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Make It Easy: A Vanity For Less Than $30

Posted Feb 22 2013 1:35pm

When I was in high school, I would take my hard-earned babysitting money (still shocked that someone put 15-year-old me in charge of their children) and shop with my glamorous and much wealthier friend at the Bobbi Brown counter at Bloomingdale’s.  She would withdraw money from her fancy ATM and I would pull out crumpled up bills from my backpack to keep up.

Gross but true – I kept those products for years longer than they were intended to last.  I wanted my moneys worth.  Also gross but true – my bright purple backpack  that adorned me as I proudly marched into Bloomingdale’s was as long as I was tall.  I would say that it was the 90s and that was the style, but that would be 50% untrue.  I do remember thinking  “how awesome is this, I can fit all of my textbooks in here.”  I didn’t date much.

While my beauty tastes have changed, my love for makeup and the art of cosmetics has not.  When we moved to LA, I thought “dammit, I want a vanity.”  I want a table dedicated to my toilette – so my makeup doesn’t have to be smushed in makeup bags and drawers.

There’s something so fancy about having a space exclusively to do your makeup – so adult. In my fantasy I had a vanity that would make the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills jealous.  In reality?  I loved the idea but I was facing two problems.  First even the inexpensive brought to you by Target vanities were in the $100 range – too much for a piece of furniture that wasn’t really essential.  Second,our bedroom is quite small and doesn’t have much room for furniture beyond a bed (Bea Arthur demands a king), night stands, and a wardrobe to make up for the lack of closet space in our 1920′s home.

I’m generally not very into DIY decor/projects for several reasons.  First I am impatient and most things I do end up crooked.  Second, I do not own a glue gun, or any other crafting materials because I don’t like having excess stuff and if I’ve learned anything from House Hunters, crafting takes up an entire room.  Third, I am a renter and I don’t have the same motivation to invest in my space than if I owned my home.  And finally, I cannot reconcile paying more for the sum of the parts than the whole.  Often when I see something that looks cool or fun, I have to buy a whole bunch of tools that end up being more expensive than just buying the ready-made version of the product.  But not this project.  It’s inexpensive, easy, and the only tool you need is a drill/electric screwdriver.

Enter a $7 shelf from IKEA – the place I can’t seem to escape when I move because of their vortex of a store where I lose hours of my life.  They lure me in with the promises of cheap furniture and keep me hostage with their deliciously subsidized gravlax .

I used an old dinette chair for the vanity “stool” and voila!  I had a vanity.  Inexpensive, minimalist, and unobtrusive.  I am in love.

DIY Vanity

Here’s the dish.

I put up this shelf :

ikea wall shelf
EKBY ÖSTEN White Shelf ($6.99)
With these brackets  (Steve provided the needed screws. And the labor – who am I kidding)

EKBY STÖDIS White Bracket (2 x $0.50)

If you don’t want exposed brackets – there are also some sleek floating shelves  that would work beautifully.  I re-purposed an old chair to be my vanity chair but in the event you don’t have an extra chair lying around, how stinkin’ cute is this stool ?  Great pop of color and a very mod look.  It also comes in white, but I think the blue is just darling.  You can always add a small cushion to make it a bit more luxurious.

Marius Stool ($5.99)
The finished product makes me happy.  It’s clean, it doesn’t take over my bedroom, and I can keep the essentials on the shelf for everyday use.  If you need a bit more storage, there are some fun floating drawers that are just dying to become a vanity!  I was thinking about going in that direction but as you can see from the photo I had some really limited space to deal with and this guy was a bit too long.

EKBY ALEX Shelf with drawer ($46.99) $46.99
EKBY ALEX Shelf with drawer ($46.99)

On top of the shelf I added a table mirror, and two canisters - one for brushes and one for eyeliner/mascara/anything else long and thin.  ELF has some cute ones for only 5 bucks a piece

brush holder
e.l.f. Studio Small Brush Holder ($5)

IKEA had some great table mirrors – I went for the simple one on the left since I wanted the magnification option.

Trensum ($8.99) MYKEN ($9.99) BERLEVÅG ($4.99)
Trensum ($8.99)
MYKEN ($9.99)
BERLEVÅG ($4.99)

Anyhow – my total cost for the project (minus the stool):

  • Shelf – $6.99
  • Brackets: $1
  • 2 brush holders – $10
  • Mirror – $8.99
  • Screws – $2
  • Labor of one fixit loving husband – free (ish)
  • Total – $28.98 plus tax

Even if you add in the stool – the total cost is still really reasonable – around $35 plus tax.  Take that Lisa Vanderpump.

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