Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Project Nursery | A Before And Almost After | The Story of a Dresser Re-Invented

I'm sorry for being rather MIA of late. The truth is, I'm 3 weeks and 2 days away from my due date and my to-do list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter! This whole having a baby right after Christmas business makes for a lot of to-doing to get done. It's a magical combination of the typical pre-Christmas to-do list and the typical pre-baby to-do list, with a heaping dollop of renovating two bedrooms in our "spare time" as the icing on top! A recipe for an ever-growing list of things to get done, to be sure.

The good news is, things are getting done. I feel like we will make it by the skin of our teeth, but I'm hopeful that most everything on my to-do list will in fact be accomplished before this little man makes his grand entrance. The truth is, once he's here the things that are left undone will be undone for awhile, and my guess is we won't care one bit because we'll be so enrapt with our charming and insanely snuggly bundle of joy.

All that to say, we are working hard at getting this boy's nursery finished before the big day! Noah is in his room and it is really coming together...I promise to share that with you soon! Just a few more things on that to-do list left before we're ready for a ta-da.

In the meantime, here's our most recently accomplished project for the nursery. In the interest of saving some dollars for his college fund, we took on a little DIY for the babe's dresser/change table and I thought I'd share our progress with you today.

I found this mid-century modern office cabinet on Kijiji for $120. I had been searching for quite awhile for a piece that could function as both dresser and change table. His room is not particularly large, and I wanted something that felt warm yet clean and contemporary. While this piece wasn't perfect in its original state, I immediately saw its potential and knew I could transform it into something much more fabulous.

Here's what I liked about it:

  • For $120 I got solid wood drawers. Amazing!
  • I love the 8 drawer configuration for organizing clothes and even storing extra diapers. This will be great when he's little for all those tiny sleepers and onesies, but it will also grow with him. Think neatly organized sock and underwear drawers - a mama's organizational dream!
  • The dimensions are perfect for the room, and at 44" wide it provides a generous surface for a growing, wriggly baby boy to have his bum changed about a thousand times per day. At 34" high without the change table topper and change pad, it will give me a work surface that will finish at about 36" high. That is exactly the same as a back-friendly kitchen counter height. The height of your change table is such an important consideration, mamas! Don't make yourself bend over more than you have to, especially for things like diaper changes, because you'll be doing a lot of it! Save your back and smile more often! {Our new motto.}

What I didn't like about it:

  • Those original steel legs remind me of an IKEA cabinet - too sterile.
  • The original melamine top is just plain unusual and definitely ugly -  a remnant detail highlighting that this was once a piece of office furniture. Given that the sides are exposed wood, it really lacks a visual sense of flow and continuity. The melamine is also chipped and worn and simply has to go.
  • The handles feel too commercial to me. They'll do in a pinch, but they're not what I envision.

So with that list of make-over musts, here's what we've done with it so far!

It's a subtle change on the one hand, but it takes this piece much more in the direction I'm aiming for! Graham used 1" slabs of inexpensive MDF to create a waterfall surround {with mitred corners, of course}. I primed and then painted out the MDF panels in Sherwin Williams Creamy 7012 {a warm white that is softer and not as bright as this photo implies}. We then removed the drawers so we could attach the freshly painted panels to the original cabinet from the inside of the wood frame. This created a very stable base that then allowed us to remove the original legs. We then finished the new waterfall surround with another coat of paint and voila! A new lease on life for this solidly built and practical little 1960's office clerk. It's like we got her out of her penny loafers and bought her a great pair of heels, don't you think?

So what's left for this little makeover? Graham is going to build a change table topper for me similar to this:

{Image Source}

Every good outfit needs great accessories to finish it off, so I'm also planning to change out the hardware. {Yes, that means it's still on my to-do list.} I have a rather fresh idea that I'm hoping I can implement, and if that fails I'll be sourcing some pre-made in-stock handles over the holidays.

I just got word that the swivel glider chair will ship from CR Laine this Friday, so I'm pretty giddy about that! Can't wait to see this handsome Sunbrella fabric on that gorgeous chair. It will be just as pretty as it is practical.

In the meantime, we still have panel moulding to install and the rest of the walls to paint out in the Sherwin Williams Creamy 7012 to create our calm and soothing envelope for the room. And then a used crib to paint, picture rails to install, artwork and drapery panels to install...not to mention the last of my to-do list for Christmas and finishing Noah's room. Oh yes, and then there's this small matter of a baby to deliver!

In the midst of all the seemingly growing lists and demands and the ever-present pressure of the holiday rush, I keep reminding myself of this:

{Image via Shauna Niequist}

What really matters is not the to-do list, but the people I do life with. And in honour of them, I'm working hard to trim down the list to carve out time to just be together. No agenda. No tasks to get done. Just time savouring the amazing gifts we have in each other.

I hope you're able to do the same, and that this last week or so before Christmas is one that paves the way to a meaningful and happy holiday for you and your loved ones.



  1. LOVE this makeover, Sarah! We're picking up our dresser/change table from Craigslist today - looking forward to finally getting the nursery set up for our little guy! 3 1/2 weeks to go...

    1. Thanks, Lesley! Looking forward to seeing what you do for your sweet little nursery as well. 3 weeks and counting!!! Oh. My. Goodness.


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