DIY Vintage Washstand with Towel Bar

I have wanted a vintage washstand with a towel bar for a long, long time. Unfortunately, this type of cabinet doesn't seem to ever come up for sale in my part of the world so my challenge began! How am I going to recreate this look??

I think I did pretty well!  

My main goal this year is to clear out my workshop of as much of the hoarded materials as I can.  I am tired of clutter!  I began to assemble a pile of components that I could use for this project.

Here's a look at the materials I re-used:

Desk top (I dismantled and got rid of this desk)
Easel (no longer used, took it apart)
Shelf over sideboard (was replaced with a hutch topper last year)
Leftover pine from kitchen window sills
Leftover bead board paneling from the front porch ceiling redo


In addition to these pieces, I bought 2 table legs from Ikea and picked out wood casters from D Lawless Hardware
Ikea Lalle Table Legs
Solid wood casters from D Lawless Hardware
I had to buy quarter round trim, 1/2" doweling and 2 - 1x3x8s to build the doors, but all the other components came from the wood pile in my shop.

My inspiration came from a story about a house in Newfoundland that I found on Houzz .  Check out this darling little cabinet:

WANT IT!!!!!!!!  I knew it was going to be a stretch for me to recreate this piece, I'm no cabinet maker...  Still, I'm never daunted anymore at the prospect of reaching beyond my current skill set to try something new.

Here is my version:

How I built this:

I began by cutting the 2x2s down to the height I wanted.  I went with 32" because I knew the casters and dresser top would add to the height.

I cut the desk top (3/4" cabinet grade maple plywood) into panels for the back and sides. The sides are 15" x 28" and the back panel is 25 1/2" x 28".   Then I attached the legs to the sides using glue and 2" brad nails. Then I attached the sides to the back.  The corners are secured with 2" deck screws that are countersunk into the legs.  To keep the cabinet square, I added a 2x2x25 1/2" across the front below the doors and a 1x2x25 1/2 across the front at the top of the doors.

The base of the cabinet is a piece of pine that was cut to fit around the legs.  I added 1x2 crosspieces under the sides to dress up the look.

The top is 3 pieces of 3/4" cabinet grade maple plywood that are 6 1/2" x 30".

Here is the very ugly pieced together box with all the caulking I had to do to fix it up:

With the base cabinet assembled, I measured for the towel rack.  I laid out the legs with a piece of 1x4 molding across the top of the dresser box.  I used a Kreg jig to attach the legs to the 1x4 and then I laid out a piece of 1/2" doweling across the upper portion and drew a pencil line across the inner legs to show where I was going to drill the holes for the doweling to be inserted.  I allowed 1/2" on each side for the insert and my dowel is 6" down from the top of the leg.  Then I had to unscrew one side to allow for the holes to be drilled.

I used the Kreg jig to attach the towel bar portion to the top of the dresser box and added quarter round on either side to help stabilize the whole thing.  Once assembled, I realized it would have been better to attach the assembly across the back of the dresser, but it was too late...

Building the doors was an exercise in frustration.  My first attempt included using a Kreg jig which went horribly wrong when I discovered I didn't have the right length of screws (I have to buy them online).  I chucked out my first attempt and began again. GAH!  Ultimately, I used my finish nail gun to hold the styles and rails together and then I traced out the exact size of the openings to cut the bead board to size.  It had to be hammered (lightly!) into place and secured with paintable caulking.  The tight fit and caulking should hold the pieces in place easily.

Quarter round molding attached to the front & sides of the dresser top finishes off the edges.  A coat of primer and two coats of Benjamin Moore Simply White paint plus the vintage look casters and some ceramic knobs I got from HomeSense years ago and never used pulled the look together.

Totally in love with my creation!

Incidentally, the whole cottage that is featured on Houzz is darling.  I'm so inspired by the look.  Check out the whole tour HERE

And if you want to see my new cottage style bathroom, click HERE

Happy creating!


Gail Wilson said...

wow Anne! that is an awesome knockoff for sure! Using the ikea legs was brilliant!

ps pinning!

Gail Wilson said...

wow Anne! that is an awesome knockoff for sure! Using the ikea legs was brilliant!

ps pinning!

Patricia @ Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

Wow! Anne! ... what Gail Said....;)
this turned out absolutely wonderful. I do know what you mean about ...chucking the first try and starting over. Those doors can be tricky!
This turned out really cute!

Kathy Moreland said...

You did a fabulous job! Talented girl, you are!!! Just gorgeous!

Karen Aber Ploransky said...

That is gorgeous! Your one talented lady! I love what your doing in your house, inside and out. This project is beautiful and I like it better than the one that inspired you! Great Job Anne!

Amy Ellis said...

Oh, you rocked this one, it's fabulous. When I first started reading this, I didn't realize you built this one. I thought you bought it this way because it looks so genuine. And I love it in white!!!

Junkchiccottage said...

You knocked it out with this one. I like yours better than the inspiration. I like the detail to the cabinet doors. Soooo pretty. You did great. You go girl with your DIY talents.

