Before and After

My Painted Bathroom Vanity Before and After

When I moved into my house, all of the cabinetry was a builder grade yellowy colored honey oak.  Which was perfectly fine.  Very sturdy and kept in excellent condition by the owners before me.  It just wasn’t my taste.  I began improvements by having the cabinetry in the kitchen painted a very clean white color (Simply White by Benjamin Moore). I guess I must have been feeling fancy in my pants because I paid a professional to do it, which is something I am almost always too cheap to do.   I knew I wanted to do the vanity in my master bathroom next, and that I was gonna have to do it myself.  I wanted to do something a little different than white but still keep it very clean and neutral (and hopefully not offensive to future homebuyers). I decided on a charcoal gray.  Then I started the process of choosing a gray.  After months of looking at paint chips and painting pieces of cardboard with sample pots, I finally decided on Gray by Benjamin Moore.  It seemed to be the most neutral in my bathroom light with the least undertones.  Since we are talking about paint, I will mention that it is my opinion that Benjamin Moore has the best paint.  It just seems to go on and cover better than other paint I have used.  You can call me a snob if you want.  I had heard about a new paint formula that Benjamin was coming out with called Advance that was specifically for wood.  So, in July, I marched my happy butt up to the paint store and purchased my paint in satin, primer, and supplies.  Then I proceeded to let them sit in my laundry closet for about 7 months.  I guess I knew it was going to be a pain to paint cabinetry.  I was definitely right.  I have finally completed the job and here is my finished product.

Just so we can see what I was initially working with, I wanted to include a picture I scanned in from the listing booklet when I bought my house.  Sorry for the horrible quality.  I forgot to take my own picture before starting to make changes.

Certainly not bad, just not what I wanted.  My first changes were painting the walls a nice creamy neutral (Sherwin Williams – Medici Ivory mixed by Benjamin Moore) and then painting my ceiling an understated aqua color (Sherwin Williams – Glimmer mixed by Benjamin Moore) to add a little interest.  While painting, I removed the huge mirror and hung two small mirrors I bought from Home Goods and painted white.  I also changed the light fixture to these from Pottery Barn that I received as a gift for my birthday.  I installed small glass shelves under the mirrors that I got from Target for keeping my everyday items like face wash and lotion.  I decided to keep all my fixtures chrome to match my faucets which I did not want to have to replace (If you are reading this and do want to replace yours here are some of lovely  bathroom faucets.)  Here are some pictures from after I made these changes and before I painted the vanity.

All in all, painting the vanity took about a week due to having to allow the doors and box to dry for the appropriate time periods between each coat of paint and having nights when I just couldn’t pull myself away from “The Bachelor” to paint.  I hate Ben, by the way, but it’s just so bad, it’s good.  If you would like an excellent video tutorial on painting cabinetry, check this one out from Young House Love.  I’ll just do a quick overview.  I did all of these steps on the box and on both sides of the doors and drawers.

1) I removed all of the doors and drawer faces and kept the hardware from each door in its own little labeled plastic baggie.

2) I used some plain old wood filler to fill in some of the grain on the raised panels to smooth out the look.

3) I sanded all areas down with fine grit sandpaper sheets and my Dad’s electric sander.  I removed dust with tack cloths.

4) I used liquid de-glosser to remove remaining dust and gunk.

5) I primed each side one time with an oil based primer.

6) I applied two coats of paint to each side including smoothing out with the foam roller and then “feathering” with a mostly dry brush.  This means run over it really lightly.

7) I waited for paint to cure 5 days and then installed new knobs before re-installing doors and drawer faces.

Hardware installation assistants.

8 ) I cleaned and touched up places on the floor that were not supposed to get painted.  An important note.  If you are taping off areas that you don’t want painted and edging, do NOT and I repeat do not use the blue paint tape.  It SUCKS.  Evidence…

I usually just hand edge without tape but I tried to get cute by using tape and got the blue stuff because it was cheaper.  Only use the green Frog tape.  It is significantly better.

