Customizing an IKEA SILVERAN Bathroom Vanity

This post details how I customized an IKEA SILVERÅN vanity for our newly-remodeled half-bathroom. Because this powder room is in a visible spot on our first floor, I wanted a vanity that looked like a piece of furniture we’d have elsewhere in the house.

Powder Room.jpg

As I mentioned in my Bathroom Decision Making post, I was unable to find an off-the-shelf vanity that fit both my taste and the small space. I got quotes from a variety of places for a simple custom vanity, all of which came in around $1k (for the cabinet only – sink not included). I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on such a small piece and decided to take my chances on an IKEA hack.


There are two IKEA SILVERÅN cabinet finishes: white and light brown. The white one is made up of particleboard and plastic. It’s $20 less expensive, but it feels and looks even cheaper. The light brown one is solid pine. I chose this one because it felt sturdier and would be easier to customize. I bought it when IKEA had a 20% off sale on bathroom products, which made it $88. Cheap! And, I reused the existing sink. Free!

To start, I cut the vanity’s depth down to size to fit our 14″ sink. The 9″ SILVERAN was too shallow, so I bought the 15″ version and cut a couple of inches off the side panels. I won’t go into detail on this because I can’t imagine anyone would find it interesting.

Painting the vanity was straightforward: I sanded the wood to rough up the lacquer, then primed and painted. I used Benjamin Moore’s Mopboard Black; it’s part of their Williamsburg Collection, which also includes the Gunsmith Gray color I used on our house’s exterior. I like curated color collections like this – helps me from getting overwhelmed by options.

Primer on IKEA Vanity.JPG

I wanted legs that tapered on two sides, and Google led me to Osborne Wood Products. I ordered the 5″ tapered feet. I chose the red oak option because it’s a hard wood and I figured it would stand up better to dings than some of the cheaper options would. (Did you know there’s a scale called the Janka hardness test?) Osborne offers a lot of nice furniture feet options – way more than you’ll find at a local hardware store.
Tapered Foot.jpg

The feet were a little chunkier than my mental ideal, so I shaved an inch off both flat sides with my miter saw. Craziness like this is why Jarrod calls me “Particular Palermo.” I assembled the painted frame per the IKEA instructions, and then used both glue and screws to secure the feet to the vanity.

I started by drilling pilot holes into the bottom of the vanity, safely on either side of the cam bolt (but not so wide that there was a risk of the screws coming through the taped side of the leg). Anyone who has assembled IKEA furniture knows this bolt + metal dowel combo is what makes the furniture sturdy, so I didn’t want to mess with that.

Drilled Holes.JPG

On the other side of the vanity base, I used a countersink bit in the pilot hole so the screws would be flush with the wood.

Drill Sink Bit.JPG

I used Liquid Nails construction glue and clamps to hold the legs in place.

Attaching Legs to an IKEA Vanity.JPG

After the glue dried, I drilled in my screws and then painted the legs.

Attaching Legs to an IKEA Vanity 2.JPG

I installed adjustable feet in the legs using these threaded furniture glides.

Vanity Leg Feet.JPG

The vanity is fully wall-mounted, so the legs are mostly just for show, but they do offer secondary support. I can easily twist the adjustable feet to raise/lower them, which lets me slide the rug under!


The screws are barely noticeable when the doors are open. The vanity came with a shelf which I didn’t use because the plumbing didn’t leave enough room for it. This isn’t a problem, however, because there’s plenty of space for the few things I want to keep in there.

IKEA SILVERAN vanity open.jpg

I added Tolson cabinet knobs from Rejuvenation.

IKEA SILVERAN vanity.jpg

I didn’t have to wrestle with IKEA plumbing because I used the existing sink and a new MOEN faucet. If you need tips for installing IKEA plumbing, see my previous post: How I Installed an IKEA Bathroom Vanity.

IKEA SILVERAN bathroom vanity.jpg

Bathroom Sink.jpg

And that’s it! A pretty easy hack for a very pretty vanity.

IKEA SILVERAN vanity hack.jpg

Previous posts

Half-Bathroom Before and After

I detailed the half-bathroom renovation drudgery in previous posts, so now it’s time for a whole bunch of before and after photos! All of the sources are linked at the end of this post.

Before:First Floor Bathroom.jpg

After:Half Bath Under Stairs.jpg

The moulding around the door was replaced with a simple Craftman style that is more appropriate for our 1913 bungalow. I used Metrie architrave (the part above the door) plus trim from Home Depot. The vintage five panel door is what would have been in the house originally – I picked it up for $20 at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore here in Chicago.

