Whether it is the vanity at your great aunt’s 1960s ranch house or the one in your child’s preschool, this is something these vanities have taught us to accept in the 21st century: low vanities are OUT. This is not just an aesthetic issue—it is a practical one as well. Low vanities can put a strain on our backs and are simply awkward to use, especially now that we know how much easier it is to use modern bath vanities, which are, in most cases, considerably higher.
If you are designing a brand-new home or remodeling an older one (perhaps you inherited your great aunt’s ranch), we will walk you through some useful tips on modern bathroom vanity designs.
We should clear one thing up before going forward: we are not “anti-low.” Low profiles have a great place in interior design, and the same furnishings original to that 1960s ranch have made a comeback in many of today’s design palettes.
However, “low” can be saved for a sleek console table placed behind a low-profile sofa or a bench placed at the end of a platform bed. “Low” does not need to make a design appearance in the bathroom, where a higher vanity just makes more sense all around.
How to Measure
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Measuring is the most important part of your bathroom vanity plan, as you do not want to end up with a vanity that is too large (or too small) for the exiting space. Your vanity should fit neatly into the bathroom and still allow plenty of room for traffic flow, as well as the other necessities, such as a toilet and shower or shower/tub combo.
When measuring, you should also note existing electrical outlets and plumbing; moving the existing vanity setup could prove costly if it requires reworking the room entirely.
Your vanity measurements should include height, width, and depth. The older vanities we mentioned earlier were often 30 to 32 inches high, and today’s “comfort” heights are typically 36 inches. While this will be a bit tall for smaller children to reach the sink, you could either go back down to 32 inches or just accept that you will need a small step stool in each bathroom (we think the latter makes the most sense).
The vanity width could be as small as 24 inches or as wide as 72, depending on your space. The depth could be 18 inches or even smaller in a tiny bathroom, but the standard depth is usually 21 inches.
Important tip! Remember that you need to allow for the overhang of the countertop in your measurements, which will typically be one inch longer and deeper.
Single vs. Double
Another important decision to make when it comes to vanities is whether you want a single sink or a double sink. Obviously, in bathrooms used by more than one person, a double sink is certainly ideal. However, they can also be helpful in lesser-used bathrooms: for example, in a guest bathroom. A powder room (half bathroom) does not need more than one sink.
The single vs. double sink debate will probably come down to space more than anything else. A double sink is unlikely to be the one thing that breaks your renovation budget, so it is more about determining if you have enough space for it.
Gone are the basic and boring cabinets of years past. Modern bathroom vanities are now more stylish than ever, with many that look more like high-end furniture than functional bathroom pieces, but the good news is they are BOTH.
A floating vanity mounts directly to the wall, with the plumbing hidden behind and no contact with the floor. This sleek, modern look is often favored in smaller bathrooms, where the illusion of more space is created. The drawback of a floating vanity is that they usually have less storage space for bathroom products than those with full cabinets that reach the floor, so they are best used in powder rooms.
The most common type of vanity found in modern bathrooms is the freestanding vanity, which looks more like a piece of furniture or cabinetry. It touches the floor, either completely or on legs. These come in single and double sink models and a wide variety of price ranges and styles for any budget or décor. They can be purchased ready to install (typically at lower prices), or they can be custom-built to suit the specific measurements of a space and the specific taste of the homeowner.
A corner vanity is often used in an especially compact bathroom, where space is at an absolute premium. These can be wall mount (floating) units or freestanding. There is very little room for anything other than a quick hand wash, so they are best for small half baths as well.
One of the more popular looks in modern vanities is open shelving under the sinks and base cabinets. These have hidden plumbing (typically) behind the upper parts of the vanity and then a large open space for towels or other items.
Colors and Finishes
You may find stained wood vanities in traditional spaces, but more often, we see modern vanities painted in fresh, vibrant colors. An unexpected pop of color in a bathroom really elevates the décor of the entire home, and this does not stop at just the cabinet itself. Predictable stainless or brushed nickel fixtures have made way to more modern touches with gold and brass finishes as well.
Final Thoughts on Choosing a Modern Bath Vanity
Before you settle on a bathroom vanity, be sure you have fully considered
- the measurements of your space, including the existing electrical outlets and plumbing access
- the traffic in the area and the number of daily users for that bathroom
- the style of the vanity and how it works with the rest of your home décor