how to: dresser to vanity

Thanks for all of the nice feedback on our new bathroom. I just love how it turned out!  I am going to share how we constructed the vanity with you today. There are many tutorials out there outlining how to do this but our approach was a little bit different since we went with an over counter trough vessel sink.

DIY Vintage Cottage Style Bathroom

Many of you who know us, know how things work around here. Typically I conjure up an idea (sometimes crazy) that utilizes salvaged or vintage materials, develop the aesthetic and then get my husband, Ryan, on board to help execute it. Ok, to mostly execute it. I will fully admit that I don’t have the patience to DIY some of the things I come up with on my own. Hello, blue print wallpaper! I like to think of myself as the Art Director and Ryan as the Engineer around here. Do you have self-appointed titles at home? The bathroom reno followed the same suit until it came time to complete the vanity. We called in assistance from my father who is a Plumber. So without further adieu, our Circa Dee/ Marston Mechanical collaboration!

How to Turn a Dresser into a Vanity...and not lose any drawers by Circa Dee

First things first, we started with prepping the dresser.  I mentioned that I had been holding onto this for a while because I knew it was just the right size for this bathroom.  I thought I’d paint it with a fresh coat of white.  My plan was to use MMS milk paint in Ironstone but as we considered the dresser further it actually had just the right chippy look that I was going for, only in latex.  We scrubbed the dresser and pulled off a few of the chipping pieces to find blue/green paint underneath.  Perfect.

Three coats of polycrylic sealed the distressed paint and created a durable top coat so this could be used in a bathroom.  I chose polycrylic because it won’t yellow the white paint like polyurethane will.  Plus it is water based which makes for an easier clean up.  Bonus.

Polycrylic Topcoat - How to turn a dresser into a vanity

Then it was time to bring in the big guns and work around the plumbing. After positioning the dresser in place, we cut out a hole in the back of the dresser to make way for the drainage pipe using a hole saw drill bit.

Plumbing - How to turn a dresser into a vanity

Next we positioned the sink in the center of the dresser and determined where the sink and faucet holes would need to be.  They were cut using the hole saw drill bit too.

  Trough Vessel Sink - How to turn a dresser into a vanity

Next the faucet was installed.

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity...and not loose any drawers

Everything was secured in place with caulk.  The sink was caulked to the dresser. The dresser was caulked to the wall.

Over Counter Trough Vessel Sink

We chose this over counter trough vessel sink for several reasons…

  1. As I mentioned, the over counter trough vessel sink helped to preserve as much drawer space as possible.  We would have lost half of the drawer storage to accommodate for the drop in.
  2. The dresser is small so if we dropped a large sink in it we’d need to cut a large hole in it which may have ruined the integrity of the dresser and made it weak.
  3. We could have chosen a bowl vessel sink but that just didn’t fit our aesthetic. Too modern so we went with a rectangular trough style.
  4. Bonus.  The combination of the over counter sink and the dresser created a nice comfort height vanity.

Over Counter Trough Vessel Sink

After the plumbing was reattached, it was time to figure out what would become of the drawers.

DIY Cottage Style Bathroom

I was fully prepared to lose the top drawer to make space for the drain pipe which means it would just become a facade of a drawer.  Buuuut they were able to salvage about 20% of the drawer  because there was not a drop sink taking up the space.  The short drawer is perfect for storing soap, toothpaste and other small bathroom toiletries.

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity...and not loose any drawers

The deeper bottom 2 drawers only lost about 2-3 inches off the back to accommodate for the pipes. The new drawer backs were cut to width from 1×4 pine boards and attached with a brad nailer.  Then excessive few inches on the back and sides of the drawers were cut off with a circular saw.

I seemed to have missed a picture of the middle drawer.  A 2 inch U shaped notch had to be cut out of the top of the back of that drawer with a jigsaw to accommodate for the bottom of the drainage trap shown below.

Custom Drawers - How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity

 It was so minimal though that it is not even noticeable when the drawer is open.

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity...and not loose any drawers

We finished the vanity off with a set of clear green flower knobs on the top drawer and clear glass knobs on the remaining drawers.

