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A Guide to Turning a Dresser Into a Vanity

By Jakemontgomery @LTDOnlineStores

In July 2013 I shared our bathroom vanity on my blog & it has gained some great feedback. I hope this helps in creating inspiration & ideas for you.  When we rebuilt our home I was in charge of working with our builder on the design. I was nervous because the only thing I knew for sure was I didn’t want anything cookie cutter. I’ve never designed anything, but I was up for the challenge.

While there are some truly gorgeous bathroom vanities out there, I knew I wanted to put my stamp throughout the house and that included our vanities in our bathrooms. I wanted to have conversation pieces.

Dresser Converted into a Bathroom Vanity

© On Fern Avenue

Turning a $45 Dresser into a Custom, One of a Kind Vanity

I set out looking for a dresser for the guest bathroom upstairs which is also our girl’s bathroom. I purchased the vanity as a dresser from Habitat from Humanity Restore for $45.

I had gone into our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and found what started out as an over painted white dresser. It had some fantastic bones, but there was layer upon layer of paint. Prior to sanding I tested the dresser for lead. In doing this I find a place on the dresser to chip it down to the raw wood, and test on a spot where all of the paint layers are exposed.

Sanding down the dresser

© On Fern Avenue

I ended up taking the back piece off you see in the picture below. It wouldn’t work with the sink we had picked out

On Fern Avenue Dresser to Vanity Project

© On Fern Avenue

How I Came Up with the Idea..

Moving on to the look of the dresser, I knew I wanted to have a design on the front. I wanted something a little different.

A few years back while my husband & I were wondering around an antique emporium we found this cute metal tile sign that had “Hot Baths .25 cents, soap & towels extra”. I always loved that for the bathroom, and so it sparked an idea.

Using my Silhouette Cameo I cut out a stencil on adhesive back contact paper. This was so I could have a reverse stencil effect. I also wanted to add just a little embellishment with some floral detail. I used corner design pieces (accent angles) that I picked up from Home Depot. I adhered them by using wood glue.

I was then ready to start the painting process. The drawers would be first since I was doing the reverse stencil, and the paint needs to dry good prior to adding the stencil.

Laying out the Stencil for the Design

© On Fern Avenue

Cutting the Sink Hole and Drawers for the Plumbing

Once the paint was dry I added the stencil, I then painted the rest of the dresser along with the drawers going over the top of the stencil. Prior to completely finishing the painting on the vanity we cut out the drawers & the hole for the sink. When you purchase your sink, it should come with a template.

Sink Hole Cut Out of the Top of the Dresser

© On Fern Avenue

Using the template that came with the sink, we taped it down and cut accordingly. We used a jig saw with a reverse tooth blade. It is a blade that cuts on the down stroke instead of the up. This helps to keep the top from chipping. If you get one of these and use it, just make sure when you are cutting that you keep a decent down pressure on the saw because it tends to want to jump up. A jig saw with a roller guide also helps to keep the blade straight.

Side view of sink cut out

© On Fern Avenue

**We only did the above step because we were ready to make the cuts and set the vanities for trim cuts. You can finish the vanities prior to doing the cuts. I will say from doing both of our bathrooms, I’d make the cuts prior to completely finishing the painting process, especially the sink cut. This helps so if there are any chips or if something happens to your finish you don’t have to go back and do touch-ups. We made cuts to the drawers to fit around the plumbing.

Drawers Plumbing Cut Out

We were able to build out boxes inside the drawer to go around the pipes and to give little storage areas. © On Fern Avenue

Middle Drawer Plumbing Cut Out

This is looking straight down from the top drawer. Only the top and middle drawer had to have the middle section built around the piping. © On Fern Avenue

A shot of the back of the drawer

This is what the back of the drawers look like where the plumbing comes out of the wall. Lucky in our case that is only the bottom drawer that we had to take the back of drawer down. © On Fern Avenue

Putting on the Finishing Touches

Now I was able to go on and finish the vanity. I removed the adhesive stencil from the drawers (this is what creates the reverse stencil).

Reverse Stencil Effect on the front of the Dresser

© On Fern Avenue

Once the cuts were made, the paint had cured, I waxed, buffed and was ready to seal the top. I used lacquer to seal the top since this is being used in the bathroom with moisture and water. Prior to placing the sink into the vanity & hooking up the plumbing, we secured the now vanity to the wall.

Attaching the Dresser turned Vanity to the Wall

© On Fern Avenue

I let the vanity cure for a couple more days before we put it into the bathroom and set the sink and hook up the plumbing.

Bathroom Vanity Made out of an Old Dresser

© On Fern Avenue

To note: I picked the particular sink for a couple of reasons. I liked the style, the size and to be able to keep as much storage in the top drawers as possible. If we would have chosen a sink that was mounted inside the drawer area, we would’ve lost the entire top drawer.

Vanity Dresser Completed Project

© On Fern Avenue

A really fun conversation piece that has caught the eyes of many. For a complete listing of the price breakdown of what I spent on this project, you can visit the post on my blog, On Fern Avenue. You can also see more pictures and details about the reverse stencil method if you need help with that.

DIY Bath Cabinet Made from an Old Dresser

© On Fern Avenue

About the Author
is a wife and mother who enjoys decorating, thrift shopping, flea markets, dumpster diving, and auctions. She loves redoing furniture and finds it to be an effective way to relieve stress and express her creative side! After loosing her newly purchased home to a devastating fire, she’s documented her journey to rebuild her home on her blog, On Fern Avenue.com.

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