Friday, January 4, 2008

How To Build A Vanity.....

My friend came to me before Christmas because her daughter had requested a vanity as one of her gifts. Vanities must be a thing of the past because they are very difficult to find. She didn't want to spend a fortune, couldn't find one out there and didn't know how to fill this request. Her daughter didn't want anything fancy, so it seemed feasible to me that we could just build one. I have some carpentry skills and the tools to make it.

Years ago I used to watch The Christopher Lowell show on HGTV. He was "big" on built -ins such as window boxes, book shelves and storage units. He always built everything out of wood called MDF. Something I definately would look into.

The last line in every one of his episodes was "you can do it." I really took that statement to heart. It really has inspired me to create some of my projects.

I went to the home improvement center to check out MDF wood and found that they had plenty of it. It's not like pine or oak, it's more like a compressed board. I have used it in all of my projects over the years including a window box, entertainment unit and a library that I built. The advantages of using MDF are as follows:

  • it's less expensive than other woods
  • it has no grain, so it doesn't split

  • consistent in strength and shape

  • easily cuts

  • needs little or no sanding

  • it doesn't come from the store warped like pine does

  • you can get it primed

I really love using this stuff! It's so easy to use and by purchasing this wood you essentially eliminate sanding and priming.

Here is what we purchased and how it came together. All supplies included, the vanity cost under$45.00.

Here is the piece of MDF I purchased. It was a half sheet that they sell in Home Depot. I used an oval dinner plate to help make the curves.

Hey, that's all I could come up with.

The photo to the right gives away my secret: the legs I bought at Home Depot were already made. Ok, maybe it's cheating, but it certainly made the job easier.

The Jig Saw:

Here is the tool I used to cut the vanity into the curved shape I penciled out. This is one of the most valuable tools I own. Easy to use, light weight and fairly inexpensive. I just took my time cutting and carefully followed the curve.
Ok...most woman have their husband's do this. Mine is not one of "those" husbands. Believe it or not these are all "my" tools.

The top of the vanity was painted purple. I made my friend paint it-it's for her kid, so I made her work.

Since the decor of the room includes zebra prints, I used some zebra tissue and Modge Podged squares onto the top. Pictured here you can see the squares, the brush and the Modge Podge.

Here is just a photo of how the Mod Podge is applied. I used glossy for this.

Apply Modge Podge to the table to a small area, place the square on and apply Mod Podge over it. When you are finished entirely, add another layer of Modge Podge. After it's all dry I spray with a clear, non-yellowing polyurethane.

Here are the legs ready to mount onto the table. But ask?

I bought these little plates in Home Depot to help attach the four legs. They really made it easy.

  • Just locate where you want to place the leg.
  • Make four pencil marks for the screws.
  • Pre drill four little holes.
  • Gently insert the screws.

The four legs came with threaded screws in them, so you just screw them into the plates............ Bingo-couldn't be easier.

Legs all in place.

Below are two photos of the finished product. You can see that I used zebra tissue, black tissue and white tissue (the purple paint underneath shows through, which makes it look pretty cool.) All finished, it really looks like a mosaic.

Here is the vanity in the room, minus a chair. Simple, functional and it matches nicely. I think she really liked it too.
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  1. Very, very cool!

    I didn't know you could buy those screw-on plates at home centers.

  2. Christy,

    You are nothing short of amazing! This vanity is gorgeous. I could envision this on display in a Designer's Showcase Home Tour.

    I love the idea of tracing a dinner plate to get a nice, clean curved edge. That is something that I don't know that I would ever think to use to get an edge.

    As far as your comment on cheating by buying the legs at HD, well..that is efficient time management as far as I'm concerned! :-)

    One question concerning your use of tissue paper. I have noticed some very attractive paper napkins at places like Linen N Things, and was wondering if you have tried using them in place of tissue. What do you think?


  3. Is there any way to add draws to that? also did you use titles on the top? also can i pay you to make one for my daughter? my e-mail is

  4. Oh my goodness!!!! I have been looking for Vanity Tables and tables period. However I am going to make my own.

    This will be next weekend project!!!!

  5. I with the aforementioned statement.. I just need DRAWERS!

  6. Drawers add complexity and cost. You have to build the opening underneath the table and the frame to hold the drawers and slides. Unless you are good at woodworking, I would not attempt it.

  7. You're right. It's only a good idea if you have those skills. You could however, add the "ready" to hang wire baskets under the table for extra storage.

  8. Really impressive, thank you for sharing!