour.

Yes, I am aware that I have been posting a lot of red pieces lately. I can’t help it, the look suits our Nova Scotia cottage, I think I have a problem though and I was hesitant to post any more red painted things, but I’ve had people ask for more cottage updates, so what’s a girl to do?

I took the drawers off and the vintage glass mismatched knobs.

I was happy to discover the back board of the dresser had some cool writing on it (back in the day they used what ever wood was around – kinda like I do now ha ha) this piece had been made with crates marked from my husbands home town of Glovertown NL. I always love finding little quirks like this on older pieces, this find made us all smile, I love that it has a Newfoundland connection in our Nova Scotia home.

It’s hard to see, but its there on the inside back board.

old NL Signage found behind the dresser

I gave the piece a quick scuff sand (total scuff sanding time was 3 mins – for reals) just to give it a little toothe and to loosen up any dirt. I then cleaned it really well. On this piece I used Dawn dishsoap and then I wiped it with mineral spirits as I knew it had lots of pledge and other waxes on it.

Once it was all cleaned I mixed up a batch of Miss Mustard Seed’s Tricycle and added bonding agent to it.

Here’s the “during” excuse the mess, on this particular day, I was painting the dresser, a wooden whale, a lobster sign and a mirror oh and I was working on the plank wall behind you! (how to post to follow soon)

Paint all the things red - at Front Porch Mercantile

2 coats on the dresser then a heavy sand to distress on the edges and a light sand smooth it out and it looked beautiful.

I top coated it with our Miss Mustard Seed’s 100% Pure Hemp Oil to protect the paint and added new matching glass knobs.

Red MMS Tricycle Painted dresser Front Porch Mercantile


I think she looks so pretty and fits perfectly in this little alcove in our room. The photo above the dresser was taken by Mr FPM and is of fishermen gathering moss one quiet foggy morning just in front of our cottage. I love this photo and find it so serene. (we have prints for sale if you are interested, just email me)

MMS Red Painted Dresser

Again, sorry about all the red posts, I’ve been painting a lot of red here at the cottage and for pieces we have in the shop in Lunenburg. Can’t help it. I kinda love it.

Milk Painted Red Tricycle Dresser at Front Porch Mercantile

I love how this family heirloom piece came out. Do you have any family pieces you just can’t part with? What colour would you paint them?

Red MMS Tricycle Painted dresser Front Porch Mercantile

Thanks as always for popping in, I have a few more cottage post with some before/afters I will be posting. Thank you all for all the great emails and questions about the cottage. We are rented almost right up to December (I totally can’t believe it). There are still a few weeks left (link to the cottage rental is at the bottom of this post) Leave me a comment, would love to know if you have any family pieces you would re-love!



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  1. Wendy Jamieson says:

    Good morning, Wendy. I love the little bureau and the whole process, you shared, of refinishing it.
    I have a couple questions. After paining with the MMSMP do you always sand before using hemp or wax? Where do you purchase your knobs? I love them.

    I’m going to Hobby Lobby to pick a few things up and am hoping they have lots in stock.

    See you on the 16th for the FAT workshop.


    • Hi Wendy, yes, always sand a quick finishing sand before doing any topcoat. I sell knobs, so I use ones I have in stock! Looking forward to seeing you on the 16th!

  2. The color looks amazing on your dresser. MMS Tricycle is a beautiful shade of red. Great jog! Visiting from the Finding Silver Pennies link up. Susan

  3. Wendy, this is beautiful! I love your bold color choice. We’d love to have you link up your furniture makeovers to Friday’s Furniture Fix! Doors open every Thursday night at 9PM EST and close on Monday’s at 11:59PM EST. Take Care!… Carrie