…hoosier restoration project

When I was little, my parents inherited a Hoosier Cabinet. It was my great grandmother’s. This Hoosier Cabinet was talked about for years and years. My dad was going to clean it up and we were going to put it in the house. In the meantime, it sat in two parts in our garage. I remember knowing that everyone thought it was a really great piece, but due to life marching on it never made it into the house!

My Dad offered it to me a few months ago. I had to have this piece of history and feel like it’s my job to bring it back to life.

What is Hoosier Cabinet, you may ask? Good question. This is how Wikipedia Defines it:

A Hoosier cabinet (also known as a “Hoosier”) is a type of cupboard popular in the first decades of the 20th century. Named after the Hoosier Manufacturing Co. of New Castle, Indiana, they were also made by several other companies, most also located in Indiana.

It was kind of a station where one could do all the cooking from. Ours has a flour sifter, a metal countertop, cabinets and a few shelves.


It also had a million banana stickers on it that someone put there. Most of these were scraped off by the time I got a hold of it. I did find these inside the door, though.





And so the circle of furniture continues and now the Hoosier is mine. The piece that was talked about like a myth in our house now belongs in my house. It’s funny of we can map out stages of life through furniture, just like through songs that are played on the radio during certain times in our lives.

My first task is to clean the cabinet and rid it of the sticker residue.




Turns out this is harder than it sounds. I’m going to need a new tactic because my cleaners are not working. Ideally, I would like to keep the original paint, but I will do what the piece tells me I need to do.

In the meantime I will be working on the Hoosier here and there. I’ll update you as I go.

…let’s talk about paint lines, baby

I have a great illustration of the beauty of paint lines. I work with a local interior designer that is currently working with some big name clients. She found a beautiful Baker cabinet and originally thought she was going to laquer it. She then brought it to me while dropping off another dresser. The Baker had been sprayed with an undercoat to prep it. The wood brown color was completely covered and the surface was completely smooth.

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When I started painting it I found that I was not getting the joy that I usually feel from covering up a brown wood. Aside from that, I realized that my beautiful brush strokes were covering this very static primer paint adding character and life. It was transoforming the cabinet into a custom piece before my eyes. I was changing it with my own two hands. It was very personal. It was special. It was this way BECAUSE of my brush strokes!








Do you hear what I’m saying? It was the brush strokes that made this piece come to life!

I get a lot of emails from people asking how to eliminate brush strokes. A) I don’t think this is completely possible B) I would not want to eliminate brush strokes completely.

You can dull strokes by adding water to your paint. You must be careful if you add water to your paint. The color will change and lighten. This means that if you go back to do any quick touch ups and you don’t use your watered down paint and just use it from the can then you will get a different color in those spots. This means that you will have to paint your piece over again to get a consistent color. Be wary.

You can also lightly sand out some of the strokes after painting.


Either way, you will probably not get all of the paint strokes out.

I grew up watching my dad design and create custom jewelry. What set him and his father apart from the rest was that they did not cast anything. It was all hand soldered.

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This meant that every piece was maybe just a tad different because it was hand made. It was not done by a machine. There is a purity in this which I value. I think the same goes for painting furniture. The brush strokes say to me that this piece was painted by my hands and is special. It is a style choice for me, but also a way to put my stamp on a piece. Christen was here. Not Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware or Ikea. Christen.




…blue egg q&a’s

Here are your Q&A’s. Got questions? Email cbensten@blueeggbrownnest.com and I will post.

I was literally in the middle of getting ready for an event today at the place I have my little space in, and I had a flash back of an outdoor event my sister and I took part in. That memory  prompted me to ask you what is the most unusual thing you have sold at an event or in your home that you did not even think a customer would ask to purchase? I ask this because at said outdoor event a lady asked to buy the ribbon we used to decorate the outside of our tent. We were like sure why not! We didn’t even think anyone would think to want it!

Ha! I love that someone wanted to buy your ribbon! I also can have a giggle when I think about a lady at my first ever sale at Stifel & Capra. It was a really cold Fall day and I had brought along a furry hot water bottle that we fondly refer to in my house as “the bunny.” I had it sitting on my chair to the side of all my furniture and accessories. She browsed through my wares and then stopped at the bunny, picked it up, gave it a pet and flipped it over to see if there was a tag. I felt a little bad telling her it was not for sale, but it was my hot water bottle keeping me warm!

