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Choosing the right vanity for your bathroom – 2021 buying guide

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by jbadeloft | January 31, 2021

Looking to add a new centerpiece to your bathroom? A bathroom vanity provides an excellent platform to showcase your sink as well as provide substantial storage space for your bathroom. But which vanity is right for you and what should you look for in a new vanity?

Below are some helpful tips to help you choose the right vanity for your bathroom today. 

What is a bathroom vanity? 

A bathroom vanity consists of a bathroom sink or basin and a storage space around it. It is generally square, round or rectangular in shape, providing both storage space and an anchor point for the sink.

bathroom vanity with freestanding bathtub.

In addition to storage space, the purpose of the vanity is to hide the plumbing of the sink from view, adding a cleaner aesthetic for the bathroom sink.

A vanity can either be installed with legs or anchor points to the floor or it can be installed in a “floating” style where it is anchored to the wall to allow for easier cleaning and more bathroom space. 

Why bathroom vanities are becoming popular in 2021

Bathroom vanities are growing increasingly popular in 2021 as it provides a sharp aesthetic bump to your bathroom. In addition, they are also remarkably easy to install and are flexible enough to fit in just about any space.

Vanities provide bathrooms with more depth and character as they can be decorated with either modern or classical flourishes for an affordable price. An inexpensive vanity can make your bathroom feel more homely and luxurious than it actually is. 

What to consider when choosing your vanity 

When choosing your vanity, there are many factors to consider such as size, style, color and price. Below are some extra considerations when choosing your vanity. 

1. Bathroom Size: Small vs Medium vs Large Bathroom

Bathroom size will greatly impact your choice of vanity. Vanities are available for all bathroom sizes but the majority are more ideal for medium to large bathrooms. A vanity requires a fair bit of space to install and small bathrooms do not have a great deal of extra space which can affect where a vanity can be placed.

A master bathroom for example, is a great place for a large vanity as it can utilize every available size of vanity. A guest bathroom will generally fit a single or double vanity and finally, a common bathroom is more likely to have just a single vanity.

2. Choosing Vanities types 

Vanities are available in many different types to fit just about any bathroom size. Below are the common vanity types:

Single Vanity 

A single vanity provides a solid base for a single sink. The benefit of a single vanity is that it offers decent storage space while still being small enough to fit in a small bathroom. Single vanities can either be large enough to accommodate two wooden doors or be small enough to function as a sink base with a towel rack. 

Double Vanity 

Double vanities are very common in master bath or large bathrooms, providing a foundation for two sinks. Since they can support two sink installations, double vanities provide an ample amount of storage space underneath. This storage space also functions as an aesthetic way to hide the plumbing and provide a large amount of counter space for all users.

Vanity With Mirrors

Many vanities can be installed with mirrors. In addition to offering an aesthetic flair, the mirrors are functionally useful as they sit just above the sink, providing a convenient area for the user to get ready. These mirrors will typically be square, rectangular or circular, allowing for more flexibility in different sized bathrooms. 

With Lights/Fixtures  

In addition to mirrors, lights can be placed to provide further illumination to the vanity. Sconces and hanging lights can be placed to provide lighting that is both aesthetically pleasing as well as conveniently placed to not be intrusive to your guests. 

3. Selecting styles 

Vanities are available in a wide variety of styles ranging from modern to classic. The style that fits you will depend on your sensibilities as well as the theme of your bathroom. 

