Finally, the days of sitting cross legged on the floor, with a mirror strategically perched against the wall every morning have gone. No more dead legs, and hunched hair drying thanks to my bespoke DIY floating dressing table.
It was never my plan to make a DIY vanity area, but after scrolling my way through copious options for dressing tables online. It became apparent that finding an affordable wooden dressing table (with the correct narrow dimensions) was no simple task. There were a few drab looking flat-pack options around, but that wasn’t exactly the style I had been envisioning. Eventually, I admitted defeat and came up with a plan of how to create a super budget friendly DIY option. Something with a little more rustic charm, rather than the glossy laminate offerings which were available in my budget.
Now, I must say. This turned out to be one of the easiest DIY’s we have done yet! In essence, all you need to do is create a couple simple shelves, grab some wicker baskets and pop up a mirror of your preference. Hey presto, you have yourself a practical and functioning, narrow dressing table for a fraction of the cost.
In this article...
Space for our narrow dressing table
Our new-build master bedroom isn’t the biggest. For one: it’s a new-build house, which isn’t something that’s known as being super generous. And two: It’s a new-build house in the UK. So we can’t be expecting the spacious master bedrooms you see in some American houses, can we now!
Regardless of its fairly petite size. Our bedroom had a slightly awkward nook, which ended up taking on two job roles; either a floordrobe, or wasted space. Not the ideal scenario when you need to make use of every inch possible in a smallish room. This gap was also a tad too narrow to have a decent sized chest of drawers, so I decided a small dressing table would be perfect to fill that void. A place to keep makeup and hair products out of sight, tidy and organised. Plus it saved me getting dead legs every morning from sitting criss-crossed on the floor!
If you’re wondering about our measurements. We’re working with a space which had a maximum width of 95cm (to avoid getting in the way of the door) and a max depth of 33cm. Pretty darn narrow.
To keep this space feeling as light and airy as possible, I thought a floating style dressing table would work the best here to visually maximise the floor space.
Everything you need to make your DIY floating dressing table
I’ll link all the products that I can.
- Scaffold boards/ wood
- Wood paint/stain
- Paint brush
- Raw plugs (These ones are great for plasterboard)
- Sand Paper / sander
- Saw/Circular saw
- Laser level/spirit level
- Tape measure
- Pencil – (We like using this carpenters pencil as it doesn’t snap off!)
You should also wear some safety glasses and a mask when you’re cutting and sanding your wood.
How to make a DIY floating dressing table
Step one – Cutting your wood to size
First things first, you need to cut your wood to the correct size.
In order to make this a cheap DIY project, we opted for trusty scaffold board planks. Which I nabbed (with permission) from my parent’s place when they were in the midst of building their house extension. I got mine for free, but you can buy them online for super cheap here in the UK – something we have done for other DIY projects. A scaffold board was also the perfect depth for the space I was working with, but use whatever wood your heart desires.
Top Tip: Don’t expect perfect wood if you decide to use scaffold boards. They will most likely be a little bowed and uneven – it all adds to its rustic charm.
Once you’ve measured your gap (and double checked) grab your tape measure and mark your board using a pencil. Then using a square, or a straight edge, draw a line all the way across your plank. Follow this line with your circular saw to chop your wood. Repeat the process so that you have two identical shelves.
As my scaffold boards were old and used, they needed a quick brush off to remove the dried on mud before I began sanding them back.
Step two – Sanding
Now you need to remove all the sharp edges and smooth your shelves all over by using an electric sander. Alternatively, you could work up a sweat by using a sanding block wrapped in sandpaper. Back when I did this project last year, I used my sanding mouse which worked great. Although, we have since upgraded to a cordless Ryobi orbital sander which does the job far quicker. I began using a 60 grit paper all over, before making it buttery soft with a 180 grit paper.
When your shelves are no longer rough, you’re good to stop.
Top tip: Don’t be me. Wear safety glasses and a mask whilst sanding! I always do nowadays.
Step three – Prep & paint
Grab yourself a damp cloth or rag, and be sure to remove any dust from the shelves before you apply the paint/stain. We used Good Home outdoor wood stain in the shade ‘light oak’, which is the same one we used on the oak mantle when we built our DIY chimney breast last year.
I’m really fond of this paint as its the perfect shade in my opinion. But I will say, its a strange consistency to work with. Almost a little gloopy, like a watery jelly. Its really quite bizarre! We did a total of two coats on the shelves, waiting the appropriate drying times in between coats.
Step four – Fixing the brackets
Next its time to install the shelf brackets to the wall. To work out the correct positioning for each shelf, I grabbed a chair and sat down whilst holding the lower shelf where I wanted it. It needed to be high enough that I could easily get my legs under when sitting at the dressing table. But, we also needed to consider the right spacing, to avoid the top shelf becoming too high to be useable.
Once we had decided on the positioning. James used the laser level to mark the placement of the lower shelf, and we scanned the wall for electric cables using this stud finder.
As this is an internal stud wall, we used these super strong, plasterboard raw plugs which always work brilliantly. We were a little worried at how strong this would be, but it’s actually really solid! It holds all of my makeup and hair products, along with a couple trinkets on the top for decoration.
Step five – Fixing the shelves
Now that the four brackets are securely screwed into the wall, its time to add the shelves.
Start at the top and work your way down, otherwise you’ll be making your life 10x harder by trying to get a screwdriver in between the two wooden boards!
Add the top plank of wood, and use a couple short screws under the board to fix it to the bracket. Then repeat the same step on the bottom shelf.
Your shelves should be nice and tight now, with zero wobble.
Step six – Add your baskets
Obviously you can go for whatever baskets you fancy. I bought my little wicker baskets from Ikea. They were the perfect depth and length to fit three in a line if I placed them in sideways. They were big enough to be practical storage for my items, and the right height too. You need to consider the height of your baskets, to avoid your dressing table from becoming too chunky to see over.
Step seven – Fix your mirror
As we have a lot of rectangular angles in our bedroom with the bed frame, wardrobes and bedside tables. I wanted to add some curves and softness to the room by installing a curved mirror. I decided a circular mirror wouldn’t be the best choice here, so I opted for this simple arch mirror instead. Mine was from The Range, and I love its thin black frame and oversized look for a dressing table. I can’t see it on their website anymore, so i’ve linked a similar mirror from Dunelm.
I find Ikea, Dunelm, Homesense, The Range and TK Maxx are all great places to find a large mirror that doesn’t cost the earth.
Again, as we were installing the mirror on to a plasterboard wall, we made sure to use some super strong plasterboard raw plugs.
I installed the mirror really low down, so that it’s practically kissing the top of the dressing table and I’m super happy with the end result.
There you have it. A simple DIY floating dressing table, that’s super cheap and easy to make. Style it up with a couple little trinkets, and enjoy getting ready at your beautiful rustic dressing table.
Good luck if you give it a go, I’d love to see your creations!