Christen, I purchased some small samples of Annie Sloan paint about 6 months ago and have yet to use them. Recently I moved and noticed when I was packing them for the move some colors had separated and seemed watery. Can they still be used?

Yes. Be sure to shake it and then test the consistency on a stir stick or plastic spoon. When I buy darker colors I find that I really have to stir to get the colors to blend.

A quick question… my wonderful hubby is planning on building me some built in wardrobes for either side of the chimney breast in our bedroom, my question is what colour? i love country grey but im thinking of old ochre and was wondering if you have used it and what you think of it? Im going to have the top panels cut out with a linen fabric behind. Any ideas would be great.

Email me a photo so I can see what you mean exactly. I have not used the Old Ochre. I always say go neutral so you won’t end up hating the color and the piece in 2 years. I consider Country Grey more neutral than Old Ochre.


Quick question- I’ve been thinking about making my own chalk paint using plaster of Paris. Have you tried this? If so what are the pros/cons?

I have not tried it and at this stage in my life I do not see myself trying it. That being said, I know many people that do mix their own furniture paint. The cons would be the time, cost and energy expended. The pros would be that it will probably be less money you end up having to spend on mass-produced paint.

I was wondering if you had any advice on how to get started, How can i get my work out there for others to see it? how can i price it? I want it to be a success and not only whats best for me but for the customers also.

I talk about this all the time and I am excited for you that you are going to embark on your business. Check out my “Building a Business” series that I post on every Tuesday. You can also do a search on my site for back posts.

I’ve been getting tons of messages regarding people wanting their  kitchen cabinets painted….my fear is I just can’t say how well the a.s. paint and wax will hold up LONGTERM in a kitchen area…any advice or tips or have u done this??

Okay. Wood cabinets are wood cabinets whether they are in your dining room or built into your kitchen. They will wear no matter where. I have professionally painted cabinets in my kitchen and paint still wears! Be sure to wax and let these areas dry. I would prefer you distress as well so that the more it wears the more natural it will look.

Thank you for writing yesterday’s post, it helps those of us trying to start our own painting business.  I do have a question for you.  What is the best way to start selling vintage chic furniture?  Is it by selling on CL, putting on FB, through a website, in a consignment shop or out of my garage?   I have pieces in a shop, working on my website, and do have a fB.  What worked best for you?

Yes and yes. Experiment and see what works best for you. If you can cast a wide net without getting stressed then do it. I have been very blessed to receive press and the greatest benefit of it is that I can work from my home and be with my kids. I also market myself through my blog and FB.

I was wondering what color your church pew in your home is? I recently purchased one and I’m not sure what color to use but I love your look. Did you use chalk paint or MMS?

The 9ft pew in my home is refinished in Annie Sloan French Linen.

Small Room Design

You’ve mentioned that you use your Canon to photograph your pieces. I, too, have a nice Canon and am wondering if you can share the settings you use? The iPhone just doesn’t do these pieces justice!

Yes, I use a Canon. If you only have an iPhone than work what you’ve got! I actually just got the iPhone 6 and the images quality is so great that sometimes I end up using it to take photos.

My question (s) is about painting. My master bath is under renovation and my double sink  vanity is stained a dark cherry color with a light coat of a clear varnish/coating.   In order to save money on my reno I’ve decided to keep the vanity and paint it. I’ve taken off all the doors and two faux drawer covers but now I’m not sure what to do next :(I’ve done a lot of research and I get conflicting advice from everyone.   I’m confused about what my next step should be. Since there is a stain and varnish on it…do I need to strip it all off first? Or do I just need to lightly sand it all off? I know I have to prime it and then paint it. I’m also confused on what type/brand of primer to use on a piece that will get everyday wear and occasional water…and what type of paint should I use?? Do I need to paint a clear varnish on it too?

Good for you! If you like the style then you should absolutely paint your cabinet to save money. You will want to sand down all surfaces so that your paint will stick. Yes, you will want to use a primer if you are using a latex paint from your hardware store. There are many brands out there. I prefer Benjamin Moore. Get the advice from your hardware store clerk on cost and performance. Be sure to get a paint that can take a lot of abuse and wipes clean. No, you do not need any kind of varnish on top of your paint.

I know you use Annie Sloan paint but unfortunately that’s not what I’m using for my first project. Have you done this before? I am getting so discouraged with my painting. I know “there is no wrong way” to chalk paint, but I tend to paint everything evenly without the wood showing through.  I want to paint pieces that look like some of yours! For example, this cupboard is gorgeous!  I have watched your You Tube tutorials and was wondering if you could do a short one demonstrating the technique you used.  I can read how you do things, but until I see someone actually doing it, I have difficulties “getting it.”  

