Vintage finds in the bathroom? It might not seem like the usual approach to kitting out a new bathroom renovation. Recent times, however, have seen an inspiring rise in people choosing to incorporate vintage chic into their bathrooms. Moving away from costly fitted cabinets, many have travelled down the alternative path of sourcing a vintage storage unit and transforming it into a stunning vanity unit for the sink. This is not only cost-effective, it’s also a brilliant way to lend spades of character and individuality to your bathroom. Be gone, generic plastic cabinets and hotel style bathrooms! You needn’t look far for assurance that this look can be pulled off. Pinterest is already brimming with the jaw-droppingly gorgeous bathrooms of those who have defied the norm and found innovative ways to draw timeless vintage furniture into their bathrooms. Let it be said with confidence that the immense satisfaction of having a home feature which is down to your own handiwork is definitely worth the extra bit of effort. You will also be spared the time consuming frustrations of contracts and schedules that come with hiring outside parties. The finished result of this particular sideboard-sink hybrid is totally worth the process and you’ll hopefully enjoy it all the more as you go along.
There are probably already a dozen practical questions running through your mind… how on earth do you transform a sideboard into a sink? What about smaller bathrooms? Isn’t humidity going to cause problems? These are all fair considerations but the good news is that many renovators have already crossed this unchartered territory on your behalf and we can benefit from their wisdom. Read on for some useful tips and tricks to address all of the above.
How to repurpose a sideboard into a sink?
This is perhaps the first question which springs to mind if you’re thinking about introducing vintage furniture to the bathroom. It’s actually fairly straight forward and fortunately requires minimal NASA training. DIY veterans won’t be phased by this process but for those feeling a little less confident, see it as a learning curve which will imbue you with confidence for future projects and impress your friends whilst you’re at it!
First, break it down into easy stages. Begin by choosing a sideboard or cabinet which can accommodate a sink. It doesn’t matter if there are drawers or other internal features in the way as you can still cut through these to provide space for the sink without doing any damage to the outer design. There will still be ample storage for bathroom products within the main interior of the sideboard. It must also obviously fit within the bathroom (see below for advice on accounting for any movement of wood). The most important part is to align the sideboard with the plumbing, so it’s a good idea to move the unit into place to take exact measurements before you go to town with the saw. Find someone who knows a thing or two about plumbing to help with this and to make sure that everything will be set up correctly when the time comes to connect everything together.
To cut a hole for the sink, use a paper template to mark how much room you need to allow. This is better than drawing it on directly as you can safely play around with the positioning. Style wise, consider whether you want the sink to sit completely within the sideboard or rest on top. Both are great looks and will depend on the type of sink you choose. This will alter the size of the template: if the entire sink is going to sit on the sideboard (see the title image) then you only need to cut a hole for the pipework. If the sink is going to sit within, you will need to make a template which allows for the widest part of the model. Just make sure that the sink won’t fall through and that the lip will rest on top!
Now comes the fun part! Phone up a friend or neighbour whose tools you can borrow (remember to ask for assistance if you’re not too familiar with tools. They’re easy once you conquer them but still come with sharp bits so best to use under the watchful eye of someone who knows how they work). Cut a careful hole in the surface… remember that any rough bits can be sanded down and that the lip of the sink should obscure this in any case. Next, lower the sink into the unit and make sure that all of the plumbing is fastened correctly (that DIY neighbour will suddenly become your new BFF). If you don’t know anyone who is confident setting up the plumbing – although it’s less complicated than you might think – consult your local plumber for ease of mind that you won’t awake to a bathroom flood in the middle of the night. Installing a sink into a sideboard might seem like a nerve-wracking prospect but if so many others have already done it, so can you! We have faith. For a really clear step by step guide, you might like to take a look at this example.
What if a tiny bathroom can’t accommodate a sideboard?
Many city dwellers don’t have a huge amount of room to fit a large vintage storage unit. Not to worry, this look can definitely be achieved with smaller cabinets or chests of drawers too and still look equally fabulous. There are countless ways to bring touches of vintage chic into the bathroom which will complement any vintage furniture you can fit in. Items like a vintage spice rack could provide a great place to store small items like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo or make up. It definitely goes without saying that a vintage mirror will look stunning and create the illusion of more space. So it’s absolutely possible to create a characterful bathroom of any size which still makes your soul sing as you greet it first thing in the morning. Also worth noting is that these vintage cabinets are often quite deep and so it won’t mean comprising on storage space in the bathroom. Owners of compact bathrooms will often opt for roomy open shelves, believing them to be less bulky and more space efficient. However, a bathroom can quickly become too noisy as it fills up with bathroom products, so unlike a shelving unit, a vintage cabinet with doors will do much to conceal this. Here is a selection of vintage chests of drawers that measure 100cmx100cm.
Worried about humidity?
Some people may rightly question the wisdom of putting wooden items into a bathroom due to the constant changing of temperature and humidity in the air. This could encourage movement in the wood as it expands and contracts with the thermal changes. This is typically more of a problem for floorboards or kitchen cabinets which need to fit tightly together, rather than a standalone unit. Younger timber will also have stronger ‘reflexes’ to varying moisture levels whereas older wood in vintage and antique furniture has toughened somewhat over the years and will be far less reactive. Although most wood is able to adapt quickly and take these changes in its stride, it’s still best to give the units a little breathing room rather than squeeze them into tight gaps. What’s also worth taking into account is that many sideboards (and mid century furniture in particular) are made from teak, which is naturally a very oily hardwood. This means that they are resistant to absorbing excess moisture as the timber is already saturated with oil… one of the reasons why garden furniture and park benches are often made using teak! To clean, just use a damp sponge to wipe away any dust. You can also rub the occasional coat of beeswax into the wood to keep it feeling healthy and supple. So, fret not and go ahead with that vintage bathroom unit!
We said earlier that sourcing a vintage storage unit is a cost effective alternative to fitting in bespoke cabinets and so here is a selection of stunning finds across every budget. Whether working to a tight budget or ready to splash out, no-one is barred from creating a bathroom of dreams. Enjoy perusing and maybe you’ll find something which is the perfect fit for your soon-to-be-renovated bathroom!
Shop sideboards under £250 here
Shop sideboards under £500 here
Shop sideboards under £1000 here
Shop sideboards under £2000 here
Let us know if you decide to transform a vintage find into a bathroom unit, we’d love to see the end result!