Turning a Mid-Century Modern Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity

Do you love the mid-century modern style, but find the selection for bathroom vanities severely lacking? Today I’ll show you how to turn a modern dresser into a vanity including how to alter those drawers to work around the plumbing.

Turning a Mid-Century Modern Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity

Hello out there, is anyone still listening? I’ve been a bit delayed on getting the Millie’s Remodel updates and tutorials live on the site. (I shared why I’ve been offline here.) Today I have the much asked for tutorial and I’m excited to share how to turn a mid-century modern dresser into a bathroom vanity.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

While working on the Millie’s Remodel project, I looked everywhere for a vanity for the main bathroom. Unfortunately, I didn’t like any of the options available. They were either too expensive or they looked cheaply made. So, I ordered a dresser very similar to this one:

(The actual dresser I ordered is no longer in stock, but this one is a good look-a-like.) When it arrived, I was incredibly happy with the mid-century modern style look I was craving, but I knew I needed to make some modifications for it to accept a sink and the plumbing underneath. Luckily, I’d been “looking under the hood” of a lot of bathroom vanities and taking notes on how to modify the drawers to fit around the plumbing.

Average Height for a Bathroom Vanity:

Back in the day, bathroom vanities were 30 – 32 inches tall. Today, as our average height is growing, most people prefer 34 – 36 inches for a bathroom vanity height. If you’ve ever seen vanities that are shorter than 30 inches, it’s usually because the floor was laid and/or built up around the vanity instead of the vanity being set on top of the tile. In fact, Millie’s bathroom vanity was a mere 28 inches tall. It was ridiculously short.

When shopping for your vanity dresser, keep the final height in mind looking at the dresser height. Don’t forget to account for the countertop thickness if you will be adding a new top. Typically countertops are 1.25 inches thick.

Modifications to Turn a Dresser Into Bath Vanity:

  • Remove the legs (if the vanity will be taller than 36 inches once the countertop is added)
  • Secure the top drawer face (or use hardware to create a tilt out cubby)
  • Modify the second (and possibly third drawer) for the plumbing
  • Choose a countertop
  • Install a faucet
  • Add a sink

Countertop Options for Dresser Turned into Sink Vanity:

The sky is the limit when it comes to countertop options for your dresser. Granite, quartzite, or other stone materials provide an attractive and long lasting surface for your vanity. Keep in mind Marble, soap stone, concrete, and other soft stone materials may etch and require more upkeep. Cultured marble, granite, or quartz would provide a more durability surface. Laminate countertops are a very affordable option for your new sink vanity. Any countertop you use in the kitchen can be used in your bathroom. I’ve seen many people keep the original dresser top and cut a hole for a sink or set a bowl sink on top. A word of caution, if you’re using the original wood dresser top, protect the wood with several layers of a marine varnish or other strong topcoat. Also, try to wipe up any water droplets from the surface immediately. (Using the existing top of the dresser means a lot more maintenance to protect from scratches and water damage.) You could rationalize a more expensive countertop by comparing the time and energy used to maintain each top.

How to Turn a Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity:

It’s time to take that dresser and turn it into a beautiful and functional bathroom sink vanity. Let’s gather a few supplies first.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Optional: Table Saw

Electrician’s Plyers

Video: How to Convert a Modern Dresser into a Sink Vanity

I made a video tutorial to show you exactly how I converted a mid-century modern dresser into a modern bathroom sink vanity. (Of course, I also tried to insert some humor into the video, so I hope you get a few laughs.)


  1. Determine the final height of your vanity. Subtract for your countertop. Determine if you need to remove or alter the legs to achieve the desired height.
  2. Remove the top drawer. Next, remove the drawer slides for the top drawer because these can be saved for another project. Save the drawer face. (You may need to remove the drawer knobs to disconnect the drawer face from the box.)
  3. Secure the drawer face to the face frame of the cabinet with screws. If your cabinet doesn’t have a face frame, add some blocking inside the opening for securing the drawer face to.
  4. Measure the location of your plumbing pipes (height off the ground, depth from the wall, side to side measurements from the side walls, and finally how wide are the pipes). Don’t forget to account for the drain, p-trap, and shut-off handles if your plumbing is new and simply stubbed out of the wall or floor.
  5. Remove the second drawer. Transfer the measurements for the plumbing onto the bottom of the drawer.
  6. Cut a hole in the drawer for the drain and plumbing pipes.
  7. Measure the cutout and create new sides, using plywood, to close the cutout back up.
  8. Secure the new sides with glue and finish nails. You may need clamps to hold the sides as you attach them.
  9. Paint the new sides and/or finish with a protective topcoat to protect the drawer from water.
  10. Cut out the top of the dresser to make room for the sink and faucet (unless you are opting to use the dresser top as is.)
  11. Re-insert the second drawer. Install the vanity in the bathroom.
  12. Install the countertop, sink, and faucet.

