explore creativity, save $$$! Upcycle your nursery


Upcycling, saving money and exploring creativity can all come together for young parents when planning furniture for a baby or child’s room. There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on new bedroom furniture when vintage pieces can be bought and updated for a fraction of the cost.  Here are the advantages to buying a vintage dresser:  it will be made out of wood and will likely have been manufactured in Canada; there will be no off-gassing of manufacturing chemicals because of its age; you can transform it with low VOC paint and get the colour and look that you want.


What to look for when choosing vintage


  •  You want it to be wood with smooth running drawers. A bit of sticking is okay because you can use candle wax to make it glide better but really sticky drawers need work.


  • Ideally, the drawers should have dovetailed construction or tongue-in-groove. Avoid anything that is stapled or has warped bottoms.  This is a dovetailed drawer


  • Avoid dressers that have a mildewed or smokey smell, as these are very difficult to get rid of.


  • If you are planning to use the dresser as a change table, choose one that is at least 36”tall.


  • Avoid really old dressers that have many coats of paint on them as the paint is probably lead based and if you have to do any sanding, it is dangerous to inhale. Plus, dressers that have been  painted many times often have drips and bumps which you don’t need to deal with.



The fun part- painting

 Painting a dresser has never been easier now that you can buy Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan or one of the similar paints that are available.  Chalk paint is a water-based, extremely flat paint that has no VOC’s and is a breeze to apply.  You don’t need to sand or strip the surface because the paint will adhere to any thing.  It comes in wonderful colours and because it is water-based, you can easily mix paints to make your own custom colour.


How to use it

Clean the dresser with a light soap and water wash.  Don’t use cleansers as they will leave a residue.  If there is peeling paint or if the surface is very shiny, give it a light sanding .  You may want to tape the sides of the drawers so that you don’t get paint on them.  Stir your paint well and apply your first coat.  Don’t worry about streaks.  You will find that the paint dries really quickly and that you can paint a second coat within an hour.  Before you paint the second coat, add a bit of water to your paint by putting some of the paint and some water in a container.

It will go on more easily. Apply your second coat and if you are really picky about brush strokes, you may do subsequent coats. After the paint has dried,  you will need to seal it with Annie Sloan clear wax or with a water-based poly.  This whole process will take you no more than a few hours and you will have a beautiful new piece.  The other bonus to chalk paint is that it has no smell and can be used indoors at any time of the year.  The wax has slight solvent smell which dissipates quickly.




Here are some examples of chalk painted dressers that were painted for baby’s rooms:





If you are interested in learning more about chalk paint, visit Malenka Originals in Ottawa.

They are very helpful, will give you lots of tips and you can even take a class if you want to feel more confident.

The paint and wax are safe for you and your child.

Author Resources

UWF Textiles




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go Back