I have a dream.

It involved an old dresser, some paint, and an elusive vessel sink. 

I've loved the idea of repurposing an old piece of furniture into a bathroom vanity ever since I started seeing pictures of them pop up on different parts of the world wide web (like here). When we accidentally/on-purpose gutted our bathroom it seemed like the time was right, so I started checking out thrift stores, found the perfect dresser, and went to town on revamping it. Shortly after I poured all my blood, sweat, and tears into its new look, we realized that it was not so perfect for our bathroom. On paper and outside the bathroom it worked great, but in real life it made the room feel too cramped. What?! All my work gone to waste?! Not to worry, it has a happy new life here.

And I moved on to vision #2, where I would creatively fit something charming and repurposed, with ample storage space, without making the room feel cramped. I researched the predicament thoroughly, and decided that a semi-recessed sink, where the sink sticks out farther than the narrow vanity, would be our life-saver. But finding a vanity/dresser/table with storage that's only a foot deep is pretty difficult impossible. So I decided, heck, let's make it ourselves! Everything else we've decided to DIY has been a piece of cake, so why not!? (we are delusional. I'm sure there's a diagnosable mental illness going on here.) Here is where I started:

You may be saying to yourself, "Hmm...that has stick figure legs and a caving-in dent in the top. That is ill-advised". Or maybe you're not. But maybe you're doubtful that I can pull this off. I shared that feeling, big time. My brain is good at making elaborate plans for things, but then I realize that the last woodworking project I completed was a bug house in an after school program in 3rd grade. But I am ambitious and determined, so with the help of free plans from super-genius Ana White, I combined elements from a couple plans (mostly this and this). 

It took me a long time to figure out the alterations and determine what wood to buy. My goal was to make the fewest cuts possible, so to attempt to use boards without altering their original width. The first day that I started actually cutting things and putting them together, I felt like a rockstar.  Things were working out, I had sawdust in my hair, I was using power tools, Ruben came home and was all impressed, the "structure" only collapsed once. It was great. 

And then I slowed my efforts, because I got confused about why my theoretical "sketches" were not translating into sturdy results. Also kind of frustrated. I mean, I built a bug house, how is that so different than a vanity? (ummmm) Then one day Ruben accidentally broke it when he was trying to reposition one leg. There were some tears. But then he said he would help me and things started moving more quickly. We moved it into the living room (having a floor that's level is a big plus apparently. Sorry, garage!) and got to work. The dream of having our living room back one day was motivating to actually make some progress, and we couldn't escape from it because it was there staring at us every time we walked by. 

We decided to give ourselves a deadline. Some friends were coming for a visit so we vowed to have the frame of the vanity painted, sealed, and installed by their arrival date. Ruben also decided to add to the pressure by taking out the perfectly good pedestal sink that has been in the bathroom all these months to make it imperative that we get it done before our guest arrived. And it was just the motivation we needed. At about 11:30pm the night before they got here, we did it! Well, I mostly just complained that it wasn't centered, and he did all the creative securing of heavy things and attaching of pipes. So basically we had equal contributions. Kidding. Ruben totally did it, and I pretty much was just in awe. 

I am so amazed at how much we've learned over the past year (actually one year today!) and how our confidence in tackling projects has grown. What an experience it has been for us! 

drawers are still yet to come :)


  1. I sooooo understand...how do I get a great looking piece, in a place where there is not much space, and still enough money so we can eat?

  2. I am so impressed! You two are amazing!

  3. Hats off to you guys. I love your new bathroom (I found your blog via a post on Apartment Therapy). I am VERY impressed.

  4. Katrina!! Thank you for this!!!!! We are remodeling our tiny 1940's bungalow bathroom and I have been racking my brains for weeks about our sink/vanity situation. I knew building my own design was the ticket but I dint want to take on such a huge feat. You've given me just enough hope to convince me that I can do this! Thanks for taking the time to document your remodel projects.
    Can you tell me what brand sink you used? And what brand toilet that is? I'm loving that tank lid!

    1. Thanks for your kind comment Daya! I love that you found the encouragement and hope to take the plunge! I think it will be worth it when you find the right solution for your space. I completely understand your dilemma, in these old lovely houses it can be tricky to maximize storage and counter space! The sink is made my Duravit, and the toilet is by Glacier Bay, it's just a basic but nicer looking one from home depot.


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