How to Turn a Dresser into a Vanity...and not lose any drawers by Circa Dee

This might just be my favorite room in the house right now…

DIY Vintage Cottage Style Bathroom

living on less

We’ve made some major changes in our lives over the past few months.  For starters, we got hitched in May.  You already knew that unless you’re just tuning in for the first time.  And if you are, welcome!

wedding

What happened next surprised us though.  A good surprise in retrospect but the type of surprise we weren’t totally prepared for.  It knocked the wind out of us at first actually.  We picked up suddenly and moved to Cape May, NJ.  Permanently. We quickly consolidated two houses into one small beach bungalow.  You could call it the great downsize of 2013.  We sold tons of furniture, donated pounds of clothes and narrowed down our favorite housewares.

milk paint table makeover & ship captain lamp

We made the decision to move in June after being faced with some tough issues primarily related to Ryan’s MS which he was diagnosed with last year.  I’ll save all of the gritty details for my future best-selling memoir.  Ultimately we decided what is most important to us is living a simple healthy life together in a place we love.  We made the quick decision to eliminate unnecessary noise and chaos and to leave the grind behind.  Why wait the previously planned 15-20 years to move to our beloved Cape May?  We packed up truckload after truckload and settled into our beach bungalow turned forever home in August.  Now we live somewhere between the woods of Cape May and the sandy shore of the Delaware Bay.  It is quiet, restful and simple.

beach

We’ve taken on a motto of living on less which is a bit of a change from my previous fill-every-closet-in-the-house lifestyle.  Who am I kidding?  Once a hoarder, always a hoarder but I have been making smarter decisions about what I actually need and what collected anecdotes make me happy.  We only have two closets in the entire house and one dresser each so excess clothing was the first to go.  It is kind of refreshing to have such limitations in a way.

vintage ship captain collection

But living on less doesn’t mean bare rooms and no fun. Trust me.  There will be lots of room makeovers now that we’re settled into our new permanent address.  Well, four room makeovers if I have my way.  Several are already in progress.  We have just four rooms in our 1000 square foot home and two bathrooms plus loads of outdoor space.  Doesn’t it sound freeing to only have to maintain four rooms?  All two and a half of us really do not need more space than that.

kitchen

Don’t get me wrong, we are not living in total seclusion here.  I still love the action that the city has to offer.  We make frequent trips “up north” but are thrilled to come home to our peaceful, collected abode by the sea.

bedroom

And being that I built a business based on beautiful things, the hunting and gathering will continue.  Joyfully!  I’ll continue to sell vintage and repurposed wares at The West End Garage in Cape May.  Let’s call that our flagship store, shall we?  Plus on our frequent trips to Philly, we’ll pop up at our favorite Clover Market.  And of course, I’ll continue to be a driving force with milk paint at Serendipity Shops in Doylestown plus it is available for sale online.  In fact, I have another demo coming up on November 17th at 1pm.

That’s our big news!  Coming to you from Cape May, NJ.  When the world gives you lemons, take them to the beach…

riding for a cause

Wow, what an incredible weekend we had!  This is my favorite season for so many reasons including the warm sunny days free of humidity followed by cool crisp nights and the subtle fall coloring that is settling in.

But this year we added a new reason to the list.  On Saturday, we rode our first Bike MS: City to Shore Ride.  It was a wonderful experience.  A tradition that we’re hoping to continue year after year.

Just one year ago, Ryan and I went to Ocean City, NJ on this particular day to see what the ride was all about.  MS was completely new to us.  Ryan’s diagnosis was all of about 2 weeks old and we were still wrapping our heads around what Multiple Sclerosis is and would mean for us.  Immediately we thought that we needed to get behind this cause and rally a team to ride with us.

Bike MS team

We came up with a solid team of 10.  We had 8 riders on Team Recanize.  Six of us did the initial 25 mile ride.  And 2 of our team members went the distance with the 150 mile round trip from Cherry Hill, NJ to Ocean City and back!  They made us look good!

Plus, we had 2 team volunteers who rallied at the finish line.  This event wouldn’t be possible with out all of the volunteers along the route.

Bike MS team volunteers

I think we did pretty darn good for a rookie, start-up team.  Between the 10 of us we raised over $6000 toward the overall fund of over $5 million.  $6000!  I’m so proud of all of my friends and family who rode with us and also those who made generous donations making our team possible.

