This $46.25 deal has the potential for greatness

Our story so far: I was stressed out about bathroom vanities for the church. When we finally chose a plumber, he needed to know where to rough in the vanity faucets, and to determine that, we needed three vanities quickly. I checked the master bathroom vanity off the list by investing in online cabinets.

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We scored vanity Number Two for the upstairs bathroom at a second-hand store.

My brother-in-law had once turned a dresser into a vanity for a basement bathroom, and I loved the combination of an old piece of furniture with a sleek stone countertop. I had also once converted an ugly old dresser into a beautiful credenza with several coats of paint. I couldn’t use this idea in the master bathroom because it would have been impossible to find a eleven-foot-long piece of furniture. Likewise, the wall assigned to the upstairs bathroom vanity was eight feet long—it would take a very special piece of furniture to fill that space.

One Saturday, after spending hundreds of dollars on lumber and loading it into our truck, Tyler and I arrived for a lunch date a few minutes early, so we explored the nearby second-hand store. We couldn’t pass one without looking for something we might need for the old church, and here we found not one piece of furniture but two.

upstairs vanity furniture
They’re a little (a lot) beat up, but I see potential.
The mirrors, unattached.

The first dresser was the ideal height for a vanity with an undermount sink. Tyler confirmed it would work. It even came with a mirror. But it was only about forty inches wide. The second, taller dresser also came with a mirror; it was about thirty inches wide.

Together, they were about twenty-five inches short of the expanse we needed to fill.

But the price was right—$185 for the pair.

veneer to save
Maybe the wood-grain veneer on the top drawers could be saved?

Oh, they were beat up, all right. The shorter dresser has a terrible stain on the front, and the taller one was missing veneer, but I intended to paint it all anyway. Some of the intact veneer had a beautiful wood grain look I thought I might be able to preserve by painting around it. The mirrors themselves were in good condition, but the frames needed paint, too.

As I stood in front of them debating whether the work required to redeem these dressers was worth it, the proprietress sensed my interest and struck up a conversation.

“Oh, that would make a beautiful vanity,” she said, describing how she’d turned other pieces of furniture into vanities. “And they’re 75 percent off today.”

The frugal Midwesterner in me couldn’t pass up a deal that good. “Well, I could throw them away for that price,” I said.

The proprietress wrinkled her nose. “Oh, you wouldn’t want to do that.”

“I mean I can’t pass up such a good deal,” I said. “But what do you think I could put between them to fill the space? A basket maybe?”

“Hmm, let me think about that,” the proprietress said.

checkbook drawing
More chicken scratch, this time on the back of a checkbook.

I went to lunch and chewed on this dilemma. I mean, I had to figure out how to make the $46.25 deal work. I couldn’t pass this up. And then suddenly I knew: If I removed the mirror from the taller vanity, it would fit perfectly under the sloping eave on the second-story, and then I could create a little make-up space—complete with mirror and stone to match the top of the sinked vanity—between the two pieces of furniture.

I returned to the second-hand store with a less money than we paid for lunch and asked the proprietress to hold them until we could return with an empty truck. A few days later, we added the beat-up dressers to the rental unit. At some point in the near future, the HVAC guys would be done haunting the basement so I could do some painting.

This left the guest half-bath, aka the powder room. The vanity in there would be most used by guests, so the pressure was on.

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Tomorrow: Vanity Number Three wasn’t as good a deal as Vanity Number Two, but it still was meant to be. Read about it here.

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