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  • Writer's pictureChristie

How to DIY a bathroom vanity for under $200

When we started renovating a 118-year-old house, I wanted a white oak vanity for one of the bathrooms, but they are so expensive. We're flipping the home, so the budget is key.

Here's how I achieved the look I wanted for less by transforming a dining room buffet into a bathroom vanity.

I purchased this cabinet on Facebook Marketplace for $55.

It's not solid hardwood, it is actually wood veneer. But it was in great shape. The standard height of a bathroom vanity is about 32-inches. Since we planned to install a vessel sink on top, we needed to account for that and bring this vanity down to size. Matt trimmed the feet at a perfect 90-degree angle to keep it level.

I removed the hardware and used an orbital sander with 80-grit paper to remove the honey maple stain. I then went over the whole piece by hand with 220-grit sand paper to smooth it out. I recorded a time-lapse of the process and shared to my Instagram story.

Keep in mind, sanding wood veneer is tricky. Wood veneer furniture typically features a thin layer of real hardwood over a low-quality wood base, such as MDF or particle board. This creates the look of wood furniture, but it has a lightweight core. The veneer is typically an 1/8 inch thick. So you must sand enough to get the stain off, but if you go too far you will expose the material below.

Full disclosure: I did mess up in a couple spots. The corners are a tough area. However, I masked any imperfections with wax later.

I chose to paint the inside of the vanity a soft white. The center will be exposed as the front doors are sliders and the center shelving is meant to show. I used Sherwin Williams Shoji White (SW 7042) in a flat finish.

I then applied 3 coats of matte finish polyurethane to protect the wood surface from water.

This step is vital. You may need to lightly sand in between dried coats of polyurethane with 220-grit or higher sandpaper, if the surface feels rough.

Next, we took the piece over to the house we are flipping and placed it into the bathroom. Once looking at it in the space, I decided it still looked a little raw or unfinished. If you prefer this look, you can stop here and install the sink and hardware.

I chose to white wax the entire piece at this point and I'm so glad I did.

Using a large round waxing brush, I gently spread white wax over the entire piece and applied wax liberally at the corners and edges. The benefits were two-fold: this resulted in a much more refined look and it also disguised some imperfections.

Next, I installed the hardware, which I purchased on Amazon. I had to drill 2 holes in the sliders to add hardware where there was none before.

I knew the drawers would be unusable once we ran plumbing through the top for the sink, so working from underneath, we shot nails into the center track of the drawers to prevent them from sliding. (We also cut the backs of the drawers off, to make room for plumbing.)

Our plumber drilled 2 holes through the vanity top. One for the sink drain and the other for the faucet. I purchased both the white vessel sink and the matte black faucet on Amazon.

Once fully plumbed, we measured and cut the back of the "X" shelving as well to clear the new pipes.

In total, this entire look, including fixtures and materials, cost $177.62. Compare that to the prices of wood vanities available in stores! Massive savings.

I'm happy to answer any questions on how you can achieve this same look below!


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