Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nursery Furniture

About two months ago I had a nervous realization that our baby was due in the not too distant future.  While I’d thought about the nursery quite a bit, I hadn’t yet started putting anything together.  I knew that before I could put together the nursery, all of my sewing and craft stuff would have to be relocated, and I was not looking forward to doing that.  Finally I bit the bullet and dove in headfirst.  My goal was not just to move all of the random stuff I’ve collected to another room in the house, but rather to make it work better for me in the next few months, and also to make it a breeze when it’s time to pack up and move this summer.  I spent 12 hours one Saturday tearing apart the study (which we use as a backup pantry and store other random things), our front hall closet (which I’d been dumping stuff in for a year and a half and slamming the door shut to keep stuff from falling out), and the sewing room.  I also had to move around furniture (and by that I mean I sweetly asked Dylan and another friend to move it all, because it’s time I took advantage of being awkwardly seven months pregnant).

Our nursery has been put together with furniture more cheaply than I could have hoped for.  Last summer I saw a dresser I liked the shape of at our local Salvation Army, but held back on buying it because it cost so much (ha! try $15).  But without Dylan’s approval, I didn’t want to buy it.  I told him about it and he went by after work.  Somehow it was still there!  Decent furniture at this Salvation Army usually sells really quickly, so we were surprised.  He liked it, bought it, and we picked it up the next day.  We actually found a stamp inside a drawer telling us that it was made by a company that usually sells dressers of this size for over $1000!

Other than giving the dresser a loving home, I didn’t put it to much use for awhile.  Finally, when I had oil-based primer out when Amy and I tackled the study, I gave it a coat as well, because I knew I’d be painting it.  We love wood finishes, but this one was a bit too rough around the edges for that, especially with the way the drawers were put together.  I was NOT going to sand that down!  After priming it, we stashed it in our guest room for 6 months and covered it with some fabric (to hide the fact that it was only primed).  I wasn’t sure at the time what color I wanted to paint it, so instead of putting in time and effort to paint it only to change my mind later, I hid it until we needed it.

When I realized that I needed to get my rear in gear on the nursery, I had Dylan and a friend carry  it back downstairs to the garage so I could paint it.  I had decided to spray paint it a glossy white, the same as the crib.  This part actually took a lot longer than I’d hoped.  In the end I wished that I hadn’t primed it with a brush, because it left so many stroke marks I had to sand it down and prime it with a spray oil-based primer.  After that, I gave it about four coats of spray paint, let it cure for several days, then we (of course I mean Dylan and a friend) carried it back upstairs to the nursery.  Here's the finished product:

Now on to the crib...We like us a good deal, and I’d say this crib definitely qualifies as one.  Where did we get it?  A dumpster.  Yep, that’s right.  We saw it in a dumpster, and checked it out.  It was a Jenny Lind style, solid wood frame, without water damage from being outside, in overall good shape.  We quickly stashed it in the car and gave it a new home.

While the cost so far was $0, this crib cost us in labor.  We had to sand down each side, as the polyurethane was chipping off (maybe from age, possibly from being outside).  This would have been a piece of cake if it was a different style, but with all of the curves this one had, it was no quick task.  Thankfully Dylan helped out with the sanding, and a few episodes of Parks and Recreation later, we had it ready to be wiped down and painted.

I used Rustoleum spray primer and the same white spray paint as I’d used on the dresser.  I’m not going to lie…it took a lot of paint.  Each spindle had to be hit from 3-4 four different directions to get it fully covered, and the whole crib needed several coats.  But since the crib was free, we felt like this was worth it.  I'm looking classy in the picture below, eh?

We did have to make a couple of trips to the hardware store to figure out how to attach the front part of the crib.  Needless to say, dumpster cribs do not come with hardware.  In the end we used four L-brackets, for a total of 8 bolts attaching the front to the sides, instead of the only 4 that had been previously used.  It’s not going anywhere.  I spray painted over the hardware to make it blend in.

At this point, the crib was done, except for the fact that we didn’t have a mattress support frame.  I’d kept my eyes open at thrift stores and Craigslist ever since we found the crib in December, but hadn’t seen a single thing.  So I looked it up online and was prepared to make my own from 2x2s and 1x3 slats when I got home from school one day.  On a whim I stopped by the Salvation Army on my way home.  After two months of no cribs, they had two!  One of them was broken, so they weren’t going to be able to sell it, which means that I got the steel mattress support for only $2!

The third main piece of furniture in the nursery is a side table.  This I just made this past weekend (yep, 38 weeks pregnant...).  As I was cleaning up the house, I noticed a couple of drawers we'd removed from our kitchen three years ago in the renovations.  I hate seeing perfectly good things just sitting around going to waste, so immediately my mind went to how I could use them.  As the nursery has taken shape I've been really happy with it, but it needed a side table.  Not wanting to spend money on one (and not seeing one around town that I liked anyway), I decided to build one.

I modeled it after Ana White's Simple Nightstand (I made two of these as my first building projects two years ago), but adjusted it to have two drawers instead of one.  The side table I made ended up the same height, but had a much larger base, which I like.  I used scrap materials on this side table.  The only items I had Dylan buy were two 8-foot 1x2 furring strips (cheaper than pine 1x2s, found in the lumberyard at Home Depot), for a grand total of $.85 each.  Other than those, I used 1x3s, 3/4-in plywood, and beadboard leftover from re-facing our kitchen cabinets, all of which we had on hand.  I spent about 5 hours on Saturday coming up with the adjusted measurements and building the side table.  On Sunday I filled the holes and cracks with wood filler, then on Monday after sanding everything smooth, I spray primed and painted it outside with the same paint I used on the dresser and crib.

I certainly was not the perfectionist on this project that I've been on every other building project, but it's not anything people would notice.  Just things I usually wouldn't be able to let slide.  Tuesday Dylan carried the side table up to the nursery, and I was able to finish putting everything together in there.

The other pieces of furniture in the nursery are a twin bed (left in our house from Dylan's former roommate) and an awesome rocking chair I bought in Costa Rica when I studied abroad there in college.  It's not actually in the nursery yet, because it's Dylan's favorite chair to play video games, but he knows that as soon as the baby gets here, it'll be moved.  I've always planned to use it in a nursery someday, and now I actually am!

I plan on writing a post soon about the sewing projects I undertook for this nursery, and I'll include some finished nursery pictures!

Cost breakdown of nursery furniture:
  • Dresser                              $15
  • Crib                                   Free
  • Crib Hardware                  $5
  • Mattress support                $2
  • Side table supplies             $2
  • Spray primer and paint      $50
  • Labor                                 Free
Total Cost:                                 $74

*NOTE: I realize a pregnant woman spray painting causes many people to cringe (and probably judge).  Just be assured that the garage door was opened so that the fumes could escape and my husband bought me a special mask that I wore when painting.  I felt like Darth Vader the whole time, but it’s worth it so that my baby girl doesn’t have two heads!