I’ve always admired dressers converted into vanities. In our city bungalow there just wasn’t enough room in either bathrooms for a dresser-vanity, so when it came time to remodel the bathrooms in our current house I was happy to see there would be enough room in the master bath, but just barely.
It started out simple enough- we were exhausted after spending all our free time in the summer working on both baths, I had to go back to teaching in September, and we were trying to get our new garage weather-proofed before the winter set in. We thought we’d get to it in the winter when we’d have a covered garage to work in.
With the rest of the bathroom completely finished, a curious thing that can happen to do-it-yourselfers at one time or another happened:
When we finally got around to it a few months ago, we found it wasn’t that hard at all and didn’t take too much time.
This is what we started with: a $79 dresser from the Salvation Army that I had originally bought to be my nightstand. I thought I needed the storage, but really didn’t, so they sat empty. I sure hope you can score something cheaper, but I was looking for specific measurements, and you know how that goes. Plus, have I mentioned how expensive the thrift stores are here? OK, I’ll be quiet about it…
It wasn’t a fine antique, though, and needed to be painted and the top refinished. The slats separating the drawers had been replaced with a lighter color wood and both of the side panels had big cracks in them that needed to be filled.
We just got a basic 16-inch model sink for this dresser. All the others were too big. We seriously considered a vessel sink, but with the new faucet would’ve cost about $250 instead of $100 (we’d already been using a new faucet).
3. Take a deep breath and cut it out with a jigsaw. It’s OK, you can do it…
6. Using a water-based polyurethane (I like satin finish), apply 4 to 5 coats. Since this top had a short back piece, I made sure the joint between them was covered well so that no water from the sink would get between them.
7. When dry, run a bead of clear caulk (works much better with wood counters than white) around the rim of the opening and carefully place the sink right on top, pressing down lightly (you do not need to add caulk around the rim of the bowl after it’s in place- that’s a sure sign of a do-it-yourself job).
8. Set the vanity close to its eventual spot in order to measure where the plumbing hits on the back of the cabinet - after many DIY slip-ups, I don’t trust only measurements anymore- we use our eyes and measurements now- but this is just us, you don’t actually have to have it near it’s spot. Use a jigsaw to cut a square out of the back piece of wood large enough for all the plumbing to set in. Set the vanity in it’s permanent spot.
9. Attach the faucet and hook up all the plumbing with no drawers in place.
Of course, if you have enough room for a dresser with three drawers on top, you’d lose the center drawer and still have two functional drawers. That would certainly be the easiest.
11. The middle drawer took the most finagling, but basically we (of course you’ve probably guessed that this part doesn’t really involve me…I’m using “we” merely to show my support) made a box to fit around the plumbing. This leaves plenty of space for toiletries.
12. The bottom drawer merely has a square cut out to skim around the drain pipe. This drawer lost no space at all.
UPDATE: My husband reminded me there is a step 13- secure to the wall! We found the studs and put a couple screws in so that the vanity is secure and not attached only by the plumbing. Because this dresser had an overhang in the back, we had to add a piece of wood to the back to allow it to touch the wall before screwing in, but not all dressers would need this.
And there you have a slightly stripped-down version of how to turn a dresser into a bathroom vanity.