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.

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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.

SILVERAN Cabinet

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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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!

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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.

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I added Tolson cabinet knobs from Rejuvenation.

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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.

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

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Previous posts

How I Installed an IKEA Bathroom Vanity

In my greatest DIY victory to date, I installed an IKEA HEMNES bathroom cabinet, DALSKAR faucet, and ODENSVIK sink (which came with RINNEN plumbing). Note that the title of this blog post is not “How to install an IKEA vanity” but rather “How I installed an IKEA vanity.” This is what worked for me.

I did a ton of Googling throughout this process and found some helpful guides (such as this one) that gave me the confidence to take on this project, but I didn’t find any blog posts that were identical to my situation. IKEA altered their standard plumbing kit significantly recently, so a lot of the information I found was outdated. Also, every home is going to have its own oddities.

This post won’t be of much interest to anyone who isn’t installing an IKEA sink, but I hope it’s helpful for at least one person who is! Specifically, here are the three issues I encountered that you might run into as well:

  • Waste pipe that is 1-1/4″ vs IKEA plumbing that is 1-1/2″
  • Faucet supply lines that are 3/8″ vs IKEA faucet lines that are 9/16″
  • IKEA overflow hose that does not reach the drain

Before buying our house, I had never done any plumbing work. It was daunting because water can be so quickly and so thoroughly ruinous should anything go wrong. I installed our basement sink as a test case, and then tackled this on my own without disaster. If you’re handy and enjoy finding solutions to problems, I think IKEA plumbing is definitely a doable DIY.

Getting started

I started by laying out all of the parts in order. Note: if you buy an IKEA sink and an IKEA faucet, you’ll have a couple of duplicate parts.

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I warned Jarrod that it may be several days until we had a working sink again. I hoped it would go smoothly, but I was prepared for some hiccups. We have a sink in our first floor half-bathroom, which helped make this a lot less stressful.

I turned off the inline shut-off valves, disconnected the existing sink, and stuck a rag in the wall drain hole to keep the stink contained.

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I assembled the vanity cabinet and Jarrod helped me position it (it was nice to have an extra set of hands here, but not necessary — this can be a one-woman project). I adjusted the screw-in feet until it was level. Our floor slopes, so the right self-adjusting foot is extended quite a bit more than the left.

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Once it was precisely placed and leveled, I marked off the four spots I’d need to drill and then moved the vanity out of the bathroom.

Drilling into granite tile

If you don’t have granite wall tiles, mounting the vanity will be pretty easy. If you do have granite tiles, like we do, I’m sorry. Drilling into granite is totally doable, but it’s time-consuming and expensive! The bits are made of diamonds and run $20+ each at Home Depot. It sounds like even the nice ones wear down quickly, requiring multiple bits to do the job. Having learned that, I chose to buy two cheap sets from Amazon. $22 total for 10 bits, and I wound up using every single one.

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I sprayed the area with water continuously while drilling (sorry, no pics). After the holes were drilled, I put the vanity back in place.

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The big square holes are from the previous sink’s installation. The IKEA vanity is secured with metal clips (provided by IKEA) and toggle bolts (purchased by me).

Mounting the faucet on the sink

I installed the DALSKAR faucet on the ODENSVIK sink before placing it on the vanity – it was a lot easier to see and reach the underside this way.

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The bottom of the metal faucet marked up the sink a bit as I was positioning it, which was disappointing. To avoid this, I’d recommend putting some painters tape around the hole and then removing it right before you tighten down the faucet. Otherwise, this step was straightforward and easy.

Figuring out the waste pipe connection

The waste pipe is the hole in the wall that the sink connects to, which I assume leads directly to the Chicago River. The IKEA p-trap drainpipe is 1-1/2 inches. Our waste pipe is smaller: 1-1/4 inches. So, I had to find a trap adapter/reducer. In retrospect, this wasn’t that big a deal: most of the battle was learning terminology and figuring out WTF I was even looking for.

Semi-Pro Tip #1: Don’t throw away anything you remove from your previous sink’s installation until you’ve successfully installed your new sink. Put it in a plastic bag and carry that grossness to every hardware store. If you’re a novice like I am, it’s extremely helpful to have with you to compare parts and to talk to store employees.

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Semi-Pro Tip #2: When you’re in the hardware store, BUY EVERYTHING. Seriously, if you find yourself looking at something and thinking “This might work” or “I think this would fit” — BUY IT. Keep the receipt and return what you don’t use.

