Upcycled Night Stand

A semi-beginner’s take on upcycling furniture…

It’s easier than I thought and I’m motivated to keep trying more projects (and larger) projects. Next up will be a chest of drawers, but this night stand was the perfect starter project.

It takes more time than you think, but with the right tools it’s a fairly easy project.  Patience is key and soliciting some help will make it easier.  (AKA my husband can do the power sanding next time). My father in law helped hacksaw the door knobs that were too long.

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You will need:

  • Power sander
  • Paint samples (I used Valspar samples off the rack)
  • Hardware / doorknobs
  • Craft pictures frames
  • Scrapbook Paper or decorative cloth (an old blouse or pillowcases with a pretty pattern would work well here also)
  • Mod Podge glue
  • Polyurethane sealant
  •  Super glue or Gorilla glue
  • Drill

First of all, you want to find or use a solid piece of wood furniture that is level.  You can salvage the existing hardware or purchase more. I purchased mine at $5 a piece from a Hobby Lobby or you can scour flea markets or garage sales. Garage sales are also great places to pick up picture frames for super cheap, usually under a dollar.

img_2155After searching several flea markets and garage sales without success,  I relented and bought my hardware (knobs) at a store. Hobby Lobby does have 40% off coupons every week, so if you buy them over the course of time you can save about half of the cost! They have the cutest hardware or you can click here to search the Genbumom: Amazon store for decorative hardware: Crafts section.

I used scrapbook paper and Mod Podge but you can use cloth and Mod Podge (two coats) or buy self-stick shelf liners.  This will eliminate any existing smells also.

Step 1: Remove all Hardware

Fill in any unnecessary holes that you won’t use for the new hardware. Use a wood filler that turns solid when dry. Or if you are using the same hardware, filling holes is not necessary.

Step 2: Sand Well to Remove Old Top Coat

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This part may take some time and you will want to wear a mask and not inhale any old varnish or top coat or paint from your piece.  I also wear goggles to prevent dust in my eyes.  It took me about an hour and a half to power sand this small piece.

Step 3: Paint Entire Nightstand and Inside Shelves

Two coats is a must here! Allow to dry in between coats. A high quality brush helps to avoid paint strokes.

Allow to dry overnight…

Step 4: Line Shelfs on the Inside with Scrapbook Paper

Measure and cut paper or cloth to size of shelves.  Apply one layer of  Mod Podge to wood and carefully apply paper. Allow to dry, apply a layer of glue over the top to seal it. Allow to dry and apply a 2nd layer if desired. I got a little funky here and used three types of paper patterns:  clouds,  chevron and yes, My Little Ponies.

Step 5:  Add Extra Decorative Touches

Cut scrapbook paper and Mod Podge glue on the squares… this partly masked patched up holes where hardware once was.  So this step is optional but I liked the outcome.

Paint a few craft picture frames your color of choice.  Attach with  super glue. You want a good hold.

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Drill holes (if needed) for your hardware and add to each drawer.

If the screws are too long, use a sharp hacksaw to cut down to size. An angle grinder would also work well here (so I’ve been told).

Step 6:  Hand Sand to Create an Antique Finish

I hand sand around edges and a little in the middle.  More around the edges.

Start conservative: step back, take a few pictures, and review.  Then decide if you need to sand down more spots or not. This is my #1 tip for making sure you don’t over sand the piece and to locate bare spots that need more sanding!

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Step 7: Add a Polyurethane Top Coat

This step is a must. Poly is expensive, but I didn’t use very much.  I bought a 3 coat in 1 product. It will protect the shelf from scratches or water rings. I have plenty left over for future projects.

Allow to dry a night or two and bring inside to enjoy!

I know my daughter will enjoy this piece for years to come.  It’s fun to custom make a piece and save money doing so. I now know why people charge so much for refinished pieces. It takes effort…. it’s a labor of love.

However, it’s worth it. It’s extremely satisfying to take something old that would otherwise be thrown out and make it like new with your own touch of character or style!


Total cost of project:  Paint samples ($3 each x  3= $9), Hardware (with coupons) $5 each, reduced 40% off = $3 each x 4 = $12, Craft paper $.50 per sheet x 2 = $1,  Mod Podge small jar $1, Craft wood frames $4 each x 2 = $8. Poly top coat $15 (most expensive item, but will reuse many times).

  • Total cost with Poly:  $46
  • Total cost without Poly (sub a clear spray paint topcoat):  $34
  • Total cost no top coat: $31

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