Bathroom Renovation: Custom Built Vanity

I always have resale value on my mind when I’m making updates to my home. Double sinks in a bathroom is a no brainer.

I was overwhelmed by a few things when looking at vanities:

  • Some vanities come with countertops and some do not
  • Some countertops come with sinks and some do not
  • Some sinks come with faucets and some do not
  • Some faucets come with drains and some do not

Just when I thought that I’d found what I wanted, I would find something that added too much to the price. Also, I really liked vanities that looked like dressers, but they were too deep. I wanted something that left my small bathroom feeling as spacious as possible. I was also constrained by length.

After visiting the spa…KIDDING… After having seen spas on TV, I decided that I could keep with my DIY theme and build my own vanity. I found a super kitchen island DIY post that I thought would work perfectly.

island vanity.jpg

The only thing that I had to do differently was to make it the width and height that I wanted for my bathroom. Building custom was perfect because like I mentioned before, I wanted my vanity to be a bit less deep than a traditional vanity. I also wanted to make it a bit taller than a custom vanity (which I ended up shortening the legs a bit after realizing that the vessel sinks added overall height).


Vanity Legs

Once the legs were even and I was sure there wasn’t going to be any wobbling, like when you’re at a restaurant and have to put sugar packets under a table leg, I moved them into the bathroom to get a visual of where I wanted them before cutting the shelf boards.

This step was so smart! I’m so glad I did it because this is when I realized that adding vessel sinks was going to add too much height. I took it back out of the bathroom and cut the legs down a few inches.


Once I had my height, width and depth correct, I had stained it with gel stain. I planned on painting the shelves white, but was so excited to start seeing how storage containers and other bathroom essentials would fit that I didn’t get the painting done before I had moved my remaining gear in. Remember, I removed a closet in this bathroom! I threw away lotions, perfumes and a bunch of 1/2 empty bottles that I had hoarded for far too long. I was so curious to see how my remaining things were going to fit with just a few shelves for storage.


The countertop on this custom vanity is from an old barn. It’s a 19 inch wide piece of wood! Can you imagine what that tree was like!? I brought it home, sanded the dirt off and pounded a few of the old nails in a bit further so it was a smoother surface. If you’re not fascinated by old wood, I’m sure the picture below won’t leave you oooh’ing or awww’ing. BUT, if you’re like me, I was (and still am) completely in love with how beautiful this is!


Before I drilled any holes, I made sure that everything matched up. Can you imagine having your countertop holes drilled for your vessel sinks and then later learning that they didn’t line up under the light fixtures?! Once I drilled the holes, there was no running to the store for another piece of wood like this. This was it, so I had to be extra careful to get it right. Scary! I placed my bowls, that were going to be my vessel sinks, on the countertop. Hmmm… I realized I needed to drill the holes in the wooden bowls before I could drill the holes in the countertop.

I prefer to finish one job before hopping to the next, but it seems that with every project I do, there are other projects that I have to do before finishing the one that I was originally working on.

Stay tuned for the final vanity! I must move on to the DIY vessel sinks before I can finish this.


Bathroom Renovation: Painted Concrete Flooring

The electrical was up and running and I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I couldn’t bring myself to also demolish the tile floor. When I was finished tearing down the tile walls, I didn’t have it in me to even attempt to jack hammer the tile floor out.

The fact that I was so pooped out from removing the walls wasn’t the *only* reason that I didn’t remove the tile floor. I had an idea!

The flooring where the vanity and closet were wasn’t level with the tile. Before I could do anything, I had to raise that part of the floor to be even with the tile. I knew about self-leveling concrete and decided to give it a try.

You can see the area that I had to fill in. I followed the directions on the back of the bag and used my kool-aid spoon in my drill to mix it up with.

It didn’t take long to dry at all. Once it was dry, I sanded it and had my blank slate for the plan that I had.

Layer #1 of concrete skim. Note: look at all of that tile in the air vent! 😮


Layer #2 of concrete skim. You can see that getting the grout lines to disappear was not as easy as I thought it was going to be…


I didn’t want to try and concrete around the base of the toilet, so I had to lift that off of the toilet hole thing and get under it. I’d never removed a toilet before. I knew it was possible, but I was definitely out of my comfort zone and horribly surprised by a big blob of yellow stuff under there. Nas-tay!


Very patiently, I would apply another layer of concrete skim coat, let it dry, sand it, vacuum, and then apply another layer. It only took about 30-60 minutes for each layer to dry. The sanding made my arms feel like noodles. I got the power sander out after a few rounds of hand sanding, but because the coats were so thin, the power sander made me feel too nervous to keep using it.

You can see the two different concrete colors here. The lighter color is the self-leveling concrete. The darker is the concrete skim coat. At this point the floor was ready for the final step!


I’d thought about stamping the concrete to look like wood planks, but I couldn’t find a stamp. Professionals have amazing stamps, and they cost a few hundred bucks… I had a tiny tool that is used for faux paint treatments that I tried to use in the wet concrete, but it was definitely not the right tool for the job and wasn’t going to do what I wanted it to. You can see in the picture below where I’d tried to use my little tool to do the job.


There are a few things that I’m really good at. I don’t know how or why I’m really great at painting and staining. Somehow, I understand how to mix paints and stains on and use them on surfaces that are out of the ordinary. I’m not always pleased with the outcome, but I imagine any artist isn’t always pleased with their work.

I got started at about 7pm and by 9pm I was done!


I used nearly every kind of paint including: oil, water, chalk, gloss, matte… It was all remnants from prior projects that I’d completed. Once I painted a plank, I would run this tool through the paint to create a wood look.

Wood Grain Tool

Finally, I added the concrete sealer and called it a night!





