Open shelf bathroom vanities are hugely trendy in bathroom design right now. Generally this style is associated with large double vanities – big two-sink fixtures destined for a roomy master bathroom. But if you’re stuck with a smaller bathroom, you aren’t entirely out of luck. In fact, some of the very smallest vanities out there mirror this simple style, and actually make a pretty good storage solution for a smaller space.
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The simplest small open shelf bathroom vanities aren’t substantively different from larger versions: they have a waist high cabinet up top and an open shelf on the base. They’re really just miniature versions of the larger design. That said, there are a few ways to eek a little extra storage space out of this basic design, which can be important in a very small bathroom. First, pay attention to the dimensions of the cabinet itself, not just the vanity as a whole, and make sure the one you choose is tall enough to comfortably hold your tallest toiletries. Also, keep in mind that vanities with vessel sinks rather than drop in or undermount sinks have slightly more room inside the cabinets, because they aren’t quite so full of sink and plumbing!
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While most open shelf vanities have the same small-cabinet-over-shelf design, it is possible to find ones that replace the cabinet with either one large drawer or several smaller ones. Larger drawers will typically be a little odd shaped because they have to accommodate the underside of your sink and plumbing, but despite the lost space, they tend to make it easier to keep your toiletries sorted and accessible. Also be aware that some models combine the two, with a smaller drawer hidden inside the cabinet, so make sure to check the product images (or if there aren’t any of the inside of the cabinet, be sure to check the fine print!).
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Open shelf vanities that have multiple smaller drawers are usually easier to spot, and personally I think they bear a stronger resemblance to larger open shelf bathroom vanities. That said, which one will work better for you is entirely a personal preference. Where large, U-shaped drawers are great for storing large items like hair spray or lotion, more traditional drawers are better for small items, like hair and makeup brushes. You also want to be sure to double check how many functioning drawers the vanity has; often drawers directly beneath the sink are faux panels, or at best are U-shaped on the inside, again to accommodate the sink and plumbing, so you might be sacrificing a little extra storage space to be able to store smaller items.
One of the more unusual twists on this style is to integrate a drawer into the bottom shelf. This veers slightly away from the traditional slatted bottom usually found on open shelf bathroom vanities, but because the drawer doesn’t have to accommodate the sink or plumbing, it actually means you can get a full sized drawer instead of a 1/2 or 2/3ish sized one. That said, while larger, the drawer is less conveniently placed, so you’ll have to decide whether quantity of storage or accessibility is more important.
Some smaller open shelf bathroom vanities have no storage at all beyond, of course, the shelf, but these don’t hold up especially well in a heavily trafficked bathroom. After all, on a very small bathroom vanity there isn’t much room for more than a toothbrush holder, toothpaste, and maybe a bar of soap on the counter, so if you have more toiletries than that, you’ll have to invest in supplemental storage cabinets – or at least look for one with some small amount of storage, like a shelf under the sink to help make up for the lack of counter space.
On the other hand, this type of decorative open shelf bathroom vanity works great in a guest bathroom. Guest bathrooms don’t really require the same amount of storage as a primary bathroom because you won’t need to store all your personal items, but having that simple open shelf also allows you to keep important communal items – like TP and towels – in plain sight for guests who might be shy about digging around in your cabinets. Plus, some of the more daring, modern open shelf vanities make a great, simple way to display a signature vessel sink and create a posh, sophisticated look that will impress your guests.
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