So sorry you are getting discouraged! What kind of paint are you using? You need to give yourself time to practice and get the amount of distressing right. If you hate the end result then paint over the whole darn thing. Start off with ASCP because it is so forgiving. Then move onto milk paint. The cabinet was done with several layers of milk paint and some Chalk Paint until I got the result I wanted. I will do a tutorial on MMS Milk Paint soon.


I prefer to apply and buff out the ASCP Clear Wax with white t-shirts.  Other than constantly raiding my DH’s underwear drawer or buying new ones, do you have any recommendations?

Yes! I do! I just happened into Home Depot this week for something else and saw that they sell BAGS of RAGS! Soft lint-free ones! I had no idea and felt like DH had been keeping this from me. So, stop raiding your DH’s t-shirts and head to your hardware store.

I know you get lots of questions about your interior paint colors.  Just curious if you would share the beige exterior color of your home? My husband and I are in the process of building and there are only a million beige paint colors to choose from! 

Yes, there are a million to choose from. The exterior of our home is cedar and with cedar you need a stain. We used a Ben Moore exterior stain for cedar. The color that was used was called Summerhouse Beige.

I have a pine Broyhill Fontana armoire that I want to whitewash. Will you please give me advice on how to do this?

Sure. You want to basically add water to your paint. The amount will come down to what look you are going for. For a large armoire, you probably want to mix at least 2/3 cups of your paint and then start adding water. I’d add a 1/2 a cup at a time and then continue to test the consistency on my piece. You should make enough paint so that you can do the entire piece.

Hi Christen, love the empire dresser! I have a question: did you paint it white first – or did you use a white wax to get the white accents on this dresser?

You are so perceptive! Yes, I had painted it white and there was so much bleed through that I decided to go over it with the French Linen. I like the layered look that this creates and have used it on many pieces.


I know you have your vintage circus horse listed as “Sold”, but since it’s sitting atop this dresser I was wondering if perhaps it’s available again? I’ve been looking for it for over a year ever since I saw it on your site so I thought it was worth asking! 

Oh, it’s such a great piece. The source that I found this reproduction at is no longer selling them. This is the last one I got my hands on. I will keep checking, though.

I was wondering how to remove chalk paint from cabinets!!  Ideas please.

The only way to remove paint completely is to sand it all off. If it is real wood you can then stain if that’s what you are after.

I have a quick question – can the leather tops on those small tables be painted?  Does that require any special treatment?  

You can paint the leather as normal. Consider leaving it alone, however, as a cool look.


I decided I would finally live my passion!  But, how do I get started and make it sell?  I am very creative so I know I can do the pieces, but how much do I charge, how much do I pay for the pieces up front before I paint, how do I market myself, build a website etc?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated!  

See answer above.

I am finding it hard to paint on some of these unique antique pieces I find here in the south, but I like the painted look much better!  

I don’t recommend painting a dear, old antique piece unless you absolutely hate it! If it is a true antique then make sure you know what it is worth. Seek out vintage instead.

Quick question i am new to painting having only recently completed two pieces, but both had the same problem’s. I found areas where the paint just wouldn’t adhere to with sometimes small or large dots appearing. Also i experienced when using the old white colour that small brown stains would appear i can’t seem to cover them ?

This is called bleed-through and it happens to pieces that were built during a certain time period. They will not go away with paint. The only thing to do to cover them is use a shellac. I prefer the clear spray shellac.

I have been searching everywhere for this zebra print rug, it’s the prettiest one I’ve seen from all the research I’ve been doing since I pinned it on pinterest.


On your ASCP techniques can the pieces be cleaned with polish or is there a method?

I use polish and Endust and Clorox wipes. I cannot tip-toe around my furniture.

Would you kindly be able to share with me the name of the paint color you feature on your dining room wall; the room with the table, big clock, music note sheet frames, etc…

Do a search on my site for “Wall Colors Revealed”.

I am totally inspired by your TV hideaway and want to re-create one at our house.  I am wondering if you had any photos of the back of the picture frames and how you built that part.  

Thanks! I never see the back of the frames so they are what you see in the craft shop when you buy them. You could totally paint the backs or even glue fabric on the back.

What color did you paint the Cole Desk/Vanity?

French Linen.