Reviving That Old Furniture to Make a Perfect Accent for Baby’s Room

This makeover can help you save on decorating dollars while getting ready for a new baby.

By Imani Francies


A baby was an unexpected joy for me and my partner, but we took on this journey head first and saved money along the way! I repainted an older dresser and nightstand to coordinate with the nursery’s colors, saving significantly on decorating costs. Here are five steps to tackling that painting project before your new addition arrives.


1. What You Will Need

  • Wood cleaner
  • Tack cloth
  • Medium (80 grit) sanding wedge
  • Primer
  • Latex paint (any color of your choice)
  • Paintbrush (I used a roller paintbrush
  • Water-based polyurethane protectant




2. Preparing the Wood

This step will include minimal work if your wood furniture is in decent condition, but if not, the sanding wedge will be your best friend.




Prior to sanding, you will need to use your favorite wood cleaner to remove any dust or grit from the surface of your furniture. Once that is completed, you may begin sanding the furniture.


Sanding the furniture all the way to its raw wood is not necessary. All that’s needed is roughly 10 minutes rubbing the wood and scuffing away any chipped areas with a sanding wedge.


After you finish sanding, wipe off all debris with a tack cloth. The goal is to remove every loose particle, to ensure a smooth dry-coat after painting.


3. To Prime or Not?

When painting wood furniture, the answer is always yes, if you want a smooth finish that will last a long time without chipping or fading. If you don’t care about peeling and chipped paint or prefer a distressed finished look, then priming is a step that you can skip completely.


During this project, the primer I used is Zinsser, the spray-bottle version. I prefer to use the spray version because it goes on faster and dries within 30 minutes, but I’m sure the brush-on version works well too. (If choosing to use the spray can, work outdoors or in a well-ventilated room.)




When applying the primer, ensure the top surface has a thicker coat because this surface is likely to see the most activity. After the primer has dried, sanding away any clump of paint or lines will give a smooth finish. It’s smart to wipe off the debris with a tack cloth after sanding as well.


4. Time to Apply the Paint

Only apply the paint if the primer has dried completely and after it has been sanded! Once these steps are done, you may start applying your first coat (always give it two to three coats of paint). Use your preferred paintbrush or roller and apply each coat evenly. Once you’ve finished the coat, allow it to dry for three to six hours.




When dry, sand the coat again, smoothing out the surface. Lastly, wipe the furniture with a tack cloth after sanding the applied coat. Repeat this step until you’ve applied two to three coats of paint.


5. Protecting Your Handiwork

Your furniture piece has been painted, sanded, and wiped down for the last time, and now it’s time to apply a protectant coat. A water-based polyurethane protectant is best when painting wood, so I used the spray-can version of the Miniwax brand.




Again, I’m sure the brush-on version works well too. I just prefer the spray on because it speeds up the work.  Before I applied the Miniwax evenly onto my furniture, I waited 12 hours for my last coat of paint to dry. Waiting longer ensures the best finish.


6. Finishing Touches

When the protectant dries, you may move the furniture into your home and to its designated area. If using new drawer knobs, you can purchase them from any home-appliance store. In my case, I saved time because I purchased new knobs that fit right into the holes from the older knobs.




The best tip to make this project a success in your own household is to be patient. The quality of the finished project depends upon making sure that the paint or primer is completely dry before moving onto the next step.


Since you want this furniture done before baby arrives, save yourself some time by starting with older furniture that doesn’t require too much sanding and repair.


Also, don’t worry about painting inside of the furniture. This can cause the drawers to stick when being opened and closed.


Other tips are choosing a higher quality paint- or roller brush and wearing a mask if using the spray-can versions.


To get other free inspiration for your baby's room or any home upgrades, take a peek at House Tipster's 3D Virtual Rooms! You can click away until your entire home is transformed into an ideal family setting. 


Images used with permission, courtesy of Imani Francies and

Next: The Easy Way to Give Furniture a Distressed Look