Before:Door Before.JPG

After:Five Panel Door.jpg

Five Panel Doorknob.jpg

The previous tile was overly high: it crowded the window and made the room feel short. I chose the beadboard height so that it was as tall as the faucet – that way when people turn off the handles, there’s little risk of water splashing on the wallpaper.

Before:Half Bath Monet.jpg

After:Powder Room After.jpg

Another choice that helps make the room feel taller is continuing the wallpaper up the sloped ceiling. The Cole & Sons wallpaper is so beautiful; it looks hand-stenciled.

Wallpaper on Sloped Wall.jpg

There’s an odd wood stump up there from a staircase beam, so I put a vintage brass duck on it because why not.

Brass Bird Flying in a Bathroom.jpg

I love the new matte white hex tile from EliteTile. Porcelain mosaic tile feels perfect for a bungalow bathroom, and the black grout will be easy to keep clean.

Before:Half Bath Toilet Before.jpg

After:Kohler Toilet.jpg

The support post bump-out fits in with the room a lot better now that the beadboard and baseboard wraps around and continues down the rest of the wall.

Before:Half Bath Tile Tower.jpg

After:Bathroom Bump Out.jpg

Another big change I’m very happy with is the window trim. The window previously looked really rough – you could see the brick around the edges. Now it looks like a feature of the room, not an afterthought.

Before:Window Before.jpg

After:Glass Block Window.jpg

Jarrod is a birder, and he’s always admiring the John James Audubon Birds of America book on display at Northwestern University, where he works. I sent him a link to Joel Oppenheimer’s Audubon listings sorted by ascending price, so we could find an entry-level piece. Jarrod selected boat-tailed grackles, and I picked up the print at Oppenheimer’s beautiful gallery in Chicago. It’s a 1856 hand-colored lithograph.

Tip: All of Audubon’s Birds of America illustrations are available for free download as very high-resolution files (10,000 pixels!) via the Audubon Society’s website.

Framed Audubon Print.jpg

This print is the only art I have in here; I may eventually hang something over the toilet, but for now I’m letting the wallpaper do the work. I’m keeping the windowsill simple as well with a woven tray, tissue box, and plant.

Bathroom Window Sill.jpg

One more photo just because I like this detail!


The bathroom finishes are a mix of matte black and antique brass. The Tolson toilet paper holder from Rejuvenation matches the vanity knobs.

Brass Toilet Paper Holder.jpg

I reused the bathroom’s existing sink: there are very few sink options available with such a shallow depth (14″), and this one was in perfectly fine shape. It looks so much better with a new black faucet and a new vanity.

Before:Half Bath Sink.jpg

After:Bathroom Sink.jpg

I customized an IKEA SILVERAN vanity with paint, tapered legs, and brass knobs. I also reduced the depth of the vanity to fit the sink. This was one aspect of the powder room that I thought might be a total fail, but I ended up being 100% pleased with it. So, I am super glad I did not waste money on an expensive custom vanity (all of the quotes I got came in around $1k). I’ll share details of this IKEA hack in a follow-up post.

Before:Half Bath Vanity Before.jpg

After:IKEA SILVERAN vanity hack.jpg

I purchased the rug, tissue box cover, and antique brass bird hook when I redid our apartment bathroom. There’s actually an identical bird on eBay right now – but she’s $175 and has a candleholder on her head! Looks like my $14 bird “hook” used to be a sconce before her hat fell off.

Brass Bird Hook.jpg

Going back in time, here’s what the bathroom looked like when we bought the house.


Interim:Half Bath Mirror Before.jpg

After:Dark Vanity with Brass Mirror.jpg

The light fixture was lowered and replaced with a Schoolhouse Electric sconce. I love those faceted shades. The switches and outlet were moved next to the door, which is the logical home for them.

When we bought the house:downstairs13

Interim:Bathroom Door

After:Bathroom Five Panel Door.jpg

When we bought the house:downstairs10

And now:Powder Room.jpg

I love this view:Round Brass Mirror in Bathroom.jpg

Portrait of a Lady who is Relieved this Bathroom Renovation Wasn’t a Huge Mistake:Round Brass Mirror.jpg


Previous posts

Half-Bathroom Renovation: Day 4 and Beyond

I’m back with the second half of my half-bathroom renovation chronicles. You can check out previous posts here: Half-Bathroom Renovation is Underway! and Half-Bathroom Renovation: Days 1 through 3.

Day 4

On Day 4, I woke up very early so that I could put another (better) coat of paint on the walls and ceiling before the crew returned. I knew wallpaper would cover most of the flaws, but I didn’t want that to be an excuse for shoddy finishing work.

Bathroom Painting.JPG

When the guys arrived, they tackled all of the finishing details: beadboard, trim, etc. The weather was beautiful that week, which was great for an outdoor construction zone.