On a personal note, I have to admit that a 25 mile bike ride is not something that I would’ve thought I’d accomplish just a few years ago.  I’m not terribly athletic and have always had to work hard toward this sort of thing.  I’m more comfortable as a beach cruiser.  But this was an important goal for me.  Crossing that finish line felt like such an accomplishment on so many levels.  #recanize

Bike MS finishline

Ryan, on the other hand, could have done laps around me and will most likely go more than 25 miles next year.  It’s been a crazy year and I’m so proud of him too.  Here he is channeling his inner BMX rider…or something.

Bike MS

We’ll be back in 2014! Bigger, better and definitely branded.  Stay tuned, friends!

If you are in the PA/NJ/DE area, we’d love to have you on Team Recanize.  You can join us here.  Registration for the event is only $20 until October 4th and then it increases.

the village: part 2

Wow, I kinda dropped the ball over here.  In the beginning of summer, I told you I’d be sharing some introductions of all the folks that help me out behind the scenes.  Basically, my family and friends who help rally and make this little biz and dream go.

We talked about Jake who is kind of hysterical.  Let me update you on his latest venture.  Last week, he calls me up and asks if I know anything about accordions and follows up with a picture text of this gem that he just picked up.

accordion

I tell him I’m no accordion expert but I do know they’re kinda hot and trendy right now.  So his next call was to a local music store. An hour later he’s at said store discussing his new treasure.  Needless to say, he left with a fist of cash all while saving this baby from a landfill.  The kid is resourceful and makes us all laugh with his stories.

Which leads me to my next victims, I mean partners.  The ‘rents.  They too have a big hand in helping make things go and have owned their roles around Circa Dee.  Here they are…acting naturally.

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I like to refer to my Dad as the Director of Logistics/Historian.  He has since passed the truck loading baton onto Ryan however he loves to coordinate logistics when needed.  And I use the word ‘love’ loosely here.  He actually loathes it but if he’s left out, well he feels left out.  Therefore, I think he secretly loves it.  Are you reading this, Dad?  I figured out your game!

_ (1 of 1)-2

Ahh!  The picture above is actually more like it.  Just lugging some furniture around for me and yelling about it.  He always helps unload on site at a popup just to come back at the end of the sale and repeat that process, ideally with fewer items.  What a guy!  And he loves to see the wares when they’re all unpacked.  As one of the, ahem, older members of the crew he always has insight into the vintage gems and tells stories of how they related to his childhood.  Typically he can answer questions for me too if I am stumped on something.  This is why he is called the Historian.

My mom is the Director of Retail Experience.  She is there for just about every minute of the retail sales.  She also helps unload the truck and pack up.  Vintage linens are her specialty.  Particularly, Vera.  I passed that obsession onto her though.  We love hunting for Vera.  And love the hunt in general.

_ (1 of 1)-3

Oh and she also gives me a reality check when I obsess over whether or not I should rearrange/stage for the 5th time.  This applies to my own home too, not just sales.  Sometimes I get neurotic.  Shocking, no? And because she is a mom, she packs lunch for the crew, keeps me company and gives the moral support that is needed.

I’m blessed with such support.  Seriously, what would I do without my village?

And with all of that said, you can expect to see us reunited in our roles and antics in just one month.  The countdown is on for our very favorite Clover Market!  Save the date: September 15th

Clover Market

accessorizing the bridal party

Hello!  Hello!  How was everyone’s weekend?  We are enjoying some unseasonably cool weather here.  It is like a fall preview.  I LOVE it.  But enough of the small talk.  I’m sharing more pics and deets from our wedding along with another DIY.

© Love Shack Photo

Today we are chatting about accessorizing your peeps with flowers.  When to go fresh and when to go fabric.

DIY Fabric Boutonniere

In the name of organization, we knocked out a few boutonnieres months prior to the big day.  If you are a Circa Dee diehard, you may even recognize some of the fabric used.  I didn’t get crazy about sourcing the perfect fabric for these flowers.  Instead, just pulled scraps from previous upholstery projects in blues and neutrals that would complement the color scheme.  Bridezilla?  I think not.

