First, thanks to everyone for all of the wonderful comments on our bathroom! It is exciting to share something we are proud of with strangers ;-)
I've had several people ask how we did the counter in our bathroom. I didn't take pics of the entire process, so hopefully the "after" photos will explain everything. Here is the step-by-step process:
*Editor's Note* Wherever the word "we" is mentioned, please insert "Mr. Vanilla Bean." It was a team project, but he did the tiling. I am taking credit for the color, vanity distressing and decorating. However, the tile we selected was so easy to work with, I could have done it myself. I'm just sayin'.
Before we started, the counter was made of cultured marble. Here is a pic of what the vanity looked like (this is our master bathroom. We are lucky to have cultured marble in every bathroom).Eventually, I think we'll do this same process in the master bath.
We contemplated ripping the entire vanity out, but discovered that the hardwood floors didn't go all the way under the vanity. So, we decided to leave it and give it an update. Also, there was a huge mirror above the sink (similar to the one pictured above) that we removed.
We removed the counter top and replaced it with a piece of 3/4 inch plywood that we had cut at Home Depot to match the vanity top dimensions. It was secured with wood screws.
We purchased six 1-foot square sections of tile from Home Depot at $10 each. (You can see them laid out in the pic above.) They are mounted on mesh, which makes it very easy to remove tiles. We didn't have to cut any actual tiles for this project. Just removed tiles for holes or cut strips for whatever was needed for the back splash and edges.
We started on the back splash, leaving spacing for the counter tiles to slide underneath. The sections were easy to cut (again, we didn't have to cut any actual tiles) and adhered using tile adhesive. In the pics below, you can see how the tiles stack and slid.
Next we laid the counter top tiles. For the faucet hole, we had to remove whole tiles from that specific section (approx. four tiles). The sink was the same. It came with a template that you can use to determine how big of hole is needed and you just remove the tiles that lay where the drain will be and cut out the mesh backing.
Last, we did the edges. With the counter top tiles, we only needed one tile height around the edges to cover the plywood. We let everything set overnight.
The following day we grouted everything. Lastly, we installed the faucet and sink and reattached the plumbing.
This project wasn't as budget friendly as I would have liked. The vessel sink was $75 and the faucet (also from Home Depot, but I can't find it on their site) was about $140. It killed me to spend that much, but there weren't alot of options. The tiles were $60. You can probably find more inexpensive tiles, but what made this project so easy was the size of the tiles and the mesh backing. No wet saw needed! I'm sure thru searching or ebay you could save some money on the faucet, clearly where most of our money was spent. There was also some plumbing mumbo-jumbo that Mr. VB had to work out. But the helpful guys at Home Depot helped him with that and showed him what was needed. This was all done over one weekend, too. The longest was having to wait for the tiles and grout to set.
I hope this explains everything a little better!