Upgrading a $20 dresser for my sister’s nursery!

Over the weekend, I finished up and delivered a special DIY project I’ve been working on: a dresser and mirror for my sister’s baby nursery!

I’ve thrifted and upgraded dressers to use as changing tables in the nurseries for both my kids and also my brother’s daughter, so when my sister announced she was pregnant and asked me to do the same for her child, I of course said yes! My aunt actually spotted this dresser for sale in a local Goodwill and sent me a picture. It had nicks, scratches, patches of missing veneer, very gooey sticker residue on one side, and a wobbly leg – it was perfect. It was discounted down to $20 and just begging for new life!

The first thing I needed to do was clean up the roughest parts to get it ready for paint. I worked hard using a combination of Goo Gone, a multitool with a flat blade, and a lot of scraping to remove the sticker residue on one side. I used an orbital sander to smooth out most of the nicks and dings on the dresser top, sides, and drawer fronts. I also took a piece of 80 grit sandpaper and sanded the little detailed edge around the drawers and other areas that the sander couldn’t reach.

I turned the dresser on its side and used a wrench to tighten up the bolt underneath supporting the wobbly back leg, and then turned my focus to the side of the dresser with chipped off veneer.

Kwik Wood is a product I learned to use when I worked on an old dresser for my brother and sister-in-law. You just mold the putty to soften it up, press it onto the space where veneer is missing, and let it harden. It looks terrible at first, but that’s okay!

Once it’s hardened, it’s totally sandable and paintable. So I sanded it down super smooth with the orbital sander and then was able to paint it just like the rest of the dresser!

Using a brush for the detailed sections and a foam roller for the sides, top, and drawer fronts, I applied one coat of primer and two coats of paint (I chose Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog in Satin). Then it was time for the hardware.

My sister’s style is a unique combination of artistic, eclectic, and boho so leather drawer pulls felt like the perfect touch for this midcentury dresser. I bought a set of these leather drawer pulls and they were just right for the project.

One of the best purchases I’ve made for myself with regards to DIYing things is this cabinet knob/pull template. It is SO HELPFUL to use when you need to drill holes for hardware, whether on doors or drawers and is well worth the $10 investment. Once I determined the amount of curve I wanted the leather pulls to have, I used the template to mark out exactly where to drill holes to fasten them in place and it allowed me to keep everything perfectly lined up from drawer front to drawer front. It gave me the confidence to drill into the drawer front, which is good because there’s really no room for error – one hole being off will throw off the look of the whole dresser.

Justin and I also made a mirror to go with the dresser (a tutorial will be coming soon!) and we surprised my sister by driving them out to her and setting everything up with the help of her husband while she was out of the house. It was so fun to see her reaction when she came home!

The color of the dresser is only a couple shades darker than the nursery walls (Austere Gray at 75% saturation), which gives a cool monochromatic feel to the space. Jenni plans to incorporate a lot of color through bedding, artwork, and other decor so it feels right for this dresser to be a more subtle feature of the room.

Jenni wanted to be able to use the dresser as a changing table as well so we set it up with a changing pad and cute little basket with diapers and wipes. She plans to add diaper cream, lotion, and anything else she might need to be able to access easily during a diaper change to the basket as well.

Even her cat, Simba, approves of the space! Although we’ll see how he feels once his little brother or sister arrives and takes the spotlight. Ha!

Total Cost of Dresser Upgrade:

Dresser: $20

Quart of Paint: $22.45

Drawer Handles: $20.32

Total: $62.77

Note: I already had all the tools needed, as well as primer, brushes, rollers, sandpaper, cabinet template, and Kwik Wood, which definitely kept the cost of this particular project down.

Overall I’m so happy with how this turned out, and my sister is thrilled with it too. It’s such an honor to help her prepare for this next stage of her life and use my skills and interests to gift her a dresser/changing table. I can’t wait to see my niece or nephew get to use it in just a few months!

3 thoughts on “Upgrading a $20 dresser for my sister’s nursery!”

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