Bathroom Vanity with Built-In Step Stool

bathroom vanity with little girl pulling out hidden step drawer
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Add a built in step stool to your vanity!  Just remove the toekick and replace with a slide out step drawer.

bathroom vanity with little girl pulling out hidden step drawer
bathroom vanity with little girl standing on pullout step drawer

Moms high heels are not just for dressing up.

They are actually quite useful.
Especially for brushing teeth and washing hands at a too tall bath vanity when you are four years old.
Unless of course your mama trades the high heels in for a hammer, and does a quick mod on your builder grade vanity
To get you a much needed boost
But only when you need it.
You can also build the vanity - the free plans for this vanity are here.

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Bathroom Vanity with Built-In Step Stool


Shopping List

1 set of Heavy Duty 16" drawer slides 1 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long 1 - 3/4" plywood 16" x width of drawer

Common Materials
2 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
Tape Measure
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Drill Bit Set
General Instructions

You may need to modify or alter this tutorial depending on the type of vanity you use. Optimally, use a vanity with 6" toekick, as shown, with a full overlay door. Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Remove any doors from the vanity as shown in the picture.

Step 2

Depending on how your toekick is installed, remove it with a hammer, taking great care to not damage the toekick. My toekick was held in place with plastic corners, stapled, no glue.

Step 3

Measure the opening left from removing the toekick. In my case, that's 22 3/4" wide. I also took a height measurement to confirm I would need to use 1x3 boards to build the step drawer.

Also take a second to confirm that the opening is at least 16" deep - otherwise, you will need to adjust your drawer depth and use shorter slides.

Step 4

Once you know the overall width of the step drawer, cut a 1x3 to this length. Then cut two 1x3s @ 15 1/4" for the sides. If your toekick is not cut out like mine, you could also add a front to the step drawer box, so a second 1x3 the width of the opening, minus 1".

Step 5

Step 6

Once your step drawers have been built, attach the slides as directed by the slide manufacturer. Preferably, use side mount slides, with a weight rating exceeding 100lbs.

Step 7

With the step drawer built, install in the drawer opening with drawer slides, placed to the tallest possible position. Attach toekick to step drawer (I used a couple of 2" finish nails to hold it on, removed the drawer and marked it, and then attached with the Kreg Jig).

If your vanity has inset drawers, you may need to adjust how deep you install the drawers.
And that's it - you've got yourself a built in hidden step.
Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.


Guest (not verified)

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 01:39

When did she get so big? :)

Do you think it would be better to install on casters rather than put all of the weight on the slides?

In reply to by Guest (not verified)


Thu, 07/07/2011 - 03:10

I have been looking in to doing this and also a drawer variant for cookie sheets and such in the kitchen. I have been thinking about using library stool casters that float when no weight is applied yet retract when you step on it to give it a solid base and protect the floor when opening & closing it. Regular casters would not be safe because the drawer could slide out from under you resulting in a potential traumatic head injury.


Thu, 07/07/2011 - 04:49

The weight should be mostly on the toekick (which sits on the floor effectively keeping it from flying out from under the child). You can get slides rated to 75 lbs also.

In reply to by Guest (not verified)

Ana White

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 09:29

Tell me about it!

Definitely thought about the casters, but because my toekick actually rests on the floor in the front, there was no need. But if you expect high weight loads, definitely consider adding casters for additional support, or heavy duty slides.

Kerry Stafford (not verified)

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 06:23

You are so amazingly clever! You come up with such brilliant ideas and things that would never even cross my mind! Wonderful!

Brian (not verified)

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 07:04

Great idea! As an additional precaution, the vanity should be affixed to the studs of the wall to prevent tipping and/or undue stress on the plumbing.

sarah r. (not verified)

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 08:11

Brilliant! I have no idea why this isn't already mass-produced. I guess these are the changes that women and moms bring to furniture production, right? Thank you a million times over, Ana. You are truly making so many lives better with the work you do.

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 08:25

That is a fabulous idea. The step stool hardly fits in our smallest bathroom... it'd be nice to have them stand on this instead of the toilet lid in there!


Thu, 07/07/2011 - 09:28

I love this, I don't think I ever would have thought to put a step up under the vanity like this. We have a small bathroom and I keep tripping over that darn step stool! Can't wait to try it out.

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 10:57

This is pure genius.... one of those things I wonder why I never thought of (four kids later)! Can't wait for a tutorial on the wainscoting! Thank you Ana!

Amy @ this DIY life (not verified)

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 11:46

The people who remodeled our bathroom before we got our house were really tall...or I'm really short. Either way, it just doesn't mesh. I have to stand on my tip toes to spit when I brush my teeth. I'm kinda thinking I need to do this for me until I get around to building the farmhouse vanity and redoing the bathroom again :) Flipping over for a drawer sounds like a good idea too though. Decisions, decisions.


