Converting a Bedroom Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity
To add a touch of elegance and old world style to your bathroom, convert a bedroom dresser into a bathroom sink vanity. This project is not just confined to turn of the century furniture either. Maybe you prefer the sleek lines of art deco, or the retro feel of a 70’s era dresser. Contemporary or primitive, nearly any style of bedroom dresser can be converted, adding a unique dimension to your bathroom.
This is a fairly simple project and easily accomplished by most people. The cost of this project will depend primarily on how much you pay for the sink, faucet and dresser you select. You should be able to complete this in a single day. The tools you will need for this project are:
Drill – Also, misc. drill bits and screw heads
Screwdriver – flat and Phillips
Small pipe wrench
Paint brush – if not installing a countertop
The first step in this project is to select the dresser you want to convert. There are a few things to consider when selecting a dresser. Probably the most obvious is the dresser height. Measure the height of the sink currently in your bathroom and use that as a guide. The drawers need to be deep. Remember that you will be installing a sink and plumbing, so try to find a dresser that when the top drawer is removed, will provide clearance for the sink to fit. Many dressers may also come with a mirror attached. If you are planning to install counter top on the dresser, then the mirror should be attached to the back, not the top of the dresser.
Now that we have the dresser and the rest of the materials and tools assembled, we can begin with this little project. The obvious first step is removing the old sink and vanity. To do this, you first need to turn off the water to the sinks supply lines. Next, disconnect the drain line from the sink and the wall using a pipe wrench. Place an old bowl or other container under the drainpipe to catch water that will spill out when you remove the pipe. Next, use a wrench to disconnect the supply lines from the sink.
Now that the sink is disconnected, you will need to remove it with the old vanity. Depending on how the vanity was installed, it could have screws or nails securing it to the wall, the floor or both or it could also simply be free standing and not attached at all. Remove any screws or nails holding the vanity in place and remove it from the bathroom.
A quick note at this stage should be noted. When the old vanity was installed, there may have been no flooring installed underneath it. If your new dresser vanity is on legs, you may have to think about applying some sort of floor covering to this space before installing the dresser vanity.
With the wall now exposed, take a large piece of brown paper (an old paper grocery bag works well for this), place the bag flush against the wall where the drain and supply lines are and mark on the bag the locations of these lines. With a pair of scissors, cut these markings out, so that you have holes in the paper at the locations of the piping. Now, slide the dresser into the space it is to be installed, leaving about a foot between the dresser and the wall. Place the brown paper plumbing template on the back of the dresser, line it up with the plumbing on the wall and tape the paper to the back of the dresser. Pull the dresser out and mark the locations of the plumbing from the template onto the back of the dresser. Pull out the drawers and cut out the holes in the back to accommodate the plumbing.
Now you have a decision to make. You can leave the original top on the dresser or you can install a countertop material. If you are going to preserve the original top of the dresser, then you are ready for the next step. If you are going to install counter top, you will need to first remove the old dresser top. Most dressers are constructed with the top attached only to the tops of the side panels. You will first need to remove any screws, nails or other connecting hardware attached to the dresser top. Using a jigsaw, cut at the base of the dresser top where it meets the side panels. Cut all the way around to release the top from the dresser. In some construction, the dresser top may have provided a degree of structural integrity to the dresser. If this is the case, you may need to install braces in the corners to stiffen the framework. Simply cut triangle shaped wood pieces, place them in the corners and screw into the corner framework. You should now be ready to install the counter to manufacturers specifications.
If you are keeping the original top, the first thing to do is to cut out an opening for the new sink. To do this, use your tape measure and measure the length of the dresser. Use this measurement to locate the center of the dresser. Mark the center with chalk on the front edge of the dresser. Now turn the new sink upside down and place on top of the dresser. Center it on the mark you made and set it back from the front edge about 3” to 4”. Using chalk trace the outline of the sink onto the dresser top. While you have the sink upside down, measure the lip under the sink. You will need to cut the hole for the sink this much smaller than what is marked. So, if the lip measures 1 inch, you will need to cut the hole 1 inch smaller than your outline. Now drill a pilot hole in the top big enough to fit the jigsaw blade into. Next, using a jigsaw cut out the hole for the sink. Dry fit the sink now to ensure it settles into the hole properly. You may have to cut away a drawer guide from the top drawer to allow the sink to fully settle into its hole.
If the faucet you are using is not attached to the sink itself, you will also need to drill holes to accommodate it. With the sink still dry fitted, locate your faucet where you plan to install it. Use chalk to mark the locations of the water connections onto the dresser top. Now, drill holes to accept the faucet and dry fit it to make sure it is in properly located.
With your holes all cut out, you will need to prepare the surface for its new use. Using a good quality Polyurethane, cover the entire outer surface of the dresser. I would recommend multiple coats on the dresser top, as this area will have constant exposure to moisture. If your dresser has an attached mirror, I would recommend a coat on it as well. Apply the Polyurethane with a brush according to the manufacturers instructions.
Now you are ready to install the sink in the dresser. I have found that “Liquid Nails” is as good an adhesive as any for this project. Lay a bead of the adhesive onto the dresser top around the hole for the sink. Lower the sink into the hole and ensure that good contact with the adhesive is created. Now run a very thin bead of bathroom caulk around the edge where the sink meets the dresser to seal it all up.
We now need to do a couple of modifications to the dresser to finish the outside and make it functional. Obviously, we are not going to be able to use the top drawer since the sink now occupies that space. You have two options here. You can simply remove the front of the top drawer and permanently reattach it to the dresser front. You can also install hinges on the inside bottom of the top drawer opening and a latch on the inside top. Take the top drawer front and attach a long narrow basket or other tray like container to the backside of it. Now attach the drawer front to the hinges and you now have a small usable compartment for this space.
You may also find that the second drawer is in the way of the plumbing. An easy fix for this is to cut a small piece of scrap wood for a new drawer back. With all the plumbing installed, slide the drawer in to its slot until it touches the plumbing. Mark onto the drawer where the pluming meets the drawer. Measure how far from the back of the dresser the plumbing extends. Now cut out slots in the drawer to accommodate the plumbing. Now install the new drawer back you cut earlier.
Now for the last step, hooking it all up. Slide the dresser back into its new home, making sure the pluming lines up in the back. Once in place, first reconnect the drain line from the wall to the sink. Next is the faucet. You should not need to use any caulking to seal the faucet since most new faucets come with a rubber base seal. Slide the faucet connections into the holes. From the underside, screw on the retaining nuts, then with a wrench, connect the supply lines to the faucet. Turn on the water and check for leaks. Turn the faucet on and check for proper operation and drain leaks.
Variations on this project include using a narrow upright cabinet or table for a small sink. A large dresser or buffet can be used for a double sink vanity. Let your imagination be your guide.