vanity with double sinks.
  • Modern -Modern style vanities are generally floating vanities that are flushed with their surroundings and have a smooth aesthetic which are generally square or rectangular. These vanities tend to have multiple drawers and cabinets but their outlines are more seamless with the rest of the vanity. Compared to a rustic vanity that is meant to emulate the look of polished wood or a rustic cottage, modern vanities are meant to be smooth like natural stone.  
  • Luxurious –Luxurious vanities blend both modern and classic sensibilities. They are typically large and elaborate, with many drawers and cabinets that are lined with bright colors like gold and silver with these vanities available in square or rectangular shapes. Many luxury vanities are decorated with large personal mirrors that are either circular or square in shape. Luxury vanities are typically constructed from higher quality wood such as polished oak or mahogany, adding to their luxury status. 
  • Minimalist-A minimalist vanity uses the bare minimum of a vanity design, usually in odd shapes and configurations. Their design usually consists of a multi tiered rack that can support the sink and perhaps a few towels, but not much else. Their colors are generally black or solid colors to contrast their more simplistic design.  
  • Rustic-Rustic vanities are generally faded and meant to emulate the look of natural wood as much as possible. These vanities provide a good pairing with the classic vessel sinks. They are typically square in shape and come in common colors with rustic vanities are brown, dark brown, light blue and black.  
  • Antique-Antique vanities are meant to provide a classic compliment to your bathroom. Their design is the classic style, with three drawers on either side of two double doors. They are usually paired with a large personal mirror with their color scheme generally bright colors such as porcelain white, powder blue or pastel green. These vanities are very common in older homes and in powder rooms. 
  • Vintage-Similar to antique vanities, vintage vanities provide another classic look, except they provide a circular mirror with 3 drawers instead of a double door storage space. Their colors are generally either white, pink or bright green.  
  • Farmhouse-A farmhouse vanity generally has rustic coloring but utilizes a farmhouse style sink. A farmhouse sink is a sink that consists of one sink that is joined together, typically found in the kitchen. This sink is typically elongated and square shaped, similar to a trough.    
  • Coastal-A coastal vanity uses seaside colors such as bright blues and whites. Their double doors are typically shuttered in design to emulate a seaside cottage shutter.  
  • Distressed-A distressed vanity is similar to a rustic design, providing a vanity with normal double doors and two drawers. Their colors are distressed whites, blues, greens and greys. Distressed vanities pair well with nautical themes and more rustic environments.
  • Floating/Wall Mounted-Floating vanities are ideal choices for modern looking bathrooms as they are usually oval or round in shape. These vanities are installed on walls which limits the amount of storage space but increases the amount of available space in the bathroom.  

4. Vanity Position 

Vanity positions can greatly enhance your guest’s experience. Depending on the position of your vanity, you can make your vanity the focal point of your bathroom or a great compliment. 

Standard Position 

Standard position would place your vanity in the center of your bathroom, making it the center point of your bathroom. The standard position is ideal is it is the most convenient for heavy use. Placing the vanity in the center of the bathroom not only makes it a focal point but allows guests to get ready much easier compared to other vanity positions. 

Corner Position

Corner position is ideal for a vanity that is meant to be unobtrusive. This places the vanity along the wall, away from the center of the bathroom. It’s less ideal for a bathroom that sees heavy traffic, but it is best for a bathroom that is much smaller. as it  

5. Knowing the materials

Vanity materials are important in determining the look and feel of your vanity. A vanity comprises two parts-a base and a top, with different materials for both. 

vanity with wooden cabinets.

Vanity Base

  • Particle Board –Particle Board is constructed from wood chips and is a manufactured wood product. The advantage of particle board is that it is cheap and easy to manufacture. The disadvantage of particleboard is that it is cheap, with low strength, low life and low durability. It also warps in moisture and humidity and cannot support heavy weights. 
  • Plywood-consisting of multiple layers of wood covered with veneer to strengthen it. Plywood is a solid material as it is relatively cheap, readily available and easy to work with. The disadvantage of plywood is that it requires additional enhancements to finish and is difficult to judge the quality of a bundle of plywood.  
  • Solid Wood-Solid wood would be sanded and polished natural wood such as oak. Solid wood is highly durable and aesthetically pleasing. The disadvantage to working with solid wood would be it’s thickness-solid wood requires heavy cutting materials to work with and it’s overall cost. Solid wood tends to be a great deal more expensive than both plywood and particleboard. 