Outdoor Construction Zone.JPG

New trim and architrave above the door:Architrave.JPG

I had this photo printed out to show the guys how I wanted the window trim done, which was helpful for explaining details: mitered corners, slightly extended sill, etc.

Window Trim Photo.JPG

They went rogue on one detail – cutting angled corners for the bottom piece of trim – but I decided to be fine with that.

Window Sill.JPG

Day 4 was the last day the crew was scheduled to be at our house. They had another job booked for Friday and, with Patrick gone, were very pressed for time. They started rushing things.

Bathroom Beadboard.JPG

I won’t go into all of the small errors because that’s really boring, but here’s one example: the door was hung without chiseling out one of the door hinge slots. They simply screwed the hinge on top of the door. (I had them hang the door prior to my painting it.)

Door Hinge.JPG

The biggest problem was that the beadboard was installed crooked. The height varied by over 2 inches and the trim along the top visibly sloped.

So, at the end of the final day we were left with crooked beadboard, uncaulked trim, a door with no knob, and a handful of miscellaneous issues.

Bathroom Progress.JPG

The Following Week

I asked Patrick to come out the following week to discuss the job. To his credit, he looked at the beadboard and immediately said “This is unacceptable.” They removed and reset the trim along the top so that it’s more level (it’s still not perfect, but it’s within a margin of error that’s acceptable to me). They also re-mudded some areas to fix a few drywall issues…

Drywall Mud Fail.JPG

Not great, right?!

Drywall Mud Fail 2.JPG

At this point I figured it was best to cut my losses. We parted ways amicably and I finished the work myself – sanding the walls smooth, caulking the trim, etc. Everything’s fine now. All totaled, I think the guys did a B- job. It wasn’t a terrible contractor experience; it certainly wasn’t great, but they were very reasonably priced, so I feel like I got my money’s worth. Let’s call it a learning experience and move on!

Painting and Door Details

Painting the trim and beadboard in this tiny powder room was a real chore. It was cramped and involved a lot of toilet straddling.

Cramped Space Painting.JPG

DIY Throne.JPG

In the weeks prior to the renovation, I had purchased a wonderfully solid, vintage five-panel door for $20. It was covered in a hundred years worth of paint, which obscured the wood details. I stripped it to, yes, paint it again. Don’t you judge me! (You can judge me.)

Door Stripping.png

It was slow-going but satisfying work.

Door Progress.JPG

I removed the old mortise lock and cut a piece of wood to fill the pocket. I used some chopsticks to make it extra-tight and then filled everything in with Bondo putty.

Door Progress 2.JPG

I painted the door following this helpful Family Handyman guide.

Five Panel Door Painting.JPG

Their screw tip was really helpful: it let me paint both sides of the door without waiting for the first side to dry.

Door Painting.JPG


Finally: wallpaper! I hired Midwest Paperhangers to do the job, and they were great.

Wallpaper Table.JPG

The multiple angles of this room required careful planning. This father-and-son team measured precisely and planned where seams would meet, doing calculations that would have broken my brain.

Planned Wallpaper Seam.JPG

Connel Sr. and Connel Jr. knocked out this awkward, angled room in only two and a half hours. It was amazing.

Bathroom Wallpaper Crew.JPG

Wallpaper Installation.JPG

And that’s where I’ll leave you for now! I’ll be back on Tuesday morning with photos of the finished bathroom.

Toilet Straddle.JPG

Half-Bathroom Renovation: Days 1 through 3

Our half-bathroom is finished, but before we get to those satisfying before-and-after photos, I’m going to subject you to a few renovation progress posts. They’ll be heavy on pictures and light on narrative – I just want to document all the work that went into this tiny powder room.

I hired a contractor to do this renovation job. I considered doing some of the work myself (such as plumbing and beadboard installation), but ultimately chose not to because the price difference was negligible and I don’t need to be a DIY hero. I thought it would be really nice to simply write a check and have it be done in 3 days instead of 3 weeks (or, more realistically, 3 months). Turns out I wrote a check AND did a lot of work myself. This project was not without some hurdles and disappointments, but it all worked out in the end.

Let’s dive in!

Day 1

On Monday, the contractor I hired (Patrick) and his two crewmembers arrived. Patrick and I went over the plans and his guys immediately got to work. They put down canvas drop cloths for their walkway and then put up a plastic airlock in front of the bathroom.

Tarps on Ground.JPG

This prep work effectively contained the construction dust and mess, which I really appreciated.

Plastic Airlock.JPG

Meanwhile, the cats were confined to the basement, with their pet door locked shut.

Basement Cats.JPG

Patrick left, leaving his crew to do demo. I expected this because demo doesn’t require skilled labor; I did not know, however, how absent Patrick would be for the majority of the job (I’ll talk about this more later).

