Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Our Revamped Bathroom Vanity

March definitely hasn’t been a good month for blogging but it’s been productive. I finally finished revamping our bathroom vanity which I began writing about in this post back in January. And without further ado, here are the before and after shots.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a drastic improvement from the dated ugly box we started with. And believe it or not it’s still the same vanity that’s been upgraded with some base board , bead molding, paint, new hardware, and new doors constructed by my handy hubby.
Here are the steps we took to get from point A to B:
Step One is obvious - Remove the old doors and hardware. I also removed some 40 year old (probably original) contact paper from the inside and primed the whole inside of the cabinet.

Ste Two - Cut and install base board around the bottom of the cabinet. I used some big box store pre-primed base board. I cut miters for the corners with our compound miter saw, cut the other edges and curved radiuses with a coping saw, and then Jens saved me some time and cut the straight portion between the two “feet” with a straight cut bit in his router. I installed it with finish nails using a pneumatic nailer/stapler (aka nail gun).

Step Three - Become impatient with lack of progress on bead molding (see step 4), and decide to prime/paint the outside of the cabinet. I used gray latex primer and Gildden’s Onyx Black latex paint in a High Gloss. In an attempt to achieve less visible brush marks I also mixed in some Floetrol latex paint additive. It may have helped a little but there are still more brush marks than I’d like. If I had a do-over, I’d probably use an oil-based paint and go for an eggshell or semi-gloss finish - it flows a little better and shows fewer brush strokes . The high gloss finish tends to show every single brush stroke. To get the luxe glossy look I’d then use a clear vanish over the oil-based paint to protect it and give it some more shine.

Step Four – Cut and install bead molding. Using 3” width poplar from the big box store Jens used his router to put a bead profile on each edge of the poplar. He then cut the bead off (leaving a shoulder on the bead) by running the beaded boards through his table saw. This was good practice for our built-in cabinets we’re constructing around our fireplace which will be done in hard maple. Our take away lesson here is to make sure we are using wood stock that is the same thickness as the cabinet face frame to cut the bead molding from.  If you use different thickness’ the back edges don’t sit flush which can lead to hardware installation issues later. The other thing we’ll do different with our other cabinets is leave a smaller shoulder on the bead molding, just an aesthetic preference.

After Jens cut the bead molding on his table saw, I cut it to down to the correct length using the compound miter saw for a mitered joint in the corners. Admittedly, I wasn’t as precise here as I should have been since I knew I could caulk the gaps in the miters and the paint would hide any sloppy miter joints. It’s a good thing I now have some practice because this’ll have to be perfect on our stain grade maple cabinets. The bead was installed with some finish nails using the air gun. I LOVE the air gun! I get giddy when I get to use it so I forgot to sand the bead molding before installing so the wood was a little fuzzy but the two coats of paint I put over it helped hide it a bit.  

Step Five – Build the new doors. Using the leftover from the 3” poplar board that we cut the bead profile away from, Jens made cabinet door rails and stiles using his brand spanking new router table and a rail and stile router bit set. I’m not going to go into all the details, I’ll let Jens explain that complicated part in his own post some day for those of you who are into the hard-core woodworking stuff. For the panels of the door we used ¼” thick MDF. I then got the fun job of sanding the assembled doors and priming/painting them (See step 3).

Step Six  – Install doors and hardware. Besides picking out the correct hinges for an inset door, there’s not much to explain here. We used a more traditional looking hinge and pull in a modern brushed nickel finish to echo the new traditional form and modern finish of the cabinet. We also used some magnetic door catches for inset doors to help the doors stay closed. I installed the hinges on the cabinet first and then attached them to the doors, no mortising or trickery required just pre-drilling pilot holes once I got the positioning correct and securing everything with the provided screws. It was more art than science  attempting to even out the reveal around the doors and make sure everything was hanging approximately even. (I used playing cards as shims to help get the right spacing around the perimeter)

It’s far from perfect but I’m happy with it and since I’m happy with it Jens is happy with it. The wood, paint and hardware were relatively cheap in comparison to a new vanity and we got a lot of practice in cutting beading and making cabinet doors for the built-in cabinet project. Now we just need to wait for some warmer weather to tackle cutting and polishing the carrera marble for the top that I scored for $50 off of craigslist well over a year ago.


  1. Thanks Vanessa for the compliment on our work and our FIRST blog comment!

  2. I Love the paint color! What did you use?

  3. ABSOLUTELY Wonderful! I love this!

    I would be SO happy if you would consider writing a special guest post about this project for my blog Remodelaholic. Please let me know if you are interested, and I will send you the details!


  4. I had to drop in from Remodelaholic and tell you how much I "crazy" love your cabinet...I wanted so bad to paint ours in both bathrooms and now we are moving and the new house has new white ones...but I have a house full of oak I would love to re-do (if I can muster up the courage)...

    I will visit often!!! If you get a chance I would for you to visit me!!!

  5. I LOVE THIS! We're about to install a second bathroom, and it is looking like our budget will only allow for a second-hand vanity from the re-store...so this post is super inspiring! Thanks!

  6. Adding the baseboard around the bottom of the existing vanity is brilliant! I was thinking I'll eventually completely gut my (VERY similar) bathroom vanities, but this is less drastic option and makes the vanity look completely different--could be a more budget friendly option for me. Great post!