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An 80’s Bathroom Vanity Makeover

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In the early 80s, everything was oak and everybody wanted everything oak!  Today, it’s very dated and old looking.  As I mentioned in my last post, Andrew & Rachel purchased their first home which is stuck in the 1980s LOL.   Their master bathroom had a partially oak vanity.  The door and drawers were solid oak.  Unfortunately, the rest of the cabinet was pressed board with something over it to look like oak.  In an effort to try and update the old vanity, this is what I did!

bathroom vanity makeover

Step 1: Remove Drawer Fronts

Using my Dewalt driver, I removed the door and drawers from the bathroom cabinet and took them home for a few days!  I also removed the kickboard so I could give that a fresh coat of paint.

paint bathroom vanity

Step 2: Remove the Finish

bathroom vanity

I completely sanded the drawers, door and kickboard down to the bare wood, first using 120 grit sandpaper and working my way up to 220 grit, to give them a smooth finish.  The beveling in the door required a bit of hand sanding and paint/stain remover, I used Citristrip.  I like this remover the best because it works great without any harsh chemicals.  After removing all the finish, I wiped all boards down with denatured alcohol to make sure they were clean and free of grit.

Step 3: Paint the Kickboard

To paint the kickboard, I used Black Spray Paint. This was quick and easy to do! 

diy vanity makeover

Step 4: Bleach the wood

painted bathroom vanity

This step was so much fun!  I was very lucky to have the picture perfect day with nice warm temperatures and low humidity.  In one day, I was able to complete 6 coats of bleach on my wood.  

little elbow grease

I used a disposable paint brush and painted straight bleach on each piece of wood, waiting about 30-45 mins for it to dry and applied another coat.  With each coat the wood became lighter and lighter and as I said above, I did six coats of bleach until I achieved the look I wanted.

chalk paint

Step 5: Neutralize the Bleach

Finally, with a mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water, I painted each board to neutralize the bleach.  After this step, I let my boards dry overnight.  The next morning, I did a quick wipe down of denatured alcohol to ensure they were clean.

how to bleach furniture

Step 6: Wax the Boards

Next, I applied white wax using a wax brush.   WOW!!  The white wax went into the grain of the wood and I just love the effect!  I used a clean rag (old white t-shirt is my preference) and wiped away the excess wax.  I allowed the white wax to dry for about an hour and then applied clear wax.  You could quit after the white wax if your piece of furniture is not in the bathroom or around lots of water, but as a precaution I applied the clear wax to give the wood a bit more protection.

How to bleach furniture

Step 7: Sand and Paint the body of the Vanity

As I stated earlier, the body of the vanity is not wood; therefore, I had no choice but to paint it.  I quickly sanded the raised spots (caused by water) to make the surface smooth and flat.  First, I rolled Kilz Primer to make sure the paint color wouldn’t let the wood show through.  

bathroom vanity makeover
bathroom vanity makeover

Then I rolled on BEHR PREMIUM Cabinet, Door & Trim Interior/Exterior Satin Enamel in Chantilly Lace.  Even with the primer, I needed to apply 2 coats of white paint.  I allowed the cabinet to dry overnight.

Step 8: Put the Bathroom Cabinets back together

I added new hardware to the door and drawers and put it all back together!  This hardware I had on hand from another project. It is certainly an improvement over the 80s look and is a quick and easy diy bathroom vanity makeover! 

bathroom vanity makeover
bathroom vanity makeover

Updating your bathroom? Check out our post on how to DIY a Recessed Toilet Paper Holder!

Bathroom Vanity Makeover Links

Home Depot: BEHR PREMIUM 1 gal. White Semi-Gloss Enamel Interior/Exterior Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint
bathroom vanity

An 80’s Bathroom Vanity Makeover

Prep Time 2 hours
Build Time 8 hours
Dry Time 2 days


  • Palm Sander
  • Disposable Paint Brush
  • Roller
  • Annie Sloan Wax Brush
  • Rag to Apply Wax
  • Nail Gun
  • Drill / Driver


  • BEHR PREMIUM Cabinet, Door &Trim Interior/Exterior Satin Enamel 
  • Kilz Primer
  • Black Spray Paint
  • Bleach
  • Annie Sloan White Wax
  • Annie Sloan Clear Wax
  • ¼” Nap Roller
  • Hardware
  • 220 Grit Sandpaper
  • 120 Grit Sandpaper
  • Citristrip
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Vinegar


  • Remove Drawer Fronts
  • Remove the Finish
  • Paint the Kickboard
  • Bleach the wood
  • Neutralize the Bleach
  • Wax the Boards
  • Sand and Paint the body of the Vanity
  • Put the Bathroom Cabinets back together
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