© Love Shack Photo

Hunter, our ring bearer, and Wilson’s escort has a more playful color palette with a splash of pink and aqua – kind of like the centerpieces.  His seersucker vest is from crewcuts.

© Love Shack Photo

Wilson opted for a more traditional look with a matching seersucker bow tie and leash from etsy.

© Love Shack Photo

He decided he’d like to take a seat during the ceremony rather than stand up front.  Seriously, I know.

© Love Shack Photo

I’m obsessed with this dog.  Judge me if you want.  But first, just look at that face…

Dana & Ryan Cape May Wedding

Oh, hey!  Look at these dapper guys.  They went fresh in the flower department.

© Love Shack Photo

Shawn, the best man, sported a throwback baby’s breath boutonniere that matched Leigh’s bouquet.

© Love Shack Photo

That was a bit of a vintage spin on the personal flowers.  The baby’s breath bouquet and boutonnierre were easy to DIY.  I gathered a bunch and constructed them with floral tape covered with ribbon just a few days prior to the ceremony.

© Love Shack Photo

What’s a wedding without a little air guitar?  Huh?  I can only imagine some Journey was being belted out of my gaping open mouth.  Don’t stop believing, friends.

© Love Shack Photo

So Ryan and I went with fresh flowers.  (I’m really tempted to say “fresh to death” here because we were at the Jersey shore after all but I am refraining.  Or am I?)  Anyway, a fresh flower bouquet of with a pale color palette of thistle, roses, lisianthus, sweet pea, ranunculus and seeded eucalyptus…

© Love Shack Photo

to match Ryan’s ranunculus boutonniere.

© Love Shack Photo

These I cannot take credit for.  Our flowers were created on our wedding day by my very talented friend, Renee.

© Love Shack Photo

She also helped construct the fabric boutonnieres months prior (among many other things!).

DIY Fabric Boutonniere

Now for the DIY… we simply cut long fabric scraps – say about 2 feet x 2 inches.  Twirled the fabric tightly round and round, hot gluing with each pass and strategically folding the fabric over to create the look of a blooming rose.  We garnished each a little differently with either lace ribbon (left from the invitations), mossy green wire or green raffia wire to create “leaves”.  Once complete, it was glued to felt backing and then to safety pins.  Easy.  And not just for weddings.  This DIY can totally be used to deck out kids backpacks, hats, etc.

I leave you with this image.  Aqua chucks.  The must have reception accessory for my dad.  For those who know him, you know Chucks are absolutely his style.  The aqua part is all mine.

© Love Shack Photo

Photos by Love Shack Photo

a DIY trailhead

Ryan and I will be celebrating a big ol’ 2 months of marriage tomorrow.  In honor, I’m sharing a wedding DIY.

Remember our big tent?

We popped up a party under that thing just like we pop up a shop under our 10×10 at various markets.  Except this was like 100×100 or something cray-zay big.

© Love Shack Photo

For someone like me, it was a dream to be able to build my reception setting from the ground up.  In the beginning, I insisted on not having a narrow theme as I thought it was too kitschy.  Our theme sort of evolved as we continued to plan details.  So did the color scheme.  I will give you one guess.

Yeah, aqua blue.

And the theme was a little more subtle with a nod to “On the way to Cape May, I fell in love with you”.  How could we not, seriously?

© Love Shack Photo

Once there was an established theme we conjured some fun details to deck the bare corners of the tent and tables.  With our guests in mind, we put together a trailhead highlighting all of the cities they had traveled from to be with us on our big day.  It was essentially a destination wedding since about 3 people invited (and, ahem, not invited. I haven’t told you about our wedding crasher yet, have I?) actually live at the shore.

The trailhead was also a subtle nod to Ryan’s love of hiking.

making a wedding trailhead (3 of 7)

I’ve seen a number of versions of wedding trailheads on pinterest pointing to the direction of the cake, dancing, drinks, etc. but never one quite like this.  We were pretty excited about our concept.  Feel free to pin it!

