Friday, April 19, 2013

Rethink the Sink: New Ways of Turning Old Pieces into Bathroom Prizes

The bathroom is a place dedicated to freshening up, so it seems a fitting space to introduce "freshened up" décor. Breathing new life into antique furniture and retro accessories allows you to create custom bathroom components for a one-of-a-kind design that's awash with personality.

It can be as simple as rethinking an item's intended function or as in-depth as revamping a piece's finished form. Below, I'll shower you with ideas on transforming case goods and other furnishings into vintage-inspired vanities, repurposing windows into wall-hangings, and using cast-offs for corner shelves.

Vintage-Inspired Vanities
Old-fashioned case goods such as buffets, sideboards, desks, and dressers make ideal vanities, as their doors and drawers hide plumbing and provide toiletry and towel storage. Some are even wide enough to accommodate two sinks.

An open concept furniture item such as a farm, side, or sewing table can also be transformed into a bathroom vanity with a large basket tucked below to serve as a hamper or towel bin -- note that a deep apron front is ideal for concealing plumbing. Have a shorter piece? No problem. Rather than a drop-in, turn to a vessel sink for added height.

To convert your case:
  1. Determine where the sink will be placed. (Consider shifting it to one side to allow a broader expanse of counter space on the other.)
  2. Trace the outline of the sink onto the top, taking care to allow space for the faucet if you plan to mount that separately. (Most new sinks come with a template.) You will also need to draw the placement of the existing plumbing on the rear of the cabinet.
  3. Cut out holes for the sink and pipes using a drill and a jigsaw.
  4. Refinish the piece, if desired, using enamel spray paint or a coat of polyurethane. For a more traditional bathroom feel, you may opt to have a stone top cut to fit.
  5. Mount the sink using silicone caulk, and the faucet hardware with plumber's putty.
  6. Secure the vanity to the wall studs using screws. You may have to either remove or shorten the upper drawers to allow space for plumbing. If removed, preserve the drawer faces so they can be affixed to the cabinet front.
  7. Hook up drain and water lines, or contact a plumber if you don't feel comfortable with this step.
Antique Reflections
Almost any flat flea market find can hold a mirror. I've seen creative DIYers convert everything from reclaimed ceiling tiles to antique silver trays to old horse harnesses into charming custom mirror frames. For an eclectic feel, pair mismatched mirrors side-by-side over a double vanity. (Install recessed bathroom cabinets behind the mirrors to gain additional functionality.) More of a collector? Hanging a grouping of hand mirrors upside down on a wall summons a bit of romantic whimsy.

Salvaged window frames are fairly common at junk shops and thrift stores and can be transformed into mirrors in just a few basic steps:
  1. Remove the panes by slicing through the putty with a razor blade, and pry out any glazier's points (small metal fasteners).
  2. Measure each opening carefully and have mirrors cut to fit.
  3. Lay the frame face down, arrange the mirrors face down in each opening, and back them with cardboard.
  4. Reinstall the glazier's points behind the cardboard.
  5. Add hanging hardware along the upper edge, and place felt pads in the bottom corners to protect walls.
  6. Anchor the mirror securely in a stud.
New Old-Fashioned Storage
Bathroom furniture and accessories with a bit of history provide character in an often-sterile space. And most need little, if any, amending. Wicker window box baskets or galvanized metal tubs can be hung one above the other using wall hooks for tiered toiletry organization. A vintage plant stand or stacked wine crates make great small-space shelving when tucked into a corner or otherwise tight spot. Or turn an old wooden ladder into a towel rack. (I recommend snapping plastic shower rod covers cut to length over the rungs to prevent soggy towels from softening the wood.) Have an old shutter? Use it to replace an ordinary medicine cabinet door.

 The aforementioned case goods also work well as storage units. A child-size armoire, for instance, is an ideal size for a guest bathroom and provides cabinets and drawers for stowing linens, toiletries, and extra TP. If the piece features double doors, contemplate removing one of them to reveal exposed shelving for displaying towels, candles, and other decorative accessories. Hide unsightly sundries behind the remaining door. For some flair, paint the interior a contrasting color or update solid wood cabinet doors with mirror or glass inserts.

Do these ideas inspire you to use made-over pieces in a bathroom makeover?

A Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs, Jay Harris provides bathroom decors tips to homeowners for products ranging from vanities and bathroom faucets to sinks and medicine cabinets.

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