Antique bathroom vanities aren’t particularly known for their storage capacity. In a very small bathroom, a modern style almost always wins, as the straight lines and simple aesthetic make it easier to cram more storage into a compact space without disrupting the design. But more traditional bathroom vanities really shine in larger spaces, with an opulent look and feel and storage options that rival even the most savvy modern designs. Once you get over 40″, antique bathroom vanities actually have a lot more storage options than you might think.
In the standard 30-36″ inch range, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room for innovation in traditional vanity designs, and a cursory glance at antique vanities in this smaller size bracket will reveal a whole lot of the same. The problem, ultimately, is that most traditional vanities have undermount sinks. That means the whole of the sink – and all of its plumbing – is beneath the vanity top, effectively barring any type of storage except a large cabinet. Anything above and beyond that width, though, is pure storage, and one of the most common options is to simply add a row of drawers on either side.
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These drawers can be bigger or smaller, depending on the width of the vanity and the size of the cabinet (which can be as narrow as the sink), though once you get above 48″, you start venturing into double vanity territory. That said, single antique vanities can run as large as up to 60″, and even with a standard sized cabinet, that makes for a whole lot of drawer storage, even with this relatively simple layout.
The designs only improve from there. One of my personal favorites involves playing flip-flop with the cabinets and drawers. That is, rather than having your standard central cabinet, placing the drawers in the center (and at either upper corner) and placing a much smaller cabinet at either side. This is a seemingly small change that has a surprising visual and practical impact. Because antique bathroom vanities in this style are a little less common, they feel fresh without breaking too far out of the traditional mold, and the storage is just that much more efficient.
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Admittedly, the drawers will have to be slightly lowered (and one possibly U-shaped on the inside) to accommodate for the sink and plumbing, but not only does this allow for more drawer storage in a slightly smaller footprint, it also makes the cabinets more convenient, too. Their smaller size makes it harder to misplace items and easier to keep items organized and sorted. They’re also just large enough to house the tall, narrow objects (a stack of toilet paper rolls, a big bottle of hair spray, etc.) that aren’t really meant to go in a drawer.
The designs of other antique bathroom vanities get even more creative, mixing drawers, cabinets, and hidden shelves in various arrangements. The vanity above has three functioning drawers – one at each corner and the lower drawer face in the middle – and three cabinets, two tall with shelves inside, and one smaller one in the middle. Again, compartmentalizing the storage makes it more efficient. The two small drawers at the top corners are great for storing your most oft-used items, while the smaller cabinets (with shelves!) are perfect for keeping all your personal items organized and easy to find.
For those that strongly prefer drawer storage, consider getting a dresser style vanity. These are very distinct antique bathroom vanities that have either two, three, or four very very large drawers and are designed to look like antique chests of drawers. Again, the top drawer will often be odd shaped or even faux drawer panel, depending on the design, but in the case of the former that only means it will be slightly smaller and segmented for easy organization. Dresser style vanities with especially large drawers can even be used as linen cabinets.
Finally, open shelf bathroom vanities are also a surprisingly storage smart option. These are typically wide enough to have two small drawers at either corner, and like more conventional antique bathroom vanities can either have a cabinet or drawers placed beneath the sink. But rather than having closed storage on either side, these have two or three simple, exposed shelves. Now, while you might not want to leave your more personal items out, this is a great way to show of decorative toiletries – like pretty soaps, natural sponges, or antique bottles – to give your space a more elegant look and feel.
What kind of storage do you prefer? And what do you think of these storage smart antique bathroom vanities? Let me know in the comments!
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