We started with an old coat rack since we wanted something that was freestanding and didn’t need to be staked into the ground or anything.  I don’t have a true before pic but it was a wooden coat rack with 4 brass hooks.  One was totally busted so it was super cheap.  I saved the 3 good hooks for a future project.  The base of the coat rack got a wash of milk paint in Ironstone.

making a wedding trailhead out of a coat rack

Here’s a roll of fencing that I’ve been hoarding.

making a wedding trailhead out of old picket fencing

I bought this at a yard sale a couple of years ago.  I share that because I don’t want you to think I stole it off of a sand dune that is now blowing away without the fence allowing the ocean to recede onto the road flooding everything in sight.  No.  Someone else probably did that and then I paid for it.  Or maybe it is actually just guilt-free garden fencing.

Anyway, I pulled each picket out after making a list of how far our guests’ home towns were in miles from Cape May.  With nothing more than a sharpee marker, I printed the city and miles shifting the orientation of the trail point somewhat haphazardly.  No one said it had to be exact.  We left the fencing color as-is since it gave some character to our trailhead and matched the Ironstone base pretty well.

making a DIY wedding trailhead

Enter Ryan.  The man with the power tools who assembled the project.

How to DIY a wedding trailhead

In the making, we had a bit of a duh moment.  We were destined to have white screws so they’d sort of blend in.  After searching the hardware store high and low for the right screws we turned to spray paint. Duh.  I paint everything else, how did I not think of that off that bat?  It took 2 seconds to pop the screws into a discarded box and lightly spray the heads.  Let that be a lesson to you my friends.  Spray your screws any darn color your choose because they pretty much only come in silver, black and brass.

poke screws in box to quickly change the color with spray paint

And of course, we couldn’t forget Cape May 0 miles, known locally as Exit Zero.  And known to us as Happily Ever After.  I’m so cheesy…

© Love Shack Photo

This was a lot of words for a 1-2-3 project.  But I’m chatty today.  I hope you like our version of the wedding trailhead.  By the way, don’t our friends and family live in some great cities?

© Love Shack PhotoDIYing a trailhead

All wedding photographs were shot professionally by Love Shack Photo.  All DIY photographs were DIY’d by me.

it takes a village

I started this post a year and a half ago about the village behind Circa Dee.  I figured it was high time I put it out there.  I’ll be breaking it down into a series throughout the summer.  Here goes…

People always ask me how I got into this business.  I followed this little dream of mine from an early age.  I am not exactly sure when it started but I know I was born a creator and have always dabbled in designing and selling things.  My earliest memory of this is actually from when I was a child selling flowers door-to-door in my neighborhood.  Cute?  Not really.  The “flowers” were actually weeds picked from my yard and I sold a few for pennies each.  Perhaps this led me to pursue my degree in horticulture a dozen years later.  I wound up in a corporate gig refining my sales skills while all along dabbling in design mostly as a hobby.  Floral design.   Invitation design. Furniture design.

I remember just 5 years ago claiming that one of my lifetime goals was to be an antique dealer.  I shortly realized that was an attainable goal and set up shop in an antique co-op.  As time evolved, I learned what I really liked and wanted to sell was vintage and repurposed finds for the home that I could style.  With that came more ideas, more labor and more support…and definitely more shops.

vintage markets

My family & friends have been there for me every step of the way.  They’ve encouraged me to follow my dreams and have assured me that passion and hard work will pay off.  The funny thing is that this is certainly the hardest work that I’ve ever done, yet it never seems like work at all because I simply love it.

Prior to me finding “my passion”, I would go to indie craft shows and antique shows and not think too in-depth about the “behind the scenes”.  I never thought about how much time and energy went into setting up those 10×10 “shops” for a day, what time the proprietors must have woken up that day and how much preparation went into it for the days and weeks leading up to that day.  I am 100% in support of buying local or handmade, especially those made of reclaimed items that have been saved from a landfill.

So I gave you all of that history to get this…it takes a village to make the simplest popup shop or co-op shop happen.  I still find it unbelievable but this summer, in no particular order, I’d like to introduce you to the village behind this little venture I call Circa Dee…

vintage markets

Let’s start with Jake since today is his birthday!

