Before and After: Nursery Furniture

Early on, when we found out we were expecting a little girl and started shopping for furniture, I found the most perfect girly wrought-iron crib.  I wanted it so badly.  Only problem?  It would be a bit of a splurge.  After lots of serious thought (and maybe some convincing), Doc allowed me to buy the crib since I promised to try to go cheap with everything else in the room.  Isn't he the best? :) Obviously the room would need more furniture than just a crib, so to "go cheap" I started shopping at antique and thrift stores for the perfect pieces to make over.  This seemed like a more affordable idea than just logging onto a furniture website and ordering multiple matching pieces of furniture.

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying in the end, I'm not sure that I really saved a ton of money.  But we all poured a lot of hard work and labor into the nursery furniture, and that's gotta count for something, right?

I started shopping for the first piece for the nursery.  I knew I needed drawers of some sort to put clothes in, but I didn't really want just a plain ol' chest of drawers.  Surely we could find something cuter than that.  After scouring craigslist and some local thrift stores to no avail, my mom and I hopped in the car one Saturday and drove to Sheffield Antiques Mall.  We'd heard they were having a sale and you know we couldn't miss that!

Thank heavens we didn't have the boys with us because we took our time and walked up and down every single aisle and touched probably every single piece of furniture there!  After lots of deliberation between three different pieces - we knocked on 'em, tapped on 'em, opened their drawers, gave 'em a good shake - we decided this would be the one.  Hooray!

It's an antique piece with drawers down one side (beneath a small mirror) and a mirrored door for hanging clothes on the other side.  It's solid wood (I don't know what kind) that had a nice stained finish on it and was in really good condition.

I grabbed the discounted price tag off of it, took it up to the register, and made that sweet piece of furniture mine!

And then we encountered our first problem: it didn't fit in the car.  Whomp, whomp.  Feeling a little sad, we slapped a sold sticker on it, kissed it goodbye, and hopped in the car to brainstorm how we would get it home.  Thankfully, a friend of mine let us borrow her truck (thank you again, Allyson!) and Doc and I were able to pick it up just a few days later.  Phew!

I don't know the official name of this kind of piece, but we call her the Wardrobe.  I loved her just as much when she was unloaded into our woodshop (sans small mirror).

Why did we unload her in the woodshop?  Cause you know she's not going in the nursery like that!  No ma'am, I had big plans for her.

Fast forward a couple weeks to another Saturday, and we found ourselves back at the local thrift store.  This time, they had a piece that I really liked and thought would probably work in the nursery too.  We did some negotiating and ended up bringing it home with us.

Once again, I have no idea what this type of piece would be called.  A sideboard, maybe?  I dunno.  From the holes drilled through the back of it, I'm guessing the previous owner had a tv sitting on top of it with all the other equipment - dvd player, etc - sitting inside those double doors.

I tested the size out with a changing pad my mom had at her house....

...and just as I had hoped, the size was perfect!  This would become our changing table.

Unfortunately for this piece of furniture, she had to go under the knife right away.  Those legs had to go!  Don't get me wrong, I love me some scrawny chicken legs (they're what my family's made of, afterall), but with those legs, she was way too tall for me to change a baby on.  Out came the hand saw and off went the legs!

And with that, we officially had two pieces of nursery furniture that were ready for their big makeovers.

First step in the makeover process was to prime them.  You know I'm a fan of skipping this step, but I have also learned the hard way that stain likes to seep through paint and I was not about to have that happen with these!  My parents helped me out by carrying all the pieces out into the yard one Saturday morning.

Actually, I should back up a step.  Everyone knows the first step isn't to just start priming.  You've got to prep the wood first.  My mom was sweet enough to do this for me during the week while I worked.  First she rubbed all the pieces down with TSP to degloss them, and then she hit them all with the hand sander.  After that, I spent a couple hours taping off the drawers, mirrors, and any part I didn't want painted since I knew I was planning on using the paint sprayer.

Ok, now we can move on to priming.

Sporting my new $3 Wal-Mart paint shirt, I was ready to get to work.  I remember feeling huge this day...  I'd love to go back to that size now!

For any worry-warts out there, I was using a VOC-free primer so baby should be ok.

Mom stepped in occasionally to give me a break.  She's awesome like that.

After almost a full day of spraying, we were able to call it day with two coats of primer on every piece.  Woo hoo!

Sadly, the primer accentuated a lot of flaws in the pieces.  Not awful flaws, really, just a lot of cracks that you couldn't really see before when it was just stained.  Not a big deal, we just had to spend a little bit of time caulking all the cracks so the pieces would look seamless.  Also, the primer made me 100% sure that I did not want to paint them white.  But if not white, then what color?

Feeling a little sassy, the color I chose was silver!  Martha Stewart's Precious Metals paint in Silver Leaf, to be exact.  Now, I've done a LOT of painting in my time, but after reading a few negative reviews, I decided to do my homework with this paint.  The last thing I wanted was funky looking nursery furniture.  If you google tips for applying this paint, you will find way more negative comments than positive (like, for instance, this article called "Marthat Stewart is a lying little b*tch").  Apparently, most people did not have a good outcome when they painted their walls with the Precious Metals paint.  Oy.

I was determined, though, so I did not let those bad reviews deter me.  Mostly what I read was that using a paint brush and roller on walls made the finish very streaky.  From my research, I couldn't find any results on how the finish looked on a piece of furniture when using a sprayer.  Guess I'd be the guinea pig.

