Master Bath Phase 4: Updating the Vanity

My original title for this post was “English Chestnut, where have you been all my life?” 🙂 We’ll get to the explanation on that one in a little bit…

We wasted no time getting back to work on our master bath once I returned from Ikea this weekend.  I picked up a new countertop, sink, and faucet while we were there, so it was time for “out with the old, in with the new.”

First up, removing handles and emptying the vanity.

Buh-bye gothic 80s door handles and drawer pulls!  Buh-bye child safety locks that have been on our drawers since 1986.  (Just guessing here, but the previous owners did have fully-grown kids when they moved out.)

Hello fun residue leftover from 30 years of bathroom grossness.

After removing the handles and clearing out all the cubbyholes, here was our empty vanity.

Woah!  Look at all that junk!  I can’t believe how much STUFF we found in there! Mental note: Once this bathroom is done, nothing goes back under the sink unless absolutely necessary.

Once everything was out of the way, Stephen unhooked the plumbing.

We didn’t have a bucket handy, but we DID have an old Christmas popcorn tin to catch all the plumbing gunk.  Whatever works, right?

Turns out the only thing holding this countertop on was the plumbing and some caulk. No brackets, no screws, no anything!

Stephen’s face pretty much sums up the smell in that room once the countertop was removed.

It’s very important that you cap the big pipe coming out of the wall when you’re working with plumbing.  Not only does it let a ton of cold air out (or hot, if it’s summer), but the gasses emitted are toxic and smell disgusting.

After we’d let the exhaust fan run for a few minutes, it was time to bring in the new countertop!

If you’ve been paying really close attention, you might already know we’ve been planning on using butcher block for our vanity top in the master bath.  I’ve been toying with the idea of butcher block for probably a year now, but once I saw the Bowers use it in their master bath, my mind was made up.  Not only is this material inexpensive when purchased from the right place, it’s durable and beautiful!

We searched high and low for an affordable butcher block dealer in our area, but by far the best option was the $39 LAGAN countertop from IKEA.  The smallest piece they had was a few inches too wide and several inches too long, so Stephen got out the circular saw and trimmed it up.

Originally I was going to try to expand the vanity and SQUEEZE two sinks into that space, but instead we opted for a single larger sink with more counter space on each side. The sink we chose?  HOLLVIKEN from, you guessed it, IKEA. 🙂

Before staining and sealing the countertop, we wanted to make all the cuts necessary. Using the template provided with the sink, Stephen traced it in place.

Then he cut along the traced lines, and I followed behind with the palm sander.

While I appreciate the beauty of natural butcher block (and we’re planning on adding some in other areas of our house soon), this particular counter definitely needed some color.  Instead of mixing up a mid-century modern medium tone like the color I created for our entryway credenza, I made a trip to Lowes in the hopes that I could find a perfect pre-mixed stain.

Eureka!  Ohhh English Chestnut, where have you been all my life?  (See, I told ya I’d get around to explaining that title!)

Turns out English Chestnut stain by Minwax was the perfect solution to my stain color dilemma.  I’m literally looking around our house right now for other hunks of wood I can stain this glorious rich color.

A couple coats of poly to prevent water damage in that steamy bathroom, and this countertop will be ready to install!

Are you as excited as I am to see this baby in its new home?!  It’s gonna be SAH-WEET!

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28 Responses to Master Bath Phase 4: Updating the Vanity

  1. Morgan says:

    That stain color you picked is beautiful! I love how the counter top turned out! Gorgeous. =]

  2. It’s looking nice! The butcher block top looks great and is beautiful stained chestnut. It looks like the Ikea trip was very successful!

  3. Wow, the stain really ups the richness factor! And you can’t beat a $39 counter top with a stick.

  4. Allisha says:

    I love the butcher block! It looks awesome! Good job!

  5. Anne says:

    Wow that is going to look so awesome. I can not wait to see it.

