How to Have Your Granite But Be Green, Too

Powder Room VanityBy now, my regular readers know that I am not a fan of imported granite.  As far as I am concerned, granite has been mistakenly idealized by homeowners as a maintenance-free surface material — a myth that plenty of builders have been more than willing to perpetuate only because granite has become more affordable than ever – thanks in no small part to cheap, overseas labor. Worst of all, some granite peddlers have had the audacity to market granite as an environmentally friendly product simply because it comes from the earth.  So does oil, by the way.

All that said, I know that some people simply will not be dissuaded from their love affair with granite.   And that being the case, I’d like to offer up a more environmentally responsible option:  Scrap.

Why not use a smaller-size piece of granite from the scrap yard of a local countertop fabricator as the top for a bathroom vanity?  Better yet, why not pop this scrap piece of granite, which might otherwise be bound for a landfill, atop a used dresser? Perhaps one you find at a yard sale or something collecting dust in your attic?

That’s what I did and I love it.

A Bright (Green) Idea
For my own powder room I chose to use an old chest of drawers as a bathroom cabinet – one that had a peeling wood veneer top, the restoration of which was beyond what either my husband or I was realistically capable.

We didn’t have the need or the space for this piece of family furniture, but it was sentimental to my husband and no amount of nagging would convince him to get rid of it.  So when we built the Greenspiration Home, someone (I can’t remember who) had a brainstorm and decided it would make a great vanity for our downstairs powder room.

This was not a big deal — something you will very rarely hear me say when it comes to matters of home construction or renovation.   We simply got our countertop contractor to cut a piece of scrap granite to size and then install it on the chest.  All they needed was the specifications for the sink that we had chosen so they could cut the appropriate size hole in the granite.

A Little Granite Goes a Long Way
I chose a lovely piece of Rainforest Green granite, which I found in my countertop contractor’s scrap yard.  We had the piece cut to fit atop the old chest of drawers, which we painted to avoid the nightmare of stripping.  Easy.

Rainforest granite, by the way, is an unbelievably rich looking piece of material.  Like a sliver of cheesecake, a little goes a long way.  The end result is a lovely powder room vanity that isn’t like anyone else’s in the entire world.

So let’s review:

  • I avoided the cost of fabricated or custom cabinetry for my powder room.
  • I used an old piece of furniture that was taking up space (and creating marital strife) in my home.
  • I got to indulge in a little bit of granite without feeling responsible for the embodied energy that it takes to transport an entire slab across the ocean.
  • I have a wonderfully unique looking powder room vanity that gives me pleasure and pride each time I enter the room.  Plus, I get tons of compliments on the piece.

Call me crazy, but I think I ‘done good.’

How about you?  Have you had great success using scrap granite for a home décor project?  I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me at mailto:trish@greenspirationhome.com

13 Responses »

  1. Thanks for this, Trish. The commode looks lovely. There are so many beautiful and earth-friendly options for countertops. And I’m with you about granite – the nicest thing I can say about it is that it’s uninteresting. WAY overdone.

    I’d suggest to any reader, look into recycled glass countertops. They’re as pretty as any granite I’ve seen. And while yes, they have to be manufactured, some have as much as 97 percent recycled material. THAT’S cool.

  2. Very informative Trish, thank you!

  3. Love this idea. It would be even better if I could find a basic sink at a refurbishing center since the actually sink would not have to be fancy. I’ve been wanting to redo our guest bath sink since it has no counter space but didn’t want to pay the price for a new one. This is a great solution!

    • Have you checked with salvage yards? I know DH Griffin here in Greensboro, NC, had a ton of old sinks in their scrap yard when we were milling around for factory floor joists to use as decorative beams in the Greenspiration Home. If you do this, you MUST share it with us here. Would love to see what you come up with!

    • I found a beautiful, almost new sink at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. If there is one in your area, I highly recommend checking it out.

  4. What a great idea! And speaking from a plumber’s point of view, the faucet and the revised bathroom cabinet look great with that setting! Great job, and thanks for sharing.

  5. Trish, you made a great point…salvaging or re-gifting used up items is about as green as you can get!
    Thanks for your great blog.

  6. Trish:

    Now do you see why it is a good idea to listen to your husband? You see, he is actually pretty smart for not letting you toss out that “old” piece of (I’ll let your memory fill in the blank).

    I hope the both of you can make Comfortech in Schamburg this September. I’m sorry I missed you at AHR.

    Matthew

  7. Great article – cute vanity with the family sentimental value.

    We used Uba Tuba for our Powder Room vanity as we knew that we would get a great price with the Fabricator as they have lots of scrap Uba Tuba. Any popular granite selections of the moment will usually have scrap pieces sitting around as leftover pieces from completing an entire Kitchen or two with the large slabs.

  8. Trish, what a great way to re-purpose that old dresser. Since my wife is antique dealer here in La Grange IL, we see more and more of what you have done, or clients looking for what you created
    I have personally explained how the homeowner can remove the “drawer part” of the top one or two drawers to allow for the plumbing space required by the supply/drain areas. If you are lucky you can use the bottom drawer for the bathroom necessities.
    Many times, I’ll find the OLD slabs of marble at sales and buy them knowing I’ll put together a marriage of dresser or cabinet for the combined beauty of both pieces. Re-purposing this type of furniture can be more than just individual find…. it can be lovely forever.

    Thank you for sharing

    Things to be aware of when re-purposing this type of furniture:
    1. Choose a solid piece, you do not need to glue, but be aware of water and furniture don’t always work happily
    2. Plan on giving “space” to plumbing
    3. Caution should be given to old finishes which may contain LEAD, sanding could be an issue
    4. Do Not allow your plumber to talk you out of the beauty of the end product
    5. Besides local antique dealers: auctions, resale, estate sales, home scraping/demolitions and the routes which Trish highlighted

    • Those are all excellent tips, Gary. We managed to salvage 2 large (bottom) drawers for this project. Had to cut a little box in the top one (lost a little bit of space there in the middle drawer) for the piping to drop down from the sink. Otherwise, a good storage place for hand towels, toilet paper, and first aid!

  9. Great idea as I think people are starting to recycle furniture & you’re taking one more step to also recylcing used (or discarded) materials.

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