Turning a beautiful antique dresser into a bathroom vanity is such a simple way to add charm and character. If you love a unique curated look then this project is definitely for you!
DIY Bathroom Vanity from a Repurposed Dresser
If there is one thing I see literally everywhere all the time it's going to be an old dresser. And I admit they are one of my favorite things to pick up, mostly because they're useful. Who doesn't need another vintage dresser?
I spotted this beautiful Eastlake Washstand (technically not a dresser, but close enough) in a flea market, but you can find them in thrift stores, on Facebook Marketplace, and even in antique stores.
And when I started my small guest bathroom remodel I knew this would be perfect.
How to Turn a Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity
Tools & Supplies
All of these supplies and tools can be purchased from your local Home Depot or most other local hardware stores. But I've linked them from Amazon for your convenience.
- A Sink Vessel Sink, Undermount Sink, or Typical Self-Rimming Drop-in Sink
- New Faucet We chose this Waterfall Faucet for a more vintage appeal
- Jigsaw + Jigsaw Blade
- Circular Saw + Finishing Blade
- Orbital Sander + 120 Grit Sandpaper
- Paint or Stain
- Protective Top-Coat
- Paint Brush
- Silicone Caulk
- Drill or Impact Driver
- 4" Screws
- Stud Finder
- Wood Glue
- 1 ½" Brad Nails
- Airstrike Brad Nailer
Watch a Video Tutorial on Turning a Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity
Step One - Purchasing a Dresser for a Potential Vanity
You can literally pick any dresser your heart desires, but there may be a few things you haven't thought of and they might be helpful to consider before you make a purchase.
It Doesn't Have to be a Dresser
I know this post is about turning a dresser into a vanity, but there are several furniture options that would work great as a bathroom vanity besides dressers.
- Console Table
- Wash Stand
- Small Table
- Desk or Vanity Desk
- Small Buffet
Two great things about purchasing a used piece of furniture to turn into a vanity is it can save you a lot of money and they can easily be personalized to fit your aesthetics with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware.
First Step: Before You Buy a Dresser
There is an allure to making your own antique bathroom vanity. More than just saving money, there are also many options for a dresser or another piece of furniture you can use! Here are a few things to keep in mind while you start your search.
Characteristics Dressers Should Have to Become Bathroom Vanities
Honestly, this is entirely up to personal style or personal preference and you could literally turn anything into a bathroom vanity. However, these are some things I wish I had put more consideration into before making my purchase.
- Dresser Height. If you find a shorter piece, as I did, you can always add legs or use a vessel sink (or both!).
- Dresser Material. You will definitely want solid wood which will be helpful in avoiding water damage down the road.
- The Type of Sink. The depth of the top of the dresser will determine what sink you should purchase. This matters because you need to either cut out a sink hole or mount it to the top. I, unfortunately, purchased a bathroom sink that was 19" deep for a dresser that was only 17" deep.
- Space for the Dresser Vanity. Measure the space you have to ensure you're purchasing a dresser that will fit. Don't just buy a dresser and hope there's enough room.
- The Vanity Top Options. The top of the vanity is important. Some dressers can be deceiving and may have pressed wood tops, or wood veneer. Others may come with a marble countertop.
Step Two - Cutting Holes for the Water Lines and Drain Pipe
The reason I am recommending you do this first is the placement of the plumbing fixtures on the wall cannot be moved.
In my case, I realized after I had already drilled the faucet hole and the drain hole in the vanity top that I had not lined the sink plumbing up with the wall plumbing. This required problem-solving and fancy plumbing skills to install new plumbing that I do not have.
Cutting A Small Hole in the Back of the Cabinet for the Each of the Plumbing Pipes
The best way to cut these holes would be to use a hole saw but can be done with a jigsaw or circular saw. Just ensure you're using a proper wood-cutting jigsaw blade and a finishing blade for your circular saw.
To Cut Holes Using a Jigsaw
- Measure on the wall the placement of the water lines and the drain pipe.
- Then mark their placement in a mirror-image on the back of your vanity.
- I drew a circle perimeter for each pipe. It might be smarter to cut out a template with a piece of paper to trace onto the wood to give yourself clear cutting lines.
- Drill a pilot hole near the inside of the circle perimeter.
- Carefully cut your holes out.
- Check your fit by sliding the vanity in place.
To Cut Holes Using a Circular Saw
- Measure on the wall the placement of the water lines and drain pipe.
- Then mark that perimeter as a rectangle mirror image on the back of the dresser.
- I still recommend drawing and cutting out a paper template to trace onto the back of your vanity.
- Lay your vanity flat on its face and begin your cut along the longest line.
- You can easily finish your cut in the corners with a jigsaw or carefully cut to each corner with your circular saw.
Note: Measure twice, cut once. I measured multiple times and still managed to be enough off that I gave up on the "three small holes" concept and cut out a rectangle instead.
If this happens to you, it's ok, no one will see it and it's still 100% functional.
Step Three - Placement of the Sink and Faucet
The details of this process will slightly change depending on what type of sink you choose.
Wood Top or Marble Top?
