I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about how to build a bathroom design that’s beautiful. But I think it’s equally important to think about the more practical side – how to build a bathroom that’s functional. Unfortunately, the keystone piece of every bathroom – the bathroom vanity – is also often the most poorly designed. Between accommodating for plumbing and putting a greater emphasis on aesthetics than utility, the majority of bathroom vanities aren’t as intuitive or functional as they could – or should – be. So if you’re concerned about ease of access, here are a few more contemporary bathroom vanity features that will help get your bathroom in order.
The biggest problem with bathroom vanity storage is that the most easily accessible space – the area immediately underneath the counter – is necessarily occupied by the plumbing from the sink. Most bathroom vanities simply stick a faux drawer front over this space, and leave you with a large, poorly organized cabinet underneath. But smart designers opt instead to squish the sink (and it’s drain pipe) ever so slightly to one side. This leaves room for at least one (or, in the case of this Jackson Vanity from B&I Direct, two) drawers at waist level for your most frequently accessed items.
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Bonus: Extra Counter Space
Some vanities take that offset sink space and use it not only to build a whole column of drawers, which is fabulous for getting organized, it also leaves you with a little sliver of extra space. While conventional bathroom vanities, especially smaller ones, leave you only with the corners to put a toothbrush holder and maybe a soap dispenser, something like this Mahogany Vanity from Hardware Resources leaves you with a little extra counter space, for, say, a hair straightener, electric razor, or even just a hand towel you don’t have to take up space hanging elsewhere.
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Ditch The Door
One of the little annoyances in life is having to open the cabinet in your bathroom vanity and bend down and rummage through all that big, unorganized space. But this Alessandro Vanity from Vigo presents a rather elegant solution. First, they move the cabinet to waist level, which makes it much easier to access. Others do this and leave the bottom half open, but personally I like the two extra drawers for hidden storage. Second (and, I think, most innovatively), the traditional cabinet door is replaced with a sliding one. This allows you to reach down, slide the door out of the way, and grab what you need, no bending or door-dodging needed.
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Go For One Big Drawer
One of my favorite innovations in bathroom vanity storage is the use of a single oversized drawer instead of a cabinet or many smaller drawers. This is most often seen in wall mounted vanities, but because I talk about those quite a bit, instead I’ll point to this Shadowbox Vanity from Porcher. These use one large drawer designed to accommodate the plumbing so you get all the usable space right up to the level of your counter. They’re also often well designed on the inside, making them ideal to look down into and find what you need (though unlike the one from Vigo, you will have to step back to use it!).
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This certainly isn’t the most elaborate or ornate solution to the problem of bathroom vanity storage, but I think it’s one of the more elegant. Instead of a cabinet or a drawer or even shelves, this simple Catalina Vanity from Ronbow offers a simple, straightforward cubby. It’s easy to access, just at the right height, and large enough to fit all your most important toiletries – from toothpaste to hand towels. Obviously people with a lot of hair care products, makeup, or other grooming items might want a little additional storage, but this petite wall mount bathroom vanity is innovative for its sheer simplicity.
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Don’t Despair For Style
You might be noticing something of a trend here. The best designed bathroom vanities in terms of storage capabilities are often ones that tend toward the contemporary or even modern end of the spectrum. But if you want a traditional style, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice usability. This St. Charles Vanity from Cole+Co does, admittedly, suffer from the aforementioned faux-drawer panel, but it makes up for it with five fully functioning drawers, four small ones and one large one at the bottom. This design sections off the cabinet space to help keep all your smaller items organized, accessible, and easy to find, where they might get lost in a larger single cabinet.
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The emphasis on aesthetics over utility encourages people to choose bathroom vanities on appearance alone. All too often, it’s not until you actually try to find a place to put all your stuff that you realize how inconvenient standard large-cabinet bathroom vanities really are. So if you’re in the market for a new bathroom vanity, especially if you have a small bathroom, you should keep an eye out for one of these innovative storage solutions. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did when you’re trying to find a place to put your mouthwash. Do you have a bathroom vanity you love? One you especially hate? What storage solutions work for you, and which ones do you wish you had?
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