How to Refinish Furniture for the Nursery

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Buying new furniture for a nursery is expensive. Older pieces are more substaintial, and can look great when you refinish the furniture.

Furniture is expensive.  Baby furniture can be inexplicably more expensive.  So when I was prepping our very first nursery, instead of buying a dresser that would be used for a few years with tiny drawers and a huge price tag, I found this solid wood dresser that will last hopefully until college off of Craigslist.

Its original stain wasn’t terrible, but I wanted all of our furniture to be white, so I undertook the endeavor of refinishing it myself.

old dresser

Opps! I started to sand the top before I got a “before” picture, but if you look at the bottom you can get the idea.

 Things you will need:

  • fine grit sandpaper
  •  paintbrushes
  •  rags (1 damp, 1 dry)
  • primer
  • paint

I spent $35 on the dresser, borrowed some paintbrushes from a neighbor, spent $15 on a quart of primer and sandpaper, and got a free quart of paint from Glidden’s yearly paint giveaway which occurs roughly around May every year.  It took about a month for the paint to arrive, but it was free! (For this piece of furniture, a quart of each primer and paint was MORE than enough.)

First, you want to sand down the furniture.  You’re not trying to kill it, although you might start freaking out after you’ve started demoing a perfectly fine piece of furniture for the sake of aesthetics.  I did.

Anyways, when you refinish wood furniture, you want to score the existing stain/paint without tearing up the wood itself, moving in a circular motion.  Use the dry rag to dust off to check on your progress.  When you are done, use the damp rag to remove any remaining dust.  Another way to remove the dust is to use your vacuum hose with the brush attachment.

sanding wood furniture


Sanding a dresser

Here you can see the sand job a little bit better.

After you’ve sanded, you want to apply a light coat of primer.  The idea here is not to make your furniture white, but just to apply a light base so the paint will go on smoothly.  I also only primed and painted the areas that would be visible..I didn’t want layer after layer of change to affect how the drawers slid.
Priming wood furniture


After priming, you’re finally ready to paint!  I used an eggshell paint not only because it was free, but because I’ve heard when its done it looks more “finished.”   For both painting and priming, make sure your brush strokes are going with the grain of the wood.

This dresser had some detailing, so I actually busted out an art kit and used little tiny brushes for the little tiny crevices.  If you find that you need more than one coat, wait at least four hours between applying new layers.  Let the furniture dry for at least overnight before you attempt to use it.

Repainted dresser

Yay! Finished!

So instead of buying a new piece of furniture that would last a couple of years for hundreds upon hundreds of dollars, I got a great dresser that should last for many years for a grand total of $50 and a couple hours of work.



Note:  Don’t sand, paint, or prime while pregnant.

10 thoughts on “How to Refinish Furniture for the Nursery

  1. Colleen

    That is great! I love that you used something that already existed and put your own stamp on it! I have always wanted to refinish something, but have never had the courage, it also seems like a lot of work!

  2. femmefrugality

    It is intimidating! Honestly, the sanding is the hardest part. And it’s not even that its hard, it’s just that its intimidating because its the longest and first part of the process. Once you get to the priming and painting it actually goes pretty quickly!

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