Nursery Furniture “Make Over”

Nursery Furniture “Make Over”

This is a step by step of my nursery furniture renovation. Outlining the basic “how to” of a simple make over for a cot that was about 15 years old, drawers that are I have had since the start of High School and a “barely used” good quality change table.

Before you start any project you need your “canvas” find your furniture however you can. It doesn’t have to match at all, none of mine did. You can scour second hand stores, but most of what I have was offered to me as soon as people found out I was pregnant. Once people decide they aren’t having any more kids they are generally more than happy to pass on what they no longer need. Your parents may have even kept your old baby furniture so go ahead and ask them about it. It might be just what you were looking for with a little elbow grease.

Secondly you need your tools. An assortment of paintbrushes, including tiny ones for the fiddly bits. Get the best quality you can afford, it makes a world of difference.

You will need sand paper for any painted surfaces and ESP (easy surface prep) for things that are not wood/paint based like laminate cot ends. ESP is very easy to use, you just slap it straight on to your surface (follow the instructions on tin) and it creates a tacky area for you to paint so the paint firstly sticks to the surface and secondly doesn’t peal off when it dries.

You also need your theme or colour scheme. Before finding out gender we discussed basic colours. We would definitely have a nice bright green either way as the main colour, but for a boy we would also have blue and for a girl pink. Then we decided yellow would also work well with both of these schemes and it would be easy to repaint the gender specific parts for future children if needed. Then We decided if it was a girl we would have an Owl theme, and Dinosaurs for a boy.

So what you see in the following pictures is our “boys” nursery, green blue and yellow dinosaur themed furnishings. You don’t need to be as complex as all that, you can paint it all a single colour, neutral or bright and chirpy, you can do whatever you want, within your skill level.

Now, down to the nitty gritty. These instructions coincide with the pictures for further information/explanation. Enjoy!



Step 1: Sanding

Take your piece outside and lightly sand over all the painted surfaces. It doesn’t have to be much, just enough so the new paint has something to grip too. Any chips, bumps or scratches should also be sanded down at this stage, again you don’t need to go over board.

cot pic 1

 Step 2: Base Coat

Everything you do here is the basis for the rest. You need to paint up to all edges. Be as careful as you can about painting evenly and making sure you don’t leave drips to dry because if you don’t sand over them they don’t even out with subsequent layers. It’s just like putting on make up Ladies, foundation is important, it sets the tone for the rest and if you bugger it up and just throw it on slap dash it’ll look like crap unless you put a LOT more work in it. Do it right from the beginning and it’ll go smoothly and look great from there.

cot pic 2

 Step 3: Additional coats and detailing.

This is were a tiny brush comes in handy. All the rounded edges, tight to get into places and just plain awkward bits are made so much easier with a little brush. I ended up using one of my face painting brushes for this, a no.2 flat brush and it works very well for getting right in there, however you still need bigger brushes to evenly paint the rest. Along with some “Bunnings” type house painting brushes I suggest a few artist brushes as well. Mostly flat brushes though, they are easier to work with in this instance.

You will find out who many coats of paint each colour needs as you go. Typically the more the better, but hey, if your a bit on the lazy side like I am don’t worry. Minimum 2 coats, for the lighter or more transparent colours go for 3. You will know if it’s not enough. If your painting a light colour over a dark one you will need more coats, or you can do a base coat of white all over to give your paint a more vibrant effect with less coats to do. Some colours “pop” better with different colours under them.

After painting the ends of the cot in blue I decided I wanted to have Dinosaurs roaming it and there are only so many flying dinosaurs so I put in a ground and horizon line section. It was a little flat so after a bit of contemplation I mixed some of the blue and green together to create a mid colour and painted in some “middle ground” mountains to give it more depth and personality. It’s actually a lot easier than you’d think to get the great effect. Remember back to primary school and learning about landscapes and depth and how you could just draw a few basic outlines for the mountains. That’s basically all you need to do. Sketch them in with a Grey led lightly and then paint them in. All flat colour at first, then with a tiny brush, I picked up the yellow and put very rough and light edging lines and blended that with the green to give them shape. I also them lightly blended the “front” mountain with the foreground. Easy!

