Quick and Easy Bathroom Vanity Light Upgrade

In: Powder Room Tutorials
vanity light fixture graphic

Vanity lights can be really expensive and that is just not something that I want to spend my precious money on.  There are so many other things right now… Estate sales, flea markets, antique fairs, general thrift store junkin’…  A new vanity light just isn’t high on the list.  Still, the one we have is just…what’s the word that I’m looking for…

Fugly.That about sums up our current light fixture in an ugly brass, Hollywood nutshell.#diyvanitylights

You know exactly the ones I’m talking about, the bright, yellow brass, Hollywood, Greta Garbo dressing room make-up mirror vanity lights.  Still don’t know what I’m talking about?  This gem right here.

Holly wood vanity light strip

“Life would be so wonderful if we only knew what to do with it.” -Greta Garbo


Well, Ms. Garbo, I’ve figured out what to do with this ugly light fixture.  Let’s make it less ugly.

Today, I’m going to show you a quick and easy bathroom vanity light upgrade that is so simple it’s laughable and so cheap it’s practically free!

The worst part of this light for me is the brass.  It just has to go.  Paint isn’t going to do it because I don’t want just a black or white rectangle on the wall, but I thought that wood might class this little guy up a bit.

Before I started to brainstorm on what kind of wood fixture to build, I did  a test to see how hot the bulbs actually got the brass part of the fixture.  I left the light on for around an hour one day, said a prayer,  licked my finger and carefully tapped on the brass.  Yeah, it was cold.  Entire dramatic prelude completely unnecessary.  Therefore, a wood case would be just fine and I wouldn’t be afraid it was going to burn down the house if one of the kids left the light on- which they always do.


Step 1:

Using some scrap lauan plywood I had laying around, I created a cover for the brass like so…

Brass vanity light strip case with matching wood pieces


I just cut pieces like a puzzle to fit around the front, sides and bottom of the brass box.  I left the top open for 2 reasons:

  1. You can’t see the top.  Ever.
  2. That is where the 2 little screws that hold the fixture in place are.

Step 2:

Using construction adhesive, glue the pieces directly onto the brass plate.


Gluing wood to brass case



Step 3:

Using clamps, I clamped it overnight.  Don’t have clamps?  Large books and rubber bands work just as well for a small project like this.


wood clamped with quick grip clamps to vanity light case



Step 4:

Once the glue is nice and dry, it’s time to drill out the holes.  I used a hole saw bit for my drill that was just a hair smaller than the actual holes.

using dewalt drill with saw bit to drill hole in back of brass vanity light plate.


Step 5:

Now, it’s time to stain!  I love staining…it makes me all giddy getting to purposefully put stain on something.  But first, you need to prep the wood my wiping it down with water to get the wood ready to accept stain.

applying water to wood before staining


Step 6:

Now you can stain.  I used Minwax Provincial to match my vanity.  Love that color so much, I just might have married it, but he didn’t put a ring on it.

Minwax provincial stained piece of wood


Step 7:

Okay, so now you have your lovely cover all stained and gorgeous…What about the ugly brass fittings that hold the bulbs in place?  Oh right, those.  Well, let’s spray paint them!  There is only one thing I love more than stain and that’s spray paint.

Rustoleum satin black spray paint on metal.

Those bricks and these fittings are a match made in spray paint heaven!



Step 8:

Now that everything has been covered, stained, and spray painted- Let’s install our upgraded fixture and see if there is an improvement!

upgraded hollywood vanity light fixture with wood

Close-up definitely better, but what about the entire package??

upgraded hollywood vanity light fixture strip with wood above oval mirror

upgraded hollywood vanity light fixture strip with wood above oval mirror


Not a bad upgrade that was essentially free.  If you need lauan plywood- it will cost you about $5.  I’m pretty sure you could swing that.

Thanks so much for watching the progress of my $300 Powder room remodel- Last project coming up is

The Barn Door!  Don’t miss it!

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  • http://www.housekaboodle.com Sue Pekarek

    Oh how perfectly adorable! So easy too, well you make everything look easy. When is your HGTV show coming out?

    • https://onblissstreet.com Erica

      hahaha, If HGTV needs some references for me, I’m sending them your way Sue! xoxo

  • Allie Spillyards

    This looks great! I wouldn’t have thought to cover the existing hardware.

    • https://onblissstreet.com Erica

      Thanks so much Allie! Super inexpensive and simple, just the way I like it!