Vanity Top 

  • Granite-Granite is a highly durable material that provides an aesthetically vibrant vanity top. The disadvantage of granite is that it is highly susceptible to staining which can lead to bacteria. Additionally, granite is heavy and requires high maintenance to keep clean. 
  • Marble-marble provides a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals. Marble is durable but highly susceptible to scratching. It can also handle high temperatures and is affordable. The biggest disadvantage to marble is that it is difficult to repair if it is damaged. 
  • Quartz-Quartz countertops provide a durable countertop that is harder than granite and non-porous. The primary disadvantage of quartz would be it’s high price and the material is sensitive to high heat, but otherwise it is a high quality material for any bathroom countertop..  
  • Glass-Glass countertops provide an aesthetically unique and visually beautiful material. The primary disadvantage to a glass is that it cannot sustain heavy impacts and is quite costly to repair.  

6. Thinking about Vanity Colors

Choosing the right vanity colors can greatly amplify the tone and mood of your bathroom. Below are some of the more popular vanity colors that pair well with almost any bathroom aesthetic. Remember that lighter colors compliment similar colors such as light blues, greens and whites and darker colors are more appropriate with dark fixtures and tiling. 

  • White
  • Black
  • Gray 
  • Blue
  • Brown 

7. Standard Height and Sizes of Vanity

Below is a list of the common vanity sizes available. The advantage of a larger vanity would be an increase in both storage space underneath and counter space up top. Smaller vanities offer limited storage and counter space but take up less space in your bathroom.

When deciding what size is appropriate for your bathroom, you should consider the size of your bathroom and decide if increased counter space is a necessity for your bathroom.   

Common Sizes: 

  • 18 inches
  • 30 inches
  • 32 inches
  • 20 inches
  • 28 inches
  • 24 inches
  • 36 inches
  • 48 inches
  • 42 inches
  • 60 inches
  • 72 inches
  • 84 inches

Vanity Depth

Vanity depth refers to the distance from the front of the vanity to the back of it. Large depth would be around 21 inches, with a medium depth measuring in at 15 inches. Small depth would be around 12 inches deep. Although a large depth seems desirable on your vanity, this effectively lowers the amount of available space you have in your bathroom, so it is best to aim for a small to medium depth. 

8. Additions to Consider with Your Vanity 

Sink Type

Vanities pair well with sinks, so it is best to choose a sink that best compliments your vanity. Every sink can elicit a different emotion and atmosphere with some being more rustic/classic, while others are more sleek and modern. For example, a farmhouse sink pairs well with a more rustic style vanity and a drop-in sink pairs well with a modern style vanity. Vessel sinks and other counter-top style sinks are useful in this regard as they match with just about any vanity style due to their unique shape. 

Faucets Type 

Similar to sink types, choosing the right faucet can help elevate the tone and mood of your bathroom. When it comes to faucets, there are three choices which are freestanding, wall mounted and waterfall installation. Freestanding allows your sink to be installed anywhere in your bathroom, providing more flexibility in where it can be placed. Wall mounted faucets are placed on the wall, providing more space for the vanity. Lastly, the waterfall places the faucet above the vanity which is aesthetically a classic choice but also provides the best ease of use for your guests. Wall mounted faucets provide a more modern feel whereas waterfall and freestanding will give your bathroom a more rustic or classic environment. 

Storage: 

The primary purpose of a bathroom vanity is to provide storage, so storage options are a must. In addition to the storage space provided by most vanities, you can add shelves and additional drawers. 

Shelves

The large space of the shelves provide a perfect area for storing bathroom supplies such as towels, cleaning supplies and toilet paper. Depending on the size of your storage space these shelves can also be used to store additional storage containers to exponentially increase the storage in your bathroom.  

Drawers

Many vanities have multiple small drawers that are useful for organizing and sorting many bathroom items. Since the drawers are typically small in size and height, it is recommended that these drawers house only small items to prevent them from getting lodged or stuck. These items include makeup brushes, hair dryer, hair supplies, jewelry, hand towels, toothpaste, dental floss and other small bathroom supplies.  

The end result:

Bathroom vanities are an essential part of the bathroom, providing an anchor point for the sink and an attractive centerpiece. Remember that the right aesthetic can greatly change your vanity, providing your bathroom with either a classic or modern feel, so try different styles to see which one fits your home. 

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