(easier if the paint is still wet when you do it, blends better, otherwise you have to keep adding the foreground colour to blend with)

Cot Picc

Step 4: Finishing touches.

I designed some cartoon dinosaurs to put on the ends with the mountain and planned to either paint them straight on or cut out the shapes from thin ply wood and paint those, then using wall mounting Velcro have them so we could change the positions of the dinosaurs as we wanted, doubling the end of the cot as a play space as well. However! Laziness kicked in and when I was given dinosaur wall stickers I jumped at the chance to use them instead. Hooray for cutting corners!

For the rest of the Renovations I’m not going into as much detail or it will be too repetitive, I’m just going to focus on the basics and differences.

 cot pic 4


Step 1: Preparation.

I once again got lazy and just used the Esp, but sanding would be ideal as the drawers are wooden.

Before you Paint, take off the handles and store them and the screws somewhere you wont loose them or little hands (or paws) can get into them.

drawers pic 1

Step 2: Painting.

Take the drawers out to paint them separetly from the frame. Give each color 2-3 coats of paint. Should leave for at least 2 hours between coats for Acrylic paint and over night for Oils. If the weather is cold or damp, leave longer.

 drawers picc

Step 3: Finished product.

Screw the handles back in and set up in the room. You can paint the insides if you like, I didn’t bother. You can also get drawer liners in various colors and patterns, some even scented.


 drawers pic 3

Change table

Step 1: Prepration.

Again we used ESP, but sanding would be ideal, whoever this piece has a lot of fiddly bits and a lot of surfaces to work on.

change table picc

Step 2: Painting.

Again, 2-3 coats of each color and I suggest with something as fiddly as this don’t do it when your tired or as heavily pregnant as I was when I started it (the last item, can’t bend anymore, lot’s of difficult to get into places) Also do a single coat of each color before starting a second coat of any. Don’t just do all the green first, then the blue then the yellow. Work in stages of first coat, second coat and third coat or you’ll find you have to go back to do a million touch up of paint dripping or edges smudged.

 change table pic 2

Step 3: Final product.

Once it’s all painted, put it in the nursery, work out what fits where the best and set up your change table. I like the look of several small square/rectangular baskets on the shelves to keep all the bits and pieces in order. Also measure the top section before buying a change mat as they come in many different sizes depending on store and brand. Keep in mind when choosing a fabric covered mat or a plastic one whether or not you can take the cover off to wash regularly or if you would prefer a plastic covered one you can wipe down easily.

 change table pic 3

 The completed nursery!

nursery completednursery completed 2









  •  Something to keep in mind if your still not sure if you would like to go the second hand route, is the cost. In total, including Mattress and bedding have spent about $350-400 all up. This covers paint, brushes, preparation materials, everything. To buy what we wanted new would have cost upwards of $1,500 so think about the savings when making your decision.
  •  Where ever you are painting make sure you line the area well. Especially inside and if your renting. We used cardboard boxes under everything to protect the carpet. If we had painted outside (not gonna happen in the middle of winter) we would have done the same. You need a flat surface to work on so can’t paint on grass and you don’t want paint stains on concrete or pavers either.
  •  If unsure what the paint is already on furniture, wipe a small section down with a Metho dipped rag. If it’s water based the paint will wipe away, if oil based it will get very shiny.
  •  Keep your brushes clean and dry. Don’t stand them on their ends, lay them flat or hang them, you cant paint well with bent bristles and the cleaner they are the better, you don’t want different colored streaks everywhere or to muddy up your paint pots. Metho will help clean water based paints, and Turps for oil based.
  •  Always Paint in a well ventilated area and only use ESP outside. If Pregnant, limit your exposure to the paint fumes and/or wear a mask if you need to.

 I hope some of you are inspired to give DIY Nursery furniture a go. Happy creating!

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Melissa is a married mum of 1 little man Elliot who arrived in our family in july 2013. She also have 2 cats, despite being a dog person.Before becoming Mummy, she worked in a 120 place long day care centre as a toddler room assistant, but being there 3 years i have worked with ages 3 months to 8 years.As well as that she's an arty farty do-it-yourself kind of Mum who loves creating new art experiences and making her own toys and crafts.

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