How to transform an outdated bathroom vanity cabinet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 Do you have one of these outdated, boring vanity cabinets or something similar in your home?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Isn’t it amazing what some moldings and paint can do for these plain, outdated cabinets?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 coatings 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 an even space all around the doors and marked where I would put the moldings and appliques with a 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 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 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 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.

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