Baby Furniture on a Budget: DIY Dresser

We all know how important it is to make sure that your baby’s room is a sanctuary for sleep (Link and and link) but you and I both know that it’s almost equally as important to make sure that your baby’s room is cute!
It is possible to spend a small fortune on decorating and furnishing the nursery and, unfortunately, the arrival a new baby doesn’t mean that money starts growing on trees. In fact, it means that you begin to ask yourself if the trees are taking your money. Because of this reality, it may be time to DIY some of the decor in the nursery.
Now, before you slap your laptop closed or toss your phone angrily onto the couch cushion beside you, give me a chance to explain.I’ve got a simple recipe for rehabbing some furniture that will save you tons of money and still have you admiring the pieces years later. I promise. And this is truly a weekend project.

Ombre Dresser DIY

Step 1. Finding the right piece of furniture

When I was pregnant with my son, I knew the kind of furniture I wanted for his room, and I also knew I had no thousand dollars to buy it. A friend of mine was getting rid of a dresser that her own children had outgrown. The furniture was made of solid wood and the finish was worn a little bit, but, as they like to say, it had good bones.

When you are looking for the right piece of furniture, keep a few things in mind:

  • Make sure the wood is… actually wood. Furniture from places like IKEA typically aren’t solid wood and can’t be sanded down and refinished.
  • Be sure that any scratches are superficial and don’t go beyond the existing finish.
  • If the furniture is stained, and you want to restain it, make sure that you are willing to sand it all the way down to the layer of wood that is free of stain – otherwise the color can be uneven. (For this reason, I always play it safe and always use paint when refinishing furniture.)
  • Don’t worry about hating on the hardware. For about $50, you can replace all the knobs or handles (just head over to your favorite big box hardware store) and you’ll be well on your way to making over you new beauty.

My friend not only had a dresser to offload, but she also had a cute little nightstand as well, which was perfect for the room.
Step 2. Planning and prepping
So, the thing I hate most about painting, well, anything, is the preparation. It’s tedious, but it is really key to ending up with a piece of furniture you are happy to display. Following a few basic steps will make sure you have a great foundation.

  • Remove all hardware and doors. Hang on (no pun intended) to one of each of the knobs or handles so that you know the right size when you swap them out. Things like the diameter of the screw and the length of handles can vary, and I find it easiest to just bring it with me to the hardware store to find the right fit.
  • Choose a well-ventilated space, like a garage with open doors.
  • Purchase a face mask to prevent the particles you’ll be sanding off from getting into your lungs.
  • Sand (ugh, sanding) the entire piece of furniture and remove the laquer finish. If you are painting it, you don’t have to worry about sanding down the stain as well. I used a palm sander and it worked well.
  • Once sanding is complete, take a damp rag and wipe down the furniture making sure to remove all dust, and then let it air dry for about 30 minutes.

*** If you are pregnant while taking on this project, be sure to check with your doctor about any products you will be using so that you make sure they are safe for you and baby to be exposed to.
Step 3. Choosing Your Paint
Now, to the fun part!
In the case of my son’s room, I was really inspired by a set of photos of a dock and some beautiful blue ocean water. I decided that this was my chance to have that beach-themed room I’d always wanted but never could find an excuse to pull off.
I headed over to my local paint store. Btw, I suggest going to a paint store like Sherwin-Williams or Benjamin Moore instead of going to a big box store to buy the paint. I’ve found the people that work in a paint store to be really knowledgeable and incredibly helpful with finding the right paint for the project.
I told the lovely woman working at the store that I wanted to paint the base of the furniture white and the drawers and doors a color that reminded me of the beautiful beaches I had time to enjoy in my 20s.
Okay, I didn’t really say that, but I was thinking it. Anyway, I told her I was torn between a few colors and she recommended I choose all of them and go with an ombre effect.
And this is when she filled me in on a great money-saving tip: Paint stores don’t charge you for the color, they charge you for the paint.
So I was able to buy one pint of paint for the faces of the drawers, put a couple coats of the lightest color on, and then return for her to add the next colors to bring us to the next level in the color family without spending any extra money. It meant a couple more trips to the store, but the end product is something I simply adore.
I chose a low VOC (most paints are now low VOC) high gloss latex paint that included the primer and was designed for trim and doors. This type of paint is pretty durable, doesn’t chips easily, and can be wiped down – all great things for a piece of furniture in child’s room.
And I invested in some high quality paint brushes. The quality of the brush really does make a difference in how easily and smoothly the paint goes on.
STEP 4. Finally Painting! Yay!
I actually enjoy painting and find it to be somewhat calming, so I enjoyed this part.

  • I applied one coat of the white paint, and then put on one coat of the lightest of the blue. I let it dry as instructed on can of paint. I also put a fan in garage to keep the air moving and speed up the drying a bit.
  • Then I put a second coat of the white paint on the base of the furniture. And a second coat on the lightest drawer, and the same with the third coat.
  • At this point I took a break for the day and let the paint dry overnight.
  • The next day I saved a small amount of the lightest drawer color in a separate container in case I needed a little touch up, before I headed over to the paint store and kicked up the paint to the next color.
  • I repeated the step above on the faces of the drawers/doors of the dresser and end table until I was all done, and then I let all of them dry overnight again.
  • The next evening, I added all of the new hardware I purchased and viola!
  • Before my son was born, I added a changing cushion that I bought on Amazon for about $30 dollars so now the dresser doubles as a changing table.

STEP 5. Admire your masterpiece
Everytime I walk into my son’s room I fall in love with the furniture and the overall peaceful ocean vibe, which helps offset some of the chaos that comes with chasing a little one around the house.