Bathroom Design: How to Pick Out a Vanity
Learn how to choose the right materials, style and size for a vanity that fits your bathroom and works for your needs
It’s not always the most glamorous part of a bathroom remodel, but choosing the right vanity can make or break your bathroom’s design. If it’s placed awkwardly in a traffic route, uses poor or mismatched materials, or doesn’t have enough storage, the rest of your bathroom will suffer.
We spoke with six bathroom and vanity designers to get the professional scoop. Here are their suggestions for this bathroom cornerstone.
Access. Choose a spot for your vanity that won’t mess with your bathroom’s traffic flow or block the bathroom door or shower door swing. Beth Fillerup of Native Trails advises homeowners to think about cleaning and about the vanity door swing space, too. Good questions to ask, she says, include: “Are the surrounding areas accessible for cleaning? If the vanity has doors, is the space around the vanity adequate for foot traffic when they are open?”
Designer Robert Berkovich of European Cabinets & Design Studio suggests that homeowners take other architectural features into account when deciding on a spot, too. Make sure that any windows nearby will allow for a mirror and wall cabinets above the vanity. “Remember, the vanity plays an integral role in the function of the bathroom and requires the space around it to function properly,” says designer Steve O’Neill of Van-i-tY.
Plumbing. If you need to change your bathroom’s plumbing to install your new vanity, it’s going to account for a chunk of your budget. Even switching from a traditional floor-mounted vanity to a wall-mounted version will mean rerouting pipes and drains.
“Locating the vanity far from other bath fixtures requires a higher cost for rough plumbing,” says contractor David Lawson of Ironwood Builders.
“Vanities are placed in environments that are humid, wet and busy,” says O’Neill. “The materials that make up your vanity of choice should be able to stand up to such an environment.” Wood veneers, laminates and thermofoil (like on the vanity in this photo) tend to work well in bathrooms. Wood should be properly sealed and lacquered — although Lawson does warn that lacquer isn’t indestructible.
“We do caution our clients that clear finishes are generally lacquer and that water will affect the finish if it is left standing on it,” he says. Designer Gina Adamson of Cab-I-Net recommends avoiding pressed MDF too, since it’s susceptible to water damage.
Look for a durable vanity top as well, and try to avoid anything with hard-to-clean grout. If you’re redoing other bathroom finishes, consider choosing your vanity top first. “It’s so much easier to find a tile and cabinet to match a unique countertop than trying to find a top to match a unique tile,” says designer Lori Hethmon of Granite Grannies. “When you choose a dynamic tile first, you may be limiting yourself to more mundane countertop choices that won’t compete with your particular tile.”