Waterproofing Your Vanity:

Depending on the finish of your dresser, you may want to paint or seal it to protect the new vanity from water damage. To protect the legs of the vanity, you may want to add nail-in floor protectors to the bottom of the feet. This will lift the dresser off the ground should any water spill or puddle under the vanity.

Final Result:

I found a remnant of granite at my local countertop fabricator. It’s honed Negresco granite and I love the dark black color on the wood vanity. It has a similar look to soapstone, but much more durable.

The faucet I used is the Moen Align faucet in brushed gold. I created a backsplash using a few leftover tiles from tiling the tub surround. For a beautiful finished edge, I used a Schluter satin brass jolly profile to frame the tiles.

The drawers hold a decent amount of toiletries and fit around the plumbing without any issues.

The lighting was provided by Kichler, one of the Millie’s Remodel sponsors. The minimalist Ryame lighted mirror is perfect for applying makeup or just giving the perfect amount of soft lighting. And the Jasper 3 light wall fixture has all the mid-century modern style this house needs. Fun fact, you can hang this light facing up or down. Your choice!

Can you believe this is the same bathroom? I love how it turned out.





Stay tuned for the next Millie’s Remodel update. I’ll be giving you the full tour of the house and it will be filled with loads of before and after pictures!

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Psst, if you really want to follow my daily adventures, you can follow me on Instagram. I share most of the projects I’m working on in real-time there.

Take care and see you soon.

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Ever want to surprise your spouse with a budget-friendly master bathroom makeover for under $500? You won’t believe this before and after transformation my friend Beth and I pulled off over a weekend.

Surprise Bathroom Makeover Under $500A Surprise Bathroom Makeover Under $500

My friends at GREAT STUFF™ sponsored this project, and I can’t wait to share a new product they recently released. Be sure to read to the end to find out what it is!

My good friend Beth, who I’ve known for over a decade, is my frequent walking buddy. Which means we pretty much discuss anything and everything on our walks. During one of our neighborhood strolls, we were discussing projects we wanted to work on next. Beth told me her husband, John, was so fed up with their bathroom, he’d been shaving in the kids’ bathroom. Upon further questioning, I learned the light over the mirror in their bathroom had stopped working a while ago. The light remained broken as Beth was plunged into some challenging family issues. Now that things had resolved with her family, she was ready to fix the bathroom light and maybe give the room a little makeover.

The next words out of Beth’s mouth were like a match igniting my desire to plunge headfirst into a new DIY project.

“John and the kids are going away this weekend and I’m staying here,” she said.

Instantly I volunteered to help her surprise her husband with a bathroom makeover. Little did I know, we’d have a lot of work to cram into one weekend.  But, hey, what’s more exciting than a surprise makeover? Am I right?

Challenges in the Small Bathroom:

Before the big work weekend, I stopped by Beth’s house to assess the situation. Their bathroom had some issues, the first being the lack of lighting over the sink. The second was a dimly lit ceiling fixture that could only take one lightbulb. The exhaust fan worked, but it was loud and had a discolored cover.

By far, the worst feature in the bathroom was the English ivy wallpaper. It was too busy, too dreary, and I don’t even think an English noblewoman would want it in her home! Luckily, Beth was on board with stripping it. With the wallpaper gone, we could give the bathroom an impactful makeover with paint, new lighting, and some new hardware. Beth was on a tight budget (she didn’t want to alert her husband to our surprise makeover), so she kept her purchases to just under $500.

A Surprise Bathroom Makeover for under $500

It’s time to get busy on Beth’s bathroom. Just remember it’s a surprise, so don’t tell her hubby. You can come join us by watching the video (but be prepared to help us strip wallpaper.)

The Makeover Weekend Arrives:

On Friday morning I arrived at Beth’s ready to work and we got straight to stripping! Wallpaper, that is!

Did you know there are really only two types of wallpaper when it comes to removal?