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

*Gulp* Um, wow!

Shocking, really how talented you are. I am in awe of you, Anne!

It's weird to think those commodes actually once housed nasty chamber pots! : - )

Now they make the best little cabinets! Yours is one of the cutest ever.

Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

Fabulous job, Anne! Who knew you could buy legs like that? That Newfoundland cabinet looks a lot like mine, I'll have to check that out.

Linda said...

Anne you are so talented! Who would have thought to use legs to make the towel bar.
I have an antique dry sink and I must say your replica is so authentic!!

K&B by the Sea said...

Cripes Anne, you keep blowing my mind with your amazing projects! You really outdid yourself this time - I think your version is even better than the inspiration piece! Never would have thought to use legs to create the top part. You're a genius! :-)


Looks real good!!!

Shirlee said...

I am so impressed by your handiwork. You did a fabulous job on re-creating the vintage wash stand and what a great idea to flipping the table legs to create the back piece.
I will definitely check out the cottage in Newfoundland.

Have a great weekend!

Artsy Chicks Rule said...

Really love this Anne! The legs up top were ingenious!! Great job!!


Cynthia said...

My Rock Star did it again. Better than the real thing. Yours has better detail


Art and Sand said...

You are amazing. I think the piece turned out perfect.

Jennifer said...

I am blown away! This has got to be one of your most impressive endeavours to date Anne. What a great job you did! So impressed!

Jennifer said...

I am blown away! This has got to be one of your most impressive endeavours to date Anne. What a great job you did! So impressed!

Audrey said...

WOW, Annie ... I am impressed.

Bliss said...

Anne..... You knocked this off alright, right off of the knock off chart!

ANNE said...

Thanks so much Donna!

Lucy Auburn said...

What an incredible job you did! I can't believe that you made it from scratch. It looks like an antique!

20 North Ora said...

What a fabulous job you did on your washstand! Really cute!


handmade by amalia said...


Down by the sea said...

Wow you did an amazing job with this transformation! Sarah x

chateau chic said...

Anne, you have to know I think you are Amazing!!! Sooo impressive...not only your skill but also being able to realize your vision! This washstand is absolutely darling.
Mary Alice

Kimberley Seasideave said...

Hi Anne!
Wow, you are amazing, I had to look at it twice after you listed your supplies, I was thinking she didn't use the IKEA legs and then Duh...yes you did...oh my gosh your outcome is beautiful!
I know about that home in Newfoundland, and love that style of seaside decorating!
Love your washstand!! :)

ANNE said...

Thank you so much!! That home is so pretty - now I want to paint all my doors different colours! Happy Monday!

Byron Thomas said...

I'm not sure if my last comment went through or not! I just wanted to tell you that I love the cabinet and now I want one too! :) Seriously, it's absolutely gorgeous... you did an amazing job.

ANNE said...

Thanks so much! I'm pretty happy with this piece :)

Thanks for visiting & commenting!

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

Oh, my! Yours is as pretty if not more than the one in your inspiration picture! You did an amazing job!

Parlor Room Ponderings said...

It's beautiful!! I've always wanted a washstand as well. Washstand-dry sink same thing? You are very creative and did a superb job. You should be very proud of yourself! Visiting from Amaze Me Monday. Have a great week! Diane

ANNE said...

Ha! I went back and forth between washstand and dry sink 20 times before settling on washstand as the name most people would recognize! Thanks so much Diane!!

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

This is over the top magnificent....You have such great vision and you carry that vision into something amazing!!! This washstand is too darn cute!....Jaw dropping, drop dead gorgeous!...Love that you added the casters too!

heather meads said...

That washstand is just lovely Anne, you really did a wonderful job with it!

Kerryanne @ Shabby Art Boutique said...

Anne, you are amazing. I totally LOVE this project and your vision to build it!!
Thank you for sharing it at Shabbilicious Friday. I'm delighted to be featuring it at tomorrow's party and I know my readers will love it too. Hugs ~ Kerryanne

Marie @ The Interior Frugalista said...

Hi Anne, you totally impressed me with your carpentry skills! I love your washstand and am featuring it this weekend at the DIY Sunday Showcase Party :)

A Joyful Cottage said...

Brilliant! You rock, my talented DIY friend. Your washstand has so much character and charm. I expect a DIY book from you in the near future. Hugs, Nancy

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

What an amazing job you did. You couldn't find what you wanted, so you built your own. I'm impressed. Love it!!!

Anne's Attic - Design said...

Anne way to go!! It is beautiful, and you did it by yourself. You amaze me. Jo

Little Vintage Cottage said...

Wow... I'm so impressed! I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to tackle that project but you did so great!


Anonymous said...

Anne! Your talent is inspiring! I absolutely love how you pieced this together and so professionally done! You are amazing! Sharing this as a feature this week on Making Broken Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I love this so much! What a genius idea using the IKEA legs. It looks amazing - great job.

ANNE said...

Thank you so much!!