15 Great Makeup Vanity Alternatives

Great Makeup Vanity Alternatives

Vanities are pieces of furniture that has the intent of being a place where someone can get ready for the day. As the name implies, it’s a place where someone partakes in the act of vanity by putting a lot of effort into their appearance. These can be built-in units such as seen in a bathroom or free-standing tables that are elegant additions to dressing rooms, closets, and bedrooms.

Unfortunately, the prettiest and most attractive makeup vanities also come with a hefty price tag. These are collectible pieces that have been utilized for centuries and are highly sought after. This has many people looking for inexpensive alternatives to the typical vanity. Keep reading for some ideas on makeup vanity alternatives.

What is a Makeup Vanity?

A makeup vanity is typically a table with a mirror that is meant for someone to sit at and apply makeup, do their hair, and get ready for the day. Vanities in general reflect society’s need to appreciate and work on appearances and have been in active use as pieces as early as the 18th century.

These pieces of furniture are collectible and heavily sought after, can appear in a wide range of sizes and styles. However, they are often costly and lead some people to look for alternatives when trying to make a space dedicated to applying makeup.

How Can I Make an Inexpensive Vanity?

Vanities don’t have to be expensive, nor do they need to come in a box. A handy DIYer can easily make an inexpensive vanity utilizing tools, skills, and materials that are already at their disposal. Thrifty shopping or reclaiming old parts can really help make something inexpensive and custom to perfectly suit the needs of the owner, and it can help end the project with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Upcycle Old Pieces

Upcycling has gone into high gear in the recent past. The act of taking an old thing and turning it into something new is extremely attractive and helps breathe new life into something that would have otherwise been thrown away. It doesn’t even have to be upcycled old furniture either, as there have been some that utilize old kegs, bicycles, stumps, and even food troughs to make unique pieces.

A makeup vanity can easily come from these sorts of upcycled old pieces of furniture or other materials. If it’s to have a sink installed, just remember to properly seal it so it won’t take any water damage. Otherwise, as long as it has a smooth top and a mirror it can be perfect for use as a makeup vanity.

Hang a Mirror and a Small Shelf on the Wall

One of the most inexpensive yet functional vanities a person can make consists of simply hanging a small mirror on the wall and then put a small shelf just underneath it for storing supplies. This is extremely cheap and compact, fitting into the smallest of spaces with ease.

It’s a perfect option for people without a lot of supplies to work with or go for a more minimal look in their décor. Place the mirror at eye-level and it works wonders.

Reclaim Old Parts

Not everything can be totally upcycled, but some things still have good parts. Take those pieces and reclaim them for use in building a custom makeup vanity. Reclaimed wood and other parts are common and typically attractive additions to custom products and furniture while also being less wasteful and more beneficial to the environment.

Additionally, reclaiming old parts don’t have to just be wood or from furniture. They can be from just about anything and can help add a rustic or eclectic touch to the piece. Just be sure to seal anything that is going to have a lot of liquid, make sure it has a smooth top, add a mirror, and enjoy.

IKEA Hack It

IKEA is a furniture company known for having a lot of inexpensive furniture that people “hack” into doing things they weren’t meant to do. Shelves, baskets, and other things become interesting, multifunctional spaces and can give a perfect jump to the project as a whole. Not to mention, IKEA also has some great sales from time to time and their clearance section is a goldmine for project pieces, ideas, and supplies.

It doesn’t even have to be from IKEA either. Take inexpensive pieces from different stores and utilize them to make a creative space. It only takes a little bit of elbow grease and a whole lot of thinking outside the box to make something perfectly suited to the needs of the makeup table.

Design and Build it Yourself

Design and Build it Yourself
Design and Build it Yourself

Typically, a piece of furniture has the additional cost of someone’s labor thrown in plus a bit of an upcharge so that the company can make a profit off of the piece. When designing and building a vanity from scratch, this eliminates those additional charges and is typically much more cost-effective than purchasing a piece.

The only issue about this is that building anything from scratch takes a lot of knowledge, skill, and effort and might not be for everyone. It is a nice, long-term project especially when multiple people are involved making it happen. Not to mention, it also comes with a fabulous sense of pride and accomplishment when it’s all said and done.

Adjust a Closet Shelf

Those shelves that come in a closet are perfect for converting into a vanity, especially in big, walk-in closets. The best part is those little wire ones often show up in secondhand stores such as Habitat for Humanity for dirt cheap. Put some vinyl, wood, or plexiglass over these and suddenly it becomes a very suitable workspace.

Then supplies can be hung from the rungs, a mirror placed behind it, and maybe even a nice lamp to help with lighting and it only takes a handful of dollars. Not to mention, it can be placed anywhere, not just in a closet.

Utilize the Back of a Door

Doors are extremely useful and forgotten spaces inside the home. They give a lot of good vertical space and make for a great space to put a custom setup for a makeup vanity. It’s extremely easy to do, just make sure that the back itself isn’t going to bash into the wall. If it does, add a foot or a wall guard and it will be good.

Put a mirror around eye-level, add in some baskets or small containers for storage, and it will make for an excellent space to get ready in the morning while utilizing the most of an underappreciated space. This makes it perfect for small spaces where a full table might not be feasible.

Vanity Alternatives for Someone Who Isn’t Handy

Not everyone is great with power tools, clunky pieces, or putting things together. It’s hard and it’s a skill that takes a bit of time to get even decent at and even longer to master. Fortunately, there are methods of procuring a makeup vanity alternative for those who are not handy or don’t have access to someone who is.

