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How to Repurpose an Antique Cabinet Into a Vanity

Learn how to retrofit an antique cabinet with a porcelain sink and fixtures to create a stylish vanity.

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retroffited antique cabinet becomes vanity

Step 1: Select the Piece

While looking for a reclaimed piece of furniture to use, keep in mind that the average bathroom countertop is 34 to 36 inches in height. When selecting a piece, make sure that the top is strong enough to hold the sink you've chosen to drop in. It's best to have your sink template with you, if possible; you'll be able to make measurements and figure out the best place for the faucets to go. Another thing to consider is the style of the front of the vanity. If the piece you have chosen has drawers, you'll need to retrofit the drawers inside in order to have room for all the plumbing underneath. A vanity with doors instead of drawers works best.

Step 2: Cut the Template for the Sink

When you order a sink like the one we did, the manufacturer will usually send a template along with it. If not, make your own so you will be able to cut an accurate hole to drop the sink into.

cut a template to use for accurate measurement

Step 3: Drop In the Sink

Trace a hole for the sink onto the vanity (Image 1). By doing this first, you'll be able plan the best place for the faucet and the handles. Cut the hole for the sink using an orbital saw (Image 2). Once the hole is cut to the proper size, drop the sink into place (Image 3). With the sink in, you'll be able to determine where the faucet and the handles will look best.

Step 4: Add the Handles

Once you have an idea of where you want the faucet and handles, trace the cartridges for accurately sized holes to drill (Image 1). Cut holes, using the appropriate drill bit, for the faucet and handles for hot and cold water supply. We used 1-inch drill bits for our handles (Image 2). Push the cartridges up through the vanity and attach the handles (Image 3).

Step 5: Attach the Faucet

Before attaching the faucet, create a waterproof seal using putty around the faucet base that rests on the vanity (Images 1 and 2). Press the base tightly to the vanity and drop the faucet in (Image 3).

Step 6: Cut Room for the Plumbing

Make the cutouts in the back for the plumbing from the wall. Move the vanity flush to the wall to get an idea of where the plumbing needs to come through. Make a reasonable-sized hole: enough space to access the plumbing comfortably in the future. On our retrofitted vanity, we had to take out one of the existing shelves inside the cabinet to make room for the plumbing underneath.

Step 7: Add the P-Trap and Water Supply

Once you've got all the cuts made for all the plumbing, slide the vanity into place. The p-trap is now ready to be installed. Screw the p-trap onto the drain of the sink from underneath. You should be able to screw this on using just your hand, but you may want to use a wrench to make sure there will be no leakage. After the faucet and p-trap are tightly secured, you will need to attach the water supply line that will eventually be connected to the shutoff valve on the main water supply pipes. Use caution while securing the water supply lines: they are usually just brass or plastic and can be easily stripped. To avoid stripping the lines, try tightening the fittings by hand only.

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