The crew removed an exploratory tile to see what they were getting into, and then fully demoed the wall tile and drywall.

Tile Demo Begins.JPG

I left a “KEEP!” note on the sink (seen above) so they wouldn’t forget my plan to reuse the sink. I didn’t want them to damage it when they removed it or to accidentally discard it. I wish I had done this on two plinth blocks that they mistakenly removed and tossed – learn from my mistakes, dear reader!

Tile Demo.JPG

Despite a language barrier (they spoke little English and I don’t speak any Czech), the crew and I bonded over this huge praying mantis one of the guys found in our yard.

Praying Mantis.JPG

By the end of Day 1, the floor tile was gone, the new drywall was up, and the mantis was back out in the wild.

New Drywall.JPG

Day 2

Day 2 was more dirty work. They installed the new ceiling fan.

Fan Installation.JPG

They taped and mudded the drywall, and put down new cement board on the floor.

New Cement Board Floor.JPG

Newly-relocated switches next to the door:Electrical Switches.JPG

Newly-flat ceiling – see before photos in my previous post:New Bathroom Ceiling.JPG

They wrapped up Day 2 with some exciting progress: laying the new hex tile.

White Hex Tile.JPG

I know that installing tile is a doable DIY but, you guys, I just didn’t wanna. I would have fretted and taken forever and I’m very happy I handed this over to someone else.

Newly Laid White Hex Tile.JPG

Day 3

Day 3 began with even more exciting progress: grouting the tile.

White Hex Tile Black Grout.JPG

Wipe on:Black Grout Wipe On.JPG

Wipe off:Black Grout Wipe Off.JPG

There’s not much else to show for Day 3 because, as the grout was drying, the guys worked on a couple of other projects elsewhere in the house. They finished the day by slopping some paint on the walls using an unnecessarily thick 1-1/4″ nap roller (the kind intended for painting masonry), which led to a lot of paint runs like you see here.

Paint Drips.JPG

While I had been happy with their work up until this point, this paint job was the first sign of trouble.

Patrick came highly recommended by someone I trust, who has a lot of renovation experience. Unfortunately, I had a different experience than they did. (This happens – I referred someone to a friend who painted their room pink, which was not the color they requested…)

See, Patrick unexpectedly left town mid-job. His crew was nice and hardworking but when left unsupervised, they cut corners and did sloppy work. They were muscle, not the skilled contractor I had hired. Womp womp. It’s water under the bridge, and this post is overly long, so I’ll stop now and return tomorrow with the second half of this renovation story!

Half-Bathroom Renovation is Underway!

Today our contractor started work on our half-bathroom renovation! I wanted to pop in on this ol’ dusty blog to let you know that I will be posting progress shots on Instagram Stories – if you’re interested, you should check out those before they expire. I’m @martipalermo. I’ll do blog posts as well after the fact, so no worries if you’re not on Instagram.

Half Bathroom Plastic.JPG

While I have you here, I thought I’d share some before pics of the bathroom and point out a few things I’m excited to change.

First Floor Bathroom.jpg

To be honest, this half-bath is fine. Everything is working, and it’s relatively modern (remodeled within the past 20 years). It’s not glaringly ugly but, to quote this blog’s namesake, it’s a full-on Monet: from far away, it’s OK, but up close…

Half Bath Monet.jpg

Ugh. Beige tile town.

Half Bath Toilet Before.jpg

The bathroom is small: smaller than 4′ x 8′. Because it’s tucked next to/under our stairs, there are odd ~features~ that make the square footage even more limited. There’s this angled wall, which I can fit under perfectly.

Half Bath Mirror.jpg

And this support post bump-out.

Half Bath Tile Tower.jpg

The tile job reminds me of Pokey from Mario Brothers.


We can’t do anything to change those elements because they’re structural, but I do hope to make them a little more seamless with the rest of the room.

Speaking of seams, this ceiling will be replaced with new drywall. It will fix that ridge you see in the foreground and the stair-step in the background.

Ceiling Ridge 2.jpg

On this wall, the junction box will be lowered to a standard 78″, so the new light fixture won’t crowd the ceiling. The switches and outlet will be moved next to the door, so guests don’t have to fumble looking for them and I can hang a centered, larger mirror.

Half Bath Mirror Before.jpg

This vanity will be replaced with one from IKEA that I am customizing; see vague plans in my last post and a sneak peek on Instagram.

Half Bath Vanity Before.jpg

The sink and the cat are the only things staying! And the cat is on thin ice, so we’ll see about that. (You know what you did, Doozy.)

Half Bath Sink.jpg

More to come!

Update: see the rest of the posts here!