How to Renovate a Changing Table or Dresser

How to renovate a changing table (or dresser!)When I was pregnant with Brady, pregnancy hormones brought out the most intense nesting instincts in me {thus the blog name!}. Once the nausea and fatigue wore off, I had what can only be described as manic energy. Sounds nice, right? From the moment I woke up until minutes before bed, I thought about how to prepare for baby. How to decorate. What to build…move…sew…paint.

I always started these projects, but it was my husband that usually finished them. After an hour or two of work, I’d find myself back in the kitchen eating, sewing baby bibs (one of my biggest wastes of time, in retrospect) or escaping paint fumes. Needless to say, hubby spent many a football weekend moving, assembling, sanding and painting furniture.😝 

This dresser/changing table renovation is my favorite project of ours. It was my grandmother’s dresser and a good height for diaper changing. But it was outdated and didn’t match anything in our nursery. I was surprised at how fun and easy {well, “easy” when manic energy is your baseline} it was to renovate. There are four basic steps: 

  1. Sand
  2. Prime
  3. Paint
  4. Seal

And you actually don’t need a lot of materials or special equipment. If you do need something you don’t have (like the hand sander I mention below), you can rent it from a hardware store. 

Lastly, you save so much money by doing it yourself! This is unlike sewing your own crib sheets or changing pad covers, which gets pricey from the fabric alone. Cute changing tables are hundreds of dollars. Goodwill or other consignment stores often have cheap furniture with “good bones” but in desperate need of a sand, prime, paint & seal – see my side table example below. And if you refurbish something you already have, you’ll pay just the cost of materials (about $50 or less). 

Changing Table/Dresser Renovation

Changing Table/Dresser Renovation


  • Sandpaper (rough and fine grit) or hand sander (rentals available at Home Depot)
  • Spray primer
  • Paint (I used 3 coats of Behr's 'Elephant Skin')
  • Small foam roller and tray
  • Small paint brush
  • Sealant (I used Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish)
  • Wood filler (optional)
  • Furniture legs (optional)
  • New hardware knobs and handles (optional)


  1. Remove hardware from dresser.
  2. Patch any holes or cracks with wood filler. Let dry.
  3. Sand entire piece of furniture using sandpaper or a hand sander (power hand sanders be rented from Home Depot for $12/day). I'd recommend the power sander if your furniture has a heavy lacquer finish or multiple layers of paint. Wipe off any dust residue.
  4. Apply primer in light coats over the furniture. I like spray primers because they're easy and don't require a brush to apply. Apply an extra coat of primer on the top of the dresser or anywhere else that will get heavy use.
  5. Sand furniture lightly using a fine grit sandpaper. Wipe off any residue.
  6. PAINT! There are many methods that work well, but I like using a small foam roller on the furniture and a paintbrush in the crevices. You can also use paint spray, but take care to apply evenly.
  7. Let dry for 6 hours, then add a 2nd coat and let dry. Apply 3rd coat if necessary for more uniform color.
  8. Install and paint furniture legs (if applicable). We added legs to make the changing table taller.
  9. Finally, add a protective finish with lacquer or sealant.
  10. Re-install hardware. Find new knobs and handles to match your new look!

How to renovate a changing table (or dresser!)

How to renovate a dresser or changing table










Like the changing pad cover on top? The step-by-step tutorial is here









Side Tables

Want to renovate a side table? Same rules apply. I found this little table at Goodwill for $6. It was just the right dimensions, but oh so ugly. A fresh coat of paint and new knobs (fleur-de-lis!) gave it a fresh new look. 

How to renovate a side table

July 21, 2016

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