Nursery on a Budget Ideas
Jim Baskin - South Yarmouth, MA

Hardwarian Jim Baskin

True Value Hardware

South Yarmouth, MA

Nursery on a Budget Ideas

Level: Experienced

We all have old furniture in our houses we're not quite sure what to do with, so we throw it away. But by recycling and reusing furniture, we can all do our part to cut down on solid waste at the landfill and save money on weekend home improvement projects.

This small project will show you how to take discarded furniture and create a nursery on a budget. Remember to think outside the box — it pays to be creative when reusing items you thought were junk.

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  • Reuse Your Used Furniture

    used nursery furniture

    If you've got old furniture collecting dust in an attic or basement, check it out to see if anything can be repurposed for your new nursery on a budget. Maybe there's an old crib, nightstand or dresser out there that just needs to be repaired, refinished or repainted. They might have chipped paint or broken parts, but furniture can often be repaired for less than it costs to purchase new items. A little TLC and you can salvage old pieces and save money.


    Reuse Someone Else's Furniture

    If you do a little digging, there are a number of places you can find furniture people want to discard or donate. Here are some resources that can help you find pieces to add to your new budget friendly nursery.

    • Craigslist. is a free site where people post classified ads. In the For Sale section, you'll find people advertising used (and sometimes new) furniture they are selling cheap. Some items are even listed for free. It's a virtual goldmine for finding items you can reuse for your nursery.
    • Ebay. is another good way to find an old crib or bed for an unbeatable price. You most likely won't find anything free, but you can get a great deal on a nursery centerpiece.
    • The Freecycle Network™. is a grassroots, nonprofit group for people who are giving—and receiving—free stuff in their own towns. It's free and there are over 4,600 community groups. Check to see if your hometown has a group and you could find a great deal on a nursery necessity.
    • Donation Centers. Because they earn tax deductions, many people donate old furniture to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Turn their goodwill into your gain. You can often find real treasures at these donation centers, and the prices can't be beat.
    • Garage and yard sales. A perennial neighborhood happening, people often clean out their own homes and sell used furniture for cheap. Don't forget these local events when you're looking for an item to reuse.
    Safety Alert!

    Buyer beware! Be careful when purchasing previously owned furniture. Some items may have been recalled by the manufacturer for safety issues or other problems. Be diligent in staying up to date with consumer information and thoroughly research and examine what you buy.

    Repair, Refinish, Repaint

    No matter what pieces you were looking for, you'll know when you find them. Now it's time to make them like new for your little one. Follow the steps below to create your very own nursery on a budget.

    • Step 1: Make Repairs

      Most furniture that seems hopeless can be brought back to life with a little TLC and elbow grease. Even if you're just a little handy, you should be able to repair a dresser or crib with a hammer, some nails or screws, a screwdriver and some wood glue.

    • Step 2: Prepare the Surface

      Once any repairs have been made, it's time to refinish the piece. Select a well-ventilated work area such as a garage or outdoor deck. Make sure your furniture refinishing area is dry and dust-free—water and dirt can ruin a fresh coat of stain or paint. Use masking tape to secure newspaper or a large drop cloth to the floor to prevent stains. Remove drawers, door, and any hardware from your furniture before you start.

      Safety Alert!

      Never refinish near extreme heat or open flame. Stripping chemicals and stains are highly flammable and can ignite.

    • Step 3: Remove Old Varnish

      Remove any old, loose varnish by sanding. The more thorough you are during the stripping process, the less you'll need to sand. Be sure to sand along the grain of the wood—any swirl marks caused by sanding will stand out when you stain.

      Start sanding with medium-low grit sandpaper to clean off any finish that remains and smooth out any imperfections in the wood. Sand carefully by hand around decorative details and curved areas.

      To remove finishes quickly from a large item, you may want to use a belt sander, but take care not to damage the item by sanding too deeply. Finish by smoothing the entire piece down with medium-grit sandpaper.

    • Step 4: Apply Sanding Sealer

      Applying sanding sealer is like priming the wood. The sealer helps the wood absorb the stain evenly, and when applied after staining, sealer can also reduce the number of finish coats necessary.

      Shake the sealer thoroughly and apply two thin coats using a paintbrush. Use a small paintbrush first to apply the sealer, then wipe clean with a cloth. Avoid allowing the sealer to puddle or fill in decorative grooves. Wipe off any excess sealer, allowing it to dry completely. Then lightly sand the entire piece with medium-grit sandpaper in the direction of the grain. Wipe the area with a clean cloth.

    • Step 5: Stain or Paint
      True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium latex paint and primer in-one

      Depending on how you're planning your nursery to look, you'll want to finish up your recycled furniture with the appropriate stain or paint.

      The stain you use will determine the color of the wood once it's finished. Because staining helps reduce the contrast between different woods, you can use stain to give your room a more cohesive look. Oil-based stains penetrate into the wood without raising the grain, but these stains have a strong odor. Water-based stains are more environmentally friendly and offer easy cleanup using soap and water. Do not use deck stain on furniture.

      Apply stain evenly with a cloth or medium-sized paintbrush, allowing it to penetrate the wood. Wipe off any excess stain with a clean cloth and let the piece to dry completely. Once the piece is dry, lightly sand between coats with fine-grit sandpaper. Coat once for a light stain or apply additional coats to create a darker color. Use a clean cloth to apply a wood finish such as polyurethane or tung oil.

      Helpful Tip

      If you're using water-based stains, you can minimize raising the grain by moistening the wood with a damp cloth and sandpaper. Allow the wood to dry completely and sand lightly with fine-grit sandpaper. Repeat as necessary.

    Use Low-VOC Paint

    finished nursery

    If you're painting your furniture, now's the time to be as creative as you want. Because you're creating a nursery, you may want to use bright, fun colors. Or create a calm and comforting space for your little one. It's up to you.

    When painting children's furniture, it's important to choose a low-VOC paint like True Value EasyCare® Ultra Premium latex paint and primer in-one.

    These high-quality paint products have reduced amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Compared to traditional latex paints, these products release fewer fumes. Low-VOC primers and paints are applied the same way as conventional paints and primers and cost about the same as most manufacturers' top-of-the-line paints. They can be cleaned and disposed of easily without the use of strong solvents.

    Take a step back and admire the new nursery you've created on a budget. From trash to treasure, your resourcefulness has paid off in cost savings, as well as a lowered environmental impact.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

    Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.

    You can also shop online for these project items at and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.

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