Finished DIY bathroom vanity!

May 30, 2017

Hey all! Hope you had a lovely holiday weekend! We played and worked hard -- and I finished up the DIY bathroom vanity that I shared with you last week.

My Dad and I built it together (you can see the easy build at that link) and I knew there may be some adjustments that had to be made. It was going to depend on how the different pines stained up. Here's where I left you: 
How to build your own bathroom vanity

I started the staining process (the shelf boards weren't attached yet -- I worked on those separately and then installed). 

I work with Minwax occasionally to share how to bring stained wood projects into your home and I knew this one was going to be a great fit. I started with my go to, the pre-stain conditioner first:
Minwax prestain conditioner
It helps to prepare the wood for staining -- it's such a quick process it takes no time at all. I use a foam brush to apply: 
Prepping wood for stain

You don't even need to wipe it off, as long at you don't brush it on too thick. 

I immediately started staining after that step with my new favorite color, Provincial:
Provincial stain by Minwax

It is such a pretty stain and doesn't look nearly as red (at least on pine) in real life as it does in that photo above. It's a nice in between brown tone. 

I usually use a foam brush to apply the stain as well, but when you're working with vertical surfaces that's a little trickier. Applying with a rag is a bit messier (use gloves for sure), but I think goes on quicker. I did two coats on the top of the vanity: 
Staining with a rag instead of brush

If you use a brush to apply stain, you'll need to wipe down any excess a few minutes after. When you use a rag you're wiping off that extra stain as you go so you save a step. 

Staining is such an easy DIY project and I LOVE the instant gratification it gives. :) It's so fun to see wood come alive when you work with stain. I always like to share a few staining tips with you that I think are important: 
  • You need to give yourself enough time to complete one surface at a time. If you start and stop (and let the stain dry) you will see where you left off. Always leave a "wet edge" as you work -- meaning keep moving across the surface with the wet brush. 
  • It is important to let each coat dry well. If you add another coat too fast it will gunk up and take forever to dry. I usually only do one coat but you can add more for a deeper tone.
  • Gloves are always recommended! Even if you don't use a rag to apply you'll need one to wipe off excess stain afterwards. 
  • If you can stain outside, great! If not, keep windows open or a fan running. And if you notice a weird smell coming from your dryer or oven after you stain, check out this post. :) 
I did the top and then started the bottom part of the vanity...and the two pine pieces we used weren't staining the same. I kind of figured this would happen because the 2x4s were a little rougher than the select pine I used for the rest of it. The 2x4's were looking more red. 

But I had a plan! It added about $50 to the cost of the vanity, but I'm still coming in at less than $250 for the whole thing so I'm thrilled. 

I had some pine boards mitered down so we could wrap the legs. Here's a reminder of how they looked: 
Building a bathroom vanity

Instead of the 2x4's, those are now covered in the nicer wood to match the rest. I also changed the shelf a bit and I'll show you that below. I didn't want the cut ends of the shelf pieces showing because I knew they'd stain up so much darker than the rest. The cut sides always absorb more stain.

I grabbed a lawn trash bag and set up on the floor to condition and stain each board for the shelf individually:
How to stain easily

Like I said, using a rag makes the process SO much faster than a foam brush. It's just faster to wipe it on and you eliminate taking off the excess stain after. 

I went ahead and installed the slats for the shelf when the stain dried and got ready for my next step. I wanted to use a polyurethane that would hold up to the water that will inevitably get all over the countertop. I chose the Helmsman indoor/outdoor urethane I used when I refinished the potting bench last year: 
DIY potting bench

Outdoor urethane for stained wood

I did two coats over the whole vanity and will probably do one more to the top. Between a good poly and lots of caulk around the sinks, the wood counter should hold up fine. 

You can use a fine grit sandpaper or steel wool in-between coats of poly, but I've found my new trick works just as well or better: 
Sanding in between coats

Yes, just paper bags! I shared that trick here. It knocks down an rough spots but doesn't create a cloudy look that sandpaper can sometimes create. It's especially great for a final sanding after you're done. Love it! 

Here's a look at the finished project! Well, minus the faucets and mirrors and other finishing touches:
Sealing wood counters on bathroom vanity

Crossing my fingers the faucets will go in today! So much progress lately. 😁😁 I finally feel like we're in the home stretch, even though there's still a ton left to do. 

I found the sinks here -- I thought they were a great deal! (I purchased these drain stoppers to go with the sinks.) I LOVE how they look. I moved them up towards the front of the vanity a bit to make washing hands/face more comfortable: 
Wood counters on bathroom vanity

Finding faucets in stock that are tall enough was a little more difficult. I'll share my picks with you soon. 

I only wrapped the front legs because you really won't see the back ones when the baskets and stuff are sitting on the shelf: 
Built in DIY vanity with sinks

You can see here how the slats now nestle behind the front piece. I love this -- it streamlines it a bit more, and as I mentioned, the ends of the slats would have been much darker. 

When I wrapped the legs I considered painting the vanity white for a hot second. I thought it would look good with white on the bottom and a stained top, and it would! But I'm so glad I went ahead with the stain. It really gives this room some warmth. I love stained wood in contrast with the dark tile and the white accents that will go throughout the room as well. 

Here's a before and after of the vanity and a peek at the shower tile that was finished up this morning: 
How to build and stain a DIY bathroom vanity

How to build and stain a DIY vanity

Still have to grout the shower and then get hardware installed. I'm pretty sure we'll have a fully functioning bathroom again by the end of this week. I usually jinx myself when I say those things out loud so we'll see. I'm fully expecting a huge disaster now. :)

It will function, but as I mentioned, there are quite a few things left on the to do list. There will be two lights instead of one and I've got a fun background in mind for behind the mirrors. Then the wall treatment throughout most of the room, door trim, drywall finishing and repainting a couple walls and ceiling. I can't wait to get to the decorating part! 

This may be the last time I share the bathroom until I'm finished, but who knows. It won't be completed for another couple of weeks so we'll see. I am just SO thrilled it doesn't look like this anymore! :)
Taking down a wall in the bathroom

It is coming together just as I envisioned and I couldn't be happier! 

Affiliate links included for your convenience! 

This project was sponsored by Minwax but all experiences and opinions are my own. I only work with products and brands I know and love! 

Email subscription form header
Your email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide


  1. Amazing!!! You knocked this out of the park, and we have not even seen the everything yet!

  2. The last picture is so ME!!! I love how they always remove everything on the DIY shows before they start demo...but not me. I just start ripping everything out and then think "hum, maybe I ought to move that mirror"! And the hanging electrical wiring.... Been there done! BTW, I have the exact same sink in my master bath! LOVE!!!

  3. Looks amazing, you continue to wow and inspire me!!!!

  4. Wow! What a piece! It looks fantastic! Would you consider adding a front to the back middle or is that not really visible when in the room in person.
    XO, Amanda @ life on linton

  5. I just came across your post (and website) and this is just perfect for my twin daughters' bathroom. I have been looking for a handicapped open bottom vanity but they are incredibly expensive! This gives me an idea to build their (minus the bottom shelf) for their walkers and wheelchairs to fit right under. I will be building one like this very soon. Thank you for posting this!!!


If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here!

You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!