PROGRESS: Extending the Bathroom Vanity and Building a Butcher Block Counter!

Wednesday Greetings to you! THANK YOU to all of you that weighed in on our epic curtain dilemma! So many good suggestions and things to think about! Right now I’m leaning towards something light and sheer, but I’m not going to jump into anything just yet.

We’ve been bizzy bizzy around here… but what else is new, right y’all?

Nick has been plugging away at ‘Operation Extend the Bathroom Vanity’, and it’s one of those things where I have no skills to contribute to this project. So the best I can do is enthusiastically complement his craftsmanship and occasionally stroke his biceps.

So this is where we left you last time I believe:

Extending the Bathroom Vanity {Sawdust and Embryos}

May I interject a side-note? I’ve loved that wall color in the bathroom since we painted it several years ago. But now that I’m looking at these pictures…. um, YUCK. Luckily painting is something I can do without being dependent on my tall-drink-of-water-hubs. I’ll get right on that (maybe).

SO! This totally isn’t a tutorial, since every custom vanity would be very different. And therefore I’m just going to throw down some of the basics so you can see how handy my man-child is.

In the rounded corner section of the vanity, Nick wanted border strips along the edges of each of the 3 ‘shelves’ so it would feel uniform with the rest of the vanity, and look more ‘beefy’ (MEN).


Because a planer is one of the few tools we don’t have, Nick went to the local lumber yard and had them plane down his ‘border wood’ so it would be thin strips of wood that would be easier to BEND.

Plane wood to be easier to bend {Sawdust and Embryos}

That’s right… he BENT the wood. Slapped some glue between each slab, and tightened ‘er down with ratchet straps against the curve of the shelf to dry overnight.

Let it be known that I would NEVER have thought to do this.

How to bend wood! {Sawdust and Embryos}

Since that had to sit for quite awhile for the glue to dry completely enough to hold the ‘curve’, it was time to get cracka-lackin’ on the butcher block countertop!

There was an incident at this point that I can neither confirm nor deny the fact that we may or may not have pulled the existing counter off by accident, thus breaking some important pieces of plumbing below the sink, thus making the sink unusable, thus causing us to brush our teeth and spit into the toilet. TMI? So yeah, we changed the order by which we had planned on updating this vanity and decided to jump straight to counter/sink/faucet.

Using some old boards from my Grandpa’s barn (and after they were planed), Nick cut them into narrow strips in varying lengths. We’re talking Red Oak, Pine, and Hackberry.



Then, he measured out the shape of our future counter, and taped it out on the garage floor.


And then *I* got to participate! He let me arrange the boards how I wanted them for our butcher block!


It was like a puzzle with no rules!!


I just tried to make sure that I spread out each type of wood so there weren’t any clusters of one specific one. It was super fun!


Everything got glued, clamped, planed, wood-puttied, and sanded.

Butcher Block Counters for Bathroom Vanity {Sawdust and Embryos}

Nick cut the edge to be rounded, and it was approved by one of our pint-sized supervisors.


This is my very favorite piece of stripey wood, if you must know.


Unsure of what shade of stain we wanted for the butcher block, Nick did a little controlled research trial. to see how each of the 3 types of wood looked with a variety of different options. I think we decided on Dark Walnut, and we’ll be staining TODAY!


Eventually, we’ll do a tutorial on butcher block counters, so I’m not going to go into too much detail today. Mostly I just want to show how far we’ve come! Can you picture it a rich chocolatey stain with a SWEET vessel sink and faucet? (and a different wall color? HA!) …also considering a 12” backsplash of sorts. Either glass tiles, or painted. Haven’t decided yet.

Extending the Vanity and Building a Butcher Block Counter {Sawdust and Embryos}

And for the record… I happen to LOVE the ‘beefy-ness’ of those rounded shelves. They look so… so NON-IKEA! I mean, not that I don’t love IKEA… because I do love IKEA. But I think you know what I mean.

Custom Bathroom Vanity and Butcher Block Counter {Sawdust and Embryos}

It seems like a slow process, but we have to remember that Nick works a full-time job to support his family… but in his ‘free time’ he’s super diligent to keep making this happen! And I’M so grateful that this project doesn’t involve tons and tons of drywall dust EVERYWHERE.

