I have a client who moved into a house that needed some updating. She and her husband wanted to take the master bath completely back to the studs and rework the floor plan. They also had a hall bath that need a lot of help too, but since the master bath was going to be such an expensive project, I told them that they could turn their hall bath into something that they would love, and it would not cost them much money at all.

Here’s the before:


Do you have any of these 80’s or 90’s oak vanities in your house?  You know the ones, they look a bit orange now.  Do you think that the only thing you can do to update them is to replace them?  Well, don’t do it yet!  All you need is a can of General Finishes Gel Stain (in Java) and a can of Satin Top Coat. I’ve also used Old Masters (especially for their Spanish Oak) with great results.  But other brands? Not so much.  So get the right product!


Simply remove all the doors and hardware. Give them a good cleaning with a product like TSP or something like that to get the gunk off and make sure the stain will stick.  You can also lightly sand the wood too first, then wash.


When they are dry, paint the Gel Stain on and treat it like paint.  Let it sit until very dry.   This could take days.  You will need to repeat this step until you have the desired look.  Maybe 2 or 3 coats. Apply the gel stain with either a foam brush or a sock over a gloved up hand. Whatever you prefer.


Once the final coat is dry, (this can take a long time, don’t rush it or you will pull off the previous coat) you apply the top coat.  And once the piece is reassembled, feel free to coat it again in place.  Reattach the hardware or replace with new and you are done.

Here’s the After:

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My client did not replace the mirror.  They purchased a mirror frame from online, installed it themselves.


The did have the faucets replaced in the bathroom and replaced the floor.

The previous homeowner stopped by the house one day to pick up a forgotten item.  They showed him the bathroom.  He was convinced they replaced the vanity and the countertop.  He was very shocked at how fabulous it looked.

This whole project was completed for under $1,000!!!

If you need any more information about the items used in this makeover, just ask!

And I’d love it if you left a comment for me!  And I’d love it even more if you share this with your friends!!  (don’t forget, that BIG giveaway is coming, but I need the readership to increase!)