The Tale of Our Bedroom Vanity

Our new house, while nearly double the amount of living space of our old place, is still quite small for our family of six. Other than the bathrooms, the smallest room in the house is my bedroom. We did design the layout of the apartment, putting the walls and doors where we wanted, more or less, since we bought the place before internal walls were built, and we could have possibly made our bedroom bigger. However, any additional space we added to our bedroom would either make our kitchen/living room/dining room smaller, which we didn't want to do, or getting rid of our second bathroom, not either something we were keen to do. We made the choice to sacrifice bedroom space for the sake of the rest of the house.

Out bedroom is 8.5 feet by 10.3 feet, or 2.6 meters by 3.1 meters. 87.5 square feet or 8 square meters to be exact. Add to this the fact that there are two doors in the room (one from the hallway, and one to the bathroom) and no built in closet space, we needed to figure out how to store everything two people need in the bedroom. This was not an easy thing to do by a long shot.

But we figured it out, by building our own beds and night stands, used some Ikea "hacks" and repurposed some furniture from our old apartment, and we mostly figured it out...
Other than a place to store my makeup, jewelry, hair things, etc... I needed a vanity...

But space was an issue, big time. 

We literally had two possible places to put a vanity. One of them was along the wall near my bed, a space 80 centimeters wide, or 2 feet 7 inches, and up to 47 centimeters or 18 inches deep. Another wall had an area 70 centimeters or 2 feet 4 inches wide where we could put a vanity, and though we could have done it as deep as we'd like, because there is a corner cabinet 20 centimeters or 8 inches deep right next to it, if it were any deeper than that it would look strange and bother me aesthetically.

In addition to space constraints, we've spent so much money on absolute necessities for the new house that I didn't want to be spending money on extras. In the meantime everything that would have gone in the vanity was being stored in some really ugly plastic drawers, so I couldn't really justify spending a lot of money on a vanity, something I wanted but didn't need. 

I was doing some research, therefore, on how to build a vanity out of repurposed pallet wood, and found some cool ideas. However, it is very important to me for my bedroom to have a really streamlined look to it, not being cluttered, especially because it is a small place, and in a very small space, any clutter is infinitely worse. I wanted to be able to put everything in it away, behind closed drawers or doors, and not visible when you walk in. Most of the homemade vanities don't have much storage space closed away, and the ones that did, I wasn't sure if my husband would be able to make it properly (he hasn't built drawers himself beforehand). But I thought I found some ideas, for when I got around to it...

Because we built our house through a construction company as part of a complete project, part of the money we were paying for the house was allotted to things such as tiles, porcelain, some built in furniture, etc... Two summers ago I went to the place where I'd pick these out, and they gave me a list of every item I needed to chose and what my options were. I picked a bathroom cabinet/sink combo, and that was that.

Only it wasn't. 

Because we'd changed the layout and sizes of the rooms, and the building project manager forgot to update the list with that company to items that actually fit the newly proportioned rooms, the bathroom cabinet/sink combo unit was too large for the bathroom we had, so they put in a smaller sink and just left the cabinet and sink in our upstairs apartment. We asked them what to do with it, and they said they didn't know, it was ours, we could do what we want with it.

So it was something that I knew we needed to deal with, but postponed because I wasn't in the mood of dealing with the headache. I thought maybe we should list it on one of these local sale websites or Facebook groups, but often those end up being more trouble than they're worth. So while they were doing construction, turning the upstairs of our home into a rental apartment, it just stayed there in the living room... Finally when our new tenants moved in, they moved it out, and as they were carrying it down the stairs, something happened (completely not their fault) and the sink fell down and broke.
So much for selling it... No one would buy a bathroom cabinet without a top or a sink to go on it... (For the record, we weren't upset with them at all. It was almost a relief to know we didn't need to sell it.)

And then my husband had an amazing idea.

Why not put the bathroom cabinet into our room and use that as as vanity? It matched our white and grey color scheme, and had the right feel to it. And it fit exactly along the wall between my bed and the door to the bathroom. 
Mike thought to maybe build a top for it out of pallet wood, and then I had an idea. When we bought our Ikea kitchens, they came with some extra peices of wood to attach to the sides to make the sides the same color as the front. Only they were not exactly the right size, and we'd have to cut them to size. I wasn't interested in that, so we just left off those side pieces, and left the sides of the cabinet white. 
We therefore had some extra pieces lying around the house, solid grey wooden pieces - some slate grey from our kitchen cabinets, and some light grey from the rental kitchen's cabinets. I figured why not use one of those pieces as the top? But, while we found one literally the perfect width, it was too deep. I was going to give up on that idea, but then Mike used one of his tools to make a perfect cut down the length of it, cutting it exactly the depth that we needed. The extra piece that he cut off, we propped up along the wall at the back, and it looks even nicer that way.

For a mirror, I bought some Ikea square mirrors that come together in a set of four, that attach to walls via a strong tape/glue. I decided to go with a diamond shape, and adore it. (The diamond isn't perfectly level, but it doesn't bother me.)

If I had to be honest, I'd say that this vanity is absolutely my favorite piece of furniture in my room. I love the drawers and the wide space on top. It is the perfect surface to work on, even if I end up cluttering it with clean laundry and other nonsense far too often. And its look is just what I wanted for the room. 
The best part about it though is that it essentially was free, and we took what could have been an annoying situation (them breaking the sink that came with it) and not only "made the best of it" but actually made the situation better than it would have been had it not broken. I told the tenants afterwards that I am glad in the end that the sink broke, because if it hadn't, I would never have thought to use that as furniture in my bedroom. And I love it. Much more than I would have liked a vanity made out of pallet wood.

(I shared a sneak peek of our bedroom before, but it is still a work in progress, but better than how it used to be. Nearly finished, and when it is, I'll do a complete "tour of the bedroom.)

Have you ever made any furniture yourself, either completely from scratch, pieced together, or upcycled? What was it? 

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. LOL, we did the same thing with the vanity that came with our house and is in my bedroom down a little hallway towards the masterbath. Hubby unhooked the plumbing and faucet and we laid down a FOR SALE sign on top of the sink and covered it in fabric. Now I store my towels and extra toiletries there.

  2. Gorgeous work. If you guys have a Maker Faire in your country, the two of you should go. Seriously. You'd have a lot to contribute.

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