Asked on Jan 29, 2017

Antique "makeup vanity" I'd like to raise to use as desk, help please!

by Pgibson0
My grandmother passed away last June. I have inherited a few pieces of furniture from her, including anew antique makeup vanity. I would like to use it as a desk, but it is a bit too short to use as a desk. I'd like to raise it without permanently modifying it for a couple of reaseons: 1.) I'm too sentimental for how I look. 2.) It wasn't just my grandmother and grandfather's, but it originally belonged to my grandmother's grandparents. I'd love to hear some ideas on how to do this without ruining it, or using some sort or tacky bed raisers, or the like. I am extremely handy, and have an arsenal of tools, however, I seem to be coming up short creativity-wise. Thank you in advance for any help.
Front view of legs
Side view of legs
  25 answers
  • Linda Linda on Jan 29, 2017

    You can take the feet off, add blocks in the center where the feet were, then crown molding to match the bottom of the desk and then put the feet back on. Just my wacky idea.

  • Patricia Barnes Patricia Barnes on Jan 29, 2017

    There are so many things that you can do to it...but, It IS an antique. It may be worth a lot of money. If you change anything on it, you will devalue its worth. Have it checked out by an antiques dealer first, then you will know which direction to take. Good luck.

  • GrandmaDragon GrandmaDragon on Jan 29, 2017

    Add height on the top instead. Flat "box" with or without lid that raises, or flat drawer component, stained to go with the vanity. Put felt under the addition so vanity won't get scratched. You could make it the same size as the top, or a little bigger.

  • Hillela G. Hillela G. on Jan 29, 2017

    Remove the feet and then you can use any form of lifting blocks, bed risers, pallet wood, whatever works for you, Its going to look great!

  • Pat Pat on Jan 29, 2017

    I like grandma dragons idea...make something for the top. How much higher do you need it? How about building a platform to set it on..fitted between the inside of the legs and stained the same color or painted black...would be easily removed later.

  • Sharon Sharon on Jan 30, 2017

    I would make 2 box risers to set it on. A little bit of a lip at the top to surround the 4 legs on each side, to keep it from sliding off. You can make those in any height to suit you. Stain to match, or to contrast. No damage or modification to vanity, but added height for desk.

  • Daniele Van Tassel Daniele Van Tassel on Jan 30, 2017

    box (or drawer) risers. add legs to the boxes the original legs can sit on to look like they are just the rest of the leg.

  • Donetta62 Donetta62 on Jan 30, 2017

    I like the stage style idea with ledges, remember to use dark old English to cover scratches.

  • Marilyn Zaruba Marilyn Zaruba on Jan 31, 2017

    First of all, so sorry about the loss of your grandmother. Mine has been gone for 67 years (she died very young) and I still miss her.

    I have an old old cherry wood vanity I use as a desk and what I did was cut down the legs on the chair a bit rather than mess up the the vanity too much. I had painted it white with gold trim back in the early 60s and later painted it *antiqued* green during the 70s and in the 80s stripped it back down and it looks like its old self again.

    I would research this desk a bit though to make sure it isn't a rare antique...although I doubt it is. Where I live, you almost can't give away antiques. Five years ago my antique bedroom suite was valued at about $5000 and now I would be very lucky to get $2000. Just not the style people want now.

    Good luck and have fun with it. Grandma and Grandpa would be proud.

  • Melissa V Melissa V on Feb 01, 2017

    Well, it really IS a desk already...try sitting at it with a chair made for that piece of furniture i.e. one that fits under the desktop/between the drawers.

    The other her thing is that, in general, we are bigger than our family was before us, so it may seem small, esp. with that bench that is way too big for it.

    I like the underneath boxed risers idea with some sort of legs attached to match/blend with the existing legs.

    Of course, first have it looked at by a reputable antiques person before doing any work.

  • Dana Dana on Feb 01, 2017

    Personall, I would polish everything on it, then I would add a slide drawer un the main top. I'm a Jewller so my main focus would be to make it a bench to work on. Yep I'd so use it as a work bench. Sorry granny.l but I swear this is what I would love to do to this peice of furnitur! (I'd jack it up first. Though. )

  • Laura Laura on Feb 01, 2017

    I have one that was my moms that is almost identical to that. I have been thinking about using it in my bathroom with a vessel sink. I have been using it as a desk for years - like other have said, just found a chair that was the right size for it. Mine isn't an antique...

