Category Archives: Thrifting, Upcycling, Trash Picking

The Nursery: A tale of two dressers

One of the most stressful parts of creating the baby’s nursery was the dresser/changing table, or lack thereof.

You see, when we traveled to New Hampshire in October after losing my mom, we bought a beautiful mid-century dresser at our favorite vintage store. It was long and skinny and had tons of drawers, perfect for storing little baby items.

Nursery Mid-Century Solid Wood Dresser Just L

However, with three of us on the trip we didn’t have room in the wagon to bring the dresser home , so we paid for it and left it there. We decided to take a Christmas road trip/ winter getaway to the White Mountains and pick it up then.

Over the next few weeks, though, my back pain increased to the point where it was unbearable to be in the car, even for 15-20 minutes at a time. (This pain was caused by pinched nerves, which were later diagnosed as caused by my too-high amniotic fluid level.) It became apparent that I couldn’t do the 7 hour drive with Ryan, no matter how much I needed that dresser in order to finish the baby’s nursery.

I contacted several shipping companies to have the dresser moved down, but the estimates were in the $900 range, which seemed ridiculous for a single piece of furniture.

The only solution was to find another dresser for the baby’s room, and to pick up the New Hampshire one in the spring.

When my dad came to visit for Christmas, we hit up several thrift stores. We found a $90 solution at the first store we visited, and thankfully my dad convinced me to buy it. I was about to walk away, holding out for something with fewer scratches.  It looked pretty rough at the store:

Nursery Goodwill Dresser Before

Once we got the dresser home, I gave it a good cleaning with a rag, and my dad worked at rubbing some marks off of it. I tried using a scratch repair waxy pencil to fix the scratches, but it didn’t work. Then I rubbed at the scratches and chipped areas with Danish Oil. Almost as if by magic, the oil helped the scratches to blend in, making it look much less beat up and more like a well-loved vintage piece.

Nursery Goodwill Dresser After

I’m so glad he convinced me to give it a chance, though. The beat up dresser has a solid wooden frame and a good mix of small and large drawers, even if the surfaces are veneer.

Nursery Mid-Century Thrift Dresser Detail

In the end, the dresser was perfectly acceptable for a baby’s nursery, and as I filled the drawers with the tiny baby items, I realized that I was very happy with the purchase. It was a good lesson in the idea that sometimes a quick and easy 80% solution is good enough.

Nursery Goodwill Dresser Changing Table

As for the beautiful, solid dresser we bought in New Hampshire? I think that’s going into our master bedroom where it can be truly appreciated.

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A Rocker for the Nursery: Updating a vintage family piece

For the last two months I’ve been working hard on one big decorating project – the baby’s nursery.  I’m so excited to finally share the details that went into making this space.

When I was initially dreaming of the baby’s nursery, I had my heart set on a vintage Danish modern rocker in a pretty wood tone. I grew up with one in my room, and it’s still in a corner of my parents’ house. I think it’s fabulous!

Credit: ObjectofBeauty on Etsy

It turns out that many vintage collectors think so too. The rocker was designed by the Dutch designer Frank Reenskaug for Brahmin in the late 1950’s.

However, when I mentioned taking it and having new cushions made, my dad said no way!  None of us knew that he secretly sits in it and reads sometimes.  He offered to buy me an identical one on Etsy, but the price would be $1,000 – $1,500 after shipping.

Time for a new plan: shop the house!

My parents never throw anything out, and upstairs in their unused loft they had a vintage upholstered swivel rocker that my grandma bought in the 60’s. It fit Ryan’s tall frame comfortably, and while it was a total departure from the style I’d had in mind, I thought it was full of potential.

Vintage Swivel Chair Royal Blue

The chair was almost perfect as-is.  I loved the royal blue upholstery with a very subtle texture. Apparently so did my parents’ cat, who’d been secretly clawing it for years.

Vintage Swivel Chair Upholstery Scratched

I had trouble finding just the right fabric. I wanted a royal blue velvet. Royal blue like the existing chair, and velvet simply because I’ve been wanting to cover furniture in velvet for years. On a more practical note, velvet is a smooth, open weave that doesn’t trap pet hair and appears to be less attractive as a scratching post.

Looking through the hundreds of velvet fabrics at the upholstery shop, I was shocked that there were no royal blue options.  I settled for navy.

Vintage Swivel Chair Upholstery Project

The navy blue swatches all looked so dark against the bright blue chair, but I narrowed it down to three choices and called the upholsterer to order.

My two favorites, both Robert Allen velvets, had just gone out of print. It felt like the crib search all over again! I started to search online fabric suppliers, but time was running out and I felt overwhelmed by options. I settled for my third choice, a super soft navy blue from Stout Fabrics (middle swatch below).

Vintage Swivel Chair Navy Blue Velvet Fabric Swatches

When the chair arrived back from the upholstery shop, I was ecstatic. Not only did the upholsterer copy the original style of the chair to perfection, the too-dark navy blue fabric that I had “settled” for looked perfect and just bright enough – actually royal blue.  I think that if I had chosen a brighter royal blue, the color would have been too strong and less versatile in our home.

Vintage Swivel Rocker Blue Velvet Upholstery Nursery After the baby outgrows her nursery, we’ll move the chair into another part of the house. It’s too beautiful to have hidden away in a kid’s room forever.

Vintage Swivel Rocker Reupholstered Diamond Tufting Nursery

Some Upholstery Info:

For a reasonable and reliable upholstery shop in Northern VA, I highly recommend Looney & Sons in Merrifield. They have a 3-month wait list for most projects, but we’ve been thrilled with the service and quality of work done on both this chair and our leather Crate & Barrel sofa.

Reupholstering a chair is not cheap, but it’s an upgrade that can let a solid piece of older furniture last another lifetime. In this case it was well worth the investment for me, because I love the chair and the family history with it. The fabric was $30 a yard, and the labor was about $400. I spent extra to have the fabric treated with a stain & water repellent, because I don’t want the new upholstery ruined by baby spit up . . . or cat hairballs.

To keep upholstery costs down you can transport the furniture yourself, source the fabric yourself rather than through the upholsterer, and avoid fancy things like button tufting (each tuft costs a few dollars, and they add up).

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How is it now? DIY Fabric-Covered Storage Boxes

Do you ever see a DIY project that looks good in photos, but makes you wonder how it really is, if it really holds up over time?  I’ve done my fair share of DIYs that turn out both good and bad, and I thought it would be awesome to check in from time to time with updates on how some of the more popular projects turned out.

DIY Fabric Covered Storage Boxes

I created these orange fabric-covered storage boxes for my bedroom makeover about 4 years ago.  I used cardboard boxes that two wall sconces were packaged in, because the fancy fabric storage bins at stores were pricey – and because I wanted to choose just the right fabric.

The project turned out to be super popular, especially on Pinterest.  Well, I’m happy to report that this project was very successful! The bins have held up really well through several years of use, and the fabric is still adhered to the boxes perfectly.

The verdict?  The DIY fabric storage box is definitely a worthwhile and sturdy project.  So what are you waiting for? Go get crafting!


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