Cutting holes for the sink and or a faucet (assuming the faucet isn't being installed on the sink) is a quick and simple process on a wooden vanity top. However, if you're dealing with a marble top (especially antique marble) I would recommend having that done professionally, even with the additional cost.
For a Vessel Sink
For more in-depth instructions visit How to Install a Vessel Sink on a Dresser.
Before this process, definitely make sure you know exactly where the plumbing lines are on the wall through the vanity so you can install the sink directly above them.
- Find your placement by measuring your vanity top. Either the center from width and depth or placement from where the sink drain plumbing comes from the wall.
- Mark your spot and use your sink drain as a template, outline it with a pencil.
- Use a small bit or a countersink bit to drill a small hole. Then a larger bit to drill a pilot hole on the inside perimeter of your sink drain template.
- Use this hole to stick your jigsaw blade through and slowly cut the circle for the sink drain.
For a Self-Rimming Sink
Self-rimming sinks will come with a paper template you will cut out. Use this to trace onto your wooden top, and ensure it's in the center.
- Use the template outline of the sink to draw your cut marks on the wood.
- The next step is to drill a pilot hole using a small drill bit or countersink bit large enough for a jigsaw blade to fit through.
- Slowly use your jigsaw with a fine wood blade to cut where you traced.
- Do a dry fit to ensure your hole was cut correctly and that the sink fits.
For more detailed instructions see Homeowner's Guide to Drop-In Bathroom Sinks.
Hook Up Your Sink and Faucet Plumbing
Before you retrofit your drawers you really want to have the plumbing hooked up to the sink and faucet so you know exactly what you need to work around.
To keep my project moving I didn't do this and ended up having to fix a couple of drawers later. This meant twice the work, which isn't efficient.
Step Four - Retrofitting the Drawers for the Plumbing
This really isn't complicated like it might feel. I thought this was going to be much more technical than it actually was. Let's walk through this process one drawer at a time. Soon you will be sighing a sign of relief!
Customizing the Cuts Drawer by Drawer
These steps will likely vary depending on what kind of dresser you have chosen. My dresser/washstand has 4 larger drawers, so I will explain from my perspective. Feel free to adjust wherever you need to.
The Top Drawer
If you choose a dresser that has a couple of really small drawers on the top you may need to cut the drawer off and permanently affix the drawer front. Since my top drawer was larger I was able to still use most of it and only lost a small portion of drawers.
- From the left drawer slide measure to the center sink drain pipe. Mine was 15" in either direction giving space for the pipes so the drawer could easily slide in and out without touching it.
- Then measure from the front of the drawer to the water lines. My water lines were on the left side and didn't take up much space. Therefore I was able to keep 12" of the 15" drawer depth.
- From the right drawer slide measure to the center sink drain pipe. Still 15", but on this side, the drawer had no water lines to accommodate so I kept it at 15" depth.
The Middle Drawer
You basically follow the same principle as the top drawer.
- From the left measure from your drawer slide to your plumbing. Give plenty of space.
- Measure from the front of the drawer front (front of the dresser) to the water lines. This is your horizontal line for that section.
- From the right drawer slide (side of the drawers) measure to the center sink drain pipe.
The Bottom Drawer
Exact same steps as the first two or three drawers. However, the middle drawer and this drawer likely will have the most cut out of them to accommodate the sink drain pipe.
My bottom drawer will need to be cut down even more so it doesn't bump into the plumbing. It will end up with no center space at all. Just two side spots.
Building the Drawers Around the Cuts
I had the perfect piece of wood laying around in my stash pile. I used a 1x6x8 pine board to build the drawers around the cuts. Here's a quick step-by-step guide for how I went about this process.
- First thing is to measure your longest board, which will typically be the back of the drawer board.
- Measure, cut, and dry fit each board before installing them. This is a bespoke process, each cut is made specifically to fit where it needs to go. Adjust as needed.
- You may need to attach the boards to each other before installing them on the drawer body itself.
- When you're ready to install the boards use wood glue and 1 ½" brad nails to tack it into place on the side. Then nail it to the drawer bottom from underneath the drawer for that added stability.
Yes. Add charm and character to a bathroom space by using a secondhand piece like a dresser, buffet, desk, old-fashioned vanity, or console table as a unique custom-made bathroom vanity. The best part is its budget-friendly and a fairly simple process.
1. Purchase a secondhand dresser or another piece of furniture.
2. Give the top a protective waterproof top coat.
3. Cut the holes in the back for the plumbing.
4. Cut the holes for the sink and faucet and install them.
5. Retrofit any drawers to accommodate the plumbing.
A quick inexpensive way to add charm and that curated character to a bathroom space is to use a secondhand piece of furniture. You could use it as a bathroom vanity, double vanity, or just as a statement piece if your bathroom is large enough to accommodate it. Not only is it cost-effective and budget-friendly, but it also has the ability to sneak extra storage space into the room.
There are several pieces of bedroom furniture that would work really well in a bathroom space depending on your needs. A dresser, wardrobe, cabinet, side table, old-fashioned vanity, or even a bench would be great additions to any bathroom. Use them as an installed fixture as a bathroom vanity, or as an add-on piece for storage.