Furniture Makeovers Home decor Home Improvement

How to Stain and Protect a Solid Wood Vanity

Unfinished furniture is stained and sealed for use as a bathroom vanity |

Hello Friends,

Welcome to Week 2 of the One Room Challenge. This week, we share how to stain and protect an unfinished, solid wood piece of furniture for use as a bathroom vanity.

How to Stain and Protect a Solid Wood Vanity

Solid Wood Vanity Inspiration

Remember the inspiration photo for vanity? You know I absolutely love it to pieces, but just didn’t have enough space for a big, beautiful chest like this one here. 

Bathroom vanity and sink inspiration from BrePurposed |

Photo credit : BrePurposed

But this doesn’t mean that Bre’s vanity can’t trigger a unique look using the same concept, I just have to think outside the box. LOL….

But when you see what I ended up doing, you’ll likely think, “Huuuum. Not so unique.” And you’d be right.

Yes, this look is all over the internet right now, so I can’t take credit for thinking it up first.

Solid Wood Vanity Source

Since a chest to fit the space (about 16 inches deep by 38 inches long) could not be located, I settled on an unfinished console table that is 14 inches deep and 38 inches long. And although it is short for a vanity, when the rectangle vessel sink is added to the top, the height is exactly the same as a traditional vanity/sink combo.

The plumbing will show underneath and a couple of baskets will hold towels on the lower shelf. So ok, this will work. In fact, it will probably be better in the end because the openness of the console table helps to unweight the cramped square footage in the bathroom.

And just like that, Plan A changed to Plan B.

Raw wood console table is stained and waterproofed for use as a vanity in a small bathroom | #oneroomchallenge #orc #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc | #spon #dixiebellepaint |

Just FYI, this table is available through several online vendors, but I shopped for the best price. And side-by-side price comparisons showed Wal-Mart nearly $20 cheaper than competitors. Plus, they offered free shipping in a flat box to my door.

Get Ready to Work

Always wear protective eye gear and clothing, protective gloves for sanding, and nitrile gloves for applying the conditioner and stain. The wood conditioner and stain are both oil-based so use a brush made for oil-based paints/stains and apply only in a well-ventilated area.

How to Stain a Solid Wood Vanity

Step One:  ASSEMBLE and SAND

  • Assemble the console according to the directions that come in the box.

  • Then lightly sand every square inch of the unfinished piece with 220-grit sandpaper.

  • Wipe the dust away with a tack cloth.


  • To prepare the wood to receive the stain evenly, first brush on a product called a wood conditioner.

  • Always apply with the grain of the wood.

  • There is no need to wipe a little excess conditioner away. It should soak into the wood.

  • I used Minwax brand Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner and, during application, it looks like water going on the piece. Trust me, it’s not water and is a must-do step for getting the stain even on this piece.

  • CAUTION—–>>>>

  • The big caution is that the stain must be applied within two hours. So I had to decide if I could apply the conditioner to the entire table and then stain the entire table, completing BOTH within two hours. Since the piece is small and I could control interruptions, I opted for completely conditioning and then completely staining.

  • If you think you may have interruptions, then break up applying the conditioner into sections, such as legs, surface tops, and side panels. The key is to always stop at a joint and not in the middle of a flat piece of wood. Then, of course, stain the section that was just conditioned before moving on to the next section.

Step Three:  APPLY STAIN

  • Wipe or brush on the stain.

  • I used Varathane brand stain in the color Dark Walnut.

  • A light coat was brushed on the console in small sections.

  • Before the stain dried or even set, it was wiped back using a clean, cotton cloth.

  • I knew I could always add more stain if the color needed to deepen, but wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of trying to reduce the color should the stain become too dark.

  • Stain was applied to every square inch of the console table, this includes the under sides.

  • The console was housed in a spray paint shelter to protect it from dust and flying debris from the lawn crews. To learn more about these shelters, please visit this blog post.

The wood conditioner, stain and water repellant were applied under a protective shelter in a well-ventilated area | #oneroomchallenge #orc #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc | #homeright |

How to Protect A Solid Wood Vanity


  • Once the stain is thoroughly dry, it’s time to add a product that will protect the vanity from water.

