Adding a new vanity to your bathroom can be a quick and easy way to freshen up the look of your space without going all-in on a full remodel.
In many bathrooms, the vanity is the one true piece of furniture amid a whole lot of porcelain — often the focus feature of the room — so it makes sense to take your time, do your research, and invest in a quality piece of furniture that suits your space and your design needs.
But how can you distinguish a well designed and constructed vanity from the low-end varieties available at the big box stores? How do you know what to look for, and what will work in your space?
1. Measure Your Space: It may seem obvious, but the first step in every home improvement project is to measure your workspace. Take note of the available width, depth and height of the area where you want to install your new vanity - in most cases, these will be fixed, and will determine the size and spatial limits of your new vanity. For instance, narrower bathrooms might require a shallower overall depth, while low ceilings might necessitate a lower mirror height —- and don’t forget to check for anything that might interfere with the entryway, shower doors, or other features that may require clearance.
2. Proportions matter: Once you’ve got your basic measurements, you can begin to consider other spatial factors, such as counter space, storage space, and the overall proportions of the vanity. While you want to create focus, you don’t want to overwhelm the rest of the bathroom. Keep things in proportion with your design elements: toilets, tubs, freestanding showers, etc. Don’t forget to consider the size of the mirror, the depth of the sink, and even the optimal number of sinks. Think of how much space you want to maintain between the top of the vanity and the mirror or medicine cabinet above it. Think of how much clearance you want between the vanity and other features, like toilets, or showers. Even take the color into consideration, darker colors can make furniture appear bigger in smaller rooms, so adjust accordingly. A handy way to help visualize the proportions of your space is Shopify’s size.link app, which uses augmented reality to help find what works for all your bathroom and beyond.
3. Construction and durability: Bathrooms are high traffic, high humidity areas, and it pays to invest in a vanity that stands up to heavy use. While vanities come in a variety of materials, it’s best to avoid cheap particle board and other manufactured wood products wherever possible. Hardwood construction is more durable and longer-lasting, especially with a properly applied finish. Finishes are almost as important as the materials they’re applied to; while ceramic, stone, and glass all stand up to high humidity environments, wooden bases and metal hardware need protection from water, humidity and other wear. Look for hand-finished products wherever possible. Little touches like soft-close doors and drawers that fully extend are another marker of quality to keep an eye out for.
4. Look for the industry standard: One way to assure quality and save a lot of hassle is to look for products whose plumbing hardware is UPC approved. The UPC, or Uniform Plumbing Code, governs the installation and inspection of plumbing systems, according to the International Association of Plumbing and Industry Standards, and is designated as the American National Standard. What that means is that these are the products that professional contractors use, since they know they will always be up to code, anywhere in the United States.
Similarly, look for the “UL Certified” label on electrical products, such as LED mirrors, etc. This stands for “Underwriter Laboratories”, the watchdog organization that sets the industry standard for independent safety testing and certification of electrical products.
5. Design comes last: Design is important, but always let form follow function. You can always tweak the cosmetic elements later. Use the first four steps to determine your bathroom vanity needs and limitations, and then find a design that fits those requirements, as well as your decor and color scheme. With so many options available — in styles, colors, materials, and finishes — it’s easier than ever to match design elements to your needs. Make your roadmap first, then follow it.
Looking for more vanity inspirations? Check out Bell + Modern's amazing selection of vanities.