I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I love buying furniture second hand. It’s like the pieces you find at a thrift shot, flea market, or just on the side of the road come pre-installed with a heaping helping of personality and potential. After all, if you only paid $5 for it, you’ll probably feel a little more at liberty to get creative with it. That’s one of the reasons I love the growing trend of repurposing furniture, especially turning regular pieces into bathroom vanities. It gives your bathroom a great unique flair and an unexpected focal point. Of course, if you don’t like the idea of hacking up your own furniture, or want a little more sophistication than swap meet chic, the trend is catching on with designers, too, and you can find a whole range of “repurposed” bathroom vanities ready to install, no carpentry skills needed.
One of my favorite looks is the bathroom-chest-o’-drawers, like this Regency Vanity from Lyn Design. The all-drawer face and raised base and legs will immediately stand out as something different in a bathroom, and trick your brain into warm, homey, relaxed bedroom feelings, and can amazingly unify a bathroom and bedroom that are part of a continuous suite. Even in a standalone bathroom, though, the curved sides and antique style legs and hardware are sassy and eye-catching and make a great unexpected focal point.
If you go with an antique style, the period of the piece will have a huge influence on the look of the room. This Normandy Chest is another re-imagined dresser, but gives a very different vibe than the Regency styled one – the piece has much more heft, and the intricate woodwork and unobtrusive knobs make it seem both earthy and regal. Perfect for adding a little unexpected sophistication to a traditional bathroom done in neutrals and autumn hues.
What’s really excellent about buying pieces pre-re-purposed is that you really don’t have to have any kind of carpentry skill yourself. To remodel an actual dresser, many of the drawers have to be reshaped to compensate for your plumbing, not to mention the top surface, which may or may not be hefty enough or made of a sufficiently waterproof material to house a sink. So instead of having to lop the top off of great gramma’s dresser, something like this Rosewood Beaded Vanity comes with the drawers already funky-shaped to fit your pipes and either without a top or with a pre-cut slab of granite of your choosing – all you have to do is drop the sink in, but you get all the unique look and feel of a repurposed antique.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be an antique or even antique style. Some more contemporary or especially retro pieces can really make for a great look, too. It can be a little harder to find more recent antiques or retro designs pre-cut for a bathroom installation (with the exception of this simple but stunning Porcher Stanza), but if you’re looking to make a fun, funky bathroom, pieces from the turn of the century onward have great, minimal lines and often fantastic pops of color – and most of them aren’t old enough to have boomed to antique prices.
Some of my favorite pieces, though, aren’t really from any time period at all. I love this mixed traditional and classic Gabrielle vanity from DecoLav, which has a very simple face but curvy, antique style legs that really make the piece stand out. The best part, to me, is that it really looks like a piece of furniture rather than just something to set your sink on – and this one in particular is small enough that, in even a medium sized bathroom, it gives you a little room for more accessories and storage. Just haul in a couple of your salvage finds, add a coat of white (or distressed white!) paint, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful cottage style bathroom.
And speaking of compact, it isn’t just dressers that work for this. This little Bonne Maman from Herbeau is hardly a nightstand – really more like an antique washstand repurposed as, well, a modern washstand. Perfect for an old colonial style bathroom, this piece adds amazing simplicity and elegance, and is perfect paired with Americana – whites, antique blues, colonial reds, and off white or gold.
So if you’re looking to do a big bathroom remodel, keep in mind that your new look doesn’t have to be strictly bathroom inspired – drawing designs from other parts of your home can make a bathroom feel more welcoming, and having an unexpected piece of furniture holding up your sink can be a great conversation starter! Have you ever repurposed a piece of furniture? Do you like the idea, but prefer the convenience of having it done for you? What’s the weirdest piece of furniture you’ve seen in a bathroom?