  1. The Easy to Remove Kind
  2. The Pain in the A$$ (what idiot didn’t prime the drywall—oh screw it let’s just replace the drywall) Kind

I was incredibly relieved that someone primed under Beth’s bathroom wallpaper. Lucky for us, it came off fairly easily in big strips. I wish I could say the same about my house, we had wallpaper glued to the drywall (no primer between the two.) But, this means I’ve had lots of experience and a proven way to prepare the wallpaper to paint over (so you don’t see the seams and you never have to worry about it peeling).

Learn how to get rid of both kinds of wallpaper here!

A Solution for the Electrical Problem:

Now that the wallpaper is gone, it’s time to address that light (or lack thereof) over the sink. Although Beth had dutifully called my favorite electrician to fix it, they hit a wall (or more accurately, a pipe.) Upon removing the broken light fixture he discovered an unsafe wiring situation.

Some idiot had moved the wire out of the junction box and punched it through the wall in an attempt to center the light. (This a code violation because it’s a fire hazard when wiring connections are outside a junction box.) It was obvious they weren’t able to relocate the electrical box because the plumbing vent pipe was centered on the wall. Not wanting to hang the light off-center, Beth told the electrician she had to think about what she wanted to do with the light. Luckily, I had an idea that would be twice as nice. Why try to deal with one light that can’t be centered, when you can double the lighting with wall sconces? I showed Beth this photo and she instantly loved the idea.

We were grateful when my electrician was able to swing back by and install the junction boxes on either side of the mirror area before we started painting the walls. Then I patched the holes he made and we were back in business (painting business that is.)

It’s hard to see the paint color in the photos, but we chose One Horn White by Magnolia Home. It’s white with a hint of green and it looks great in this bathroom.

The off-white molding looked dingy with the new wall color, so we gave the baseboards and the crown molding a fresh coat of white paint.

New Lighting and a New Skill:

Part of the makeover involved teaching Beth how to install the new stunning crystal ceiling light she picked out! Although she was nervous at first, I taught her how easy it is to replace a light fixture. With her new electrical skills, I encouraged her to install the sconce lights as well.

Unfortunately, the sconces didn’t arrive in time for the surprise. But, we taped up a picture of the new sconces for the big reveal.

Later, Beth used her new skills to install the wall sconces when they arrived!

Budget Vanity Update:

Instead of replacing the vanity, Beth painted it a beautiful dark teal color. The color is Weekend by Magnolia Home and I love the dark elegance and also a punch of color needed in this otherwise neutral bathroom.

Before we knew it, Sunday afternoon had arrived and although we weren’t able to completely finish the makeover in one weekend, it was still a big surprise for Beth’s husband. Even the kids were surprised. You have to watch the video to see their reactions. It’s priceless!

Finishing Up the Bathroom Makeover:

After our weekend of work, life got in the way of finishing their bathroom. Then a pandemic hit and we all dutifully stayed at home for several months.

A few weeks ago, I helped Beth finish up the final touches like painting the exhaust fan, adding a finish coating to the vanity, and adding a floating shelf over the toilet.

The shelf is a simple touch but adds some extra storage and style to this small bathroom.

Protecting the Bathroom from Drafts and Bugs:

While the bathroom vanity was empty, I took the opportunity to fill in the gaps around the water lines and drain pipe under the vanity using GREAT STUFF™. It’s a simple fix that takes no time at all, but makes a huge difference in controlling bugs and pests.

Those of us that live in the south know we have some Jurassic-size bugs that like to pop out of nowhere, making us scream like a little girl being spooked. (Pretty Handsome Guy is definitely guilty of being able to hit those higher octaves when he finds a roach in the house.) Some people call them water bugs or palmetto bugs, but they are big fat wood cockroaches! For this reason alone, it’s a great idea to seal those gaps around your pipes.

Sealing around the pipes with GREAT STUFF™ is super easy and it just got easier with the new Smart Dispenser which has fewer drips and can be re-used for up to 30 days! This was definitely one of my pet peeves about the original can. Previously, the GREAT STUFF™ material would harden in the dispensing straw making it unusable for future projects. (Click here to learn more about the GREAT STUFF™ with the Smart Dispenser and where you can purchase it.)

Lucky for us, GREAT STUFF™ cared enough to come up with an innovative solution to this issue—the smart dispenser!

The Reveal:

I’m thrilled to be able to show you the final reveal.

Beth and John are loving their new lighter and brighter bathroom.

