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Re-purposed Bathroom Cabinet

When we moved into our home, we had a very skinny bathroom upstairs. Every time the door opened, it banged into the bathroom, and your knees could knock the sink when you sat on the toilet. We decided to expand the bathroom, making the adjoining office a bit smaller.

The “office,” was previously an old, second-floor kitchen. When we moved in, there was still a big stove outlet and a set of cabinets with a kitchen sink. Now, these cabinets were u-g-l-y, and we just stuffed junk in them — hair accessories in one cupboard, old Yellow Pages in a drawer, a bunch of unused frames under the sink — so it wasn’t too heart-breaking to decide to pull them out and move the wall over the resultant foot-and-a-half. But then we still had the dilemma of what to do for a new bathroom cabinet.

Working with a budget, we couldn’t really afford to pay thousands for a nice big cabinet with a modern counter-top. So I decided to re-work those fugly cabinets. My husband was sceptical, but I knew they had a future.

Submitted by: Jodi

Total Time Required: About 4 days: a day to pull out the cabinets from the wall, take off the old counter and saw away the extra 4 inches from the back; a day to paint and allow cabinets to dry and put together new counter-top; a day to sand and stain counter-top and put new hardware on cabinets; and a day to fit cabinets into new bathroom, cut hole for sink drain in counter-top, and attach counter-top to cabinets.

Working Time Required: All told, with painting, sanding, etc., about 4 or 5 hours.

Project Cost: I already had the wood and the sandpaper. The Tremclad paint costs about $40 for a litre, the stain is about $20, and the hardware was about 30 bucks altogether.

Material and Tools Required:

  • an old cabinet
  • jigsaw
  • paint
  • new hardware
  • 12″ x 3/4″ wood
  • sandpaper
  • stain
  • strong wood glue
  • screws or caulking (to attach counter to cabinet)

The lovely “sun-damaged skin” look of the former counter-top.


A cabinet from elsewhere in the house with the same ’70s woodgrain look and gaudy hardware.


  • first I removed the counter-top and threw it away. It was beyond hope — a mottled, laminate mess from the ’80s.


  • then I had to cut off about 4 inches, all the way around the back because it stuck out too far in the new bathroom. I did this with a plug-in jigsaw that my Dad gave me a few years back (this was all done in the upstairs room, by the way, because it would have been far too heavy and bulky to carry downstairs and then back up.


  • I then took off all the gaudy hardware and removed the doors.


  • I used white outdoor Tremclad paint (because it’s easily wipeable and resistant to water that one might find in a bathroom) and painted the doors and the cabinet itself.


  • after the paint had dried, I screwed the doors back on and put on this simple, sleek hardware that I had purchased at Home Depot.


  • now we had a great cabinet but no counter-top. The husband, who was on board by this point, really wanted a wooden counter-top, but the prices were pretty astronomical. So, he decided to make his own.


  • he took some 12×3/4 beech that we happened to have in the shed from a past project and cut two pieces just a couple of inches wider than the cabinet.


  • he then glued them together with very strong wood glue and filled the seam with some wood filler and sanded the heck out of them.


  • a dark wood stain was brushed on, they were sanded again, and stained again (which served to water-proof it), and a counter was born.


  • we cut a hole in it (again, with the jigsaw) for the sink drain and caulked around the sink after we installed it.


  • we just screwed the counter on, because it was a bit of an experiment, but it you decide to go this route, it’s probably best to caulk it right onto the cabinet.



Obviously, the sizes, etc., can be modified for any cabinet, but do have faith that there’s still some life in those old furnishings. Many times, they’re built much better than things today and deserve a little more loving. And  it’s cheaper – which seems to be becoming my theme!

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Victoria #

    Looks incredible!

    May 3, 2013
  2. Janet #

    Great work Jodi, very inspiring!

    May 8, 2013

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