It’s over.  Thank God.  Are you tired yet?  I am.

I am totally obsessed with my newly purchased knobs from Restoration Hardware.  A side note…never buy anything from there unless it is on sale.  They have 25% on junk all the time.  These knobs were 25% when they were having a bath sale.

The hand towels in this picture were purchased from West Elm as well as my little jewelry display box.  This may be my favorite purchase recently.  The cool thing about it is that the bottom is lined with a material that you can stick pins in and it can be mounted on the wall with the hooks on the back to display your favorite jewelry as art in a shadow box.  If I had enough money, I would buy you all one.  I would like a new large bath rug but I still haven’t found one I’m in love with.  The art on the wall was made by me last weekend and is so easy a 2 year old could do it.  Literally.  I will talk about that more at a later date. 🙂  See link below.

So you can see the ceiling color.  Just slightly aqua.

I would ask you what you think but since it’s already done at this point and I’m not gonna be stripping any wood in my forseeable future, I will ask that you all just tell me it looks good or keep ’em quiet.  🙂

Link to Ombre wall Art DIY


  1. Lindsey Regan Thorne @ be pretty

    Meg this looks AMAZING!!!! I’m SO impressed…. I’m loving the color palette…. grays, whites and that splash of turquoise in the artwork… amazing!!! 🙂

  2. Blair

    So pretty. I have been thinking about painting our guest bathroom a shade of grey for months now. I think you have given me the courage to do it now.

  3. Stephanie G

    Looks great

  4. Marilyn

    It is amazing what a little paint will do!!!

  5. Megan

    Thanks so much guys!

  6. Taylor

    I saw this with my own peepers and man oh man did you do a good job. The way you can put a room together amazes me. I’m too cluttered and and focus on 1 color it seems… usually green 😉 You must have a ton of patience Meg because I know it took forever. Your bathroom looks like a spa! Also, I love when the kitties help out with your projects and make it to the blog. Looks like Juice is really lending a helping hand. (That is Juice with his hand in the bag, right?) So freakin funny.

  7. Lauren Tate

    That is totally UHHH MAZZING!!! You are so gifted. I love those mirrors. LOVE them!

  8. mrs. limestone

    What a difference – love what you did in here. The green and gray are just beautiful together.

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  10. Amanda almost Moss

    I love it Megan!! I want to go gray in my bedroom…this is super cute!

  11. Megan

    Thanks again! Taylor, Lauren, Amanda, and Mrs. Limestone…I am glad ya’ll think it looks good cause I am not looking forward to painting it again anytime soon!

  12. Jean Wilks

    Hey, I enjoy all of your posts! One day I plan to visit! Love you both,

  13. Allie

    Loved you bathroom vanity make over. Wondering if you posted a blog about the canvas artwork. If you could let me know it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance and cheers

  14. Sherry

    I love your style Megan – if you lived in VT I would hire you to decorate my house. I’m so inspired by your bathroom vanity that I am doing the same thing to mine! You’re right…..what a drag! Wondering if you could tell me what color you painted your walls? They look almost yellow online but I know the computer can be deceiving. Also – my sister would love to purchase the same mirrors you have, can you tell us where you purchased them. Thanks so much for the inspiration! Can’t wait to see what you do next.

  15. Megan

    Thanks so much Sherry! What a wonderful compliment. I hope you get through your vanity painting in one piece. 🙂 The color on the walls is called Medici Ivory and is by Sherwin Williams. I guess depending on how you look at it, it could seem yellow. I always think of it as a warm cream color. I would say the color in the pictures is pretty true to how it is in real life (at least in my bathroom). Tell your sister that unfortunately, I got my mirrors from Homegoods. Not sure if you have them there, but it is basically the same thing as a Marshalls or TJ Maxx. They were brown and I painted them. Sometimes they get similar things in so I would tell her to troll those types of stores for something similar. Thanks so much again!