In the interest of helping anyone in the same boat, here are all the options I gathered within 36 hours via Amazon, Clark & Barlow Hardware, Home Depot, and Ace:

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The Everbilt washer the Home Depot guy sent me home with was totally wrong for the job, so that one was immediately ruled out. Any of the other three probably would have worked if space were not a crucial issue for IKEA plumbing (more on that later).

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I experimented with both the galvanized reducer and the PVC trap adapter, ultimately choosing the PVC option because it was the most space-efficient.

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Good god, this post is boring. I’m sorry. Let’s trudge on.

Connecting the faucet

Our supply valves are 3/8 inch. The IKEA manual states that the faucet lines are 9/16 inch. As far as I learned, this is not a measurement used by US plumbing standards.

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So, I was worried about connecting my existing 3/8″ lines to the IKEA faucet lines, but did not encounter any problems at all. The ends connected perfectly, and they are watertight. Whew! I don’t know if the manual is simply incorrect, or if the difference is so slight that it’s negligible. Just another IKEA oddity.

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I wrapped the ends with Teflon tape to help ensure a tight seal.

Connecting the overflow drain and p-trap

This was the most frustrating part of the installation. Unlike the waste pipe, which was a challenge because of our house’s non-standard plumbing, this step was infuriating because it was caused by IKEA’s unforgiving design.ikea-drawer-fml.jpg

In order for the HEMNES drawers to slide in fully, the drain pipe and p-trap needs to be as close to the back wall as possible. The cabinet assembly does not allow a generous margin of error. Many people wind up having to shorten their drawers or hack notches into them. The drawers were the major appeal of this vanity in the first place, so I was hoping to avoid that.

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In the store display, IKEA shows the wall drain being off-center from the sink drain itself, so that the p-trap (the curved part at the bottom) is flush with the wall and the overflow tube (the black rubber piece) can be connected.

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In my experience, this a totally unrealistic and unholy arrangement. Our wall drain hole is centered with the sink’s drain, like God intended. I had no choice but to position the drain to run at an angle, in order to get the p-trap flush with the wall.

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The overflow tube IKEA provides is quite rigid and would simply not bend or stretch to work with that arrangement. I could force it into place with a terribly angled drain (as you see above), but it would slowly disconnect because of the strain. IKEA’s design doesn’t include anything to actually secure it to the drain. I tried cable ties and steel screw clamps, but the black rubber was simply too rigid. Incredibly frustrating!

I went to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace in search of tubing that could work as a replacement. I bought a few different types of plastic tubing, but in the end, nothing worked as well as a $3 bike inner tube I stole from Jarrod. It was flexible enough for the tight space, and I was able to secure it in place with cable ties.

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I don’t claim that this solution is perfect: if the sink were stopped up and water reached the overflow hole, the bike tube doesn’t drain water as quickly as a rigid tube would. But it’s totally water-tight and, ultimately, it’s the solution that saved me from having to hack the drawers and/or burn down the house. For our purposes, the overflow drain only gets used when water splashes back there. So, it’ll do.

Moving along! You have to punch out a hole on whichever side you install the overflow drain.

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I waited to do the punch out step until the very end, when I was 100% certain what my final arrangement would be.

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Good enough!

Checking your work and sealing it up

I waited a few days before installing the drawers so that I could keep an eye on the drain and supply lines, to make sure nothing was leaking. I also wiped a Kleenex over all of the components a couple times each day to make sure everything was staying completely dry.

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Once I was certain the drain and faucet lines were watertight, it was time for silicon. I lifted the sink to put a line of silicon on top of the vanity and then carefully set it back in place. I also used silicon on the rubber seal that sits between the sink and the drain. I figured this might help make it extra-watertight; couldn’t hurt, anyway.

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And, finally, I ran a line of silicon at the back of the sink, where it meets the wall.

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This line of silicon was the most beautiful and satisfying thing I’ve ever done, because it meant this project was FINISHED.

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The cat inspector gave me some shit about the bike tube plumbing but signed off on the job nevertheless.

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Second-guessing your decision to buy an IKEA vanity

At a couple of points during this multi-day project, I’ll admit that I regretted buying an IKEA vanity. But, in the end, I think I made the right choice. The vanity offers more storage in a smaller footprint than the terrible saucer sink. The new sink has a smaller surrounding edge, but it’s actually functional because it’s level — the previous sink ledge sloped inward.

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The vanity looks nice and feels very sturdy. I love the drawers: they slide smoothly and shut softly. I also love the faucet: the one-handle design is great, and the water turns on and off very cleanly. Most importantly, the vanity fit our tight space requirements and our budget.