  • Beverly Kohn Beverly Kohn on Feb 02, 2017

    The age that piece came from is now to old for a modern desk. They also didn't use a chair then it was usually an upholstered bench that did not go under middle section sat out side and your grandmothers legs went under. Unless you change all the stain new stain will never match and it will ruin look. I would spray hole piece black or white or any color . Modernize it. Use in a front hallway as greeting table a child's bedroom if girl stays as dressing table, bathroom suggested. But might be to narrow for sink, and wood would get ruined from water. Especially a vessel sink. If you paint or spray to seal I love pices like this on my deck with a bowl of beautiful flowers . Mint julep s with my friends or ice tea. Just love it

    • See 1 previous
    • Beverly Kohn Beverly Kohn on Feb 19, 2017

      Just sent reply. Guess it didn't go through. To long to repeat. As a decorator who has had back work done. It is not good to sit low, so don't cut chair legs. I love eclectic rooms. This piece can serve many pieces. Use draws for items, cocktail bar or tea cart in dining room, place in front hall with beautiful bowl for keys or empty. Instead of focusomg on piece think about rearrange other pieces of furniture around in living room? To enhance the beauty of the desk. Even switch pieces from other rooms. Think out of box. I have clients who are ready to get rid of everything and by changing things around it becomes a whole to environment. It also helps when I sell them items also.

  • Oma K Oma K on Feb 02, 2017

    Go to the website Salvaged Inspirations; great site and she will reply to your questions;

  • Chr4787838 Chr4787838 on Feb 02, 2017

    Old vanitys used as desks is very much on trend. Have a very similar piece upstairs right now. Clean and polish hardware if you want. If you are taller than I am (5'4") then you may need to use a riser under each side to bring it to desk height but I agree the chair is very important a modern adjustable office style chair may be all you need to make it a functional desk.

  • Lisa Petersen Lisa Petersen on Feb 07, 2017

    This isn't actually a vanity, although your grandmother used it as one, it's actually a child's formal desk. I used to have one just like it, and it was too short to type on at the knees, so I got some hardwood and stain, and with a miter saw cut matching legs. I stained them to match, then screwed them into the bottom of the existing legs as a "mirror image" to the original legs, using two-sided screws (home depot) made for wood joining. They were as strong as the original legs, didn't damage the existing legs, and when removed to sell to an antiques collector friend, nobody could tell I'd added four inches for my own use.

    • Pgibson0 Pgibson0 on Feb 16, 2017

      It is actually a vanity. It's part of a bedroom dresser set. I have the mirror, and original matching bench, as mentioned in another post. Again, it wasn't just my grandmother's, it was her grandparent's before my grandmother and grandfather were married.

  • Mary E Rosson Woods Mary E Rosson Woods on Feb 12, 2017

    its loveLy!! I would build a base for it to sit on stable and find a beautiful chair to make it match. Would also agree to have it looked at by a pro FIRST!! KEEP IT!! KEEP IT!! KEEP IT!!

    • Pgibson0 Pgibson0 on Feb 16, 2017

      There's a reason I have it, the two matching dressers, and mirror. In addition to that, I have my grandparents grandfather clock....all in a small one bedroom apartment too. I don't get rid of family things that are passed down to me. I was offered 5 thousand dollars for my great grandfather's first .22 rifle from when he was a child. It's a winchester model 1890 in perfect condition.

  • Lori Haught Harper Lori Haught Harper on Feb 13, 2017

    I just bought one quite similar to this! I want to turn it into a makeup vanity but I'm torn on painting vs. trying to restore it. Some of it is pretty rough. Let us know what you decide and good luck!

  • Lisa Petersen Lisa Petersen on Feb 16, 2017

    My apologies, didn't mean to offend. I was told mine was a desk...

  • Pgibson0 Pgibson0 on Feb 16, 2017

    No, no offense was taken. Was just clarifying.

  • Beverly Kohn Beverly Kohn on Feb 18, 2017

    Be careful if you lower a chair. Any one who has had back surgery shouldn't be sitting low. Most try to sit up straight. No from experience. It's such a beautiful antique. As a decorator I would show case it diffently. Put a beautiful large decretive pot in middle can even put fake flowers in it.if your into that.i would really not use it as a desk but just as an accessory in a room. I love eclectic rooms. Just use draws place some pretty items on top. Can use old fashion desk set so it looks like a desk.I like to think out of the box And use pieces for other things. Bar table in dining room, front hall table with pretty bowl for keys . But most important must have glass cut to fit the top so wood doesn' t get ruined. See if you move other furniture around in rooms for a whole new look and show piece off. I change setups all the time same pieces different spots. New look. Even move pieces to other rooms. Makes my husband never know where he is

  • Marilyn Marilyn on Feb 19, 2017

    I was just over at Home Depot and found a tripod set of wheel which I am going to use to make my beautiful but stationary Baker's Rack that I got at a thrift store. One for each leg. It will probably lift your desk only a few inches, but why not try it?

  • Ginny Ginny on Feb 23, 2017

    If I'm correct, it is a desk not a vanity. My son has one similar to this that my mother purchased for him when he was in elementary school, and I believe he still has it. You could turn it into a vanity or keep as a desk. Wood looks like cherry or mahogany to me. It will be beautiful if you clean it up and don't paint the wood.

  • 62q10370829 62q10370829 on Mar 06, 2017

    i would build a platform box or a platform with legs to match as close as on desk for each side for it to set on and stain them the same color. good luck.

  • Deb K Deb K on Sep 05, 2021

    Hello, hope this helps you out, it's antique desk but same idea,