Add a Mirror Above Another Piece

Add a Mirror Above Another Piece
Add a Mirror Above Another Piece

The most important part about a makeup vanity is the mirror. It’s not a vanity without one. Adding a mirror to another piece can immediately give a space to help get ready for the day with some fabulous makeup. This can be a side table, a desk, or even the top of a dresser to suddenly turn it into a usable vanity.

There is even desktop, free-standing mirrors that can just be sat onto the other furniture for spaces where things cannot be mounted to the wall such as in a rental. If it’s still too short, consider propping it on a box or turn makeup storage sideways to bring it to a comfortable height.

Put a Mirror on a Window

Lighting is one of the most important parts of applying makeup. Inside light and outside light are very different, and it is very important that makeup looks good in both lighting conditions. If there is a window that isn’t often used it can be easily transformed into a makeup vanity just by adding a mirror to the window. This makes it so there is great outside light that is going behind the mirror and make it easier to tell if makeup is done well without accruing additional costs.

After that, the windowsill itself can be used as a small shelf to hold supplies, especially if it’s exceptionally deep. Lower windows can just utilize the floor or a legless chair when applying makeup whereas taller ones can have a short stool and is a great space saver overall.

Add a Shelf in the Bathroom

A bathroom almost definitely already has a vanity unit in it. If there is a mirror above a sink or countertop, it is considered a vanity unit. There are numerous folding shelves, small racks, and similar supplies that can be placed right on the counter which can be used to store makeup. Additionally, any medicine cabinets or under-sink cabinets can be used to put in makeup supplies.

For a pedestal sink or one without counterspace, there are also pieces that can go around and under these which can give storage. Suddenly that vanity that is already in the house can become a perfect place for doubling as a makeup vanity, saving a lot of space and effort. 

Convert a Closet Shelf

For big, walk-in closets, there’s almost always ample space and ample closet shelves to take one and convert it into a small makeup vanity. Pick one about eye-level and put a small mirror into it near the front, put supplies around it with the least used behind and there’s a great way to fit a makeup vanity into a small space.

This can also be done with a sturdy shelf that hangs from a rod as well and some locker mirrors. The best part about it is it only takes a bit of rearranging and little to no money is spent making it happen.

Hang an Over-the-Door Shoe Rack

Those over-the-door shoe racks can be extremely useful for storing other supplies, especially if they’re the kind that has a bunch of pockets instead of spokes. This gives a ton of space to organize and keep tidy while being able to easily see where everything is in a nice, compact space.

Hang one of these on the back of a wall or even directly to the wall to save a ton of room on storage. Just have a mirror nearby that can be used, such as the one likely already in the bathroom, and it’s all set.

Get Thrifty

Thrift shops are goldmines for just about everything under the sun. Head to a local thrift shop, Habitat for Humanity Restore, consignment shop, antique store, yard sale, or flea market and see what stands out. Also be sure to check out clearance sections of big stores, especially during the turn of fiscal years, seasons, and calendar years. These are great places to find a piece of furniture that can easily be converted to a makeup vanity with just the addition of a mirror. 

A mirror can also often be found at these sorts of places for excellent prices, since buying them new can really rack up the price. There are tons of bargains out there just waiting to be found. Bother relatives who are looking to downsize, check out estate sales, and just keep an eye out for a good price. If nothing else, check websites like eBay for the pieces and there might just be something worth ordering secondhand.

Grab a Multi-Tier Rolling Cart

Those rolling carts are amazing little buggers for just about everything, makeup included. They come in various styles and are typically inexpensive. They take up little space and can be dragged around to the nearest mirror, or even have a nice little mirror with a clip installed on the top to make for a fabulous moveable vanity.

The best part about these is they can easily be tucked out of sight when not in use unlike a more traditional makeup vanity. They often go on sale at craft and hobby stores, and big-name companies like Walmart typically have inexpensive ones that can be picked up for next to nothing.

Small Bookshelves Work Wonders

Small bookshelves, especially those that are wider than they are tall, make for excellent makeup vanities. Not only are they sturdy pieces, but they also have a lot of good storage that can be made to look chic with some cute baskets on the shelves. They are great, multipurpose pieces that can fit well into most spaces.

There isn’t going to be a lot of legroom in a setup like this, but it does make for an awesome alternative to a traditional vanity regardless. The mirror can sit on top or be mounted on the wall behind, and if it’s tall enough, it can also be used standing up which would negate the need for a seat anyway.

What are the Benefits of Finding Alternatives for a Makeup Vanity?

Some might be a bit confused as to why get an alternative for something that already does its job and does it well. These things already exist, and have existed for centuries, so finding an alternative seems a little unnecessary.

Finding Alternatives for a Makeup Vanity
Finding Alternatives for a Makeup Vanity

Here are a few benefits for finding an alternative for a makeup vanity:

  • Typically, it is more cost effective as there are no upcharges
  • They are more customizable and can be built to personal needs
  • Great space savers for small or cramped spaces
  • A feeling of accomplishment comes from completing a project
  • Bonding with someone who might be helping make it

While yes, a makeup vanity is great for what it is intended, making something custom or finding alternate means can help save money, space, and actually fit all the needs required of the owner.


Makeup vanities don’t have to be expensive pieces, or something passed down through the generations. There are plenty of alternative options, some of which cost nothing to make. For those who aren’t very handy, a good thrifty eye and knack for space saving can really change the game and make a space for a vanity even in smaller spaces where a traditional one might not fit.

Just remember to not forget the vertical space of an area or to seal any vanity alternative that might get a lot of water use, such as when redesigning one in a bathroom with a sink. This will help make the most of the space and turn a little bit of creativity into a useful design choice. Anything with a mirror and a smooth top can easily become a vanity for applying makeup.


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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