Friday, May 16, 2014

DIY Vanity + Makeup Storage

Hi friends,

This is a project I have been putting off for so long, but no more!

My husband and I have not done much with the Master Bath in our attic since we bought the house and it is just about as functional as functional can be. Tub/Shower, toilet, vanity with one sink, mirrored cabinet. That's it!

This is our bathroom after I had painted it prior to moving into our home.

It's a no thrill bathroom - but it does like space and storage for all my junk (ahem - makeup)

I had this dresser right under the window, which I use for my intimate stuff (undies etc.), socks and pajamas. I don't care much for the standing cabinet you can see in the back, the glass part of it is cool, but the drawers are too deep and very narrow making them unpractical for makeup and other small items. 

So, after 3 years in our home, my makeup collection and other stuff grew and the bathroom exploded with bins on top of bins, trays full of stuff, drawers that could not longer be shut etc. So, I decided it was time to take matters in my own hands and build a vanity that would be an extension of the sink, with enough storage underneath to stash all my stuff - in a more organized and functional way.

(These are not the best pictures in the world, they were all taken with my cell phone - I hope you do not mind too much - I am simply trying to showcase the process here).

My first step was to remove the dresser - it was relocated to the other side of the room, by the door.
I also disassembled the tall cabinet and only kept the glass top for storage. This would make a great storage unit if fixed directly onto the wall.

I came up with a design that would fit the overall look of the bathroom and took off to The Home Depot to have some plywood cut to size.

I started with a simple design, two cubes with shelves on either side, feet and a single shelf on top, a lip all around, nothing fancy.

Here are my measurements:

Top: 53 3/4 x 21
Sides (4): 21 x 20
Shelves: (4): 21 x 15
Bottoms (2): 21 x 16.5
Lips (all around): 53 3/4 x 2.5 and two 21 x 2.5
Legs: I used deck spindles cut to size (8.5) but you can also use 2.5 in dowels cut to size.

The idea here is to simply assemble all the pieces using deck screws and wood glue. I started with the cubes.

Once the "U" shape was put together with three deck screws on either sides, all I had to do was insert the shelves and screw them directly into the sides. I did use wood glue on all sides prior to using the more permanent screws.

This is what it looked like once the two cubes where completed. I temporarily placed the top so that I could measure the needed space in between as well as the amount of overhang (in the front) I wanted. The overhang makes the vanity a bit more stylish and much less like a homemade design. My overhang is only 3/4 of an inch.

For the legs, I used leftover spindles from our front porch project a few summers back. These spindles are perfect since one will produce two feet, so all together, I needed four spindles (8 feet).

This is a great way to recycle stuff you have laying around in your garage. All I had to do was measure the height needed (8.5) so that the top of my vanity would align with my other counter top (with sink). I needed to cut the ball (in the middle) out and measure on up to 8.5 inches.

Here, they are, all 8 of the feet for my vanity.

Now, attaching the feet to the bottom of my cubes was a bit tricky and I ended up drilling a hole in the bottom and the foot, then used carriage bolts straight into the foot for a solid hold (I explain this process in detail in the video below).

The advantage of using carriage bolts drilled directly from the inside of the cube into the feet is of course stability and if need be, they can be tightened. Something that would not have been possible, had I just toe nailed the feet directly into the bottom panels.

On to the top!

Adding the lips all around was not a huge task either, however, instead of nailing them, I pre- drilled holes and screwed the lips directly into the top panel from the bottom. If you are planning on replicating this DIY project or a variation of it, remember to place the lips prior to fixing the top onto the cubes, otherwise you will not be able to screw the lips directly from the bottom of the flat top. I am hoping I am making some kind of sense here. I simply used wood glue and finishing nails to affix the top onto the cubes.

I wanted to have more use of the top and decided to add a shelf on either side, with a gap/ space in the middle for my mirror. You could also run a shelf across the entire top if you want to, it is just a matter of using finishing nails directly into the lips. You would need smaller inserts to support the middle part of the shelf though.

In my DIY project, I have a shelf on either side.

Because this is plywood, it is important to spend a lot of time sanding all surfaces and buff them to a smooth finish before painting.

I did use caulk (the paintable variety) all around to fill in hairline gaps and little defects in the plywood.

For paint, I chose a Glidden interior latex in bright white/semi gloss. The hardest part was to paint all the corners first (twice) before applying the top coats on flat surfaces.

And here is the finished vanity:

Next week, I will take you on a tour of all my organization and makeup storage ideas since the whole point of the vanity, was to store my makeup and other pampering goodies.

Here are two videos I made of the full project - I explain everything in much more details.

Part One:

Part Two:

I really hope I inspired you with this project - it really was not too hard, it is just a matter of being organized and taking the time to go through the process, no skipping steps on that one.

What do you think? Is that something you could build? I am interested in finding out what modifications (if any) you would make if this were a vanity for your own use.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog.

Connect with me on:

Sophia, NJ.


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  1. Hi Sophia - You ROCK!! Well done for a fantastic project you have completed, it really looks awesome. I like to see "your little grey cells" working when you are working through projects. No doubt your brain is on overtime working on what you are going to do next - can't wait to see what you do. You are one inspirational lady and I am so pleased a stumbled upon your channel. Lorna, North Lincs UK

  2. Great job on your vanity! I would not be brave enough to try such a big project. You did mention about the texture of the plywood, my Dad was a carpenter and he used a birch plywood for cabinets and such. It has a lot prettier and smoother finish. It also costs more. That might help for your future carpentry projects! Again, congratulations on a nice job!!

  3. Very nice job. Great troubleshooting ability. I'm hoping to absorb some of your creativeness! Good job.

  4. I love your blog and videos. I just stumbled onto it this week and I have to say I so, so impressed with your DIY skills!! Are you self-taught? I purchased a 90-year old house about 3 years ago and you actually make me think I can tackle some of my to-do list without hiring a handyman! Thank you from a single woman who is going to start her first project this week thanks to your inspiration!

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  11. I didn't suppose that so beautiful thing we can by ourselves. I have to try be more interested in it. Because we hired couple companies to decorate our home. We are very pleased because everything looks great (check that www and this firm). But I think I have to do DIY. It's more unique.

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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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