  • I used Gator Hide by Dixie Belle Paint since I’ve used it before and had phenomenal success.

  • And yes, this product is water-based, but adheres to the oil-based stain like a boss.

  • Three thin coats were applied using a one-inch angle Mod Podge brush. The magical thing about a Mod Podge (1-inch angle Americana Decor on Amazon) brush is that it really is amazing at minimizing brush strokes. If you can’t get one of these brushes, just be sure to use a brush that works for a water-based product and promises to minimize brush stokes.

  • And between each of the coats of Gator Hide, buff the dry wood piece with steel wool (buff and wipe with a tack cloth). This will add to the buttery-smooth look and feel of a factory finish.

  • Remember to be completely thorough. Flip the table over and add several thin coats to the bottoms of the feet and to all of the underside’s nooks and crannies.

  • When dry (no stickiness when touched), flip the table back over and add the water repellant to the top sides (three thin coats, buffing between coats).

  • Click this blog post to read more about how the product works and how to order.

Water repellant in a matte finish is applied to seal out moisture on the solid wood vanity | #oneroomchallenge #orc #betterhomes and gardens #bhgorc | #dixiebellepaint #gatorhide |

  • Disclosure: This post is not technically sponsored by Dixie Belle Paint since I just used left over product from another project (click here to see the project). But since Dixie Belle sent me the Gator Hide to try over a year ago, I wanted to let you know.

An unfinished piece of furniture is stained and sealed to use as a bathroom vanity | #oneroomchallenge #orc #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc #vanity #varathane #dixiebellepaint #gatorhide |

  • I also wanted to share that the little side table has been in the man cave for about 18 months where it is totally and completely abused. At last check, there is not one sign of a water stain or ring. Nor is there any chipping, cracking, flaking, or yellowing. 

An unfinished piece of furniture is stained and sealed to use as a bathroom vanity | #oneroomchallenge #orc #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc #vanity #varathane #dixiebellepaint #gatorhide |

And so, here we are with a stained and sealed solid wood piece of furniture that is ready for vanity prime time.

A solid wood console table turns bathroom vanity with stain and water repellant | #oneroomchallenge #orc #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc #vanity #varathane #dixiebellepaint #gatorhide |

If you have any specific questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section (below).

If you’d like to save this post or share it with a friend…please PIN the image below.

Solid wood furniture can be easily stained and sealed for use as a bathroom vanity. This post explains how. | #oneroomchallenge #orc #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc #vanity #varathane #dixiebellepaint #gatorhide |

To visit more Fall Challenge posts:

Week 1 – Modern Traditional Bathroom Plan

Week 2 – You are Here

Week 3 – Barn Doors : Tips, Tricks and Options

To visit Previous Challenges : 

Click here for the Dining Room Reveal

Click here for the Great Room Reveal

Click here for the Living Room Reveal

And don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our gracious hosts, Calling It Home , One Room Challenge and Better Homes and Gardens. You can also visit over 200 bloggers by clicking Designer Challenge and/or clicking Blogger Challenge. #oneroomchallenge #ORC #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc #homelovenetwork

Thanks so much for stopping by!



  • Reply Debrashoppeno5 October 9, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Looking so good.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 9, 2018 at 6:30 pm

      Hey Deb and thanks!

  • Reply Susanne October 9, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    I love that table and it is going to be amazing with your vessel sink!! I also love the color of stain you chose. I am living vicariously through you and your bathroom makeover….ahhhh, if the hubby would just come around to this type of vanity 😉

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2018 at 6:19 am

      Hi Susanne and thanks, girl. Maybe we can show your hubs how much more room the open vanity allows and how easy it is to get the look. Fingers crossed. XOXO

  • Reply Marie InteriorFrugalista October 10, 2018 at 9:48 am

    One would never know it came from WalMart, especially after applying that gorgeous stain. Looking really good and can’t wait to see it with the sink!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2018 at 10:57 am

      Thanks Marie! Well, it was ordered at Walmart’s online store. And it was available at some of the more swanky online retailers, too. I’m thrilled with how well it took the stain as this was my first time to stain an unfinished piece. Thanks again, sweet friend.

