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Builder Grade Bath Updates: Vanity

We challenged TV host and blogger Monica Mangin of East Coast Creative to refresh a builder-grade bathroom on a $1,000 budget. One of her projects was to create a distressed vanity with a decorative striped top and rolling bins for storage. Learn how to recreate this vanity for your bathroom.

See All of Monica's Bath Projects

Bath Vanity.

Measure Before You Start

Monica’s vanity measures 22-3/4 inches long x 85-1/2 inches long x 35 inches tall, which includes approximately 5-1/4 inches for the height of the sink. No matter what size vanity you build, make sure the vanity isn't too big and doesn’t disrupt the flow of traffic. Leave room for door openings and trim. Pay attention to the location of existing features such as mirrors, electrical switches and outlets.

Note your plumbing location. This could determine the placement and size of your vanity. Monica's vanity has the sink offset from the center. Moving plumbing will increase costs.

Consider your assembly location. If you assemble the vanity in your bathroom, make sure there's enough space — you'll do some of the assembly with the frame upside down and some with it right side up, so make sure there is room to turn it right side up. If you assemble it outside of your bathroom, make sure you're able to move it through the doorway and around any existing features.

Caution

Enlist help for this project. The components and finished vanity are heavy.

Good to Know

The 6 x 6s will need to dry for 60 days prior to building your vanity.

Instructions

Vanity Base

Step 1

Sealing the Vanity Legs.

Measure and cut four legs from the 6 x 6 treated lumber. To calculate their length, take the finished height of your vanity and subtract the planned thickness of the top and frame. For Monica's vanity, the legs are approximately 23 inches high.

Caution

When working with the treated 6 x 6s used in this project, be sure to wear gloves, a dust mask and safety glasses. Copper azole — CA — treated lumber is safe for use around humans, pets, plants and vegetables.

Step 2

From the same material, cut the front rail and back rail to 83-1/2 inches long and two side rail pieces to 10-3/4 inches in length.

Good to Know

If you want to adjust the size of the vanity for your space, increase or decrease the length of the vanity in 4-inch increments to ease the adjustment of the vanity-top slat pattern later.

Step 3

Sand the parts and then apply a stain and sealer and allow the finish to dry.

Step 4

Assemble the top frame, making the outer faces of the side rails flush with the ends of the front and back rails. Use framing angles to tie the inside corners of the parts together, and drive 2-inch-long deck screws through the corner brackets into the timbers.

Good to Know

Use hardware and fasteners labeled for treated lumber on the 6 x 6s.

Step 5

Add strap ties to the top faces of the connections and secure by driving 2-inch galvanized roofing nails through the ties into the timbers.

Step 6

Monica Attaching the Vanity Legs to the Frame.

Place a leg at the corner of the frame, keeping the outer faces of the leg flush with the outer faces of the frame. Attach the inside faces of the legs to the underside of the frame with angle brackets and 2-inch deck screws. Repeat on the remaining legs. This assembly forms the base of your vanity.

Step 7

Enlist a helper and carefully turn the assembly upright.

Vanity Top

Step 1

Cut a piece of 1/2-inch-thick plywood for the top base, the plywood should be 1/2 inch longer and 1/4 inch deeper than the vanity base. Monica's plywood top is 84 inches long and 22 inches deep.

Good to Know

The vanity top is made up of plywood, a decorative top created from wood slats, and an edging that runs along the front and sides.

Step 2

Monica Positioning the Top Base.

Position the top on the vanity frame, centering the top side-to-side and making the back edge even with the back edge of the frame. Secure to the base with 2-inch-long deck screws.

Step 3

Monica Staining the Wood Strips.

Cut 1 x 6 pine boards into 2-inch-wide strips to make the top slats. You’ll need 50 pieces 22 inches long to make the top. Sand the slats and apply a wood stain. They can be all the same, or you can use a variety of stain colors. If using multiple colors, apply the colors to an equal number of slats. Monica used gray, walnut and ebony stains. Allow them to dry.

Step 4

Cut 1 x 2 pine boards to 26 inches and 86 inches long for the top edging. Sand the boards and apply a stain.

Step 5

The top is made up of four sections – 10 straight slats at each end and two sections in the middle made of 11 boards with a 45-degree cut on one end of every board. Starting at one end, apply 10 slats to the plywood top using waterproof wood glue and 1-inch-long finish nails, aligning the slats with the side of the top and the front and back edges of the plywood.

Step 6

Monica Assembling the Angled Pattern.

Next begin cutting the angled pattern, mixing up the colors as you cut the pattern for a more dramatic effect.

Step 7

Retrieve the 26-inch-long boards you prepared for the top edging and cut to match the length of each end of the vanity. Secure with glue and 4d finish nails.

Step 8

The 86-inch-long remaining piece of top trim will be used for the front edging of the vanity top. Cut the board to cover the ends of both side trim parts and the full length of the top. Secure the edging to the top with glue and 4d finish nails. Fill the nail holes using wood filler that matches the stain and touch up any stain.

Step 9

Sealing the Decorative Top.

Seal the decorative top with at least three coats of polyurethane. After the first coat dries, lightly sand with fine-grit sanding sponge and apply a second and third coat in the same manner.

Install the Vessel Sink and Faucet

Step 1

Vessel Sink.

Determine the location for your vessel sink. The sink manufacturer's instructions should include the measurements needed to place the sink correctly.

Step 2

Measure and mark the cutout for the drain, and use the faucet manufacturer's instructions to line up and mark the cutout for the faucet water supply lines. Drill holes for supply lines as called for by the manufacturer. On the underside of the back rail of the vanity, transfer the dimensions of the holes and then drill 2-inch-diameter holes through the back rail. The oversized hole should allow for the mounting of the faucet.

Step 3

Use a drill bit or jigsaw to cut out the hole for the sink drain. Install the sink according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 4

Install the faucet and drain according to the manufacturer's instructions. For basic installation steps, see Replace a Bathroom Faucet.

Shelf

Step 1

Cut 3/4-inch plywood for the shelf. The length and depth of the shelf should match the length and depth of the 6 x 6 timber vanity base, which is 21-3/4 inches x 83-1/2 inches in this case. Mark with a pencil and then use a jigsaw to cut a notch for a leg in each corner of the shelf.

Step 2

Drill pocket holes on the bottom face of the shelf at each cutout in the corners of the shelf to provide a place to anchor the shelf to the legs.

Step 3

Slip the shelf into position so the bottom of the shelf is 12 inches above the floor. Secure it to the legs using 1-1/4-inch coarse-thread pocket-hole screws. Slide the shelf at an angle between the vanity legs from the end and then twist it into position. Resting the shelf on a 12-inch-long scrap at each leg location will help ensure a level shelf installation.

Storage Drawers

Step 1

Cut three drawer bottoms from 3/4-inch-thick plywood measuring 19 inches x 22 inches. Cut six drawer sides from 1 x 10 pine to 19 inches in length. Sand the parts and attach the drawer sides to the matching length edges of the plywood bottom using glue and 4d finish nails.

Step 2

Cut six drawer-fronts / backs from 1 x 10 pine to 23-1/2 inches in length. Sand the parts and attach to the front and back of the drawer side/bottom assemblies with glue and 4d finish nails.

Step 3

Fill the nail holes with stainable wood filler and apply a stain and finish to the shelf and drawers.

Step 4

Finished Vanity with Rolling Storage Bins.

Add casters to the bottom of the storage drawers using the screws provided with the casters. The casters should be placed so that as the wheel rotates it doesn’t extend beyond the sides, fronts or backs of the drawers.