I myself have been bizzy bizzy with my own little endeavors… and am super excited to be launching a new Etsy Shop SOOOOOON! So get excited for that!
Bethany {Sawdust and Embryos}

  • Kenz @ Interiors by Kenz

    The wood work is stunning. Like I can’t even believe it. This is something, 100 years from now people will be like “This house has the most amazing custom woodwork.” Something SO rare for our day. The butcher block is killer. It makes me think that you should DIY a bowling lane. So, get on that. :)

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      That’s funny that you say that… because awhile back, someone was selling a bunch of bowling lanes on craigslist because an old bowling alley had closed. So I inquired, and they wanted like $500 PER LANE! No thank you! :)


    That is looking fantastic! And I’m very jealous of your husband’s mad skills and that fantastic butcher block counter. I think I would be the one doing all of that wood work…

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      He IS pretty amazing :)

  • Anonymous

    Nice job, you folks are pretty amazing! Mary in NY

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      THANKS Mary! We love your comments btw :)

  • Broke Ass Home

    That is BEAUTIFUL. I may have swooned. And I totally get the “non-IKEA” thing. It’s chunky and…REAL instead of the “sleek, modern, press board”

    Again, not hating on IKEA, I loves me some IKEA, but I love custom woodwork more.

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      I’m glad we’re on the same page with regards to IKEA! :) I do wish there was one closer to where we live in Iowa. The closest one is in Minneapolis.

  • Rachel Ward

    Will this Etsy shop include “Fabric Scrap Organization Stations” for sale for those of us who don’t do projects? :)

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      I thought about it… and maybe eventually. But I would have to figure out a way to make it a lot classier than it actually is. HA!

    • Rachel Ward

      :) Haha! :) For people like me that are not good at crafts AT ALL, looked great to me. 😉

      The stuff that you decided to sell on Etsy though are VERY nice pieces!

  • Korrie@RedHenHome

    It looks amazing! That countertop…gorgeous!

  • Katrina Gelino

    Ooh I’m loving this! That wood top is do dang delicious I could eat it with a spoon!

  • Dana Alley

    Ooo Love love love! I live in an older apartment with builder grade EVERYTHING and this amazing work just makes me drool :)

  • Jenna

    That looks fantastic! I love, love, love the butcher block.

  • Kelli

    Beautiful work! I can’t wait to see the finished project.

  • A Little Creation

    Beautiful countertop, very spiffy.
    Chris =]

  • Amy

    Hi – I have found your blog as I was thinking for twin blogs as I just had twins myself 6 months ago. (I think in a similar fashion if I remember your journey correctly). Anywho, just wanted to weigh in on the backsplash. Even though you do AMAZING work on those painted backsplashes that I have seen, I vote for glass tiles. I think with the custom work that Nick has done it would complete the look just a touch more. Now as to shape I am debating but you guys have waaaaay better taste and instincts than I do but my first thought was penny rounds. Sorry if that idea is nauseating. Am totally enjoying your blog and wish you continued success!

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      I think I’m agreeing about the glass tiles… and we were even talking about penny tiles! Or have you seen the little hexigonal ones that are small like penny tiles? Who knows, that’s down the road.

      LOVE to meet other twin mommies! Good like with your twosome! :)

    • Amy

      No, I have not seen the hexagonal ones – ok, just looked at some online…tough decision. Not sure now but I know your judgement will be solid! Maybe it comes down to how you want the grout pattern to look – definitely seemed to be a difference. Nice to meet you as well, twin momma! I was at my local outdoor farmer’s market and there was a set of 5 month old twins and someone else had 11 month old twins. The older twins parents said it does get easier – you agree?

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      Amy, if I’m being honest… the girls were a DREAM when they were newborns, and things have progressively gotten harder since their babyhood. I think most twin parents will say it gets easier though, so don’t let my experience dread them getting bigger! It’s so fun watching them develop and take their first step and start to babble to each other. I’ve loved every minute of it!

    • Amy

      LOL – yes, you are not the only twin parent that had a much easier newborn time than we have had. We have loved every minute but it has not been easy. I am also looking forward to their first crawling then walking and seeing them “talk” to each other. Looking forward to the final reveal on the bathroom as well.

  • Amy

    Um, that is I was looking for blogs on twins…sorry, my brain has disinegrated since having my munchkins…

  • Amber D

    Oh my goodnes that is great! I never even thought about how to make butcher block!

  • Anonymous



  • Mindy Schaper

    Looks great. I love the wood- so pretty. I can’t imagine working a full time job and THEN doing some more physical labor at the end of the day…

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      It helps that he works second shift… so all the productivity actually happens in the morning and mid-afternoon when he has all his energy. And then he goes to work!

  • Francie@EscovedoEscapades

    Wow! This looks amazing so far. I have to agree on the paint color. In person, it may look totally awesome, but in this pic? Well….. not so much.

    Will you be changing the vanity doors as well?

    I’m so in awe of your projects. My hubby is handy as well, but darn it, he’s great at starting project, not so good a finishing them. I think I may need to drag out his tools and figure out how to finish our multitude of unfinished projects myself. Pray for me!

    • Beth @ Sawdust and Embryos

      Yep, hubs is building new doors too!