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Do Your Homework Before Buying a New Bathroom Vanity

Updated on March 31, 2010

There are basically two types of bathroom vanities, freestanding or built-in. Freestanding vanities are great options for smaller bathrooms or bathrooms that do not require additional storage in the vanity area. Vanities that are wall mounted are usually considered freestanding. Built-in units contain a larger countertop which created more space underneath for cabinetry. Built-in vanities are ideal for high traffic bathrooms that need someplace where clutter and supplies can be stored. The cabinetry usually associated with built-ins can be made of many different types of wood including maple, oak, walnut, cherry, and mahogany.

Bathroom vanities can come in many styles, sizes, shapes, colors, materials, and finishes. Each characteristic is important in itself. Vanities can be found with one or two sinks. Double bathroom vanities are common in master bathrooms or single bathroom homes. The function of a second sink is a valued addition to any bathroom. The material used in the cabinetry, its finish, and color are also very important elements in vanity design. When shopping for a new vanity consider all parts carefully to determine which unit is going to provide your bathroom with the function, look, and value it needs.

Overview of Vanity Countertops

Vanity countertops can be found in many different types of materials, sizes, shapes, and colors.  Stone, ceramic tile, wood, laminates, composite materials, concrete, and stainless steel are the most popular choices.  Most bathrooms countertops receive their daily dose of wear and tear.  When purchasing a vanity countertop there are many things you must consider.  Price, durability, maintenance, and beauty are all equally important.  

Stone countertops are attractive and durable but on the other hand they are also more expensive.  If you do choose a stone top for your vanity, it is recommended that you seal and maintain the surface to prevent stains, scratches, and cracks.  Wood can also be expensive depending on the type you choose.   Wood must be well maintained as well to prevent staining, scratching, and even mildew.  Ceramic tiles are commonly used because they are durable and can be found in many colors and designs.  The only downfall in this choice is the grout between each tile.  Grout can become stained easily and if not applied properly, it can also begin to fall out when moist from water.  Concrete has seen a rise in popularity because it extremely durable and can be stained and glazed in many different colors.  Concrete is also much cheaper than other vanity materials.  Composite materials, laminates, and stainless steel are more likely to get scratched but they are also very easily repaired or switched out if needed.

Breaking Down the Different Styles of Bathroom Vanities

Bathroom vanities can be found in many design styles with some of the most popular being traditional, contemporary or modern, shaker or mission, and cottage. Traditional style is usually associated with elements that originated in the Far East and Europe. British Colonial, Provincial, French, and Chippendale are the seeing as the most popular. Contemporary and/or modern are usually associated with art from the 1920s to today. The design look is simple, sleek, clean and with very little or no ornamental details at all. Shaker and/or mission styles also lack in ornamental elements or trinkets. The style is more associated with emphasizing the beauty of natural wood and its high quality. Cottage vanities are casual in design but the materials tend to wear well. For instance, a cottage vanity with a distressed finish can be bumped, nicked, and scratched without worries.

The most important thing in deciding which bathroom vanity style will best fit your bathroom décor is to always remain consistent with other elements within the bathroom space and in the rest of your home. When remodeling an older home choose materials that coincide with other materials used in the making of the home. In newer homes, anything goes and you can bring in elements that are more modern without a problem.

Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing a Bathroom Vanity

When there are too many choices or the decision making process becomes to overwhelming, always prioritize function and then move on to other elements.  Is the unit going to fit in the space you have available?  Does the unit meet the storage needs of your bathroom?  Do you need a single or double sink?  Is the unit a good height for everyone in your family?  Are the faucets easy to reach and operate?  Are the materials durable and wear resistant?

Although some of these questions may not pertain to your needs, knowing exactly what you need is going to make your decision making process much easier.  Doing a little homework beforehand is going to save you lots of time and money in the long run.  Most of us shop with our eyes and try to stay within a certain budget which is fine in many cases but not in the case of a bathroom vanity.  Seeing a vanity in a magazine or on the internet is not enough.  Go out and visit a few stores.  Stand in front of a vanity, try to operate the faucets, open the cabinets and drawers, and picture yourself getting ready every morning.  Determine if the unit is going to work well for your specific bathroom tasks.  Only then should you go ahead and start looking at style, material, finish, and color. 


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      Arielle 3 years ago

      These are GREAT pictures!! I am so happy we deicedd to do this! What a great way to celebrate a friendship that has existed/endured since 4th grade. When they are 80yrs. old and sitting in the nursing home together, they will still have these pics to remember their friendship{and their long lost beauty,wahaha!} Thanks again!!!Denise