Ok guys, this is probably one of the easiest DIY projects I have ever done. The final look of the piece and the value it added to the room is beyond the $60 and few hours we spent making it. I cannot even tell you how much I love the wood counters in our new bathroom remodel.
When I was first planning the bathroom, I envisioned stone counters, most likely marble because that just what you put in a bathroom. But once the room started to come together I just felt like it needed some warmth and color but I didn’t like any colorful stone options. Everything in the room in either black or white, the vanity is technically grey but because of the lack of color in the room the blue undertone is very apparent.
Once I had gotten to the point of choosing counters I knew stone was not going to offer the feeling in the room that I was going for so I was back to square one….So, I went back to the drawing board, AKA-Pinterest and looked at all the inspiration pictures I had pinned during this renovation. One common theme in the photos was wood accents. I don’t know why I overlooked that detail but I clearly like the aesthetic and the feel of the rooms. I realized I was missing this major component to making that feeling a reality in my own space. That’s when I realized wood counters would be the perfect addition to the space. When this clicked, the whole room came together in my brain and it was beautiful.
The first stop in my search for wood counters was IKEA. I think they are pretty well known for their cheap butcher block counters that, I’ve heard, are easy to install and budget friendly. We are very fortunate to live so close to IKEA, I can actually pop over there during my lunch break which is so convenient. What isn’t convenient is when they are out of the one product you are looking for….
IKEA has two type of wood counter-tops. Hammarp is solid wood, it’s a little thin for the look that I like but it’s pretty affordable. Sadly, our Seattle store was sold out and not getting more any time soon. They also have the Karlby which is thicker and looks a little more substantial but upon closer inspection I discovered that it’s a thin layer of solid wood over particle board which is good for the environment but not good in wet/humid rooms.
Not going to lie I was a little defeated walking out of IKEA empty handed. We needed to get the bathroom to a functioning state ASAP and it’s pretty hard to install a sink when you don’t have counter-tops. Thankfully I’m married to a DIY genius and he had a plan that just might work.
He begin to search craigslist for a old wood dining table that we could steal the top from. Not even 20 minutes later he comes across this gem for $60. And, it’s almost the perfect size. The table is 48”x36” and our vanity is 46” wide and about 20” deep. Later that afternoon he brought the table home, it was thankfully easy to disassemble and within minutes we were staring at a 4’ square of solid wood that I was about to turn into a counter-top.
I planned to stick with a standard one inch overhang for the counter, since it was already 48” wide for our 46” cabinet all I needed to do was cut the depth to 21” and I had our beautiful wood counters ready to be sanded and stained. I put the cut edge against the wall and was left with a nice rounded edge from the previously finished table. Had I needed to cut down the width, it would have taken a bit more sanding to make the edge look as finished but it’s do-able.
Since this is solid wood, I was able to sand it all the way down to the raw wood to make sure I was starting with a clean, even surface for staining. Minimum you should sand through all the shiny finish to make sure the new stain is getting into the wood and not just sitting on top. Again, I’m using the wood tone to warm up the room so I went with my go-to shade of Kona but achieved the look I wanted by applying the stain and immediately wiping it with a lint-free paper towel. Had I let it sit for any longer before wiping, it would have turned out just a bit darker and would have had less variation in color. When I wiped it some spots were lighter than I wanted so I was able to go over those spots again to get the perfect look.
One thing to keep in mind is that staining wood is not an exact science. I have used this same Kona stain on so many projects and it looks different on each one, because of the type of wood or how long I let it sit or the temperature in Canada that day. Who knows why it never looks the same on two pieces of wood but I know that going into a staining project I know I need to be ok with a little variation in the finished product.
Finally, before installation, I used the butcher block oil on the new counter to protect it against water stains and give it a tiny bit of a shine. I must say, the finished product is beautiful.
For installation to the cabinet, I was able to screw the counter to the frame from underneath. With the weight of the counter and the sink I didn’t feel like I needed too many screws so just two one each side was all I put in. If your cabinet doesn’t have a frame like ours, you can use small L brackets to attach it. In either case just make sure your screws don’t go through the top of the counter.
Once in place I cut a hole with the jigsaw, using the template that came with the sink, for drain placement and our bathroom officially had counter-tops for one afternoons work and about $60. The finished counters make my heart happy every time I step into this room. I’m so glad I went with my gut and changed up the original plans for stone counters. I couldn’t imagine this room any other way.