Antique buffet can make a terrific vanity
Dear Leanne: We have an antique dining room buffet and we were wondering if it could be transformed into a vanity cabinet for our master bathroom.
It has two centre split doors in the middle and then two narrower doors on each side. This buffet doesn’t have any drawers in it and its dimensions are: 60 by 20 inches by 34.5 inches (height) or 1.5 metres by 50 centimetres by 87 cm (height). Also, how do we protect the wood top from water splashes?
ANSWER: Transforming antique furniture into new uses is truly an innovative take on the green motto: Reduce, reuse and recycle.
Although there will be readers cringing at the thought of cutting a hole in the top of a beautiful antique, there will be an equal number of readers intrigued with the idea.
To make this buffet a completely functional vanity, you will need to look at your dimensions one more time. If you wanted to place a ready-made sink completely into the top you will need to ensure you have a minimum of 46 cm (18 inches) within the cavity of the cabinet.
The 50-centimetre (20-inch) measurement may be including an over- hanging top, not its functional inside measurement.
Open the doors and measure the interior depth (front to back) and look at the underside of the cabinet top, as you may need to remove brackets or bracing bars before you can drop a sink in place.
You can get small, oval sinks that are 41 cm by 48 cm (16 by 19 inches) that would fit into this space. Once you know a sink will fit, ensure you have adequate clearance for the plumbing below. You will need to remove any shelves that would impede pipe placement.
If you are doing the installation yourself, you will need to create a template of the sink (that is if you didn’t get one in the package).
Place the sink upside down on a piece of sturdy paper or cardboard.
Trace the outside of the sink and cut the shape out.
To get the size of the actual opening for the sink, cut a second template and measure the dimension of the overhanging lip edge. Cut the inside of the oval shape away, leaving an oval ring. This represents the lip of the sink. Slip the sink into the paper ring to ensure a good fit. Now’s the time for any adjustments of the template.
Place the full template on the centre of the cabinet top and drill a small hole into the centre of both the template and the top.
To check the spacing is correct, take the template inside the cabinet, place it on the underside of the buffet top and line up the holes. You may need to reposition the template slightly for a proper fit; this is normal. Often, templates need to be moved back slightly to accommodate closed doors that cannot be viewed from above.
Drill (from the inside) the new centre point. Yes, you will now have two holes close together, so make sure you know which one is the new hole when you are working on top.
Place the doughnut-shaped template on the buffet top, centring it around the new hole. (Using the full template on top as a guide may be helpful, as it has the holes to line up.)
Using masking tape, tape the doughnut-shaped template on the buffet top and, using a jig-saw, cut the opening for your sink.
Important consideration: Get a cabinet maker or finishing carpenter to do this if you are unsure of your ability.
Remember, the wood may be a veneer and care must be taken to avoid splintering. Antiques can be dry and brittle, so get an expert’s advice before cutting.
I suggest you consult a plumber for the pipe work, to make sure everything is in working order.
An additional design option is to have a custom-made glass vessel created to sit directly on top of the buffet. Panache Ceramics Industries (www.panacheceramic.com)offers a variety of options for such projects. This would entail cutting a hole to accommodate the drain pipe as opposed to the entire sink. To protect the wood from water splashes, finish the top with several coats of a clear, latex polyurethane in a satin finish, which is easier to maintain than a glossy finish.
Another idea is to remove the wood top and replace it with custom marble or granite, which are more practical than wood and resilient to water.
Stone manufacturing companies will cut to specs, including the sink or drain-hole.
— Canwest News Service
Transforming antique furniture, like turning this dresser into a vanity, is truly an
innovative take on the green motto: Reduce, reuse and recycle.