I considered building one, but David had concerns that our craftsmanship would not be up to par and it would end up looking shoddy, which was a pretty valid concern, honestly. Then I started looking into antique dressers that I could convert, but again I ran into the "this is way more expensive that I thought" issue.
One day last November, we made a family trip up to Ikea and came across the Groland kitchen cart. It's solid wood with a butcher block top and just the size I was looking for. At $200, it wasn't cheap but still a savings over everything else I had seen, so we took one home.
And then it sat in our living room floor for 4 months. It seriously looks empty in there now without that big cardboard box.
As we were assembling everything, we left a few things out to accommodate our alternative use. First we left out the metal towel bars, as well as the top rear cross bar so we would be sure to have room for our faucet behind the sink. It has a lower support for the shelf so it is still very sturdy without that piece.
Then it was time to cut the sink hole. We were extremely nervous because we were using an undermount sink, which meant the cut out would be very visible and if we screwed up, our $200 investment would be ruined. In fact, I was so freaked out that I forgot to take any pictures of the next few steps, so you will have to use your imagination. We measured and considered and dry fit and etc. until we were fully satisfied that everything was aligned and that the sink and faucet wouldn't run into any edges or support pieces. We used the included template to trace the outline on the vanity top.
Then we drilled a hole at each corner of our traced outline that was large enough to fit the jigsaw blade into and I cut out the hole just inside the line. I went back over it again with the router and removed material until I reached the line. Then I used the belt sander to smooth things out.
Then we carried the top back downstairs and held up the sink underneath it and... it fit!
The hole is really not at all perfect. I would call it "rustic." But we did manage to not take a huge gouge out of it or make the hole too big so I call it a success.
After breathing a sigh of relief, I stained the whole thing after testing on the back to make sure I liked the color on this species of wood. I used the same color as the steps (Rustoleum Kona) which turned out really pretty on this wood. Then I remembered I needed to add a piece of wood to the front so you can't see the sink from underneath, so I cut that and nailed it to the front of the legs.
I followed up with polyurethane. I used one coat in the lower portion and three on the top surface, paying special attention to the sink opening. I realized after I was done that I should have used the Waterlox that we use on our butcher block in the kitchen. So down the road I might sand things down and refinish it if the poly doesn't hold up well.
Then it was time to attach the sink, which was pretty straightforward. We just used the included clips to hold it on and made sure to use plenty of silicone to seal it. We flipped the top upside down and installed the sink that way which made things so much easier, aside from having to lay on the floor underneath to make sure the sink was straight inside the opening. After we were satisfied with the sink, we attached the top of the vanity to the base.
Then we drilled the holes for the faucet. I thought we were going to have our first trip to the ER during this step, as the drill bit jammed and my wrist got twisted around by the drill with a lot of force. The pain subsided and I was able to move my hand again after a few minutes, so the crisis was averted. I did let David finish the drilling, though.
After this, I decided I really didn't like where I had placed the sink-covering piece of wood, so I pried it off, trimmed it down and reattached it between the legs. Much better.
Side note: notice the privacy film I applied over the window. Now no one has to worry about anyone peeping in through the ground level window while they pee!
So that is where we are now. David and I have devised what we are calling The Three Week Plan. We have the plumbers scheduled to come on Tuesday and finish connecting all the fixtures, then get their final inspection. The following week we will have the electrical inspector come to do his final inspection. By that point, we expect to have finished all our doors and trim and miscellaneous small items, so we will be ready to have the final building inspection the week after that. Here's hoping we can stick to the plan!