Do you have old baby furniture lying around and don’t know what to do with it? Why not upcycle it like I’m doing this week with this changing table? It’s so easy to transform into a kids dresser with a bit of paint and some imagination so this week I’ve dreamt up this adorable circus theme for my son’s room. It’s playful and colorful and how can you not love those vintage balloons? This blog post is all about a circus theme changing table upcycle. Of course if the circus theme isn’t for you, you can still follow along for some of the techniques like creating layers and texture and adding transfers.
Supply List for Circus Theme Changing Table Upcycle
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Surf Prep Sanding Kit (Use coupon code BELLARENOVARE10 )
Cleaning and Prepping the Changing Table
I start this makeover by cleaning the inside and the outside of the changing table with White Lightening. This piece is quite glossy so I do a light scuff sand to remove that shiny finish. Doing this is giving the paint something to hold on to.
I go over the entire piece with Boss which is a blocking primer, because this is cherry wood and since I’ll be using some white paint and other light colors, I won’t have to go back and try to fix anything in case the tannins start coming through.
The Base Coat
When the Boss is dry , I use a base coat of Burlap and the “Best Dang Brush” and I stippled it on so that there is a bit of texture without having to use a textured medium. So this is just paint with no additives. I don’t want the finish to be super smooth, the goal is to have a little bit of texture on the surface.
What would a circus theme changing table upcycle be without the perfect shades of blue paint?
The Burlap is dry and now I use a new brush which will be for all 3 colors of blue. I start with Antebellum Blue, dip the brush in and then stipple it.
I want to layer the blues on top of each other and while this one is still wet, I go in with Bunker Hill Blue and put it in random areas to add dimension.
I use a circular motion to create a cloudy blended look. The last color is In the Navy and I concentrate on the corners to create a darker shading. Simple right?
Then I take a new brush for Fluff (which is white) which will add some highlighting. I go back in with my blue brush (not dipping it in the paint) and add blue overtop of the Fluff. You can play around with this step and add some darker shading overtop of your Fluff if you want as well. It’s all about how you want it to look and what looks best to you. Don’t be afraid to get creative here!
Scraping the Wet Paint to Add Texture
I have already mentioned a couple of times that I don’t want this piece to look perfect. I want that old world look that goes with the style of the decorative balloon transfers that I’ll be adding.
So I take my metal scraper and while the paint is still wet start scraping the paint in a downward motion. You can start to see the Burlap base color being exposed underneath. I also start from the bottom and then pull upwards. The blade needs to be flat on the surface so you’re not getting deep scratches. Yes, it seems crazy, but here is where you need to trust the process!
When all the paint colors are dry, I use a fine Surf Prep rad pad (220 to 320 grit) and I go over the entire piece to smooth it out and create a more cohesive look. After sanding, I wipe away the dust with a microfiber cloth. I really focus on the areas where I’m going to be putting the transfers to get them nice and clean so I use a mister bottle to wet the surface slightly, then wipe away with a cloth.
Adding the Vintage Balloon Transfers
These transfers are the Hot Air Balloons and Clocks Decor Transfer and you can cut out the ones that you want to use and save the rest for another project.
I dry place them first before pulling the backing off to make sure it’s where I want it. I burnish it with my hand first, then with the stick. These transfers are amazing – the don’t crack, they are extremely durable and you can even use them over curves and angles with no issues.
You may notice that one of the balloons had white on the bottom portion. I didn’t love that so I took a small artist brush and painted over it. Another fantastic thing about these transfers is that you can paint over them and they’ll still look perfect.
Continuing the Circus Theme on the Border of the Table
People ask me all the time how I come up with themes for each week and usually I get inspiration from something – in this case these adorable balloon transfers and one of them has the word “circus” underneath so I decided to play up that theme. Circuses are red and white so I carefully painted the border in red and white and then once that was dry, I distressed it with an 80 grit sandpaper, moving lightly and horizontally across so it looked a little worn and not newly painted.
Sealing the Base of the Circus Theme Changing Table
The last step for the base is to take my Satin Clear Coat and seal the entire piece including overtop of the transfers. I use a high quality synthetic brush. You MUST seal your transfers, don’t skip this step! Put the clear coat on like you would your paint, in very thin layers.
Stripping the Veneer Top
When I had started painting the base, I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do with the top. So I did things a bit backwards and had to protect the whole bottom of the piece with tape and a drop cloth to avoid damaging it with the chemical stripper.
I use a chemical stripper to strip the entire top. This is a veneer top so I tend to stay away from sanding and stick to chemical strippers as it can be really easy to blow through the veneer if you’re using a sander. After the stripping is done, I use mineral spirits to neutralize the top and using a 3M scrub pad, I can also remove the left over residue at the same time. As a final step, I sand the top of it starting with a 120 grit and then a 220 grit before adding the stain. I use a dusting brush to get all the dust off as well before staining.
Staining the Top of the Changing Table
I love the water based Voo Doo Gel Stain in Tobacco Road. I like to mist the surface first because it helps the stain move a little more easily. I apply the stain and then rub it in with an applicator pad, going with the grain. Once the stain is dry, I use a tack cloth to get any debris off the top and so that I have a nice clean surface before sealing with Gator Hide. For sealing, I use a high density foam roller and apply in thin coats going with the grain. If you use too much pressure, it makes bubbles which will create texture on your piece. Once it fully dries, I go over it with a super fine rad pad and then wipe it off with a microfiber cloth, a tack cloth (again to remove any debris) and then repeat the sealing process with another coat of Gator Hide.
Watch the How to Video of the Circus Theme Changing Table Upcycle!
Look at this Beautiful Upcycled Changing Table
Check out this sewing machine table makeover that I did a little while ago! https://bellarenovare.com/2019/12/you-need-to-check-out-this-unique-sewing-machine-makeover/