Solutions to the Expensive Changing Table Situation
Today, I want to help you learn what I have learned. First, changing tables are freakishly expensive. Really, baby retail stores?? I'm about to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills and you want to gouge me another $300 for a changing table? Also, it is extremely difficult to find a set of drawers that is the perfect height for a changing table. I was lucky enough to inherit one from my Grandma for my daughter, but when I was pregnant with my son, no such dresser existed. I must have searched three different Salvation Army's at least a dozen times each over the course of 6 months. It was impossible. And then, at one such trip, I happened to find a bookshelf that was the perfect height and only $15. Then, an idea. What if I could turn this bookshelf into a changing table?
I walked around it and thought about how this could work. It was a little too narrow for a changing pad... I'd need to make some sort of drawers... At first glance it seemed like I would need to do WAY too much work for this lazy mama. And then I came up with a brilliantly lazy plan that would look SUPER cute.
-Old Bookshelf at Height of your Hips
-Paint (I liked having a two tone look)
-Fabric Drawers or Wire Baskets
-2x4s cut into 16" Pieces
-1 2x4 the length of your bookshelf
-Screw Driver (preferably electric)
-2 90 degree 1 inch joints to secure to wall
-Sandpaper (or sand-sponge, which is what I use)
I included some tips on the right for when you actually do your shopping. For turning your bookshelf into a changing table, you want to try to keep costs down. That way you get a custom piece for way cheaper than the store bought ones!
Notes on the Supplies
PAINT - Go to your fave home improvement store (mine is orange) and there you will find different paint swatches and samples. Pick the colors you want from the swatches that will match your little one's room and then grab 4 samples sizes of paint. Ask them to mix two of each. If you are a little tight on cash, get two of your primary color and one of the secondary. If they try and coerce you into buying a quart, do not be swayed. Four of the samples equal a quart and it is cheaper to buy 4 samples than a quart and then you also get to mix up colors! Each sample is between $3-$4.
2X4s - At my favorite home improvement store, there is a section of wood on a moveable cart that will be covered in spray painted purple on it. These are the 'damaged' woods. Usually they are warped or twisted but they are also 70% off. 2x4s aren't super expensive, but since you only need 16 inch pieces, find the straightest ones you can in the clearance pile and have them cut them into pieces for you. You will probably need 9-10 pieces. Make sure the straightest piece is used for the length of your bookshelf, probably around 36-40 inches. That is the only one that will be used for structural support. I think I paid about $2 for all my wood.
How to Turn Your Bookshelf into a Changing Table
To turn your bookshelf into a changing table, sand down the flat surfaces of your bookshelf, inside outside, everything. You basically just want to rough it up a little bit. There are some coats that cover the surface that can be especially hard to get paint to stick to. You want to minimize your frustration later. You also don't have to kill yourself over this. If you can see little tiny scratch marks in it, you have done enough.
Next paint the main part of the bookshelf with the primary color you wish to use. In my case, this color was a navy blue. You will probably have to do a couple of coats, depending on the look you want. I like mine to be a completely solid color. Mine required at least 2 coats, but possibly 3.
To transform your bookshelf into a changing table, it is best to go with the grain of the wood when you paint, this will make sure that the strokes are all uniform.
While the primary color paint is drying, you can paint the 2x4-16 inch pieces if you want. I just painted the pieces that I could tell would be hard to paint later and then left the rest until after the 2x4s were attached to the bookshelf.
Making Your Bookshelf into a Changing Table that is Sturdy
The next piece is the 2x4 that is the length of the bookshelf. This will be secured to the back so that you have something that can be screwed into the wall so your child will not be able to pull over the bookshelf. Don't forget this step! The Changing Table will be top heavy. It is a recipe for disaster without securing it.
You can paint this piece if you want; I left mine raw because I kind of liked the industrial look for my little boys room.
Place the 2x4 against the back of the bookshelf about 2/3 of the way up. Lay the bookshelf on the ground to make it easier if you need to and screw the 2x4 to the bookshelf on the sides where the wood is solid and not just a piece of cardboard. I used 2 screws on each side. One on the top and one on the bottom. Make sure they are spaced far enough apart that a third screw can be placed in the middle.
Final piece of Construction before Wall Mounting
Once the paint is dry, you will want to line up the 2x4s on the top of the bookshelf so that they are hanging off of the back about an inch and a half. (If the top of your bookshelf has a lip, measure the inch and a half from the back of the main body of the bookshelf.)
If you want to check your work, hold up the longer 2x4 and press it flush with the back of the bookshelf, right underneath the 2x4s on top. They should both line up.
In the front of the bookshelf, there will probably be a little bit of 2x4 hanging off of the ledge. This is perfectly fine. Once all of the 2x4s are lined up next to each other, take one off, put wood glue on the top of the bookshelf and place the wood back on top in its original spot, pressing firmly. Go down the line and do this for each piece, making sure to line up the piece of wood you removed with the rest that are still on the bookshelf.
Even if you bought the perfectly straight pieces of wood, there still may be a little bend or warping. Wood is natural so it's never going to be perfect.
This step is also imperative! DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. The last thing I want to hear is that someone tried to turn their bookshelf into a changing table and ignored this step which resulted in it falling on their child. Please do it right.
Line up the back of the bookshelf with the wall. If the previous steps were done correctly, the 2x4 going across the length of the back and all of the 2x4 edges on top should line up against it.
Take your 90 degree pieces and place it in the corner between the wall and the 2x4 that is behind the bookshelf, 2/3 of the way up. The hole on the 2x4 should line up somewhere between the 2 screws you already put in the back.
Secure the Changing Table to the wall with the 90 degree joints and a couple of screws on both sides. You will probably need an electronic screw driver for the 2x4. Once you are finished with that step, try grabbing the bookshelf and moving it. If you can't move it, your child shouldn't be able to either.
(I will get a picture soon... I just need to wait for my baby to wake up and give me a chance to sneak in there.)
I put the changing pad on top of my creation and then found a couple of $5 fabric boxes from Target.
The totals of everything I spent are listed below:
-$2 paint brush
-$20 fabric boxes
-$5 screws and glue (if you don't already have it)
GRAND TOTAL - $56
That feels a little bit better than $300 and now it is custom made for my baby's nursery!
Have any other fun upcycling ideas you want to try but need a guinea pig to try it first? Put them in the comments below. Or share your finished product picture!
For more fun ideas on Making your House a Home, check out some of my other DIY posts!
If you already have a changing table but need some way to repurpose it (the opposite of what we just did) check out this girl's fun blog!