Bathroom Renovation: Electrical

Forget about the fact that I had to brush my teeth in the kitchen sink. This post is about not having any power for lights, blow dryers, or straightening irons. Once I was done with demolition, I needed to think about power. Since it was a fairly small job, or so I thought, I called an electrician to give me a quote. I needed a few wires re-rerouted and was happy to pay somewhere in the range of $200-$300.

The quote was $2000! This was it. The wires that are surrounded by boards needed to be re-routed to run down the wall next to the doorway. Bonus if they could throw in adding a second vanity light box because I was putting in double sinks. I thought that if their quote for the second light box was going to be over budget that I would do that part myself.


I decided to do this myself. There is NO way that this job would take very long. I knew it would take me longer than a professional, but I’m a budget backwards kind of gal. If it’s going to take longer and cost less, that’s the direction I will take almost every time. I unhooked the wires, grabbed my ladder and climbed into the attic.

I labeled each of the wires as I unhooked them because I wanted to be sure to get them fished through in the correct order. I didn’t have a lot of length to spare with the wires and didn’t want to end up with the light fixture being too far up on the wall.


I got the wires reassembled and tested them out. I had light! I had a fan! I had everything working just as it should… kind of. The fan was on a timer, which is supposed to be for the heat lamp that’s on the ceiling. I must have crossed some wires. Easy fix…

I got the heat light and the fan switched so that they worked correctly and went to get a snack. The kitchen light fixture didn’t work…

This was starting to get really fricking frustrating *and* I was supposed to be baking for a fundraiser for my son’s baseball steak fry the next day.

I was up and down the ladder into the attic, swimming through nasty insulation throughout the entire day. Just when I fixed something, I ended up breaking something else. I’m familiar with software development and this was *exactly* like fixing software bugs. You fix one bug and you end up creating 2 more somewhere else.

By the end of the day, I had all of the mysteries solved, but it did take me over 8 hours from start to finish, including adding a second junction box for a double vanity.




Bathroom Renovation: Demo Day

It was winter in MN and I’d had a full pot of coffee to keep warm on that January morning. I had no intentions of doing anything that day other than surfing Pinterest and having a Netflix marathon. That’s a perfect recipe for what was about to happen…


I had given my bathroom an updo last summer, but it wasn’t really me and still felt dated. If I were going to flip my home, which I’m always thinking about, this bathroom would not pass as having been truly updated. The floor to ceiling tile had to go. I didn’t have a plan, other than getting rid of everything so that I had a fresh canvas to work with. I had to get down to the studs.


I had to get the closet, the vanity, and the mirror all out of there…

I swung my hammer over and over. I unhooked the plumbing and was left sitting on the toilet (as a chair) staring at a huge mess. I was also staring into my bedroom through the 2nd doorway. By the end of the day, I was wondering what the hell I had just done. I was so exhausted, but not too exhausted to have a brilliant idea! I had to move that doorway.

Top 3 reasons to move a doorway:

  1. You are visible from the street (through the bedroom window) when you’re sitting on the toilet.
  2. You are visible from the street (through the bedroom window) when you’re stepping out of the shower.
  3. The door swings open, into the bathroom space, leaving just 1 inch between the door and the toilet.


This is what the pass-through door from my bedroom into the bathroom looked like from inside my bedroom. The brown door was where the doorway was. Note: that door was a curbside find. I tried to make it a sliding barn door with plumbers pipe. It was fine, but made an awful screeching noise when you would slide it open or closed. The new doorway is going to be over to the other side of my bathroom and will make so much more sense!


Remember the part about me not having a plan when I all of a sudden demolished my bathroom? I was beginning to realize that I needed one, and electrical was going to be where I needed to start.



Bathroom Updo

I call this a bathroom updo because I didn’t really tear anything apart other than the seashell tile border. The entire bathroom is tiled from floor to ceiling, and even on the ceiling in the shower. Demolition of all of that was something that I wasn’t ready for. I hadn’t even imagined that I could do something like that without having to hire someone.

In this updo attempt of mine, the goal was to make my bathroom feel less like the Golden Girls had waved their wand in there. I removed the seashell tile border, painted the outdated cabinets white, covered up the mirror that had ‘One Day at a Time’ etched into it and replaced the shiny silver light fixture, and gold switch covers. Later on I also used granite to cover up the countertop and sink combo.

Removing the seashell border was pretty easy. I had to buy a dremel and a grout removal bit. The grout removal bits are pretty spendy and I ended up needing two of them. I think they’re $25, but without that bit the job would have taken me much longer and I would have likely ruined the surrounding tiles.

Seashell Tile Border

Updo Glass Tile Border

The old etched mirror was literally grouted up onto the wall with the tiles. Rather than create a big mess, I just covered it up. The barn wood is sold at Home Depot. The two vertical planks are screwed onto the wall. I placed screws where there were grout lines to keep from cracking the mirror and tiles behind it. See ya later, ‘One Day at a Time…’ 😀


I’d become pretty confident with concrete after having done my kitchen island. I had no idea whether it would actually bond to the slick countertop/sink material, but I didn’t think I had anything to lose by trying. I sanded the countertop before applying the concrete, but that’s the only prep I did. I applied 2 full layers and a third layer in the sink area. After doing a bunch of research on types of sealers, I ended up sealing it with the same sealer that I used on my kitchen island. It held up really well! I could use it and clean it just like any other countertop. No issues with water, heat or cleaning products.

concrete skim in progress


The new light fixture was from Menards and pretty inexpensive at $49.99. I’m using past tense. Remember, this is my Bathroom Updo. The renovation came many months later…



Bathroom Before and After the ‘Updo’