Repurposing a Buffet or Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity

As you renovate your bathroom, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to buy your updated vanity new. You might be able to save money and create an attractive antique aesthetic in your bathroom if you convert an old buffet or dresser into a bathroom vanity. While this project might seem imposing at first glance, it’s easier than it seems, so check out this simple step-by-step guide to transforming your old dresser into the perfect pedestal for your sink and toiletries.

1. Pick the Right Piece

First, you’ll need to acquire the right materials for the job. While you might have the perfect antique dresser or vanity sitting around that’s just begging to be converted into a vanity, the first step in this project might be a trip to your local antique store or reclaimed furniture warehouse.

To pick the right type of old dresser or buffet for your bathroom, you’ll need to keep your overall bathroom aesthetics in mind. If you’re trying to create an ultra-clean and minimalist modern bathroom, for instance, you might want to pick out a dresser with simple lines and peg legs. If you’re trying to blend the current era with times long past, however, a Victorian dresser with all the scrollwork might be a better choice.

Repurposing a Buffet or Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity


If saving money is one of your goals for this project, you might want to pick a relatively dinged-up piece of furniture. Keep in mind that sanding your dresser and applying a fresh coat of paint is easier than you might think.

2. Clean It Thoroughly

Whatever condition your piece of furniture is in when you get it home, it will be important to give it a thorough cleaning before you proceed. In some cases, it might make more sense to completely remove the current paint job and start over, or you might simply want to clean your dresser’s surfaces thoroughly and apply another coat of paint over the old one.

Since your new vanity will be in a wet area of your home, protect this wooden piece of furniture by applying a couple of layers of marine-grade varnish. Then, lay down a top coat or two in your preferred color.

3. Adjust the Drawers

Depending on the type of sink you install in your new vanity, you might need to make significant adjustments to the structure of the middle drawers in your dresser or buffet. If your piece of furniture doesn’t have middle drawers, you can move on to the next step, but at the very least, you’ll need to cut out areas for plumbing pipes to pass through toward the rear of your dresser.

Assuming your buffet or dresser has two large central drawers, you’ll need to remove these drawers and cut half-moon-shaped holes toward the back of each drawer. If you’re planning on installing a drop-in sink, you’ll need to cut a larger hole toward the back of the top drawer to allow proper clearance for your sink, but this step won’t be necessary for vessel sinks.

Repurposing a Buffet or Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity

4. Pick a Spot for the Sink

Decide where you want to place your sink on your repurposed dresser or buffet. In most cases, you’ll want to place your sink in the center of your new vanity, and the best way to center this bathroom feature is to measure the width and depth of your piece of furniture and mark the spot where these measurements intersect.

Next, you’ll need to measure the width and depth of your sink, divide each of these values in half, and subtract the resulting measurements from the center point of your vanity’s surface outward. Keep in mind, however, that you might want to have your sink further toward the front of your vanity; no matter what, your sink should be centered along your vanity’s width.

Once you’ve decided exactly where you want your sink to be, trace the shape of the cut you’ll need to make to admit your sink, and use a jigsaw to make the cut. If you’re planning to install a vessel sink, however, the only cut you’ll need to make will be for your sink’s plumbing.

5. Dry Fit All the Pieces

Before you make anything permanent by using glue, ensure that all of the pieces of your new vanity fit together properly. If you’re installing a drop-in sink, make sure it fits into the hole you’ve made like a glove, and if you’re installing a vessel sink, make sure the plumbing goes through without a hitch. Once your sink is in place, try reinserting the central drawers, and make sure that they close all the way.

6. Lay Down Tile

Now that you’re sure that all of your vanity’s pieces will fit together properly, it’s time to decide whether or not you want your new vanity to have a tile countertop. While tile is expensive and relatively hard to cut, it is much more water-resistant than wood, which means that installing this vanity surface may make your new bathroom feature last longer.

As you lay down tile, start from the center, and apply adhesive to the back of the tile and the top of your vanity in a zigzag pattern. While the adhesive is still wet, wiggle each piece of tile around to make sure that it creates a perfect seal with the pieces around it. For the areas around your sink, it will be necessary to cut your tile, and you may also need to cut your edge pieces to make sure they don’t hang over the edge of your vanity.

7. Finish the Installation Process

Lastly, you’ll need to apply adhesive and put your drop-in sink into its central hole or adhere your vessel sink to your vanity’s countertop. Apply plumbing caulk around the edges of your sink or plumbing to prevent leaks.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published