Vanities come in all shapes and sizes but the purpose is always the same: to make your life in the bathroom easier. Whether custom or prefab, consider who uses the bathroom in question and how. In design, sometimes function precedes form (in other words, how you use the space is more important than the pretty stuff).
If you have young kids, you will want a traditional low counter height of 30” whereas teens and adults will be more comfortable with kitchen height counters at 36”. If you plan to use a vessel sink, go with a lower 30” counter height so the bowl doesn’t sit too high.
This all depends on the size of your space. A 24-36” vanity will work in a powder room. 36-48” works for a guest room. 48”+ works for kids’ spaces. You’ll want a minimum 54” vanity to accommodate two sinks. I’m a fan of Fairmont Designs for their quality, value and range of sizes. If you have an in-line bathroom, you’ll need 30” from the tub/shower to the vanity edge to allow proper clearance for the toilet.
I have a client who had her heart set on a contemporary trough style sink for her master vanity. When I reminded her that a trough sink means limited counter space she changed her mind. Instead I suggested she consider installing a trough sink in the powder room where counter space isn’t as critical. As much as we hope teens won’t leave things strewn about their counters, it’s a losing battle – opt for as much counter space as the bathroom affords. Same goes for the Master Bath.
Drawers vs Cabinets. If the bathroom in question is a powder room or guest bath, you don’t need a lot of storage. Some extra toilet paper, air freshener and a spare toothbrush & toothpaste is adequate so you’ll be fine with a single cabinet. However, if the bathroom belongs to teen girls, you will want maximum storage. Drawers for small stuff & cabinets for big stuff. Companies like Kohler and Diamond offer features like pullouts and drawer organizers. Companies like Rev-A-Shelf and Hafele offer after market features like under cabinet pullouts that your contractor can install. If you’re building a custom vanity, consider pullouts for everything from trash to grooming supplies.
In high use bathrooms like the master and teen rooms, consider having a licensed electrician install outlets inside the sink cabinet. That way you can keep a hair dryer, flat iron, etc. plugged in without draping cords across the countertop. Kohler offers this feature in their Tailored vanity cabinets. By code, you are required to have one outlet within three feet of the outside edge of each sink. And outlets in wet spaces must be GFCI to prevent shock in case of contact with moisture. In the case your builder only installed one outlet near a master or teen vanity, have a licensed electrician install another, lest there be arguments over who gets to use it! My goodness, I need one outlet for my Clarisonic face brush, a second for my Sonicare toothbrush, a third for my makeup mirror – you get the idea. I’m a big fan of the new duplex receptacles (that’s Designer Speak for outlet) with USB ports like the Legrand Radiant so you can charge your phone without a bulky adapter.
THE FUN STUFF
If your style leans modern, consider a floating vanity for a less frequently used bathroom like the powder room or guest bath. They should be professionally installed by a licensed contractor to ensure sufficient bracing to support the weight.
Knobs, pulls, notching or touch-latch. So many choices! Knobs work well for smaller cabinets and drawers. I always suggest round over oval or square because over time hardware loosens and ovals and squares become lopsided. Not the best look! Pulls work well for larger cabinets and drawers; a 3-1/2” opening is standard. Anything smaller will be uncomfortable to use. Whenever possible, select your hardware in person to test how comfortable it feels in hand; some knobs and pulls project farther than others allowing more room for fingers. Notching is a nod to times past but works in some cases. Touch latch is the ideal solution for modern spaces where you want a clean look.
I think I’ve covered enough! We’ll touch on countertops another time.