  • Reply Tee at Beauteeful Living October 10, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    I love the color stain that you chose! I can’t wait to see how it looks in your bathroom. Thanks for the clear and concise instructions. I need one of those sprayer tents! 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Tee and thanks so much. I’m excited, too. Hope it works out!!!

  • Reply Teri Ronk October 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    I love your step by step instructions. Very thorough. I love the way it turned out!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2018 at 5:31 pm

      Hi Teri and thanks so much!

  • Reply Nancy October 10, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    It looks so good! I love the shape of the vanity. So right now but also so timeless.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2018 at 5:32 pm

      Hi Nancy and thanks. I need for this bathroom to last 20 more years…. so timeless. Yea, I’m all over that. LOL…

  • Reply Lindi October 10, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    Love the changes to your table! It’s the perfect piece for the space!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 10, 2018 at 5:33 pm

      Hi Lindi and thanks a million. Your sweet meassage is encouraging.

  • Reply Jen @ Jenron Designs October 10, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    Susie that piece of furniture look phenomenal, I really like the gator hide too. I have never used it before but now I have got to try it. Nice work it looks great.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2018 at 8:22 am

      Hi Jen and thanks! I am a total Gator Hide fan. Coming up in a future post is how I used it on my barn door because it is in the toilet splash zone. So yea, it’s really good.

  • Reply Emy October 11, 2018 at 7:07 am

    It’s beautiful! Staining is one of those really satisfying jobs because it’s pretty easy and fast. Love it!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 11, 2018 at 8:23 am

      Hey Emy! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving this sweet comment. I am not super-experienced with stain so I was hoping the piece would look ok.

  • Reply Libbie October 12, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    Susie, I love where you are going so far! Love staining projects as it provides instant gratification.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 14, 2018 at 9:20 am

      Hi Libbie and thanks a million! And I agree about the staining… there is no need to fear. It’s easy peasy.

  • Reply Chelsea @ Making Manzanita October 15, 2018 at 12:24 am

    Great tutorial!!! You did a great job. I’ve gotta get one of those spray shelters! 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 15, 2018 at 10:19 am

      Thanks Chelsea! And yes, that spray shelter is total awesomesauce.

  • Reply Denise October 15, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    It turned out so pretty! Love the stain color you chose. Can’t wait to see it in place as a vanity!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 16, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      Hi Denise and thanks a million! Appreciate so much.

  • Reply Jaclyn Borrelli October 16, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    That is going to look amazing in your bathroom!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 16, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      Hi Jaclyn! You’re so sweet! Thanks so much.

  • Reply Cristina October 16, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    Love the vanity! Yes, it’s gonna make the bath look more spacious.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 9:10 am

      Hey Cristina and thanks a million. I’m totally stoked with my console table turned vanity. 🙂

  • Reply paperdaisyme October 17, 2018 at 10:50 am

    I had not heard of that product!! I’ll have to give it a try. I need to put a waterproof topcoat on my bathtub tray!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 17, 2018 at 11:24 am

      Yes indeed. It should work great. Just apply three thin coats instead of one thick coat.

  • Reply torresnicole2013 October 18, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Love this stain color. It looks so smooth.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 18, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Hi Nicole.. thanks so much!

  • Reply Kyla September 5, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    This is so helpful! A couple years later – how is the gator hide holding up? I’m debating using it as a sealer over a bleached dining table. Thoughts? Is it tough enough to withstand the wiping etc?

    • Reply theChelseaProject September 8, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Hi Kyla,
      Yes, the vanity is holding up to daily use by an adult. I don’t have any kids in the house so I can’t speak to the dripping they might add. But I can tell you that I painted and sealed a table, put it in the man cave, and it looks just like it did when I placed it there. Here is the link that describes the paint and Gator Hide sealer. I do think this combo is very durable. Please let me know if you have more questions. And thanks for stopping by…

    Thanks so much for your comment!

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