Changing the Changing Table

What to do with it post-diapering

Most moms have, at one point, had a baby changing table. But once the baby is too big for it, what then? Sell it at a garage sale? Save it for your sister-in-law? Shove it in the storage shed or garage? Instead, create some needed storage space for your laundry room, mud room, kitchen, front porch, sewing room or any other area that is in need. Don't have one? You can pick one up at a garage sale these days for $10 or less.

With a little paint and some creativity, a used changing table can become an attractive addition to any room. Depending on where in the house you decide to put it, the changing table can be decorated and accessorized in many different ways. Start off this project by applying a fresh coat of white paint. You may need a second coat depending on the condition of the table.

Laundry Room
Laundry supplies are not attractive. Bulky boxes and bottles, sprays, stain sticks, extra socks and that spare change you always find in the lint trap. To hide all the neccessary evils, find a set of kitchen curtains at a garage sale or thrift store, long enough to go from the top edge of the changing table down about an inch above the floor. Be sure there is enough fabric to wrap around the entire table. If you are ambitious enough and know how to use a sewing machine, you can buy some fabric on sale and make your own. Use velcro fasteners, available at many discount and fabric stores, to attach the fabric to the changing table. These usually come in squares or circles and have an adhesive backing. One side you will stick to the changing table and the other you will need to sew onto the fabric.

Sew the velcro onto the fabric first. When you are finished, placed the other half of the velcro piece onto the sewn on piece so that they stick together. Then hold the fabric up to the changing table where you want it to go. Next, peel the backing off of the velcro, exposing the adhesive, and stick to the changing table. Doing it this way is much easier and will place the velcro directly in line with each other. If you stick the velcro to the fabric first you have no room for error.

Note: When positioning the fabric, the two ends of the fabric, after being wrapped around the table, should meet in the middle. This will create a "doorway" in the front of the table for easy access to the shelves.

After your fabric is in place you can place your large bottles and boxes on the large middle shelf, along with any rags you use to wipe off your washer and dryer with. The bottom shelf can be used as storage for items such as sheets, tablecloths or other flat, thin items. The top shelf could be used for folding laundry or can be decorated with a cute lamp and a picture of your kids. Place a small basket on the top shelf for all those little things that end up in the lint trap or the bottom of the washing machine; such as coins, wrappers, dollar bills (those are yours now, by the way, possession is 9/10 of the law!) small toys, paper clips, etc. Another idea comes from Beth Simms ( She stacks up clear plastic, shoe box sized containers, one for each of her family members, for mismatched socks.

Mud Room
For this room you would not use the fabric as it would just become too dirty too fast. If your mud room is separate from your laundry room, the changing table can become a great storage for shoes, hats, scarves, etc. At Beth's house the middle shelf houses a laundry basket for putting toys in. "To avoid the mom/child war, I wait until the basket is full and take it all up at once, putting the toys in the appropriate child's room."

The bottom shelf is a great place for shoes & boots. You could also place a small basket on the top shelf for keys and other small items. A larger basket would accomodate scarves, gloves and face masks.

Front Porch
After the white paint dries, apply some gentle green or yellow sponging around the edges of the table. Or stencil on a nice ivy pattern along the legs and outer edges. Maybe even dot in some brown here and there for effect. This can be a beautiful display for potted plants and flowers. Container gardening is not uncommon and can be very nicely displayed in decorative pots. You can use the fabric curtain option on this design to hide any items that you would like to keep on the porch for company but don't want displayed (i.e. ashtrays, kleenex, bug spray, watering can, etc).

Garden Shed or Porch
A very practical gardening table can evolve from this project with very little work. If the table will not be out in view and will be used for work purposes only, you can stop at the fresh coat(s) of paint. Beth points out that the top shelf could be used for a flat of plants waiting to be planted or for flats of seedlings. The top shelf is a great work surface for planting and transplanting herbs, flowers and other foliage. The other shelves are a great place for extra flower pots, watering cans and various garden tools. Again, a nice ilttle basket will hold gardening gloves and seed packets.

Sewing/Craft Room
After the white paint dries, rag on or sponge one or two colors to match the decor of the room. Or paint the outer edges a solid color and and use a nice gingham or floral curtain to compliment it. Accesorize the top shelf with some of your craft accomplishments such as a personalized picture frame, a hand painted flower pot, a dried floral arrangement or a decorative basket.

Many of the items that you will store are unsightly and are better off not being displayed. The use of clear plastic shoeboxes would be beneficial, as well as smaller containers for the tiny items associated with sewing and crafting. The use of baskets is always recommended, hidden or not. Baskets are much easier on the eyes than a plastic container.

Child's Room
The possibilities here are endless. You can use the fabric curtain method with a frilly edge for a little girl's room, or a nice solid navy for a boy's room. There is the option of not using fabric here as it is so flexible. Paint the outer edges a solid color to match the room decor and use a small paint brush to flick on a secondary color to give it the splatter effect.

You can store toys in a plastic basket, books in milk crates or with book ends, dolls, cars, the list goes on. For older children you can use this to store their clothes if they wish. Again, use a small lamp on the top shelf and accessorate with a couple of books or stuffed animals.

The decorating possibilities are endless. With a little imagination and minimal work you can have a great piece of furniture that is attractive and practical.

Amanda Formaro is the mother of four children. She and her husband live in southeastern Wisconsin. She is the owner of The Family website.