Finally Vanities!

I’m just going to jump right in talking about our vanities, but since it’s been forever, I’ll link a couple of posts that you can read if you can’t remember what the heck is going on around here.

First attempt at vanity installation (with a good compilation of bathroom progress)

Second attempt at vanity installation

Okay, so anyway…I bought, cut, and stained all the pieces for the vanity way back in summer.

pine panel stained panel

stain 1x2 stain sample

I chose pine panels for the sides, and 1x2s for the face frame (rails and stiles). I tested Kona and Ebony stain, and the Ebony was a perfect match to the Stuva Betsad drawer fronts we chose from IKEA (more on that in a minute).

Then we got distracted by bathtub drama and evictions. And then the hubs got around to building the first vanity a couple months later after we got the houses leased again (you can read all that saga here, here, here, here, and here). Btw, it’s coming up on six months and we haven’t collected a penny from either tenants.

So we had one built vanity sitting in our master bedroom for a few months while we finished the skylight, installed lighting and moved electrical outlets, chilled out during the holidays, and waited patiently for drawers to be altered.

That was the most recent hold up. Drawer alterations.

Most pipes come in from the wall, but for some reason ours come up through the floor. I have no idea what the logic is behind this, but we have SEVEN pipes coming up in the floor right where one of our vanities would be. They branch off and go to different rooms and they can’t be moved.

7 pipes

The only solution was to alter the drawers to fit around them. Well, no. That’s not exactly true. The easiest/fastest solution would have been a cabinet with the pipes coming in the bottom rather than the back. A store bought cabinet would have been super easy and fast, but the only solution for ME was to alter the drawers in our custom-built vanity. And, in case it isn’t glaringly obvious, my husband is awesome! He used his brain like crazy to figure out how to make this work…to satisfy his ridiculously picky wife. (In my defense, what the heck is the point of a major renovation if you don’t get what you want? Within financial restrictions, of course!)

I hate to use the word “design” to explain how I designed these vanities, because it isn’t exactly ground breaking. It’s pretty much the same basic box that any bathroom vanity, kitchen cabinet, or even a dresser starts out as.

I knew I wanted it to be “luxury height.” This is a master bathroom; no children need to brush their teeth here and our backs aren’t getting any younger. There’s no sense in bending over a ridiculous amount to wash your face. Of all the changes/advancements in the last generation, higher counters are one of my very favorite! The vanities we took out were 30″ and I wanted somewhere in the 36-40″ range.

I had already purchased mirrors (more on that when they get installed), so I took our ceiling height and subtracted the area for the lights, then subtracted the mirror size, then subtracted the amount I wanted for a backsplash, then subtracted the thickness of our counter. That left me with a rough estimate of how tall the vanity would be.

Had we been making our own drawer fronts, I would have had the flexibility to choose any size within the 36-40″ range. However, my husband is not up to building me all the drawer fronts. He has done that for me in multiple kitchens and he just wasn’t up to the task this time. Autoimmune diseases are for realio, y’all. He’s tired when he gets home. I only get weekends for home projects these days, and that’s shared with family time, of course. So anyway, I take what I can get. Time and health are important. Bathroom vanities aren’t so much.

That meant a trip to IKEA was on the agenda. I had preplanned all of this long before we started demo, so I had already calculated our dimensions and sourced the mirrors and counters. This wasn’t a blind trip to IKEA, and yet it was still the longest day we’ve ever spent there. Nine hours. Mainly because we were trying to purchase drawers and drawer fronts, but we didn’t like any of them that went together. We could have made our own drawers, but a pair of glides alone cost about what the entire drawer box costs from IKEA. Plus, turning a few cam lock nuts is much faster/easier than hauling home lumber, measuring, cutting, assembling, etc.

After walking back and forth through the showroom multiple times, and making a couple trips to each of the restaurant, the restroom, Smaland, and the As-Is room (seriously, nine hours flies by in that place), we finally settled on a combo that would have to be altered. The fronts that we wanted were meant to be paired with shallower drawers, but we wanted the drawers that came with a deeper storage system. (Shallower/deeper from front to back, not from top to bottom.)

