How to easily transform an outdated bathroom vanity cabinet

Hello there! Do you have one of these outdated, boring vanity cabinets or something similar in your home? Or maybe you know someone else who does.

Did you know that it is easy to transform these cabinets from drab to fab with some decorative molding, some appliques and a little bit of paint?

This was my Mom’s 1970′s laminate bathroom vanity before I got my hands on it. Since she plans to move sometime this year and a full bathroom renovation wasn’t in her budget, she asked what I could do to improve the look of her bathroom vanity without spending a lot of money. She sent me off to Home Depot for some supplies and one Saturday afternoon I set out to work on her cabinet.




Here is what it looked like after I was done with it.

Isn’t it amazing what some moldings and paint can do for these plain, outdated cabinets? It looks so much better now, doesn’t it?




You may notice in the photo above that the door on the right is a little lower than the one on the left. This is an old cabinet that has been there for a long time and has seen some abuse.

I carefully lined up my molding, the knobs and the appliques so that they were straight, but the right door sags slightly. My Mom didn’t want me to bother to drill new holes to adjust the door and she said she was perfectly fine with the way it was, so I just left it alone.



Prepping for Paint & Moldings:

Since this cabinet is laminate, I made sure to first give it a good cleaning with Home Hardware’s Safe Prep solution. Then I lightly sanded it with a coarse sanding sponge to take down some of its glossy coating and give it some “tooth” so that the primer had something to stick to. After removing the sanding dust, I primed the cabinet and the moldings with two coats of bonding primer, letting them dry well in between coats.




Measuring and Placing the Moldings:

I measured so that there would be a even space all around the doors and marked where I would put the moldings and appliques with pencil. One thing that helps me is to use a pencil and a ruler to lightly draw out a box shape for the moldings right on the door. I then re-check my measurements to make sure the box is even all the way around and that both doors are identical. It is so much easier to erase a pencil line then to glue your moldings to the door only to find out they are not in the correct spot. Then you cannot easily remove them without making a huge mess.

For the appliques, I followed the same guidelines. I first measured the length and the width of my appliques. I then found the center of the door and measured down one half of the size of my applique. So if your applique is 8″ tall, measure up from your center mark 4″ and then down 4″ from your center mark to get the outside edges of your applique. Make a pencil tick at both measurements. Do the same thing for the width of your applique. You now will have marks to show exactly where to your appliques should go.

Easy peasy!




Attaching the Moldings and Painting the Cabinet:

To read up on how I miter cut my moldings to make a frame, please see my previous post Framed Storage Box {How to} here.

To attach the moldings and appliques, I used wood glue with the addition of some small finishing nails to give the moldings strength. As I was attaching everything, I made sure that my moldings and appliques lined up perfectly with my pencil marks before adding the finishing nails. It helps to pre-drill a small hole in the molding before pounding in your finishing nails. Also, for a professional looking finish, use a nail set to counter-sink your nail heads.

Once everything was dry I used wood putty to fill any imperfections and then I painted the cabinet with two coats of white semi-gloss latex paint.

This cabinet was transformed over a year ago and I just took these photos while visiting my Mom at Easter, so you can see that this cabinet has held up very nicely to daily use. It still looks freshly painted.




My Mom added two small crystal knobs from Home Depot to give her cabinet a little ”bling”.







I hope I have inspired you to make plans to transform your outdated cabinets too. You can easily update your outdated kitchen cabinets by adding molding and appliques as well. I would suggest though that you use a more durable paint for kitchen cabinets as they will be subjected to more abuse than a bathroom cabinet might be.

Adding molding and paint to your cabinets can help them look refreshed and new again for very little money. This transformation only cost my Mom $25.00 and it was very simple to do.




I also wanted to show you this cute little bamboo drawer unit that my Mom updated with some white paint. It used to be a light golden color but to make it fit in with her bathroom decor she painted it white. What an improvement!


I hope you have a great day.






 Parties I’ve Linked Up To:

~ Thrifty Decorating – Thrifty Thursday ~ Savvy Southern Style – Wow Us Wednesdays ~ The Shady Porch – Rock n’ Share ~ Mrs. Hines Class – Show and Tell with Mrs. Hines ~ The Trendy Treehouse – Create and Share ~ Domestically Speaking – 112th Power of the Paint Party ~ The Shabby Creek Cottage – Transformation Thursday ~ Somewhat Simple – Strut Your Stuff ~ The Brambleberry Cottage – Time Travel Thursday ~ Miss Mustard Seed – Furniture Feature Friday ~ It’s a Hodgepodge Life – It’s a Hodgepodge Friday ~ Fingerprints on the Fridge – Feature Yourself Friday ~ Chic on a Shoestring Decorating – Flaunt It Friday ~ Hating Martha – Stinky Linky ~ My Romantic Home – Show & Tell Friday ~ The Craftionary – Friday Fun Party ~ Five Days…Five Ways – Feature Friday Free for All ~ Days of Chalk & Chocolate – Latest Greatest Friday ~ Redoux – Friday Feature Party ~ Tatertots & Jello – Weekend Wrap-up Party ~ Under the Table and Dreaming – Sunday Showcase Party ~ Homemaker on a Dime – Creative Bloggers Party ~ Sumo’s Sweet Stuff – Market Yourself Monday Between Naps on the Porch – Metamorphosis Monday ~ Craft-o-Maniac – Craftomaniac Mondays ~ DIY Showoff – DIY Project Parade ~ Home Stories A to Z – Tutorials and Tips Link Party ~ Coastal Charm – Nifty Thrifty Tuesday ~ Vintage Wanna Bee – Talent Tuesday ~ A Stroll Thru Life – Tabletop Tuesday ~ Not Just a Housewife – Show Me Whatcha Got ~ Southern Lovely – Show and Share ~

Tip Junkie handmade projects



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3 pings

  1. Suzanne

    Great Job! It is completely transformed!

