How to Build a Hollywood-Style Vanity

Lights, action, camera -- wait! The stylists haven’t completed hair and makeup because there’s no proper vanity setup to do the job right.
Abandon those over-the-sink makeup sessions by creating a glamorous vanity.
If that sort of fantasy plays in your head each time you bend over the sink in your cluttered bathroom, and you spend as much time retrieving mascara wands from the basin as you do coating your lashes, it’s time to do something about the situation. You can make a Hollywood-style vanity that leaves you with enough cash to catch the latest George Clooney film. .

Step 1

Measure the area you plan to dedicate for the vanity; use a wall that gives you access to an electrical power source for the lighting fixtures to be installed around the mirror of your vanity. Tape off the section with blue painter’s tape and then roll on a dramatic paint color to define the space. Use a hue that emulates palettes used on vintage Hollywood buildings – red, plum and cobalt, for instance -- since dark, dramatic paint colors suggest Old World glamor. Pull off the blue tape to reveal the wall hosting your makeup area.

Step 2

Strip the finish from an old desk or table if you’re working with a vintage piece, or skip that step if your furniture is new and unfinished. Sand either type of vanity and wipe the piece down with tack cloth to remove any remaining dust. Stain or paint the vanity in a color that complements both the wall color you just applied and other hues in your room. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly – overnight if possible – then apply a clear topcoat to protect your vanity from makeup spills. Install the desk in the center of the painted wall section.

Step 3

Refinish the frame of the mirror if it needs to be stripped and repainted. Ask a friend to hold the mirror in place over your newly refinished desk or table. Trace an outline of the mirror on the wall with chalk. Use the dimensions to calculate the number of light bars needed to encircle the mirror. For example, it may take two 36-inch long light bars hung vertically on either side of the mirror and two, horizontally placed 18-inch light bars to stretch across the top and bottom. Mount the mirror to the wall, then install the light bars so the strips hug the mirror. Run the cords down the wall, plugging them into a multi-plug host at the socket.

Step 4

Decorate your vanity area with touches any future star would welcome -- framed photos of your favorite actors, glow-in-the-dark stars in varying sizes -- or make one dramatic statement by hanging a movie poster over the mirror to visually boost the height of your vanity area. Line the drawer of your new vanity with colorful shelving paper, then insert a utensil tray to hold your lipsticks, brushes, pencils and cosmetic applicators. A pretty tray atop the vanity organizes bottles, jars and sprays. Finish the production with a director’s chair featuring your name embroidered across the back.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Painter’s tape
  • Wall paint
  • Roller
  • Desk or table
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain or paint
  • Topcoat
  • Mirror
  • Light bars
  • Graphics
  • Director’s chair


  • Always wear protective eye and hand coverings when working with strippers, stains and furniture refinishing materials.

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.