How to: Convert a dresser into a bathroom vanity

Sep 24 2015
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A couple of years ago this dresser took many hours of my time to strip and refinish into this lovely burnt orange color. (I’ll be posting the full before and after here shortly of her but, for now, we’ll just use her here as a how to 🙂 After being in storage for over a year it was time for this dresser to convert into a bathroom vanity. The dresser cost me a few dollars to refinish (stripper, sand paper, stain and sealant) from there I spent $13 for the sink at my local salvage depot and $15 for the faucet off of amazon. So, all in this whole project was definitely less then $40 from start to finish and I really don’t think you can beat that. We pulled this dresser in from storage and I turned the sink upside down on top of it to get a starting point.

How to convert an old dresser into a bathroom vanity @GrandmasHousDIY

I drew a line around the sink with a magic marker after carefully measuring in and getting the sink exactly centered. Removing the sink I then just free handed a second line about an inch in from the first line so the sink had an inch of wood to sit on once it was in place. From there my ex husband (not my ex at the time lol) put a new fine wood blade on our little jig saw and carefully cut the hole for the sink. Note: He also gave himself a starter hole by drilling a hole large enough with our drill so he had a place to begin his cut.

How to convert an old dresser into a bathroom vanity @GrandmasHousDIY

We also bought a roll of blue painter’s tape knowing full well we would be doing some fine cutting and forgot to use it entirely. Now that I’ve seen how well the jig saw cut the hole without almost any splintering I wouldn’t have bothered taping it anyway. For those of you that are wondering what the hell I’m talking about: Oftentimes if you cover a piece of wood that you are about to cut with tape first it will help the wood keep from splintering from the blade. We had no problem here but this dresser was a hardwood and we had a new blade for our jig saw: it cut like butter. Also, when it comes to any bathroom vanity you should cut the hole pretty small so you leave a lot of lip for the sink to sit on, thus the sink will cover your cut by a mile.

How to convert an old dresser into a bathroom vanity @GrandmasHousDIY

We set the sink in and did a little dance, this was the first really precise job we’ve done from working on the house this whole time and I think we both were pretty relieved when the sink fit and looked nice. Next came the modification I needed to do to the drawers. The top drawer was a wash, the sink was (technically) too big for this little dresser and ended up forcing us to cut a chunk of molding out of the front of the dresser so the top drawer wouldn’t even go in entirely so my ex got out his chisel and very very very carefully began cutting away at the back of the drawer front.

How to convert an old dresser into a bathroom vanity @GrandmasHousDIY

You can see in the top that the size of the sink forced us to cut a chunk out of the front of the dresser so the drawer wouldn’t push in until we modified it heavily. (I need to note here that the choice to use this sink was a purely financial one, I had had every intention of putting a vessel sink on all of our dressers/vanities but it was literally either $13 or $80 so this just made sense. It also meant I didn’t have to cut the feet off as much so I was able to save some pretty wood work there too. On top of all of that because we didn’t use an expensive vessel sink the molding on the back of the top of the dresser now even looks a bit like a splash guard!)

How to convert an old dresser into a bathroom vanity @GrandmasHousDIY

We moved on to the second drawer and I had every intention of keeping as much of it as a drawer as possible and was glad that we were able to modify but not eliminate it. I simply popped the back off and my ex cut the bottom of the drawer out by half, then we reattached the back to the modified drawer. We left the sides of the second drawer as they were so it will pull out but not topple out on anyone who uses it. From here we dropped our pretty little almost-vanity on her back and cut her feet off. As I mentioned earlier with the built-in sink I was able to leave a lot more of the vanity’s feet then I would have been able to with a vessel sink which made me happy. I think the taller the better so I went ahead and just left this vanity at a good 36 inches and am even thinking now that I could have let her be even taller.

How to convert an old dresser into a bathroom vanity @GrandmasHousDIY

Now we’re really moving into very specific territory when it comes to how long your drain is and where it will be coming in from the wall into the back of your dresser. You can probably just cut the majority of your dresser back totally out without hurting anything but I would really urge you to do a couple of things. First, attach your sink and your faucet before you set your vanity entirely in place and that includes the hoses that need to be screwed to the bottom of your faucet to then connect them to your wall water lines. Second, don’t be shy with the caulk, it can’t hurt to use too much, you can always wipe it off with a wet rag or just use a razer blade later. Third, plumber’s putter will be your best friend and the easiest way to install any drain. Fourth, don’t screw your bathroom vanity into place until you know you don’t have any leaks and everything is working as it should.

How to convert an old dresser into a bathroom vanity @GrandmasHousDIY

I know, what a terrible after picture! Don’t worry, in the real before and after conversion of this pretty little dresser and not a tutorial, I will show you guys her fully finished with all of her new hardware! Check back soon as that will probably be my next post!

How to convert an old dresser into a bathroom vanity @GrandmasHousDIYHow to convert an old refinished before and after dresser into a vanity for our main floor sink wood working diy do it yourself tools

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  1. Jill Rowlan
    May 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    What did you finish the top of the dresser with to keep water from ruining it?

    • May 30, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Hey Jill, I did several coats of poly acrylic on the whole top and the dresser 🙂 Thanks for coming by!

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Iris Nacole


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