  2. Luz Rodrigues

    It is a great job.I love it.

  3. Sharon Hines

    Dang, girl! That’s an amazing transformation. The cabinets bare no resemblance to their 70′s self. Great job and thanks for sharing at Show & Tell!

    1. Carrie

      Sharon, you made me smile really big! Thank you. :) Paint and molding makes such a huge difference!

  4. gertie @ The Old Block House

    WTG! My stepfather gave me some old kitchen cabinets and you’ve given me lots of inspiration. I love the appliques.

    1. Carrie

      Hi Gertie,
      I am happy to know that you have been inspired to transform your cabinets. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

  5. Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest

    Oh CARRIE!!!

    You did a remarkable job!

    I cannot even believe the difference your talents and hard work made – it is STUNNING.


    1. Carrie

      Awwww… thank you Michele! You’re a sweetheart.

  6. Jen Lossing, The Consigner Designer

    Well I’ll be darned! What a transformation. I would have never guessed that they could look so good! Great job!

    1. Carrie

      Thank you Jen for your kind comments and for stopping by.

  7. Cristina

    What a beautiful transformation! I love moldings and this shows why I love them!

  8. SheilaG

    You did a great job- I would have never guessed they were the same cabinet, love it! I just finished reworking our bathroom cabinet as well.

    1. Carrie

      I am glad you like my Mom’s cabinet Sheila. I would love you see how you re-worked your cabinet. Did you also use molding?

  9. Luz Rodrigues

    Está lindo,e o seu trabalho mais uma vez ……Love it.

  10. Loribeth

    Looks wonderful! I just added an applique to my stock vanity cabinet, and it really does make a huge difference.

    1. Carrie

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Loribeth. I am sure your cabinet looks wonderful with its new appliques. They make a world of difference, for sure!

  11. Jenny

    Brilliant! Those are my kitchen cabs and I hate how outdated they look. This is a great inspiration. Thanks for linking it up this week!

    1. Carrie

      Thanks for stopping by Jenny! I am glad you liked my makeover.

  12. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions

    Fabulous job, Carrie! It looks like a brand new cabinet!

    visiting from Met Monday : )

    1. Carrie

      Thanks Kathy for stopping by and for your kind comments.

  13. Lauren@ Inside My Present

    Visiting from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff. You would never guess that vanity started out as it did! Great inspiration! I’m your newest follower, hope you’ll check out my site :)

  14. Marty@A Stroll Thru Life

    Love the moldings and appliques, they totally transformed the cabinet. Great job, it looks amazing. Thanks tons for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

    1. Carrie

      I am so happy you liked it Marty! Thanks for taking the time to visit.

  15. Claudine

    Hi, Carrie!
    Great transformation!
    Yes, I actually have a cabinet I picked up on the street for free…
    I am thinking to renovate to use as paint storage.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Carrie

      I am happy that you stopped by Claudine. Isn’t it awesome when we can find things for free? Your cabinet will be great for paint for the storage space it provides and then on the outside you can pretty it up and no one but you will know that it is for storing your paint supplies.

  16. sherry

    Carrie, you did a wonderful job! That’s an awesome transformation! I’m now following you and would love if you can follow me back. Tx

  17. Liz @ The Brambleberry Cottage

    Carrie, this truly is an amazing makeover! Your mom must be so happy with your transformation.

    Thanks for linking to Time Travel Thursday. Hope to see you again this week. Be sure to stop in tonight and see yourself featured.

    Liz @ The Brambleberry Cottage

    1. Carrie

      I was so surprised to read that you had featured by bathroom vanity transformation. Thanks so much for featuring me Liz.

    1. Carrie

      Thanks so much Jenny! I have been letting everyone know that I have been featured. Thanks for stopping by to let me know. :)

  18. Anne

    Fantastic! Love the after – oh how I love that we can make over anything we don’t like and make it look fabulous!

    Great job!

    1. Carrie

      I love that we can too Anne. We can easily change things up when we get bored! Thanks for your sweet comments. I hope to see you again soon.

  19. Meredith

    What a fun a beautiful makeover! I have the same ones in my bathroom and am SO doing this. Thanks for the inspiration. Did you paint the sides of the base cabinet / and framing or is it just the doors? It was hard to tell from the pictures. Thanks!!

    1. Carrie

      Hi Meredith,
      Thank you for your wonderful comments! My Mom actually painted the cabinet after I left that day and I am pretty sure that she painted all of the outside of the cabinet including the sides, doors and kick plate. She did not paint the inside at all. Because of the bonding primer and paint that she used it held up really well to daily use. She is just by herself though so for a busy household the cabinet may need to be touched up once and a while.
      Take care,

  20. Stephanie

    using this for inspiration in redoing my sisters bathroom. I love

  21. Lindsey

    Looks great! How did you add the moldig above the cabinets?

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