  16. Amy

    Megan, I love the color of the vanity. What color did you use I am wanting to do this to mine. Thanks

  17. Megan

    Hi Amy! The color is just called “Gray” and it is by Benjamin Moore

  18. Shreyans Jain

    ECOS-Global is in the business of suppling Vanity Cabinets. We have vanity cabinets in all ranges from $50 to $500 and above. Our vanity cabinets are the best in class and the quality is assured. Please send me an email with you inquiries at

  19. Ashley

    The cabinet looks beautiful! Can you see the wood grain through the paint?


  20. Megan

    Hi Ashley! I filled in the center panel of the doors and drawers a little with some wood filler (the kind you squirt out of a tube) by taking a putty spatula and spreading it out quickly and evenly. Then I re-sanded with the electric sander after it dried. I did this to cover up some of the grain (not sure if you want grain or not). You could definitely still see it a little but it wasn’t super pronounced. I bet if you did 2 coats this way you could make it disappear even more. Thanks!

  21. Debbie

    Hi Megan, I just found you for the first time, looking for ideas for painting my son’s bathroom cabinets. I’ve spent entirely TOO long wandering around your blog. Love it! So much inspiration. Love the just ‘Gray’ bathroom cabinets, the just ‘Green’ dresser (cracking up at the paint colors you chose), the baby’s breath wreath, the diy ombre art, the library stacks, etc. So happy to have found you! Enjoy the rest of your week.


  22. Megan

    Thanks so much Debbie! That is so nice of you. We are happy you found us too! You have a wonderful week (and weekend :)) as well.

  23. Miss Black

    It looks GREAT! Could you come do my bathroom vanity.
    I want to paint mine too (and will), so I “Googled” painting bathroom vanity and found yours.
    Funny, I’m starting out just the same…honey oak vanity, which I had installed 10 years ago. It is no longer my taste.
    My bedroom is a light gray and the vanity in question is in this bedroom. I was thinking charcoal gray. Then I came across your posting. Exactly what I want…though I am partial to Bher paints.
    So if you don’t mind Bher, can you come paint mine 🙂
    Wish me luck.
    Your posting has encouraged me to go it alone and do it myself.
    Thanks for your pics and information.

  24. Megan

    Miss Black, Thanks so much! If I am feeling too cheap to use BM, Behr is my next choice. Their paint and primer paint is pretty good but I don’t know how it works got wood. Good luck, my dear. You will persevere and be triumphant!

  25. Angela Mays

    Just moved into a house and HATE the builder grade cabinets. Wanted to paint them but didnt know where to start or how to do it. I was also doing gray as well and already had the towels but didnt know what paint. The charcoal is the perfect shade. I’m heading my butt to Benjamin Moore and start the process for the master and the basement bathroom as well. I’m so excited. Thanks for your step by step and materials. I also like the idea of taking down that big mirror. So I will be doing that as well. It just looks better. Thanks for sharing!

    • Megan

      Thanks Angela! Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

  26. Jennifer

    I just followed your instructions for the vanity in my bathroom, which is a smaller version of yours. Looks GREAT! I also wanted to add that Anthropologie often has great sales on knobs and you can find some really unique stuff. The stores usually have big bins that you can dig through. Thanks for posting this! It as super helpful because I also didn’t know where to start but was hating my bathroom vanity. I live in a rental but took the chance as I just signed a two year lease and figured that I would be enhancing the apartment.

    • Megan

      I am so glad it worked well and was helpful, Jennifer! I love Anthropologie knobs!

  27. Faith

    Puh-leeease tell me where you got those hand towels?! And that glass box? I just LOVE your style and may even be steal a few (all) of your bathroom ideas for my own 🙂

    • Megan

      Thanks so much Faith! Steal away! The hand towels and the glass shadow box are both from West Elm. Here is the link to the towels
      but unfortunately the shadow box is no longer available. Bummer! Sorry honey. Maybe they will bring them back as they seemed to be popular for them. Thanks for following!

  28. devin

    i think it look so nice good work

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  30. Baths Vanities

    Wow! your bathroom is looking amazing with these designer vanities.

