I figured it was finally time to make good on my promise to share my bathroom vanity makeover.

You may recall from this post that one of the main things I wanted to do to this bathroom was get rid of the linen closet. There used to be a pretty large linen closet to your left as you entered the room. When we moved in, there was no door on the closet, so we borrowed one from the closet in the nursery (I decided I didn’t want doors in there so it worked perfectly). However, in order to open the closet door, the main bathroom door had to be fully closed or left open, and then closed before closing the main door. Not a huge deal, it worked just fine. But it really wasn’t a smart design, and it just ate up so much space in what was not a large room to begin with. So, we decided to knock it out. The way we had it figured, this left us about 55 inches from wall to a comfortable distance from the toilet in which we could extend the vanity (the old vanity was 24 inches). With these measurements in hand and no real vision in mind yet, we went to the Habitat Re-Store to get some ideas and/or find a vanity we might want to use. I spotted and fell in love with this old dresser.

It really wouldn’t consider it a steal at $75, but it was PERFECT. It was 55 inches wide, really high quality (very heavy and solid wood), and had lots of storage to replace the linen closet we were getting rid of. I thought it had a pretty shape, so although it was very beat up, it had lots of potential (the facing pieces you see missing we have and can re-attach). My favorite part was that there was a row of skinny drawers running down the middle. This mean we could run the plumbing down the middle under the sink without having to cut into and disfigure the side drawers (only the middle ones would be rendered “unusable” and we could just glue them shut or something. My vision for it was something like this (which, by the way, would cost $2,399 to 3,197 to purchase from Pottery Barn):

We also found this really pretty blue bowl sink (the kind that sits on top of the vanity) to go with it. Sorry, I have no pictures and it is currently buried in the garage attic, so none will be taken any time soon. But my vision for it was something like this:

So why is it this beat up old dresser than would have been a beautiful vanity still sitting in its dingy state in our bedroom?… Well, in knocking out the linen closet, we discovered that the furnace vent was running up behind it. I guess we could have guessed something like this since the closet wasn’t as deep as the room….but, honestly, I never noticed. Anyway, a 55 inch vanity would now be too long: the longest the vanity could be was 36 inches.

So we started over.

At the Extra’s Warehouse they had these unfinished vanities.

Really, I didn’t like it very much. To be honest, I was still mourning over the loss of my perfect vanity dresser project, so I don’t think there was anything out there under $1,000 that would have made me truly excited. But I DID love the granite countertop with the undermount sink. The countertop, backsplash, bowl, and unfinished vanity came as a set for $300. We decided it was much better than anything we could get at Home Depot or Lowe’s with our $300 and went ahead and got it.


It needed some major dressing up. First of all, those particle board sides had to be covered up. And I wanted to add some fancy feet. And I figured with some trimming and some sort of decorative molding thing around the bottom, we could pull it off. I also wanted to frame the plain old mirror that used to hang in the bathroom to match.

Knowing I wanted to reuse the mirror, it made me really nervous to have it sitting around in the construction zone garage. I’ll admit I was a real brat about making sure my husband was keeping it safe from scratches and such. And then the day I took it out to measure it for framing…I broke it. Yup, I did. All me. But I decided to go ahead and use it anyway by hiding the broken part behind the frame.

So we covered the particle board sides with thin sheets of balsam wood and attached them with liquid nails. Then we attached some pretty molding around the bottom, and some thin and simple trim to the edges.

All of these pieces were attached with an airnailer, then the holes puttied up and sanded for staining.

Figuring out the feet was the challenging part. I found these things at Hobby Lobby for 90% off. I have no idea what they are supposed to be, and I figure that is why they were on clearance. When I saw them, I thought “those look like the makings of vanity feet.”

At $2.70 a pop they were much cheaper than anything we looked at at the hardware stores. And, in the meantime, I was able to use them to decorate my “mantle”…you may remember them from this post?

They were NOT easy to cut apart, as they were made out of some really hard resin. And then we had to decide which part to use, how to attach them, and what would be the best load-bearing arrangement.

We determined that by stretching another piece of wood across the bottom and attaching small pieces of 2x4s as feet to it (not in the picture below), the weight would be more evenly distributed and these feet would really only be there for decoration (and better balance).

Here it is all put together and standing on the 2×4 feet (we didn’t attach the decorative ones until we got it in the bathroom).

The thing I worried most about was staining. The original vanity was pine, the sides were now a soft balsam wood, I think the thin trim may have been oak, and I don’t really know what the molding around the bottom was, but it was a much harder wood than everything else. I was afraid that the stain would take to the various woods very differently and instead of looking like one polished unit would stand out as a the pieced together DIY vanity that it was. Plan B was to paint it, but I really didn’t want it to come to that. That wasn’t the vision I now had in my head.

Here it is stained:

While the hard wood molding took an extra coat of stain, and the balsam ate it up like crazy, the color was remarkably even! This is the stain I used (This small can was actually not quite enough and I had to go get another one…if I ever do this again, I will have to remember how much stain balsam wood eats up.) I had never worked with gel stain before and I LOVED IT!

After every coat of the stain had dried, I sanded around the edges and glazed them.

I didn’t think the first coat of glaze was dramatic enough, so I sanded and glazed again. This was the glaze I used:

It was a custom tinted glaze from Guiry’s that I chose to match the burnt orangy colored tile in the mosaic tile that we used around the shower and on the floor.

I wanted the vanity dark, but with some depth and richness. Usually one glazes a darker color over a lighter one for an antiqued look. I decided to go out on a limb and try a lighter/brighter glaze on a dark background. It was scary going on…

…but I think it turned out pretty nice.

After the glaze was dry, I applied this paste wax with t-shirt rags. It really gives it a beautiful luster without the “shininess” of a varnish type top coat.

I did all the same steps with the frame. I have no idea how most people hang framed mirrors. Here is what we did: First, we stuck the mirror to the wall with liquid nail. I held it up while my husband screwed in the bracket things used to hold the mirror up. When the liquid nails was dry, we removed the brackets. Then we put liquid nails on the back of the frame and stuck it in place. As I wasn’t going to stand there and hold it for 24 hours while it dried, we also ran a bunch of airnails through it. It was difficult to figure out the proper length for the nails and strategically place them so that they went into the wall and not the mirror, but after several attempts and plenty of frustration,we managed. You can see the little nailheads if you look closely as there really is no way to cover them up at this point.

This was the most involved and fun part of the bathroom remodel for me, even though there were so many steps and several of them only seemed to take me in the wrong direction. Still, I am pleased.

What do you think?

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