With all the furniture pieces layed out once again, it was time to get to sprayin'.  This paint did not come in the no-VOC option, so I had to sit this round out.  I'm so thankful for a husband and parents that were willing to assist in my projects!

I won't lie, I was nervous the whole time.  The sunshine made the color look more gold-ish.  I started doubting my color choice - should I have gone with the Tin or Mirror instead??  I held my breath and hoped for the best.

With all that sunshine all morning long, we didn't expect for the bottom to drop out of the sky.  Just as Doc was nearing the end of the first coat, the rain drops started falling.  It was a mad dash to get everything inside, and we didn't have time to walk them around to the shop, so we ran them into the back storage unit where the lawn mower usually goes.  Thankfully, the lawn mower wasn't in there because my dad was mowing the front yard at the time.  No one expected rain!

Even with our hurried attempts, the rain still hit the furniture in quite a few spots.  I was devastated but as we took a closer look, we realized it was going to need a second coat of paint anyway.  Sigh...we would not be finishing this step up that day.

One major thing we learned with this paint is that, while spraying it on gives it a nice finish, you can NOT, under any circumstances, do any touch up painting with a paintbrush.  It would be very noticeable and not blend in with the finish at all.  If the paint gets knicked or anything, you've got to break out the sprayer again to touch it up.  This turned me into a very anal person when it came to people being around my unfinished furniture.  There were lots of "please don't touch that!"s coming from me.  I'm sure I was a joy to be around. :)

I can't remember who did the second coat of silver - Mom, maybe?  I've lost track at this point.  At any rate, one day we drug all the pieces back out and a second coat of Silver Leaf paint was sprayed on.

At this point, we decided to do a little bit of construction on the door of the wardrobe to make it look a little better.  On the front, there was a small panel below the mirror that seemed to be wavy from some water damage or something.  My dad cut a piece of scrap wood to cover the warped part and trimmed it out with some scrap trim.

The inside of the door had a piece of plywood stapled to the back to hold the mirror on.  The edges of this piece were in less-than-stellar condition, as you can see below.

So I decided to add something - I wasn't sure what, at first - to the back of the door to cover it up.  My first thought was to do a chalkboard but then decided that would get chalk dust all over any clothes hanging inside.  Then I thought about a corkboard, but didn't like the idea of push pins being in the nursery.  The final - and winning - idea was to put a piece of sheet metal on the inside of the door for a magnetic board.  We had the sheet metal cut at a local sheet metal place.

First, we had to add a small piece of scrap plywood to the bottom to make it flush with the piece holding the mirror on.  We just glued it to the bottom of the door.

Then we glued the piece of sheet metal down on top of those pieces.

To make it look prettier, I trimmed the sheet metal out in a small piece of decorative molding.

The pain of these added upgrades was that it meant the sprayer had to come back out.  If I just brushed the paint on the with a brush, the finish would've been much different from the rest of the piece of furniture.  I begrudgingly did the prep work to get it ready for another coat of sprayed paint.

My mom did the last bit of this touch-up the same day we painted the nursery window hardware.  As soon as it was dry enough, we (my mom, actually) added two coats of water-based polyurethane.  Finally, I could relax a little bit about people being too close to the furniture!

We weren't quite done yet, though!  There were still a few tweaks that needed to be made - mostly just some tightening of the drawers to sturdy them up and keep them sliding in and out smoothly.  I was also on the hunt for new hardware.  I didn't really know what I wanted, but knew as soon as I saw these at Anthropologie that they were the ones!

They're bubbled glass knobs in a light pink tint.

I also searched high and low for some cute contact paper to line the drawers with, and I found the perfect pattern!  This cute trellis pattern in pink with white and grey trim.  It would be perfect for the drawers and would match the nursery to a T!

I didn't order it.  Why?  Because it cost sixty-five bucks a roll.  SIXTY-FIVE DOLLARS for a roll of contact paper, and one roll wouldn't have even been enough.  Who in the world is spending sixty-five dollars on contact paper?!?!

I did end up buying some plain white contact paper for $3 a roll from Fred's, but it didn't stick to the bottom of the drawers very well.  I bet those $65 rolls would've stuck for life.  My mom suggested lining them with white fleece and it worked perfectly.  Plus, it's soft!

Ok, ok.  Enough chit-chat.  Ready for the final reveal?  First, here's the wardrobe again in its original state.

And, after hours of hardwork from everyone involved, here it is finally finished (and in the nursery, which you can get a sneak peek of in the mirrors!).

The lighting in these pictures doesn't always look the best, but the silver turned out really well.  It's not gold-ish like I originally feared.  And it has a nice even finish, thanks to using the paint sprayer.

Here's a soft fleece lined drawer.

This is the panel we added to the bottom of the door front to hide the water damage.  No more warped wood!

Inside is the magnetic board we added.

The color of the sheet metal actually blends in really well with the silver paint.

I haven't bought any cute kid-friendly magnets yet, but I had these cupcakes ones on the our fridge so I brought them in to test the magnet board out.

So that's the wardrobe!  Now let's check out the changing table.  Here it is again in its original state.

And here it is now.

Actually, here is what it really looks like because the changing pad has been added to the top.

Inside the double-doors is all the supplies necessary for changing diapers, all stored inside some cute polka-dot bins.

We ended up leaving the hole cut in the back by the previous owner, and it's already coming in handy because we can plug in our wipe warmer.  Score!

Here are side-by-side comparisons for ya.



The rest of the nursery, including the two bookshelves we built at the last minute, is coming up next.  Stay tuned!