New Life for Antiques as Unique Bathroom Vanities

September 1, 2017

Everyone spends some amount of time in their bathroom daily. So you want to make sure it looks good in there! One option that can give your bathroom a sophisticated look without breaking the bank is by using an antique dresser or sideboard. Such a piece can be converted into a stunning bathroom vanity. No matter what your personal taste is, an upcycled or repurposed piece of furniture has character and can give your bathroom a one-of-a-kind look.

Choosing the Right Piece – The possibilities as to what types of antiques can be converted into bathroom vanities or cabinets are endless. Dressers, buffets, and sideboards are the most popular choices for a bathroom cabinet conversion. Other choices include an old butcher block or farmhouse table, an antique school teacher’s desk, an old Hoosier cabinet, or a beautiful Asian cabinet with a sophisticated array of doors and drawers.

If you plan on installing a sink into your piece, you need an antique that is between 30” – 36” tall and has enough depth to hold the sink. Be sure to measure not only the top but the frame of the furniture to see if it will fit properly into your space. Remember to leave an additional three inches of space at the back in order to allow room for plumbing attachments to the vanity.

It is far easier to convert a piece of furniture that has doors rather than drawers. Pieces with drawers are able to be converted, but running plumbing through a drawered antique may be more trouble than it’s worth. One solution is to cut the drawers and to tack the face back onto the piece to create false drawers. A second option is to install smaller drawers with a spring loaded opening to reveal a small storage compartment. That will leave the back of the piece open for plumbing.

A third option is cutting notches into the drawers that are in the way so that the plumbing can fit through the drawers. The downside is that small objects could fall into the crack.

Choosing the Right Basin – Going to a local salvage shop such as Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Stores, an antiques shop or auction, you can find vintage sink basins that can be easily restored with a bit of TLC. If you have the sink you want to use picked out, be sure to measure the top to ensure that it will fit onto the top of the dresser or sideboard you are looking to use.

  • Countertop or vessel basins are extremely popular right now.  These are made to look like a bowl that sits on top of the countertop. These types of basins can also be slightly recessed. Basins can be found that are constructed of traditional porcelain, glass or acrylic, mosaic tile, or even made from stone such as granite, bloodstone or from clear or rose quartz crystal.
  • An over mount or drop-in basin is the most common sink type. These sit on the countertop and have a lip all the way around the basin to hold it in place. Self-rimming sinks also fall into this category and create a rim that is slightly raised from the surface of the countertop.

Because of the exposure to water, you will need to add additional protection to your new vanity’s surfaces. Some antiques feature stone tops such as marble or granite, both of which are naturally water resistant. You can also add a marble, granite or quartz countertop if you choose.  For an antique piece with a wood top, you will need to seal it. Some homeowners seal their converted antiques with an epoxy resin that is specially made for countertops. This will dry clear creating a hard countertop surface in about 72 hours once it’s applied. After it’s completely dry, the epoxy-sealed surface is waterproof.

Of course, you don’t have to cut into an antique to turn it into a vanity if you don’t want to. If your bathroom has enough space, it can sit along one wall and hold things like linens and towels. However, if you do take an antique into the bathroom be sure to give it the protection it needs from water so that your piece will last far into the future.



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