In the world of home improvement, every challenge sparks innovation. Imagine a space brimming with everyday essentials, each vying for a spot of its own—a familiar scenario in our home. Our bathroom lacked storage, leaving us with a cluttered windowsill. Seeking a solution that merged practicality and beauty, I introduced oak slabs and bowl basins to transform these dull bathrooms. The new vanity unit was easy enough to install and I’ve documented the process to share with you. Ever since my first DIY vanity venture I’ve been able to apply similar DIY creativity to all other bathrooms in our new home. Join me as I share these one of a kind transformations.
The transformations were astounding. Outdated design made room for contemporary elegance, concealing a trove of well-organized compartments below the surface.
Join me on a personal journey through the art of crafting these bespoke bathroom vanities. We’ll explore design intricacies, revel in hands-on creation, and relish the triumph of a project uniquely yours. This is a tale of repurposing, of infusing character, and of finding harmony in the marriage of utility and style—a tale where you, the creator, define the narrative.
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How to DIY your own bathroom vanity
Embarking on the journey of creating your very own solid oak wood bathroom sink unit may seem daunting, but fear not—it’s a venture well within your reach. Armed with fundamental plumbing know-how, a handful of basic tools and a bit of patience, you’re all set. While this endeavor demands a few days of dedication, the results are beyond rewarding.
Here is a quick example of my first DIY vanity makeover. Starting from a stripped back existing pedestal basin, I built a basic frame, some doors and topped it with a solid oak slab and a bowl basin.
If you’re new to any kind of plumbing, fear not. So was I at one point. As with any kind of plumbing work you need to be careful not to flood your house.
Start by switching off the main stopcock water inlet. This will cut all the water around your house. Check both taps (hot and cold) before starting any work.
Remove the existing basin using a plumbers wrench, screwdriver and any other tools required to remove your bathroom vanity unit. Start with the faucets, then the waste trap and finally the basin and the existing pedestal or unit.
Existing copper pipework can be cut to size using a copper pipe cutter like this one:
Simply push it over the pipe and spin in the direction of the arrow and the pipe will cut with a smooth finish.
Remove any paint from the pipe using wire wool before reinstalling any fittings. (See below)
Any 32mm plastic waste piping is easy to cut with a panel saw and new plastic pipe can be cut to size and joined together with screw fixings or glued fixings. It’s probably worth fitting a new 32mm waste trap as the existing one will be old and full of grime.
New faucets or taps can be plumbed into place easily and most will come with flexible hoses which can be fitted onto 1/2 inch x 15mm valve like these:
These fittings simple screw onto the top of the copper pipe with a small washer (called an olive) inside that clamps onto the pipe to make a watertight seal.
If you are not comfortable working with the plumbing, then you may wish to enlist the help of a plumber or handyman to help out.
Building the frame
Measure up the height of your worktop based on the size of the basin you are using. The ideal height to the top of the basin rim would be around 35 inches (880mm)
Allowing for the thickness of the worktop and the height of the basin you can calculate the height of the wooden frame. I used a 25x50mm timber for the frame.
Fitting the worktop
Ideally the worktop will be cut to size, sanded and treated before you complete the tiling but this isn’t essential. It just looks nicer and leaves a cleaner finish when you tile around the wood. Don’t forget to drill holes for your taps and basin waste before installing.
The basin can be secured to the top of the worktop using a silicone sealant or adhesive.
Now all the pipework can be reconnected.
When working with the wood top ensure you have treated it with a good few coats of Danish Oil or Osmo Worktop Oil to protect it from water damage. You will likely need to apply further coats throughout the life of the wood to maintain and preserve it.
Completing the vanity unit
To finish off the vanity we approached this in various ways for each of the projects. One was sprayed MDF with a glossy paint, another used timber cladding and the third a decorative panel was fixed into place. Each have their own unique design styles.
This DIY project managed to improve the look of our bathroom, bring natural wood into the room which makes it warmer and almost cosier, it’s totally custom and unique, and most importantly we now have some of that much needed storage in our small bathroom.
Is it cheaper to build your own bathroom vanity?
In theory it is cheaper to build a unit yourself if you have the knowledge and skills required. Hiring a tradesman to make custom or bespoke vanity units can end up costing a lot more than simply buying one. In some cases it can be as much as double.
My vanity units were relatively cheap. Here is a quick breakdown of the main costs:
- Slab of oak or ash wood – (from a local seller on FB Marketplace) – £40 each
- Timber frame and screws – £40
- Finishing timber and paint – £45
- Bowl basin – £50
- Waste trap and plastic waste pipe – £25
- Copper pipework and valves – £15
- Tap/faucet – £30
- Worktop oil, sandpaper and sundries – £30
Total average cost for my custom vanity – £275
Can you turn any cabinet into a bathroom vanity?
Absolutely! Employing ingenuity and carpentry expertise, a multitude of cabinets can be elegantly repurposed. This entails accommodating internal pipework, creating rear access, and precision cutting for the basin, while also ensuring a unified height of 35 inches for the unit and basin. Here’s a great example I found on Etsy.