How to build your own vanity dressing table

How to build your own vanity dressing table

Building your own vanity dressing table isn’t as much of a challenge as it may appear to be. You can use anything from an old piece of furniture to a ready-made shelf for an ornate or simple, costly or inexpensive dressing table. Let’s look at some options.

Is there an old sideboard or a pair of chests in your garage?

Using an old sideboard would be extremely simple: the only thing which might have to be replaced would be its legs, in order to raise the sideboard to a height which allows you to be seated at it and comfortably put your legs underneath. (If the sideboard sets too low to the floor, you may have to remove its legs and replace them with new ones from a do-it-yourself store.) The advantage of utilizing an old piece of furniture like this is that you’ll have plenty of storage space for cosmetics and hair care products. And, you may not even need to refinish it if it’s in good condition give it a nice coat of polish and see how it looks.

If you found a set of old chests, you’ll need them plus a stock wood shelf which is a minimum of 12 inches wide and an inch thick; six L-brackets, a pencil, yardstick, two dozen 3/4 inch wood screws and screwdriver, and enough paint or finish to re-do the entire unit once you’ve put it together. Measure the height from the floor of the seat you’ll be using while sitting at your dressing table. Add four inches more to this measurement, and you have the height at which to install the shelf. (That four inch gives you enough room to slide your chair under the dressing table while seated.)

Mark this same height on the inside face of each chest, drawing a straight line from the front of the chest to the back. Now install three L-brackets, using screws and the screwdriver, and spacing them equally. (If your shelf is 12 inches wide, put an L-bracket every four inches.) Make sure the bend’ of each L-bracket is on the pencil line, forming an upside-down L. Repeat for the other chest and brackets.

Your objective is to drop’ the shelf down onto the L-brackets and then put in the rest of the screws to hold it on the under side of the table top. (That way you won’t scratch or cut your hands on rough screw tops.) If the chests you’re using are more than 12 inches deep, line the shelf and chests’ back edges up evenly and then install the L-brackets. This will give you a nice set-back’ line to the dressing table when viewed from the front.

Now that you’ve gotten the new unit assembled, just paint or refinish it according to directions on the can or bottle and let it dry. Hang a mirror above it. Find a pretty, old-fashioned dresser scarf, lace, or lightweight satin to drape decoratively over the top, and you’re finished. You’ll have a tabletop at which you can sit, plus all the drawers for storage on either side.

If you didn’t find any salvageable furniture, you’ll have to build your dressing table from scratch. First of all, consider buying a shelf like the one described above and mount it on the wall using decorative wood mountings or ornate metal supports. (Remember to put those screws into wall studs for extra strength.) You can mount it on the wall at just the right height for your chair, with a pretty mirror hung above it. This works especially well if you use your dressing table mainly for displaying perfume bottles and other knick-knacks instead of putting on make-up or fixing your hair.

You can also buy a build-it-yourself kit for an already-finished small table from a home improvement center, and follow the directions to put it together. A very nice touch would be to install some matching-finish shallow shelves above it, with a mirror to one side for an asymmetrical arrangement. Small pictures, pretty bottles, and so on could be displayed on the shelves and on the tabletop.

The last idea would be to buy three already-finished, 12-inch wide shelves which are 30 inches long and one inch thick, plus one shelf only six inches wide and 28 inches long; six L-brackets, and four decorative brackets with eight decorative screws. You’ll also need a pencil, ruler or yardstick, two dozen ¾-inch wood screws and a screwdriver.

Your first objective is to build a ‘ shape with the three 12 inch wide shelves. You’ll use one shelf for the top and the other two shelves will become very wide and sturdy legs. Attach the legs to the top using the six L-brackets and two dozen wood screws underneath the tabletop. (Again, this prevents any scratches on your hands from rough screw tops.) Space the L-brackets three inches apart.

Now measure four inches from the underside of the top, and mark this point on the legs. Install the decorative brackets on this line but five inches apart, to hold the six-inch-wide shelf you also purchased. Placing this mini-shelf toward the back of the dressing table instead of centering it in the middle of the wide legs will give you a hidden shelf to store supplies.

You can use a length of lace wide enough to cover the top and drape over the front so that the underneath shelf is hidden but not the decorative brackets if you wish, or make a simple ruffled skirt to completely cover the dressing table. Again, hang a mirror above the tabletop, and you have your own custom-built, vanity dressing table.

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