Furniture: My “Green” Nursery Challenge

JProvenz Chair Before Bob Vila Green Nursery

The Pennsylvania House chair before

When I was just 11 days from giving birth, I still had 11th hour projects to complete for my “Green” Nursery Challenge—like furnishing the room. With $228 left in my budget, the key word that week was “reuse.”

I scanned my extra furniture for anything useful. I say “extra” because my house is where my family discards useful—but no longer wanted—furniture. When the Provenz parents buy a new couch or table, I inherit the old one. Since my husband is an only child, he’s the rightful heir to his parents’ castoffs too. When we first met, he had an entire room of mismatched chairs placed in a circle, as if they were waiting for a self-help group to occupy them.

I located a pair of cherry wood chairs and a matching end table. They had a warm country feel but looked tired and worn. Spruced up with a fresh coat of turquoise paint, I knew they would be perfect for the nursery. (What I didn’t realize: the chairs were purchased from Pennsylvania House 40 years ago and are worth over $400 now. Oops!)

JProvenz Table & Chair After Bob Vila Green Nursery

The Pennsylvania House chair after

Not knowing their value, I squatted on a stool in the driveway one night at 11pm, wearing a bandanna over my face and splatter-painted maternity clothes. I was the scariest looking pregnant lady since Frances McDormand in Fargo.

In taking on the chairs, I adhered to the following guidelines on AmericanPregnancy.com:

- wear protective clothing, masks, and keep the area ventilated
- avoid latex paints that contain solvents such as ethylene glycol ethers and biocides
- water colors, acrylic, and tempera paints are preferable to oil paints

I sanded the chairs and table with 180-grit paper ($4), then painted them with Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start ($15, an acrylic primer that I had tinted to match the topcoat). After applying two finishing coats of Benjamin Moore Regal Select Semi Gloss ($15)—a 100% acrylic latex paint that is water-based, odorless and durable—the chairs and table were refreshed and baby-ready.

JProvenz Dresser and Changing Table Bob Vila Green Nursery

Dresser and changing table

I rented a truck to collect more recycled furniture from my family. My sister-in-law gave me a pine dresser with a built-in changing table and hutch.  The piece was in great condition, even after six years of use and two children. I considered a glider but balked at the price range: $200-$1200.  I was just about to pass on this nursery staple when my in-laws informed me that they had not one, but two gliders in perfectly good condition!  And they weren’t pregnant!

JProvenz Cabinet Bob Vila Green Nursery

Re-purposed rolling cabinet

A rolling cabinet got a new lease on life when I turned it into a crate for bedding and towels. I purchased a closet shelving unit from Lowe’s ($139) and a wooden trunk from Ikea ($99) that could double as a bench. In exchange for a home-cooked meal, my father spent a day drilling and assembling (thanks, Dad!).

This week’s costs:

Trunk: $99

Shelving unit: $139

Paint / Sandpaper: $34

Total: $242

While I was disappointed to be $14 in the red, the finish line for the nursery was within sight (even if my flip-flops were not)!

If you recently finished your own nursery makeover, we would love to see photos for future publication.  Upload your photos on the Bob Vila Facebook page.

For more nursery remodeling, consider the following Bob Vila videos and articles:

Nursery Safety Tips

Touring a Completed Nursery and Master Bathroom

Installing Insulated Windows in the Baby’s Nursery