I love making things for my home and it’s the same with the nursery. There are so many expensive items on the market that it’s easy to believe you need to spend a fortune to create the perfect baby room. In true Kirstie Allsopp style, I want to do things a little differently and give the room my own personal stamp with upcycled, handmade and vintage items.
Getting ahead of myself has given me the opportunity to find second hand furniture and turn it in to something unique for Pea.
Chest of drawers to changing table
I don’t think we’re going to bother with a wardrobe at this stage but I do want to create plenty of storage space. We started to look at changing tables and realised that many are too low for our taller stature, and based on reports from friends, not everyone ends up using them. A chest of drawers the right height for a changing mat, with plenty of storage for clothes, nappy changing items and bedding, seemed to be the perfect solution. All I needed was to find one at a reasonable price.
After searching Preloved and Ebay I found this 5 drawer chest being sold locally. With a bit of negotiation I managed to secure it for £60, a price comparable with similar items and not too expensive that I would be put off painting it.
I already had an image in my mind of what the finished item should look like. Nothing overly baby or childified as I wanted to create a piece of furniture that will last, and can be moved in to other rooms if our need for it changes.
I painted the drawers in Rustoleum Chalk White, chalk paint, which is perfect for upcycling as it creates a lovely matt finish and you don’t need to prime the wood. All that’s needed is a wash down with sugar soap and you’re ready to go.
After painting, I coated the drawers with Rustoleum Furniture Finishing Wax, which gives a soft sheen and helps to protect the paint. It’s bound to pick up a few knocks and scrapes over time, but that’s part of the charm.
Wanting to add a little bit of personality, I decided to line the drawers with wallpaper. The green, grey and white striped pattern had caught my eye in the John Lewis sale, where it was being sold for a fiver. My new top tip if you are in to upcycling is to keep an eye out for wallpaper sales. Furniture projects are unlikely to use as much as 1 roll, which means you can often grab end of line, posh paper at bargain prices.
I hadn’t accounted for how much time it would take to paper the drawers. The process required lots of measuring, cutting and lining up of the pattern. In some ways it seemed excessive for something that will hardly be seen, given that the drawers are closed most of the time and will soon be full of baby items. But, they look so fresh and beautiful that, for me, it was worth it.
I just needed drawer handles for the finishing touch. I spent a while searching for handles with a jungle theme and managed to find some cute painted designs online. In the end I decided that it would be better to choose neutral handles that coordinated with the changing mat. I have been following These Please on Twitter for some time now and they regularly share photos of their beautiful ceramic door / drawer handles, which are available in a wide range of colours and patterns. The grey and white ones tied everything together.
It may seem a little premature to choose a changing mat before we make any big purchases, but we both loved the design and colours of the Jungle Friends changing mat in Toys R Us. We spotted it when we popped in to start scoping out prams and cots and justified the early purchase by the need to style the changing table properly in the ‘after’ photos.
I used the same techniques to transform a small chest of drawers that I rescued from the local tip last year. It was perched on top of the wood recycling area and I could see at a glance that it was in perfect condition. I was taking it home and finding a use for it later!
Giving both pieces of furniture the same treatment has tied them together so, whilst they are not identical, they look at home in the nursery.
Yes, the cost of materials should be factored in to the overall price of the furniture when you embark on an upcycling project, but I have ended up with two bespoke pieces for less than the cost of most changing stations, and I know that no-one else has the same.
I am incorporating several more handmade and upcycled items in to the nursery design and plan to post about each project as I finish it. I’ll share the full ‘nursery reveal’ when it all comes together.
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