Trying Out Milk Paint For The First Time- Upcycling A China Hutch Into Food Pantry

I love upcycling furniture. If you have ever been to my house you will notice that more than half the items have been chalk painted and refurbished.

There is a new trend my husband introduced me to called milk paint. Milk paint is a non-toxic water-based paint. It can be made from milk and lime, with color added. I had never heard about it until recently, however milk paint has been used for thousands of years. It’s similar to chalk paint but leaves a sheer finish. I think it looks great on top of dark wood. It is also organic, unlike chalk paint which is inorganic. You can buy milk paint online or at Menards. It comes in powder or can.

I’m going to take you through the 10 steps I took to refurbish our china cabinet, creating a beautiful food storage area. We have a small kitchen and a lot of kitchen supplies. I was trying to troubleshoot how I could make a larger pantry for all my dry goods. In the living room next to the kitchen, we had a china cabinet that was my husband’s grandmothers. It’s not practical for our family because we don’t have a lot of china and it takes up space. Instead of selling it, I decided I would turn it into a vintage-looking food storage hutch, with glass jars. I spent a year collecting glass jars with the help of my mother-in-law. Most of the jars came from thrift stores, some I found on a clearance deal at Costco, and the small jars came from the dollar store.


Step 1: Buy Supplies

First I bought all the suppliers I needed.

Here is my list:

I got 2 beautiful teal leather knobs off of Etsy and 2 gold teal leather pulls also on Etsy

2 gold pulls on Amazon

1 can milk paint from Menards in the shade Eclipse

1 can water-based polyurethane

3 wood shelves from Menards

Fake wood contact paper on Amazon 2 rolls

Wood repair filler

4 vintage Edison bulbs

Lable Maker

12 brackets Menard

Many Many glass jars


Step 2: Remove Unwanted Glass and Handles

This type of china hutch uses glass shelves and glass windows. We didn’t like all the glass, it makes it hard to get to things you need and it isn’t sturdy. I carefully removed all glass and panels. I may have broken some in the process lol. I wore gloves and eye protection.


Step 3: Prep Work

I filled in the holes from where I removed the hardware. Since I bought different hardware the new knobs and pulls didn’t fit into the old holes. I also wiped and cleaned all the surfaces. Because we have carpet I laid down construction paper along the bottom.



Step 4: Milk Paint

I started with one coat of milk paint but my husband and I agreed it didn’t look right, so I did a second coat. I think this really is a personal preference depending on how much of the old wood you want showing through.


Step 5: Contact Paper

I cover up the mirror on the backsplash with fake wood contact paper. This part was terrible. Contact paper is way cheaper than putting in real wood panels but it sure is a pain. My husband and I did this together. It’s difficult to prevent bubbling and getting it on evenly. I poked some of the bubbles with a sewing needle to flatten them out. It wasn’t perfect but you can’t tell unless you are an inch away. Besides, the glass jars cover imperfections anyway. Good Luck lol!!


Step 6: Top Coat

Milk paint is not supposed to require a top coat but I found this to no be true, especially with little kids and pets. Without the top coat, it has more of a matte finish. I tried going without the polyurethane but within a day my dogs and toddler had already smudged and scratch the paint.


Step 7: Add Shelving and New Brackets

My husband found shelves the same color as the milk paint, he cut them to the right length. I had to paint the ends where he cut them. They are very sturdy and inexpensive. He also bought heavy dutch brackets that held the shelves better. The old brackets were made of plastic.


Step 8: New Hardware and Vintage Bulbs

We drilled new holes and put in the knobs and pulls. My husband bought vintage bulbs because I prefer the yellow mood tones they give.



Step 9: Organize and Label Glass Jars

I put all my dry goods into jars and labeled them all with a label maker. This is tedious. for a week we had jars sitting on our kitchen table while I was finishing the project. My daughter enjoyed sifting through everything looking for goodies.

Here you can see I have a ton of jars
We also reused old alcohol bottled to store beans, rice, hemp hearts, and chia seeds.
Our label maker makes fun designs


Step 10: Relish in a job well done!!