Before and After: Princess Vanity Grows Up

Where do I keep my princessness?

– Princess Penelope

Back when I was facing that hard avenue of academic rigor commonly known as Fifth Grade, my parents gave me a desk. It matched my white-and-gold French provincial bedroom set, and I placed this new addition at a sophisticated angle beneath a window. Between the desk and a floral pen stand, I felt like the classiest lady scholar the world had ever known! (Thanks again, Mom and Dad!)

vanity before

The desk was, in truth, a vanity table, with a hinged top concealing a mirror. I used it primarily as a desk for many years, and subjected it to some hard use. As my studies progressed, I needed larger workspaces, so my original desk/vanity was consigned to our loft for many years. When we started the bedroom renovation, I took a closer look at it and decided to include it in the plan.

At this great remove from fifth grade, I felt the scalloped front was a little too ornate, so the first order of business was to deal with that issue. Because the piece in place was the perfect size (obviously), I used the Sawzall to cut through the joints so I could remove it. Then I cut the scalloped side off square on the table saw.

vanity trimmed front

The back side was just flat wood, so I reinstalled it backwards using metal braces. I also reinforced some other loose joints.

vanity L bracket

Retrospectively, I maybe could have left the apron in place, used the jigsaw to cut the front down, and applied wood filler to eliminate the routed pattern, but I don’t think I could have gotten the edge so straight that way. (I previously filled a routed pattern on a similar dresser, so that part would have worked, though.)

Here it is with the new front:

vanity pre filler

I liked this look better, but I wanted to carry the curve of the legs through to the front, instead of having the hard angle before the new front. I used cardboard to draw a template.

vanity template

Then I used the jigsaw to cut out a piece to patch in.

Cut with the grain as much as possible.

Cut with the grain as much as possible.

After touching this up with wood filler and sanding, the curve revealed itself.

vanity sanded

I fussed over this detail quite a bit (to the point that I was pretty annoyed with myself for fussing over it so much!), but I was really pleased with the eventual result.

60f6d4629a1c6193114a4b4ee8dab5b6I cleaned, sanded and primed the whole thing, then it was paint time. I almost lost my mind looking at deep blue paint chips. I had a colour in my head that did not exist in paint! I did a ridiculous mental detour through the idea of making the thing Tardis blue. Because the Tardis is an attractive color! And I’m a bit of a geek! But I couldn’t find a good, locally available commercial equivalent for Tardis blue, and I am not enough of a geek to take in a model Tardis for color-matching purposes.

Paint choice was also complicated by the fact that I didn’t have curtain fabric selected by that point. I had to step back and do things in a reasonable order. Once I had my exuberant drapery fabric purchased, picking a paint color was much easier — I just picked up a blue detail from the fabric. The winner was Benjamin Moore’s Champion Cobalt, BM 2061-20.


This swatch doesn’t do it justice, but there are lots of gorgeous pictures of Champion Cobalt out there.

I sealed with a satin-finish poly and replaced the handles with vintage glass pulls from Art and Architecture in Minneapolis. If I were craftier, I might have added patterns or texture, but I wanted to keep it simple and let the color be Miss Thang here.

The before again:

vanity before

And the after:

vanity first after

vanity angle

vanity after

I really love how it came out (and that’s good, because it took more work than I was anticipating), and I’m looking forward to seeing it in the finished room. I’m putting it in front of one of the windows, just like when I was eleven! Some things don’t change.

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5 Responses to Before and After: Princess Vanity Grows Up

  1. Pingback: Hookin Up with HoH #157

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