My friend Linda has a small bathroom with a big problem. A GIANT vanity was swallowing up all the space in her “sardine can-like” bathroom. She wanted a smaller, stylish vanity and asked if there was anything I could do. I accepted the challenge and today I’m sharing what I came up with. A DIY bathroom vanity loaded with BIG style that fits in small space!
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Today we’re heading to my friend Linda’s house for a little bathroom makeover. And I do mean little. Her house is about 750 square feet and the bathroom is tiny. The previous owners did some bathroom renovations like adding new tile, but when it came to the bathroom vanity they selected, it was just too BIG.
Linda wanted to ditch the basic big box store vanity and replace it with a smaller bathroom vanity. My goals for the vanity were to load it up with lots of style in a small space and build it with quality materials.
This vanity was a looooong time in the making. First, I was going to make the vanity out of some rough sawn cherry wood I had, but I ran into a problem. I regrouped and built the vanity with select pine and stained it a shade of grey. Linda’s floor tile was in good shape, so we were leaving it. I tested a sample of the grey stain next to the tile and it looked great. Then I stained the entire piece and it looked AWFUL! I tried stripping it and starting over, but the color still wasn’t right. No worries, that vanity found a new home at my aunt’s house!
Not only did I decide to start over, but I decided to do a complete redesign. This time I took inspiration from this vanity I found on Wayfair. I liked the overall design, but I wanted to give my piece more of a furniture look, rather than a bathroom vanity look, so I opted for faux drawers mounted to a solid door. That’s right, those “drawers” aren’t really drawers at all!
The bathroom vanity needed to be small, so the sink needed to be small too. Where’s the best place to get small, stylish sink? IKEA of course! This plan uses the IKEA Yddingen sink.
For even more style, I book-matched the side panels and drawer fronts. Book-matching really gives this bathroom vanity a sophisticated, upscale look. I was planning to stain this piece, so I used my favorite stainable glue.
I usually finish my furniture pieces with my DIY finish, because I’m not a fan of polyurethane. But I did use poly on the bathroom vanity because this piece needed a durable finish because it was going to see a lot of use and get splashed with water.
DIY Bathroom Vanity
Click here to download a PDF of the DIY Bathroom Vanity plan
1/2” pin nails
1/4” plywood 24”x24”
1/2” plywood 24”x24” (optional)
3/4” plywood 24”x48”
1-1/4” wood screws
1-1/4″ pocket screws
1-1/2″ pocket screws
(2) Cabinet hinges
Elmer’s Wood Glue Max
Rust-Oleum Ultimate Wood Stain – Dark Walnut
Step 1. Cut the Legs. Cut 4 pieces of 5/4×3 to 27-1/4″. On one end, measure up 2″ and in 2″. Connect the marks with a line. Cut the angle using a circular saw and crosscut jig. Repeat for the other legs.
Step 2. Cut the Side Rails. Cut 4 pieces of 5/4×3 to 10-3/4″ and drill pocket holes in each end.
Step 3. Cut the Bottom Side Rails. Cut 2 pieces of 5/4×2 to 10-3/4″ and drill a pocket hole in each end.
Step 4. Cut the Side Panels. Cut 2 pieces of 3/4″ plywood to 10-3/4″ x 9″ and drill pocket holes around the edges.
Note: I made my panels a little differently. I made 1/4″ book-matched panels and glued those panels to a pieces of 1/2″ plywood for a total of 3/4″.
Step 5. Assemble the Side. Layout 2 legs (make sure the angles face inward), the top rail, middle rail and bottom rail. The side panel sets in 1/4″ from the face of the legs. To help position the panel, I placed some scrap pieces of 1/4″ MDF on my workbench, then placed the panel on top. My book-matched panels had cathedral grain and I made sure this was pointing towards the top of the vanity. (Cathedral grain refers to the grain pattern of the wood. Think of the grain pattern like a mountain. You want the point of the mountain facing towards the top of the piece and the wide part of the mountain facing towards the bottom of the piece.)
To keep the proper spacing of the bottom rail I cut two pieces of scrap wood to 9″ and placed between the bottom and middle rail.
Once everything is laid out, apply glue to the ends of the rails, clamp the assembly and attach using 1-1/2″ pocket screws. Do not attach the panel at this point.
Flip the assembly over and be sure the panel sets in 1/4″ from the face of the legs. Adjust if necessary. Clamp the panel in position, flip the assembly over and attach the panel with 1″ pocket screws. Repeat for the other side.
Step 6. Cut 5 pieces of 1×2 to 15-1/2″ and drill a pocket hole in each end.
Step 7. Cut 5 pieces of 1×3 to 15-1/2″ and drill a pocket holes in each end.
Step 8. Cut the Bottom. Cut 1 piece of 3/4″ plywood to 15-1/2″ x 15″ and drill pocket holes around the edges.
Step 9. Assemble the Carcass. Apply glue to a 1×3 (from Step 7) and place at the top of the front legs. Attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.
Apply glue to a 1×2 (from Step 6) and place 11-3/4″ below the top brace. I cut a few pieces of scrap wood to 11-3/4″ to help position this piece. Attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.
Slide the bottom in position. Make sure the bottom is flush with the bottom of the side rails and front rail. Clamp and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.
Apply glue to a 1×2 (from Step 6), place at the top of the back legs and attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.
To help install the back slat, I cut a few pieces of scrap to 9″ and placed below the bottom. The back of the slat (from Step 7) is placed flush against the back legs. Attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.
Place a 1×2 (from Step 6) on top of the back slat. Attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.
From the bottom, drill a countersink hole and attach using a 1-1/4″ wood screw.
The remaining 3 slats (1×3’s from Step 7) are placed so that the tops of the slats are flush with the top of the bottom rails and spaced 13/16″ apart. To help with the spacing I cut a few pieces of 3/4″ scrap wood and attached pennies to the scrap wood with painter’s tape. The thickness of the wood plus the penny equals about 13/16″.
Attach the slats using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.
Make the Front Slat Assembly. Apply glue to the edge of a 1×2 (from Step 6) and attach to a 1×2 (from Step 6). To help position the front slat assembly, I cut a few pieces of scrap to 9″ and placed below the bottom. Place at the front slat assembly below the scrap wood and set in 1/4″. Attach using 1-1/4″ pocket screws.
Cut 2 pieces of 1/2″ plywood to 1-1/2″ x 3/4″. Apply glue and place under the front slat assembly. This piece will keep the front assembly from rocking.
Step 10. Make the Faux Drawers. Cut a piece of 1/4″ plywood to 15-1/4″ x 11-1/2″.
Make the “drawer fronts” from 2 pieces of 1/4″ plywood to 15-1/4″ x 5-11/16″.
Note: I used leftover pieces of the book-matched side panels to make my drawer fronts. Apply glue to the drawer fronts, place on the door panel (leaving a gap between the drawer fronts) and clamp until dry.
Wrap the drawer fronts with moulding. Miter the moulding, apply glue and tack in place with 1/2″ pin nails.
Step 11. Install the Hinges. Follow the manufacturer instructions for installing the hinges.