Thu, 07/07/2011 - 12:45

I've been wanting to build a simply vanity to replace our pedestal sink since we need more storage, but I've held off because then the step stool would be in the way of the door. This is exactly what I needed! Thank you, Ana!


Tue, 07/12/2011 - 21:03

I have slide out drawers underneath our vanities in our Master bath, and the kids like to use them to stand on and reach our sink. However, young kids like to open them with the door closed and then you have to cut a hole in the wall from your daughter's room so you can send your daughter in to close the drawer and open the door. My 1 year old son did that, and we pleaded with him for a while to push the drawer closed, and he just wasn't understanding, after much crying we decided to cut a hole in the wall and send in our older daughter. It had only been 30 minutes but our son was already sleeping on the bathroom floor, glad he wasn't too concerned.
It only took him a second to close that door and pull out the drawer, I was across the room. Just wanted to give those of you with little ones a head's up! :)

Erin.K (not verified)

Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:59

I love this idea but our cabinets are not flush with the kickplate. Could I still accomplish this upgrade? THe idea of under cabinet storage is pure genius and I would do the pull out step in our lower bathroom for my many nephews.



Heidi Fowler (not verified)

Tue, 01/17/2012 - 21:53

My kickplate is recessed, too. I was thinking it might actually work better. Since the kickplate is recessed, you could put a knob on the drawer to make it easy to pull out. The knob would not really be visible unless you bent down to pull out the drawer, and if you get the right size, it shouldn't stick out.

Sounds really good, theoretically. I'd love to hear if anyone has tried it. This has to be the coolest idea ever! I have seen these in homes and always wished I had them. I thought it would have to have been done in the original build.

Thanks for the fantastic idea! (Now someone please give me the courage to try it!)


Thu, 05/17/2012 - 22:12

Has anyone found any of the library/ladder casters available online? The kind that roll until you stand on them and then they are stable and don't move anymore. I'm not having much luck finding any online anywhere.


Fri, 05/18/2012 - 12:08

I called a couple caster companies and none sell the specific ladder hardware apart from the ladders it seems. However, there is a work around I think. There are truck locks that will immobilize a step or ladder, but they seem to all have a pedal you need to depress and release. Which won't work when trying to hide it under a pull out drawer that blends into a cabinet. I think the thing to do is use weight depressing spring loaded casters and put rubber grips on the bottom of the drawer. The spring loaded casters can attach to the inside of the sides of a drawer, on the left and right when facing it. As long as you install them with the right spring height and give the drawer the ability to lower a bit to depress those springs and hit the rubber grip to the floor. The rubber would likely best be placed under the faceplate of the drawer. I don't think it would require a huge gap between the floor and drawer, maybe just a 1/4 inch depending on the drawer, nothing that would be an eyesore or look 'off' compared to the rest.

So, unfortunately there is no packaged simple solution. But hopefully that will help you make something for Sylvia :) I think that's how I'm going to do it in my bathroom for little ones to reach the sink without slipping when getting on and off. It may be an experiment to find the right spring size/caster for your drawers, but it definitely can be done!

Michael H. (not verified)

Thu, 09/20/2012 - 09:43

The type of casters you are looking for are called either "reverse brake" or "pressure locking". DO NOT confuse with "safety brake" or "internal brake" casters, which do the opposite: let the chair (or whatever) roll while sitting, and lock in place when weight is lifted.

Hope this helps!


Wed, 04/03/2013 - 09:07

I have that same exact vanity in my kids bathroom, and can not wait to get started. I am a beginner, and I mean really never built anything more than something that comes in a box partly assembled. However I am tired of waiting on my husband to build things I need around the house. So that being said lol what is a kreg jig. and do you have to you use it. I know I can do this, I am ready to head to the hardware store. Thanks for all your awesome ideas.


Mon, 04/15/2013 - 12:56

I am so excited to try this. I hope i works with my mobile home cabinets. I am tired of my son climbing on the toilet then leaning on the toilet paper holder :)


Tue, 01/17/2017 - 18:47

Hi!  We loved this idea and did it in our bathroom!  But does anyone have suggestions for what to do if whenever our toddler wants to step on the stool it would fly inward and knock him right off if we didn't hold it open for him?? Has anyone else has this problem?  


Tue, 02/21/2017 - 06:31

I was going to save the PDF but it says error when I try to download it.  Know what the problem is?  I think all vanities should have this added to them to make it kid friendly too.


Thu, 03/03/2022 - 16:57

Ana (btw: you are genius): what would you recommend for modifying standard kitchen cabinet base? remove front portion and install drawer slides? This would be great all around my kitchen (I'm 5'0) instead of rolling my library stool. Any suggestions welcome, Kate