Tag Archives: How To

Converting a Cabinet into a Bathroom Vanity

I think this was the mother of all DIY projects in our house. It’s by far the most ambitious one we’ve ever tried at least, and my husband did an amazing job! When we renovated our master bath, we had a really hard time finding a bathroom vanity that fit our vision for the space. We have a small bathroom, but we wanted to maximize the space we had, which meant that we needed a vanity that wasn’t a standard size. We also loved the idea of having a marble counter top. Those two things together meant that we were looking at spending $2,000 on the vanity alone, not to mention all of the other bathroom expenses.

So when we came across the perfect sized cabinet on clearance at HomeGoods for $250, we decided we could do it ourselves for less. And we did. With the custom-cut carrara marble counter top, we ended up spending about $800 total. Yes, we could have gotten a smaller, standard vanity from Home Depot for cheaper, but it wouldn’t have been exactly what we wanted. This project let us achieve the look we were going for while keeping an extra $1,200 in our pockets!

Here’s how you can DIY: 

1. When you choose your counter top and sink, request the sink template from the vendor to use as a guide for cutting out the top of the furniture. You may need to coordinate this with your vendor to make sure you’re cutting the void for the sink in the correct location.

2. With all measurements accounted for, tape the sink template to the top of the furniture and trace it using a pencil or marker. You may want to add an additional ½” – 1” to the outside of the template to account for the brackets that attach the sink to the bottom of the counter top.

3. Assess the supporting points on your furniture and plan your cuts to retain structural integrity.  If cuts are necessary that may compromise the structure, plan to install new supports to help bear the weight of the new top. In this case, we added 2 x 4’s cut to length for support. You will want to reassess the stability after you cut out the section as well.

4. Drill a starter hole near the center of the traced template, and then use a jigsaw to cut out the top of the furniture.  If you are able to cut the full sink void, do so.  If your furniture has a center support, then you may need to cut the void out in sections. You can then use a hole saw to cut your faucet voids.

5. Measure the depth of your sink.  If a center support exists, transpose the measurement to the support and use your jigsaw to cut away the appropriate section.  If there is a shelf near the top of the furniture to support drawers (as was the case with our piece), cut out the appropriate void in this shelf as well to account for the depth of the sink.  Be sure to reassess the supporting structure to verify the furniture’s stability and strength.

6. Measure the section of plumbing on your bathroom wall.  Transpose those measurements to the back of the furniture (remembering to mirror the measurements) and mark out a section large enough to accommodate the plumbing. Cut out your marked area, and reassess the structure’s support and stability. At this point, you can add your extra supports if necessary.

7. To attach your new counter top to the furniture, dollop the appropriate adhesive around the top of the furniture. If needed, get assistance in placing the new top on the furniture and adjust to final position.  Be sure to allow for proper drying time. Once it’s dry, you can install the sink and faucet hardware.

8. Our furniture had two drawers at the top that now ran into the sink, but we wanted to utilize at least a portion of these drawers. If your furniture is similar, you can measure the area that the sink now occupies and subtract that from the previous drawer layout.

9. If possible, try to utilize the existing drawer sides and simply cut the bottom and the back of drawer to achieve the new size. Using wood glue and small nails, reconstruct the drawers. Because you are essentially losing the built-in track on one side of your drawer, you may need to install new drawer tracks to allow for proper movement. You can find these at any hardware or big box store for pretty cheap.

10. Finally, move your new vanity into place and secure it to the wall. Attach your plumbing, and you’re done!


How to Apply a Window Film {aka How to Not Flash Your Neighbors}

When we were remodeling our master bathroom, I wanted to do a window treatment that would allow us to take advantage of the natural light while not giving the neighbors a show. We decided to try a privacy film on the window, which gives the glass a frosted appearance so light comes in but creepy peepers stay out.

Surprisingly (or at least I was surprised), it worked great! My husband and I each took turns walking behind our house at night to see if anything was visible through the window. Other than being able to tell that someone was in the room (in the form of a fuzzy silhouette), you couldn’t see a thing!