It’s amazing how choosing a cooler paint color downplays the creamy tiles. This is a great trick I use when giving dated bathrooms an inexpensive facelift.

Speaking of facelift, what do you think about the painted vanity? We loved the dark teal color and how it plays nicely with the old countertop.

Beth reused the same knobs to stay under budget.

I love the elegant lighting Beth picked out for the room. The ceiling fixture is much brighter with two bulbs and reflective crystals!

And, adding two sconces, dramatically improved the lighting in this bathroom!

But, I have to say my favorite element is the simple modern floating shelf.

It adds a little storage and some style to an otherwise empty wall over the toilet.

Of course, we can’t forget the old exhaust fan. With a little spray paint, it looks brand new.

Cost Breakdown & Sources:

Grand Total: $462

What do you think? Isn’t this an amazing makeover for under $500? Do you have a room that could use a makeover for less than $500? Do tell!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for GREAT STUFF™. I was honored to work with them on this project and was compensated for my efforts. All words and opinions are my own. I have not been told what to say. As always I am very particular about the sponsors I work with and you will be told if you are reading a post that has been sponsored or in which materials were provided.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

I’m a serial upcycler. When I can find relatively free materials and turn them into something worth displaying, I’m thrilled! This Magnetic Chalkboard frame is one of those upcycled projects I am proud of.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame

Earlier in the week, I showed you the changes I made in my oldest son’s bedroom. One of the switches I made was to replace his bedroom door because the old one had cracked after one too many slammings. Ugh, cheap hollow door.

In an effort to keep my son from taping all types of signs to his new door, I found an ugly old frame and married it with some scrap metal from a junky set of shelving a neighbor was throwing away.

bookcase in love with ugly frame

That’s not real wood, it’s metal…fake wood metal. Yuck. Wait until you see how they were transformed. You won’t believe your eyes, so watch closely how I made this Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame.

Before you leave this tutorial thinking you can’t possibly make this project because you’ll never be able to find cheap faux wood shelves, let me share with you some alternate materials you can use!

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Magnetic Material:

Non-Magnetic Material for Chalkboard:

Now that you have some additional material options, let’s get busy making a Magnetic Framed Chalkboard (or just a framed chalkboard).


Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Optional: You may need some Goo Gone, a scraper, and rag to eliminate any glue on the back of the frame.


Begin by cutting your metal (or backing) to fit into the back of the frame.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Paint one side of the metal with chalkboard paint. Let it dry. Apply a second coat of chalkboard paint. Let it dry.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

While the chalkboard paint is drying, time to work on the frame.

If your frame has paper on the back, peel it off and use Goo Gone, a scraper, and sander to remove any of the glue residue.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl


When the chalkboard paint has dried, insert it into the frame, chalkboard side up from the backside of the frame (are you seeing where I’m going with this?)

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

The back of the frame is much prettier than the front, but in order to hold the chalkboard in place, we need to cut some picture molding. Cut the end of your molding at a 45 degree angle. Fit it into the frame and mark where to make your second cut.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Continue fitting and cutting molding around your frame.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Once all four pieces of molding fit, you are ready to secure them.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Apply a bead of wood glue along the inside edge of the back of the frame.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Set the molding pieces in place and wipe up any glue that squeezes out.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Clamp the molding pieces and the frame. Allow the glue to dry for at least an hour.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

When the glue has dried. Attach two D-rings to the back of the frame.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Season the chalkboard with the side of a piece of chalk. Then use a dry rag to buff it off.

Time to hang it up! (In my case, I hung it on my son’s door.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

To keep the frame from bouncing any time the door is opened or closed, I put a 3M Command velcro strip between the bottom of the frame and the door.

Now my son can put up pictures, messages, and more without damaging the door.

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

Pretty cool huh?! Would you ever guess the back of an ugly frame and metal shelves could look this beautiful?

Upcycled Magnetic Chalkboard Frame | Pretty Handy Girl

I especially like the little metal fasteners showing in the corners of the frame.

Tell me, do you have an ugly frame hanging around your house? Have you ever looked at the back and found it more beautiful than the front?



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Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

Look around your house or the next time you’re at a thrift shop. Find either an unpainted tray or a tray that needs a makeover. This is a quick project to create a Painted Trays with Scrapbook Lining for a beautiful and elegant tray to display or organize things in your home.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

Painted Trays with Scrapbook Lining

Today I have a really adorable and easy DIY idea for you! Scrapbook paper-lined and painted trays. These trays are so versatile, they can be used in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or anywhere you want to corral items or have a flat surface available. They also make a great gift if you want to load them up with some smaller gift items. But best of all, you can change their look in a snap.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

As I mentioned above unfinished trays can be purchased at many places. If you want a new one, look at your local craft supply store or order one online on Amazon for cheap.