It was really not a huge deal, since the fronts we chose were solid wood. We just had to make our own holes for attaching, instead of using the spot that came pre-drilled. This was not the “drawer altering”  part that came to be such an ordeal (working around the plumbing was). This was simple and I did it myself in less than an hour for all 16 drawers. Once I had all 16 drawer fronts in my possession, that is. Which was a miracle in and of itself.

mark new holes drill new hole drawer

You guys know how much I love/hate IKEA, right? I mean, it’s a serious case of adore/abhor. They didn’t have all the drawer fronts in stock that I needed, and that’s part of why the day took so long. We tried to talk ourselves into something else, but I really wanted solid wood. Particle board is fine for a bookshelf, but this is a bathroom vanity. It should be pretty durable, imo. Plus, I wanted it to have grain so the shell of my wood vanity would match the store bought fronts.

This was all happening in early summer and I wasn’t too concerned. We had Six Flags passes and I knew we’d be back to the DFW area half a dozen times. So we bought what they had and planned to return again in a few weeks when we knew we’d be in the area. And then I got concerned. IKEA removed the stock prognosis for the drawer fronts from their site. I knew what that meant. Discontinuation was in the near future. (I’m upset with IKEA as I type this for discontinuing the butcher block counter I wanted for a future project. I hate them. And love them. Seriously. It’s like a horrible relationship.)

I only needed a few more. THREE MORE! I sent out a call across the nation. We secured one. And possibly two more. I sent money via paypal to a friend of a friend that I didn’t even know because they apparently had some in her nearest store. (The stock prognosis was gone for the Frisco store, but not for everywhere yet. There was still hope.) By time she got there, they were gone. Of course. She sent my money back and refused to keep the amount I told her to keep for her troubles. Seems like a sweet girl. Thanks for trying!

So, I pretty much figured I would either have to rework my “design” to include fewer drawers or settle for a different drawer front. By the way, I’m convinced IKEA discontinued this item because of their cost, not because of popularity. Same with the butcher block counter I wanted. Greedy capitalists! 😉 Dumb environmentalists. Always trying to use less wood. Grrr.

Before I threw in the towel, I wanted to double check the As-Is room. IKEA had several displays throughout the store with these drawer fronts. I knew they would be pulling them all down and putting them for sale in the As-Is room. The only difficult part would be being in the store when this happened. I don’t exactly live down the street, so it’s not like I could run over there every day and check.

We had a weekend planned in DFW for the 4th of July, which was just around the corner by this point. I was cautiously optimistic.

I dropped the hubs and big boys off at Hurricane Harbor and headed to IKEA with the “baby.” (Shut up. He’s my baby. I’ll call him that for as long as I want. Besides, if you’re too short for water slides, you’re still a baby.)

I knew it was next to ridiculous to think that I’d find what I needed, but I did. Yep! Right there in the As-Is room, marked down to $3. THREE DOLLARS! And they had…get this…three. I’ve done a lot of happy dancing inside IKEA, (as well as some crying…like the time they told me over the phone that my stove was in stock and I drove down with a newborn crying the entire time and it was sold), but I think this was the first time cartwheels were involved. Just kidding. Maybe. This paragraph is the epitome of my love/hate relationship with that wonderful horrible place. Now you get it?

I’ll stop here for now, but I promise to be back SOON to finish up the vanities. I might even bust out multiple posts this week.


  1. These vanity posts are extremely helpful. I too am remodeling my master bathroom and have been pretty horrified at the prices of the retail vanities so I’ve opted to build one. It’s just a cabinet after all! Did yall put a board to brace the front of the cabinet along the floor? In another post it looked kind of like it was a floating vanity and you were going to add feet. (I’m trying to decide if I want to save some money on tile and stop at the front of the vanity)

    • No, we didn’t brace the front. We built it like a floating vanity and are adding feet. We’ve built kitchen cabinets before, though, and did put a kickplate. I imagine it would work the same for a vanity. In that instance, we built a simple square base for the cabinet to sit on (it’s how the old ones we tore out were built). It was built shallower than the cabinet so that it would sit back to allow for the kickplate/toe area. I hope that makes sense. Then we tiled up to the front of it.

Tell me what you think