While I would recommend having a second set of hands to help with the application, the whole process is really quite easy. We used the Gila Privacy Control Window Film in a Simulated Etched Glass finish, but there are multiple brands and finishes to choose from.

Start by cleaning the window thoroughly, making sure to get into the corners.

Measure the size of your window and cut the film, adding an extra inch to each side. If your window is like ours, you’ll need to measure the top and bottom and cut two separate pieces of film.

Using two small pieces of tape (one on each side of film), identify the clear liner. Your window film kit should come with a spray solution: use it to generously wet the window. Get someone to hold the film and, as you pull off the clear liner, spray the newly exposed side of the film. Apply the wet film, adhesive side down, to the window.

Smooth the film with your hands, and spray the side of the film facing you with the solution. Squeegee the center of the film from top to bottom. Go back to the top of the window and squeegee from the center to the right, working downward. Do the entire right side of the window and then repeat on the left side.

Use the edging tool and a utility knife to press down the edges and trim off the excess film on all four sides. 

Spray the film again with the solution and squeegee dry, again working from the top to the right and downward. Repeat on the left side. This is the point that you want to make sure you’re getting out any air bubbles behind the film. Also, use the edging tool to really push the film down in the corners. 

If your window is split (like ours), repeat the entire process on the other half.

Aaaannnnndd. . . you’re done!

How to Get Rid of Plugged Ducts

Since August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I thought I’d do a series of posts focused on nursing. As a new mom, I was beside myself when it came to breastfeeding troubles. So I am paying it forward in the hopes of helping another new mom through a tough spot.

I nursed my daughter for 13 months, and plugged ducts were the bane of my existence nearly the entire time. I once had one so bad that it was larger than a golf ball! The lactation consultant at our pediatrician’s office told me if it didn’t clear up within 24 hours (I’d been dealing with the pain at that point for about three days), I would have to go to the ER! I was able to clear the duct so it never came down to a trip to the hospital, but those were some of the most excruciatingly painful days of my life.

Here’s hoping you never, ever have to deal with plugged ducts, but if you do, here are a few tips and tricks that worked for me.

Heat and massage. This is a package deal because neither works as well without the other. Try warm compresses and then massage your breast in a circular motion, pushing the plug toward the center. You can also try massage while laying in a hot bath. One method that finally brought me relief was to lean, submerged, over a huge bowl of hot water and massage downward. I will warn you that the massaging hurts, but if it clears the duct, it’s so worth it.

Lecithin. This supplement is what finally helped me prevent plugged ducts. You can get it in capsule or granule form (I recommend the capsule) from Target or Walmart. I took one 1200 mg pill three times a day like clockwork.

Try “dangle feeding.” As if you don’t already feel like a cow, this method just perpetuates the feeling that you exist solely for the purpose of milking. But while it feels strange, it did work for me once. Lay your baby on his or her back on the floor and get on all fours over top. Allow your baby to nurse in this position to allow gravity to help clear the plugged duct.

Don’t stop nursing! I made this mistake the first time I had a plugged duct. It hurt so badly that I stopped nursing on that side. BIG mistake. Even though it hurts, try nursing on the plugged side first. When your baby is really hungry, the suck reflex is stronger, which could end up helping you out. If it’s just too painful to nurse, at least pump on the blocked side. The one thing you don’t want to do is allow more milk to back up in there.

Take care of yourself. Trust me, I know this is easier said than done when you have a little person (or two or three) relying on you for everything, but it’s really important. Be sure to get some rest, drink lots of water, and eat healthfully. Ask for some temporary help if you need it to give yourself a break. I wasn’t very good about doing this at first, but once I did, I think it really made a difference (both for my recurring plugged ducts and for my sanity).

Try Ibuprofen. A plugged duct causes major inflammation, so some Ibuprofen can help with both that and the pain. Check with your doctor to find out exactly how much you should take.

While it may feel like the plug will never go away (my longest one lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of four days!), it does eventually clear up, so try not to panic. If you start to run a fever or show other symptoms, call your doctor. If after several days of nursing and treatment you still have a plugged duct, talk to a lactation consultant or your doctor. There are medical procedures, such as ultrasound, that can help in extreme cases.