Some homes are so architecturally distinct that they dictate the way you design inside. Victorian, Cape Cod, cottage style, and ranch homes all come with set, expected interior decor, just to name a few. But if your home doesn’t conform to any particular structural form, you have a lot more freedom to choose your own decor. For me, that isn’t always a blessing – it can be difficult to choose a single style, and effectively executing an eclectic design isn’t easy. Especially when it comes to bathroom design, I’m always torn between decadent vintage styles and a simpler, sleeker modern design. The opulence of a period bathroom is great for a little R&R, but modern bathroom design often makes for a cleaner finish. That’s why I love these bathroom vanities– they have all the minimal, slightly surprising design you expect from modern bathroom vanities, but are made in simplified antique and vintage shapes for a modern take on classical elegance.
It’s actually a pretty simple formula: take a period design, like this washstand-inspired Gabrielle Vanity, and trim down all the things that make it truly antique- the natural wood grain, intricate carvings, and elaborate brass hardware. What you’re left with is a simple, elegant white bathroom vanity with modern curvature that evokes the decadence of vintage design. I love vanities like this one paired with a clawfoot tub and a bathroom chandelier. A very ornate crystal chandelier will emphasize the antique element of the vanity, while a modern one will further simplify it for a stunning, stark sort of beauty.
Similarly, this Vintage Inspired vanity from Legion Furniture uses a dersser-like shape, but instead of keeping the elegantly curved legs, it opts to draw out the antique style in the curved bottom edges, and the slight but whimsical coiled handles. White bathroom vanities are and excellent way to fuse vintage and modern design. White is prominent in modern bathrooms, largely because the color is perfect for comparing and contrasting textures rather than shades. The slight gloss on this vanity, for example, will make it look clean, elegant, eye-catching, and unique when set against more antique white materials, like faux fur rugs, gauzy curtains, or even other white paint with a different level of shine.
The same thing goes for black bathroom vanities. This Modern Vanity from Bellaterra Home is quite similar to the one from Legion in size, shape, style, and design, but is done in exactly the opposite color. Now, I’d like to say that the staging for this photo really doesn’t do this vanity justice – for a look that truly fuses modern elegance with classical decadence, you’d really want to put this vanity in a black and white bathroom. Contrast is key in modern design, and the higher the contrast, the bolder the look – and I don’t just mean color. Having a few dramatically vintage pieces, like a black clawfoot tub or a beautiful black accent chair can really ramp up the wow factor, making a space look incredibly elegant, even if all the elements are relatively simple in design.
That said, texture is important with black bathroom vanities, too. This Studded Black Vanity is, in one sense, one of the more traditional vanities on this list, with the shape of a French Regency dresser from head to toe… except for the spikey, glossy black studs that cover the entire front face of the vanity. Talk about merging two styles, this vanity does so dramatically. Though, once again, the vanity would be better served with a more dramatic staging, if you’re looking for a way to satisfy your desire for a modern style and a love of palace-like antique decadence, this is a lovely place to start.
Whenever you merge two styles, you get a whole spectrum of influence. I’ve talked a little bit about how accessories – your tub, lighting, sink, or even tile or window dressings – can push the needle in one direction or the other, but classical/modern bathroom vanities can mingle the two styles in a lot of different ways as well. While the studded vanity has the shape of an antique piece, it probably couldn’t mesh with a more conventionally period inspired bathroom. This Antique Console Vanity from Belle Foret, on the other hand, is much more authentically vintage. Even though it is a simplified design, it has more intricate detailing on the edges than many similar transitional bathroom vanities, as well as the antique style legs. Here, the black finish is the most modern element, and combined with the white counter top and sink makes it a great first step towards creating a modern, high-contrast black and white bath.
Of course, not all bathroom vanities that merge classical and modern design have to be black or white. This Venisia vanity from Avanity keeps the curved legs and feet and the arched bottom edge of some similar vanities, but instead of a pure black or white finish, it opts to accent the black legs and counter with a dark wood grain finish. Though the doors themselves are made of MDF, not real wood, the effect is striking – like a dramatic accent wall, the horizontal wood grain works equally well to tie in vintage wood elements or as an echo for more modern elements, like striped fabric or animal prints.
Similarly, this slim, trim Natasha vanity from Decolav takes an extremely modern riff on antique console vanities. Instead of tooled, rounded wood legs, this bathroom vanity takes only the silhouette of the legs and flattens them for a look that becomes more modern the closer you look. Available in both black and white, it works well in multiple kinds of bathrooms, but both versions have a dramatic wood panels for a little more antique charm. The real beauty of the vanity, though, is in the metal “belt” – a stainless steel cincher that goes all the way around the belly of the vanity, evoking modern fashion design as well as interior design for an utterly unique, utterly classy look.
If you’re having trouble deciding what kind of interior design you want, especially for a bathroom, the choice doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. Many bathroom vanities balance and blend many design elements, and provide a venue for new unique and eclectic takes on conventional styles. With so many modern bathroom vanities out there to choose from, your creativity is really the limit. So when posed with the question of classical or modern, answer: both! What two styles would you like to see combined? Do you prefer a look that’s more classical or more modern, or where do your tastes lie in between?