  31. Home Design Plus

    This is a great post and enjoy the look of your blog very much. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Cindy Starks

    Megan — Just stumbled upon your website looking up how to paint an oak bathroom vanity. Your page and all the great pix are truly inspirational. I love gray and I love your bathroom! You did an outstanding job and now I will know how to prep and paint my bathroom vanity too. Thanks so much for the time and effort it took you to document and write about your experience. Good show!

    • Megan

      Thanks Cindy!!

  33. BryanCarry

    The whole post is interesting but what i found most effective is that you have used images to explain your post. I must say that is just wonderful.

  34. Ken Kitay

    Hi Megan. I stumbled upon this as well. Looks great … I’m just finishing off my own vanity now. I understand you didn’t use any varnish/shellac/lacquer as a top coat. Have you since had any nicks/scratches? Two coats enough?

    • Megan

      Hi Ken! I have not had any issues with nicks or scratches but since it is just a bathroom, it doesn’t see as much action as a kitchen would so I can’t speak about how it would hold up there. Two coats was plenty but I did have to go back and touch up a couple of areas that I missed in the initial painting. I have also used this paint on my front and back door and it wears beautifully. I highly recommend the Advance by Benjamin Moore paint for wood projects. It levels nicely and the quality is great. I don’t know how a different paint would work for the same project. Hope that answers your question!

  35. Pingback: Tips and Ideas: How to Update Oak or Wood Cabinets: Paint, stain and more...

  36. Kirstin

    Beautiful. Is the gray paint an oil paint?

      • Tammy

        It’s beautiful! Is the Advance paint the kind you used for the cabinets?

        • Megan

          Hi Tammy! Yes, it was Advance paint formula by Benjamin Moore

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  38. Annette

    Beautiful job. I am working at the same thing right now. Hope mine turns out as nice as yours. 🙂

    • Megan

      Thank Annette! I hope it worked it like you wanted 🙂

  39. Pingback: How to Paint an Oak Vanity | Family - Popular Question & Answer

  40. Pingback: How to Refinish an Oak Vanity | Family - Popular Question & Answer

  41. Rae

    I have obsessed over your bathroom makeover for long enough. I am in the priming stage and I can only hope my project turns out as well as yours!

    • Megan

      Thanks Rae! Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

      • Rae

        Hi Megan,

        Wow; it turned out so well! I am now looking at painting the guest bath vanity either cloud cover or simply white. Thank you again for all of the awesome inspiration!


  42. Amber

    This looks amazing! You’ve definitely encouraged me to “go for it” with re-doing my bathroom! Thank you!!!

  43. Pingback: Gray | Favorite Paint Colors Blog

  44. Michael Parker

    What a fantastic organized bathroom update! I think this looks so much brighter. Thank you for the fabulous inspiration!

  45. Maria

    Hi there. Just finishing painting bathroom vanity and wonder whether a polycrylic-type finish is needed to preserve the paint? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Megan

      Sorry I forgot to respond. I did not use a finish but it would probably help maintain it

  46. Karen

    One question of I have for you. How did you get that mirror off the wall? I want to take mine down but I am a little apprehensive.

    • Megan

      Gosh, I don’t even remember. I think mine were attached with screws. You will need to putty the wall in spots after and probably sand in places.

  47. Chelsea

    We have the builder grade oak color vanity and was wondering how you paint the side of the vanity that feels like a sticker( maybe theres another word for it lol) seems to slippery for paint to stick?

    • Megan

      The primer will help with that.

  48. Schaun

    Just simply BEAUTIFUL! Thanks so much for your simply, but very helpful tips. I’M ON IT!
    My turn next!! 🙂

    • Schaun

      Ooops….I meant to say: Thanks so much for your “simple”, but helpful tips! 🙂

    • Megan

      Thank you!!

  49. celezte

    Googled BM “Gray” and nothing comes up just “gray”?

      • celezte

        Thanks so much. My project this weekend!

