House & Home

Vavoom! DIY Bathroom Vanity from Salvaged Furniture

Posted October 1, 2015 8:35 a.m. EDT

Looking for just the right vanity for your bath or powder room? So many of the builder's grade or big-box store variety of vanities are -- let's face it -- pretty "blah." If you'd like a unique look for your bathroom, consider taking on a very special do-it-yourself project -- transforming a piece of bargain or salvage furniture into the vanity of your dreams.


There are all kinds of good reasons, related to both form and function, why you might want to transform salvaged or repurposed furniture into a bathroom vanity. First and foremost is the question of form -- many well-worn or damaged pieces are still striking in appearance, with gorgeous lines or lush curves. This will allow you to craft a vanity that is truly one of a kind. In terms of function, your furniture find may be just the right size to accommodate a particular basin you've fallen in love with, or the size and/or shape of your bathroom. PS: This particular DIY can also save you big bucks.


Keep your eyes open and your scavenger sixth sense on the alert. You may come across just the right "raw material" for your vanity anywhere, anytime … at Goodwill or a garage sale, amidst the IKEA scratch-and-dent section, next to your neighbor's garbage cans (make sure it really is up for grabs), or even in your own garage. Don't let missing drawers discourage you -- the empty spaces can be made into storage shelves for your bathroom necessities. By the same token, large furniture such as a buffet could be cut to fit a smallish bath or powder room. The only rule is to verify the piece's value (or rather, lack thereof) before you start work. Here are some suggestions for furniture that can be revived for this purpose:

  • Desk
  • Dresser
  • Make-up table
  • Sewing machine cabinet
  • Side table
  • Washstand
  • Wooden file cabinet


For the top of the piece, you have the option to seal it extremely thoroughly or to cover it with anything that you would use for a kitchen countertop; the idea is that the surface should be waterproof, durable, and pleasing to look at. Marble or granite will add an air of elegance to any bathroom. Another possibility is to tie the room together by using the same tile that lines the walls of your shower. If you'd like to make a quirkier home fashion statement, why not well-sealed butcher block or an overlay of industrial chic concrete?


Here your big decision will be whether to choose an overmount or vessel basin (a sink type that sits on top of the vanity counter) vs undermount (where the basin's lip is mounted underneath the vanity's top surface). While the latter makes for easy cleanup and reduces splashing, an overmount sink is much simpler to install. Remember these three important factors when you select a sink for a repurposed-furniture vanity:

  1. The piece must be sturdy enough to support the weight of whichever basin you purchase
  2. Installing an overmount style will raise the total height, so consider how tall you want the finished product to be (36" is becoming the new standard, up from 32-34"), and
  3. It's wise to use a basin in a low-key design if you'd like the vanity itself to be your bathroom's focal point.

Points to Keep in Mind

When you upcycle an inexpensive piece or a roadside rescue, you can experiment and stretch your DIY wings without making a major financial investment in the project. Creating a vanity from start to finish calls for a fair bit of skill with do-it-yourself projects. However, if you're lacking in experience or self-confidence, you could hire a plumber to deal with attaching the basin and piping. You'll get to do the fun part -- finding just the right salvaged piece for the body of the vanity and embellishing it to your taste.

Laura Firszt writes for

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