Monday, March 21, 2011

bathroom breakdown

Ok, faithful followers, here is the more in-depth look at the vanity DIY.  So, sit back, relax and prepare yourself for one long-a** post, cuz here it comes!

Plan of attack: use a kitchen cart, stained and poly-urethaned, hack it and then mounted a vessel sink and faucet.  Install.  Voila.

The Ikea Bekvam cartcomes with casters (wheels) on two legs and solid/full legs on the other two, making those couple legs longer than the others.  Therefore, one must saw two legs down to size.  Then, ones boyfriend must correct ones mistake and even out the legs.   

Then came the staining.  I find to get the best color by brushing layer upon layer of the stain on until it is not immediately absorbed by the wood- the piece should look wet.  Let this sit for a while (see directions on the can- the longer you let it sit, the darker the color will be) before wiping off the excess with a rag.  Letting the stain sit for a good amount of time is ESSENTIAL for the first coat- you will never get the color dark if you rush this step.  Follow the directions for waiting period between coats (usually 4-6 hours), and repeat until satisfied with the result.

I think I did 3 or 4 coats of stain on all pieces.

Tip: be mindful of the sides!  I prefer to either do the sides at the same time I do the top/face of a piece so that you avoid any drip marks or pooling on the visible parts.  Alternatively, make sure you run a rag across the un-touched side after every application to catch any drips.  

Tip: its easier to stain before assembly.  You want to limit the number of crevices and corners you need to work into.

Next step, poly-urethaning!  I can feel the excitement in the air! (PS- I used the basic Minwax PolyUrethane in clear gloss)  This part requires more patience: slow & steady is the name of the game, or else you get bubbles.  And no one wants bubbles in their poly... No one.  So just go slowly in one, fluid & complete stroke from one side to the other.  If you do get a bubble, just go back over again.  In between coats, make sure to use extra fine sand-paper to rough up the surface and some tack cloth to remove all dust.

Tip: on pieces that I did all but the bottom at once, (like the top of the vanity,) it is handy to prop this above your work surface.  In the picture above, you can see the top is resting on a couple 2x4s so that I could wipe around the bottom edge after a coat.  This also allows you to poly (or stain) the sides without covering the work station with stain.

Oh, and I did 3 coats on the legs, shelves and support, and 4 coats on the top of the vanity.  

For the shelves, which have perpendicular slats, I used this Minwax Fast Drying Spray Polyurethane.  We used the same product on the wine shelves for the bar.  Review: I have to admit, I am a fan!  It works particularly well for items with ridges, nooks, crannies, elevations and such.  This will never give you as smooth or thick of a cover as the brushed on version, but for protecting a low-traffic area?  Fantastic!  Another bonus is that you can apply coats after 2 hours, which helps speed up the process.  If you use this product, I recommend spraying from all angles during a single coat.  

After all the polying and the staining were finished, the beau cut two holes in the top for the sink and the faucet, (in accordance with the product instructions.)  

We dry-fit the vanity to make sure everything lined up.  It did! this point I was getting super excited.  LOOK AT IT!!

But then, DISASTER!!!!!!

Remember this guy?  Oh yeah, he was a fun time.  But, we were able to return the set and get a better faucet for the sink.  

VICTORY!!!!  As you can see, this faucet bends and shoots the water straight down.  No water-launcher here!  Onto the next hiccup in our plans...

UPDATE: Sink and faucet were installed per product instructions.  We did a line of clear caulk around the base of the sink, in addition to a line under the sink.

So, at first look this is perfect.  The J-bend was able to fit back on and the upper shelf could remain in-tact.  Annnndddddd then, of course, we hit a road-block: we needed to extend the plumbing to reach the sink.  The new plumbing has a larger J-bend, which did not fit with the shelf in place.  

But just that one little slat was the offender... we cut that little bugger out!  

Ta-da!  Solution!  That is what we call problem-solving.  And now for the glamor shot of the undercarriage:

Ooooo baby!  That is some sexy plumbing!  The beau got some better escutcheons (the parts that cover the wall holes at the base of the water valves and drain pipe,) and I must say it is looking pretty damn snazzy! 

Ok ok ok, I know you are tired of my ramblings and lengthy words and half-shots.  Well here you go, you demanding crowd (of 3 people,) here are your reveal shots (for full Before photos, see here and here):



What do you think?!  You think it is GORGEOUS and TOTALLY AWESOME?  Well, good.  That is the correct response.

And about that hand towel you see above?  Well, my grand vision of this bathroom was to be fairly neutral, with natural, spa-like elements.... and with pops of spring green!  Armed with a few hundred Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons, we went on a towel-hunting mission.  A successful towel-hunting mission, that is.  We got a set of the green towels, and a few accent towels in white waffle with three edge stripes in varying shades of green.  OH, and I never showed you the fabulous curtain for that room we got awhile ago, (also B,B & B) so you'll get to enjoy that here, too.  Go on, enjoy:

So, from here, all we have to do is replace that old, tiny medicine cabinet, (we have this one in mind,) and the hanging-by-their-wires dressing room-style light fixture, and this room is D-O-N-E!  Oh, and replace the doorknob & hinges, but those are minor.  BUT THEN!  D-o-n-e.  For reals.

One more look at that shiz-nit:

*Other Bekvam-hacked-vanities herehere and here.


  1. SEXYYYYYYYYYY!!!! oh so gorgeous! it's like a hotel bathroom! and that curtain! i had NO idea!!! wowza. NOW i will visit.

  2. Yes! I think it is gorgeous and totally awesome! Love that you were thinking outside the box with the use of a kitchen island! Beautiful!

  3. What a beautiful makeover!!! We're in the middle of a bathroom makeover of our own, and your photos are inspiring me to get back to work. :) The color combination is awesome and I LOVE the wood and white on the vanity (we're doing something similar:

    Great job!
    Meredith @ Welcome to Heardmont

  4. I am so jealous of your staining/sawing/plumbing know how! I really want to learn. Looks great!

  5. Thanks everyone!! We still need to get a new mirror and light fixture, but maybe that can get done this weekend? A little shopping trip never hurt anyone.....

  6. oh my gosh! it's awesome and so my kind of diy!!! do you have a post that says how much this all cost? i am going look around/lurk all over you right now.

    where in the dc area are you????


  7. OMG! LOVE it!!!! The hubby and I have been looking through ideas on how to DIY our own vanity. Totally saving this idea!!!!!!!!! :D Thanks for sharing!!!

  8. That is super creative! Great job!!! Thanks for linking up to my house tour party!

  9. Where did you find the sink?

    1. Sink is from (I believe this guy

  10. How wide is that sink

    1. We no longer live in this house, so I can't measure to confirm what the specs online say, but here is the sink:

      there's also a similar one with less sloped edges:

      Good Luck!