Introduction: Adding Storage to Bathroom Vanity Cabinet

In this instructable, I will show you how to turn the false front of a basic vanity into clever bathroom storage. My house is ‘cozy’, coming in just under 1,100 sq ft, and I am always looking for ways to increase my storage. My bathroom vanity had so much wasted potential and I finally took the time to figure out how to maximize it.


· Quality wood filler

· All-purpose laminate shelf

· Clamps

· Level

· Screwdriver

· Drill bit set

· Pencil

· Rubber Mallet

· Circular Saw

· Drill

· Kreg Jig tool

· Pocket hole screws

· Cabinet Pulls

· Frostner Bit

· 5/8 or ½ in Cabinet Hinges with template

· Masking tape

· Paint and paint supplies

Step 1: Disassembly

To begin, you first need to determine how to remove the false front panel.

The red arrows indicate the two pieces I needed to remove that support my false panel.

My false front was nailed on. Some however will pop right off and are only attached by two small plastic brackets. In attempting to remove my false panel I used the rubber mallet to try and pound lose the finishing nails holding the panel in. Using this method, I ended up breaking apart the supporting particle board frame.

Unfortunately, even if I hadn’t broken these frame pieces, I would still have opted to new frame boards due to the holes left behind from the nails.

As you can see the thin applique was also damaged when I pried the two pieces apart.

Step 2: Brainstorm Your Ideas

You might be asking yourself, ‘why wouldn’t I brainstorm my ideas first?!’. Here is my answer: to save you trips to the hardware store! During my disassembly step I ended up damaging my cabinet which resulted in needing additional lumber to fix it.

Below are the most important things to consider during the brainstorming stage.

1. Measure, measure, measure!!!

The whole purpose of this project was adding a single shelf behind the new door I would create by repurposing the false door. Here I measured how deep my shelf could be given where it would meet the bottom of the sink.

Measure from the inside of the support piece, keeping level with the floor, to an inch or so before coming in contact with the bottom of the sink or the drainpipe.

I also measured my broken pieces LxWxH (length, width, height). During this measurement, I determined that the size I needed to repair my frame would also work well for supporting my newly created shelf so I measured the depth of my vanity for two supports.

The red arrows indicate where I placed my two supports.

2. Determine what kind of hardware you want or need.

I have bar pull style in my kitchen and knew I wanted bar pulls for my bathroom. I found taking photos of my different options allowed me to make a better decision as to what I wanted.

These last two photos are of my false front. Photographing my options helped me realize I preferred two pulls instead of one.

3. During my brainstorming step I also determined if I needed any additional hardware, in my case I needed some different length pocket screws for the different thickness of my materials and some white paint for the raw wood for my frame pieces.

Step 3: Paint

In this step paint any desired pieces. In my case I only really cared that the exterior or my cabinet looked finished, so I only painted my frame pieces. You can take it as far as you want, painting your interior shelves to match or a fun pop of color.

Step 4: Create Your Framing

For me, this was the scariest step to start. If you are having any nervous jitters, I suggest practicing. I had some spare pieces of scrap and so I played around with my Kreg Jig tool to get a better understanding of the directions and how to use it.

Use your Kreg took to recreate the connection points of the original board.

The red arrows are the pieces we are placing in this step.

Step 5: Create and Insert Your Shelf

1. I purchased laminate shelving to the depth I needed, so in this step I only needed to cut the shelf to fit the width of my cabinet. I gave myself a ¼ inch on each side for clearance. I also added a lip to the back side of my shelf, that way none of my things would fall off the back side.

The red arrow indicates the rear lip. To create this, I used the same size boards
used for the frame mounting the perpendicular to the shelf.

2. Install one of the support bars. In my case I chose to install over the drawers first.

I installed the bar indicated by the right arrow, first – this would allow me more room to work to complete the next steps.

3. Insert shelf

4. Insert other support bar

5. I used non-slip pads to hold my shelf in place so it wouldn’t slide forward and backwards. You could use glue, tack putty, anything really. I happened to have the non-slip pads so that is what I used.

Step 6: Drill Holes for New Door Pulls

I chose to drill the holes for my pulls on the false front before I installed it. There isn’t be anything wrong with waiting until it is installed to drill your holes, I just felt more confident doing it before. DO NOT install pulls for false front during this step.

I also drilled the holes for my other pulls at this point. I simply used a level at the height of the previous hole and marked the centers. You may install pulls on other drawers and doors in this step if you would like.

Step 7: Turn False Door Into Functional Door

This was another step where I practiced. In this step you need to use the frostner bit, drill bit, and the template that came with your cabinet hinges to cut the holes that will hold your cabinet hinge. Here, I marked my drill bit with masking tape so that I knew when to stop and wouldn’t drill right through my false front.

The photo is my scrap piece of wood I used for practice.

Once you have drilled your holes, attach your cabinet hinges to the false front.

Step 8: Attach False Door

In this step you will attach you false front to the lower frame piece. I began by centering the front on my cabinet, then marked my holes. I drilled small pilot holes with a drill bit and used a hand screwdriver to attach the door. If you have someone to help you hold your door in place you could use a drill to fasten your screws. After putting so much time into this project I opted to use the screwdriver and go slow for fear of possibly splitting the wood of my frame.

The red arrows simply show that I mounded them to the bottom frame piece.

Step 9: Install New Door Pulls

Install all remaining pulls.

When everything was back in place, I wiped the cabinet clean with warm water, let everything dry, then added the wood filler to the holes of the old drawer pulls.

Step 10: Are You Done?

You did it! Congratulations!

It wasn’t until after I was ‘finished’ that I realized I had scrap shelving and decided to add another shelf to the bottom of the vanity. Using the Kreg Jig, I made a box that I could slide into the bottom of the cabinet to use as a shelf.

Step 11: Now You Are Done!

Put your things back into the vanity, take a few photos and be proud of what you accomplished!