You can see additional photos of the space in my Bathroom Makeover post.

Sources:

Rug Shopping, Forever

Between the island, the clock, the trashcans and the rug, there is a lot of IKEA going on in this kitchen. And there isn’t a lot of color. I’m cool with both of those things, to a point, but the kitchen feels a bit sterile. The neon sign helped add some character. Now it needs an awesome rug.

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I had hoped this rug would be The One. It’s the Dunham Kilim Recycled Yarn Indoor/Outdoor Rug from Pottery Barn.

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But the orange was much stronger in person than it appeared on the website, and that orange really brought out the orange in our oak kitchen cabinets.

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Looking at these pictures I actually like it but in person it was definitely a non-starter.

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So the search continues. Probably forever. Forever? Forever ever.

A Project Room of One’s Own

We have the luxury of two small extra bedrooms in our apartment: one is used for the guest room, the other is used as my project room.  It swings wildly from tidy to chaotic.

Storage Room Mess

Storage Room Mess

It exploded into a mess recently, as you can see, but after a new year’s organizing frenzy, I think I have it under control for good.  I can now open the door and say to you, dear reader, “This is where the magic happens…”

Storage Shelving

I bought the IKEA IVAR shelving system off Craigslist last year for $60.  (Thumbing my nose here at the people who dismiss IKEA stuff as “disposable” – most of the IKEA furniture in our apartment was purchased second-hand.)

IKEA Storage Shelving

A digression: isn’t that vintage anatomical model great? Hand-painted, from Germany.  My brother-in-law saved her from going into the dumpster at the elementary school where he teaches.  I have since sold it on Craigslist to an oddities collector.

Storage Shelf Containers

The clear storage boxes are from The Container Store, provider of all perfectly-designed storage solutions.  Case in point #1: this simple, white, handled tray, which holds my most frequently used tools.

Tool Bin

Case in point #2: this adjustable divider box, which organizes all of my screws, bolts, hooks, etc. in an extremely satisfying manner.

Hardware Storage

The other side of the room holds the tool I will admit I don’t use as often as I should: my elliptical macine.

Elliptical Machine Room

Elliptical Machine Setup

We have a pretty nice mini-gym set-up: I have interlocking rubber tiles hidden under an IKEA HESSUM runner rug.  This base layer absorbs noise, provides stability and reduces wear on the machine.

Elliptical Machine Cushion

I mounted a simple shelf on the wall to hold a laptop.  Streaming a show or a movie on Netflix or Hulu is the only thing that can motivate me to work out.  (Well, that and the shame I feel because Jarrod exercises like a crazy person.)

Elliptical Machine Laptop Shelf

These days I’m working (slowly) through My So-Called Life and thinking (seriously) about wearing plaid flannel dresses.

Hardwired HEMMA: DIY Closet Light

While cleaning out our closet this weekend I decided that cleaning out our closet would be nicer if there were a ceiling light in there.  More often than not, mundane cleaning initiatives like this are waylaid by the allure of PROJECT!  You know what’s not exciting? Cleaning. You know what is? Wire stripping!

HEMMA Light

We have outlets at the back of our closet and I had a plug-in HEMMA cord set from IKEA on hand.  My original idea was to use the cord set to hang a light from the ceiling with the addition of a pull-chain socket adapter (like this) so that the light could be turned on and off easily.  I went to Matty K’s — a great independent hardware store in Lincoln Square — to pick one up, but realized that the adapter pull-cord was actually pretty hard to pull and would put a lot of stress on a ceiling anchor hook.  I then saw this porcelain lampholder with a pullchain.

Porcelain Lampholder

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts in which people cut off the plug of a HEMMA cord to convert it to a hardwired light fixture, which gave me the idea to cut the socket off instead, leaving the plug and hard wiring the cord to the lamp.  A super nice Matty K’s employee suggested that I mount an electrical outlet box to the ceiling as a base for the lampholder, making it safe and sturdy.

HEMMA Wire Strippers

Porcelain Lampholder

Light

Closet Ceiling Light

I stripped the cord to expose the wires, connected them to the lamp holder, mounted the electrical box to the ceiling and the fixture to the box, and routed the cord down the back wall to the outlet.  Easy peasy.

DIY HEMMA Ceiling Light

Pro tip: Use the cutest Japanese toy you have on hand to personalize your pullcord.  Rilakkuma FTW!

Rilakkuma

See how it works?  There is no light on the left and there is light on the right.  VICTORY.

Light Before and After