Antique Dresser Vanity


Antique Dresser Vanity

“Thinking outside the box (store)”

One of my latest projects was redoing my half bathroom. It was a fairly average makeover besides the vanity. I decided to take an old dresser I bought and turn it into a unique vanity / conversation piece.

This project took some searching. First, I looked on craigslist and other “for sale” sites, for the perfect dresser that fit the dimensions I was looking for. I needed it to be 36 inches long, 22 inches deep and about 33 inches tall. I tried to find one that was similar in size to the vanity that I was replacing. This is an important step because I planned to buy a vanity top prefabricated, either at Lowes or Home Depot. These tops come in only a few standard sizes. I wanted a prefabbed top for 2 reasons:

1. I could return it if I had to bag the whole thing. At that point I would only be out the price of the dresser which I found for $40.

2.  Prefabbed tops are cheaper than having one custom made at a granite store. The cheapest estimate, custom made, was $450. I got my prefabbed top at Home Depot for $250. That was one of the more expensive ones.

The dresser I ended up using was the right height and width however it was only 16 inches deep. The standard 22 inch deep vanity I wanted to use wouldn’t work with out a little modification on my end. I started by carefully removing the back of the dresser, which in my case was old barn wood (super cool). This was saved for later use. I placed the dresser in its final resting spot and used the wood from the back to fill in the missing 6 inches. It only needed to be done on one side because the other side was against the side wall.


Modified and reinforced drawers

Next, I needed to make room for the plumbing to fit. My dresser had 4 drawers. I had to alter the two middle drawers to make room for the plumbing. The bottom drawer missed all plumbing, and the top one is now foe, fake, no worky, just for looks (you get the point). To figure out where the drawers needed to be notched for the plumbing, I put each drawer in and marked where it needed to be cut to miss the pipes.


I used my table saw, but you could use really anything that gets the job done. With the drawers being cut, they lost some of their strength so I needed to reinforce the drawer. I will say that I own a nail gun and it is one of my most used tools.  I used liquid nails before placing the new wood to make it nice and sound, and then reinforced it with my handy nail gun. I calked the seams because I wanted a clean seal then I primed and painted the inside.

I don’t have a before picture that I can find. Sorry!

Now that I had the dresser in place, its only 3 sided, time to reinforce. I decided to add a 2×4 to the wall to support the weight of the granite since the dresser is missing its back and depth. I also needed to add a 2×4 shim behind the dresser on both sides to keep the dresser from sliding back.

As you can see in the photos above, the bottom support of the the dresser was able to be left intact.

One more thing. This dresser was an antique and needed to be made solid again. To do that, wood glue and the nail gun were needed. I put glue in the joints and sometimes that requires that you pull off pieces (carefully) and add a bit of glue and reattach so as to make it solid and good as new. Glue gets brittle with time and sometimes all it needs is to be reapplied. Mine also had a chunk of wood taken out of the decorative key hole. I wanted to make sure that it was fixed before I stained it, so I


Reworked molding

put some wood filler in and tried to mold it to resemble what was missing.  After that I sanded, stained and lacquered all the drawer faces. You could paint it of course, but I was going for the stained look. I used two coats of polyurethane and sanded with 150 grit paper between coats. The dresser on the other hand needed to be painted because of the added wood to make it deeper, plus I wanted it dark blue, called “Cape Storm” (Do it Best) Paint (little secret its made by Sherwin Williams and cost half the price).


To finish it off I added baseboard and caulked the bottom so that water wouldn’t get underneath. Caulking is going to be your new best friend, learn to perfect the art!!!

Oh and one more tip, connect ALL fixtures to the vanity top BEFORE installing to the dresser, you will thank me later.

Below are a few of the finished photos. Notice, in the first picture, the addition to the side of the dresser. It’s the last bay, of the 3 panels on the side. Almost unnoticeable.




2 Comments on “Antique Dresser Vanity

  1. Very cool idea. How long did it take to make and how much did it cost total?

    • Thank you! to break it down, after I bought the dresser, I spent about 2 or so hours resecuring all the parts again, making sure it was sound. I let that dry a day, then I removed the top AFTER all was cured so as not to make it worse. I spend about 3 hours doing the drawers and remaking them, set them aside and spent probably 4 hours securing, and adding the addition and base board, and caulked the whole thing, then let it dry over night again. Primed and painted the next day and then added the top (after connecting the faucet and hoses, very important step) and touched up the paint. The dresser was $40. The top was about $259. The faucet was I think $130. The paint and supplies I had on hand.

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