Jake

Jake is my little brother, err, younger brother.  He is hands down the most enthusiastic about all things Circa Dee. He brakes when he sees furniture curbside with faith that I can bring it back to life.  Jake’s title is actually Mantiques Manager here at Circa Dee.  He finds the most random old manly things that give just the right wow factor.  I like to think that I’ve trained him to see things not for what they are but for what they can be.  For example, vintage tire chocks turned bookends.  Very cool!

vintage markets

He volunteers to attend every market.  Well actually just about everyone volunteers but Jake signs himself up to schmooze customers and carry large pieces to their car all while instagramming the day’s events.  He loves fraternizing with the customers and giving him his opinion whether solicited or not. In fact, he’s joked about launching his own business…Circa Jay.  Watch out!

And most recently, Jake become my official Brooklyn Flea Philly partner.  You can find us at the Piazza again next Sunday, June 30th.  I can’t wait to see what treasures he turns up next.

vintage markets

Happy weekend!

pops

Happy Father’s Day to the best Dad out there!

Dana & Ryan Cape May Wedding Love Shack Photo

My Dad.  Pops as he’s known to most.

Dana & Ryan Cape May Wedding Love Shack Photo

I hope you had a marvelous day with the Dads in your life!

Dana & Ryan Cape May Wedding Love Shack Photo

Photo credit: Love Shack Photo

handmade inspiration

I just want to create things with my hands all day long.  Everyday pretty much.  I want to paint furniture, pick out fabric and turn it into chair seats, select wall paint (although not personally paint the walls), cut ribbon & cardstock to turn into pretty invitations, pretend to be a good baker, plant gardens to admire and eat.

You get the idea.

And if you’ve been following this blog for awhile now, you know that I really, truly love locally handmade as well as vintage.

We were honored to have a glorious bridal shower thrown in our honor over the weekend.  There were so many details made just for Ryan and I, from vintage gifts, to locally purchased and handmade ones.  And of course the registry ones too.  Here we are walking in…

bridal shower

I’m here to share with you a few of the creative, handmade gifts and details from the event.

A group of friends took the time to individually bake cookies for the shower.  They iced, they stamped, they rolled & cut, they bedazzled a ton of delicate cookies to all be combined onto darling trays to be passed around to munch on after lunch while I opened gifts.  I mean who doesn’t love a homemade cookie, really?  Especially ones emblazoned with our wedding date and cute aqua gingerbread men!

homemade cookies

Oh the gifts!

Here’s just a sampling of the handmade ones…

From our engagement session, our “trunk shot” is forever engrained on this wood slab.  This is a perfect addition to our rustic style.

wood photo

And I seriously think our friend who made this needs to open an etsy shop stat, don’t you?

wood photo

A for awesomeness!  A gift basket full of special occasions alcohol commemorating firsts in our married lives complete with poems.  Here’s a an excerpt…When your first year of marriage is done, drink this champagne in honor of anniversaries to come!  So clever!

special occassion alcohol gift basket

Check out the oil painting version of Ryan and I!  This is an image of us headed down to the beach just moments before Ryan proposed.  Wilson is right by our side.  And my pink paint pants are forever documented!  Such a masterpiece.  (If you missed the pink paint pant proposal, click here and scroll down.)

beach proposal oil painting

We also received some locally handmade applique dish, hand & tea towels.  Note the aqua colors.  Holler!

his & hers applique towels

And can you believe the state of New Jersey is on a cutting board with a little heart highlighting Cape May where we’ll be married along with our initials and date?  No, either can I!

NJ state cutting board with wedding date

By the way, I received an unbelievable amount of beautiful cutting boards.  My newest collection/obsession.  I love them all in a totally bizarre way.  Like I want to hug them.  Hopefully, they will help increase my kitchen productivity and cooking prowess.  At the very least, they will look pretty photographed in future vignettes.

Let me tell you about the favor…stop.  No words can describe.

Ball mason jar cookie favors

Yes, that is a life size blue ball jar.  Labor of love is an understatement thanks to my Sis-in-law.  SIL turned out like 60 of these and they taste wonderful too!  (I should know, I ate like 3 of them.)  Amaze-ball!  Get it? Ball? Jar?

Seriously, I can’t thank my family & friends enough for their thoughtfulness and generosity.  Ryan and I are so lucky!  Plus, they all have our style totally pegged which is just icing on the cake…oh the cake!  I can’t wait to share more details of the shower ASAP, just as soon as I seriously process it all.

Excuse me while I go eat another cookie…