You’ll also want some decorative scrapbook paper, gift wrap, or fabric to line the bottom of your tray.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl



Lightly sand and wipe off tray with a damp rag.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

Prime tray (if using non-chalk paint.) Paint tray desired color. For this tray, I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

After the paint has dried, brush antiquing wax onto your tray if desired. Buff off excess with a dry rag.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut scrapbook paper to fit inside the tray. When overlapping paper, make sure to line up the repeating pattern.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

For the best durability, line the tray with a piece of glass or plexiglass cut to fit inside the tray. (Ask your local home improvement store to cut or order online.) If you want it to be permanent, seal the edges of the glass with clear silicone.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

The paper you use to line the tray doesn’t have to necessarily be scrapbook paper. I got this paper from Ballard Designs. It’s actually cheese paper, but I loved the design. It doesn’t quite match up, so I just rotated the paper.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

When you put something on top of the tray, you hardly notice the seam.

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

The nifty thing about these trays is the decorative paper can be swapped out when you bore of the design. (Unless, you seal the edges.)

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

Once again, I’m loving this idea too much…I might be keeping this one for myself ;-).

Scrapbook Paper Lined Painted Trays | Pretty Handy Girl

Do tell me if you love this idea or have any unique ideas for lining the bottom.


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DIY Painted Trays with Scrapbook Lining | Pretty Handy Girl

Want to give something the look of zinc metal without spending money on zinc metal? You can create the look with spray paint and this technique.

How to Create a Faux Zinc Texture (with Spray Paint)

A while ago I was thrifting with a few friends and stumbled across an ugly cabinet at our local Goodwill. The metal chest had extra wide and deep storage, but the worst colors imaginable! The hot pink and mint green were disguising the true potential of the chest. Like a color-blind dog, I was able to see beyond its garish appearance. In my mind, I pictured a vintage metal cabinet with a faux zinc side and chalkboard drawer fronts.

I scooped it up and brought it home. Then the poor chest sat in our garage for months and months until I had a chance to work a little spray paint magic and turned it into….this thing of beauty:

Yes, that is the same chest of drawers! You could do the same transformation. Let’s learn How to Create a Faux Zinc Texture!


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)


Clean off your furniture piece really well. Remove any dirt or debris (I actually had to use a little Goo Gone to get rid of some sticky residue. But, lemon essential oil will also work for this task.)

Spray paint your object with automotive primer. (I prefer the automotive primer because it sticks to metal and can withstand a lot of abuse.)

Let the primer dry.

Adding a Faux Zinc Texture:

This is the most exciting part of the tutorial. I created this technique by trial and error and I’m excited by how well this method works for creating a faux zinc texture.

Getting a faux zinc texture is really easy. Just have some gloves on and use a crumpled up piece of craft paper. (A loose crumple works best.)

Spray paint your object with a thick coat of the hammered silver spray paint, (but not so thick that it runs). Let the paint get tacky by waiting a few seconds.

Then use the crumpled piece of craft paper to blot into the wet paint.

Work in small 1 foot sections and pounce the paper a few times. (Too much pouncing and you’ll lose the large textured pattern.)

Let the paint dry thoroughly. Then enjoy your beautiful faux zinc paint job!

Chalkboard Painted Metal Drawers:

For my cabinet, I chose to paint the drawer fronts with chalkboard paint for a nice contrast.

Remove the drawers from the chest. Tape over the drawer glides and slides. Mask off the drawer sides and insides by covering the drawers with tape and craft paper, leaving only the drawer fronts exposed.

Spray paint the drawers with chalkboard paint. (Use three fine coats of paint instead of one or two heavy coats.) Set them aside to dry.

Insert the chalkboard drawers back into the cabinet frame.

Add chalkboard art to your drawer fronts.

The thrifted cabinet has a wonderful texture now and the black and zinc colors work with any color scheme.

The chalkboard drawer fronts allow the flexibility for me to store and label other items inside.

I’m so thrilled with the results! I hope you try to transform your own object, now that you know how to Create a Faux Zinc Texture.

If you use this tutorial, I’d love to hear about it. Better yet, will you send me a picture?

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