  50. Pat

    I am so glad I saw this post! What a beautiful makeover…I am inspired to do the same! Love the color and I totally agree Benjamine Moore is the best paint. I am going to buy the Advavce (gray) Benjamin Moore. What Shen did you use? Flat, Eggshell, or semi gloss? Thank you so very much! Love your work and good taste!

    • Pat

      I meant to say sheen.

      • Megan

        Hi Pat!! I got mine in Satin. Thanks and good luck!!

  51. priscilla

    what sizes are these mirrors? we are having a new home built and I am opting to not have the standard builder mirror put in and will be purchasing my own mirrors. I’m struggling with what sizes to get without the home built yet. I’ve looked at homegoods and marshalls/tjmaxx, etc. am going to put two above double vanity in master. and have found one large for hall bath.

  52. Chris

    Looks amazing, I have cabinets that look like your original colour and I want to refinish them. Is your side panel and bottom kick plate wood or a veneer? Mine seem to be a very thin wood with a paper finish to look like a honey oak colour.. Did you use a latex paint over the oil based primer? Was your sander a square or orbital?


    • Megan

      Sorry it took so long to respond. Yes, it was veneer. I just painted right over it. The paint I used was advance by benjamin moore. I used a oil based primer. My sander was square.

  53. Jude

    What was the color you used? Did I miss that? Benjamin Moore Advanced but what color and luster?
    Looks fabulous!

    • Megan

      The color is Gray by Benjamin Moore. I link to at towards the top of the post. It was Satin

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  55. Minerva

    Megan congratulations! It looks great and significantly better than the outdated honey oak. It is now stylish and beautiful. It really inspires me to do similar to my old built-in bathroom cabinet. I’m shopping for an affordable vanity light first, then will consider painting the cabinet a slightly lighter gray than yours and the walls even lighter with a white ceiling. The bathroom is very small, I am being cautious of colors to avoid it looking even smaller. Thanks for the inspiration!

    FWIW I also hired professional painters to paint all the cabinetry in my kitchen and pantry from ugly old orangey walnut to satin white. While it wasn’t an inexpensive decision and a splurge, it was well worth it! They were done in 5days and it would have taken me far too long with so many drawers and doors plus all the trim. It was the best investment in the house I’ve made as far as aesthetics are concerned. I now love my kitchen. It seems light, airy, and cheerful for a small galley kitchen. I went with very light gray walls and really enjoy it. I also splurged further and had the doors cut to allow for glass panels and swapped out the wood shelves for glass and had canned lights put in. It’s made a huge improvement overall.

    • Megan

      Hi Minerva! Thank you so much! I am so glad you are so happy with your kitchen! I paid for my kitchen cabinets to be painted too! Too much work!

  56. Maddie

    Hi. Quick question. Is your counter top and, toilet cream or white? Thanks

    • Megan

      Hi Maddie! They are what the big box stores call white but really kind of an off white

  57. Maureen

    This looks awesome!! I am totally inspired. Love the charcoal and the light colors on walls and ceilings.
    Thanks for the great details!

  58. Tracey

    Hi Megan, terrific post. Gratifying to see that your bath project has so much staying power! (From early 2012 to now, the Fall 2015…the BM Gray colour is still a pleasing colour choice!) thanks for sharing the little tips, too, for example: wall art, jewellery box and RH pulls. You thought of every detail and shared same. Thank you ?

  59. Jan

    Do you also do the wood work and the door?

  60. Jim

    They make templates so you can get the handles in the same place on each door.

  61. Laura

    What color is on the walls? You did a fantastic job!

    • Megan

      Hi Laura, It is called Medici Ivory by Sherwin Williams

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  63. Ruth Forrest

    There is hope for my cabinets! Great job, just not sure I could do it. Any recommendations who could do kitchen? Had consultant from major home store…$$$ no way to afford them. Great job!

  64. Lou

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  65. Kim

    Nice job on this vanity…..just one question though. Is it possible to raise the entire vanity a quarter inch or so to make stripping and repainting the base easier? I don’t want to damage the plumbing in any way…..