  6. Michelle says:

    How exciting its all taking shape … c’mon put that bowl on and give us the reveal 😉

  7. Katie Bower says:

    I am literally on the edge of my seat! I can’t wait for the final reveal….quickly do it now…do it now! do it! do it now! can you tell I am slightly excited?!
    xo – kb

  8. Bob West says:

    Interesting blog I am now a follower.
    I thought you might enjoy Paradox Principles.
    Watch this great film clip
    God Bless, Bob West
    Pass it on …

  9. Meredith, YES, I was at the Ikea in Frisco on Saturday (early), what a small world!!! I live in MO and went to visit family in Ft. Worth and drove the hour to Ikea. Thanks for commenting!
    The bathroom is looking great, I love the sink choice!

  10. Beckie says:

    I found your blog via a google search for board & batten bathrooms. I am currently doing the same thing in my bathroom. I just wanted to make sure you used an oil based poly and not a water based one on top of your counter. You will have major regrets if you used a water based. I did and ended up having to strip and redo it again with an oil based. Also make sure you only clean it with water or something made for wood. Do not use Pledge or anything else on it or it gets this awful sticky film on it. I just wanted to warn you so you don’t encounter the same struggles I did. I can’t wait for the reveal.

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  12. Hannah says:

    you wanna come to my house? y’all are so quick at making a decision! i love how you just go with it! can’t wait to see the bathroom! and…we had those EXACT door handles on every cabinet in our kitchen AND all three bathrooms! yuck! it’s amazing how something as small as updated hardware can make such a difference! 🙂

  13. Joi says:

    This looks great! Thanks for the link! : )

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  15. Candace says:

    I agree, totally awesome (but then again, you know I’m biased to this look!)

  16. Mike @HA says:

    My wife told me you guys have almost the exact same bedroom as us! I was checking out your blog and we’ve done a lot of the exact same projects! We recently stained Ikea butcher block for our kitchen cart. We’re like house-project-doppelgangers!

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  19. Bella says:

    Perfect!!! I have butcher block in my kitchen and love it.

    Maybe in my bathroom now too, gosh that looks fabulous, and the IKEA price, can’t be beat!!!

    Bella 🙂**AMAZE ME AUGUST** @ Bella Before and After

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  21. Kristin says:

    I LOVE the butcher block countertops!! Are you still satisfied with how they are holding up? I’d like to do this in my bathroom, but I’ve heard that butcher blocks tend to separate over time and am debating whether to poly or just use mineral oil…

  22. Ashley says:

    Did you have to strip the old vanity or do any prep before the 3 coats of paint?

  23. shelby says:

    Hi Meredith!
    I am working on the same kind of countertop (stained butcher block with a vessel sink). I am ready to seal my wood, and I am wondering if you used Polycrylic or Polyurethane? I think I understand that the -crylic is water based and the -urethane is oil based, but the -crylic’s can indicated that it could withstand common household cleaners (which I thought I might use to clean the countertop), but I keep reading OIL OIL OIL for bathrooms. What do you think?


    • Meredith says:

      Hey Shelby,
      Our sealer was not oil based. I believe we used Minwax’s polycrylic and it has held up beautifully. Seriously – no issues at all 2+ years later! I don’t use harsh chemicals on the countertop – just quick wipes with a cleaner and then follow-up wipes with a wet paper towel. Most of the grime stays on the sink, so the countertop doesn’t need as much scrubbing.
      Anyway, I hope that helps! I still love the wood countertop + vessel sink look, and I’m sure yours will turn out great!

      • shelby says:

        Thanks so much for your reply! Your bathroom was our model for our remodel! Your detailed descriptions really helped me learn a lot of new skills as I went through this process, and I am thankful for the time you took to write all this out and share it with the world 🙂

  24. Kristin says:

    Hi Meredith!
    My husband and I have recently started a bathroom remodel and love what you have done with yours! We are seriously considering a butcher block top but one question I have is if it is affected by high heat items such as curling irons and straighteners. Have you noticed any issues with this? Thanks!

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