Simplicity reigns supreme in contemporary bathroom design, with vanities in particular skewing away from traditional ornate woodwork and more and more towards subtle designs and simple lines. Fortunately, simple doesn’t have to mean boring. If a basic, contemporary shaker style bathroom cabinet doesn’t quite do it for you, one of the best ways to dress up the look is with eye catching hardware. Bold cabinet knobs and oversized drawer pulls are a great way to add a visual interest to a simple vanity and give a basic design a unique and striking personality.
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Big, eye-catching hardware is a bathroom vanity’s version of chunky jewelry: with too much else going on, it can be a little overwhelming, but paired with a simple “outfit” it can be the star of the show. On a sufficiently simple backdrop (which most contemporary and transitional vanities are), the hardware itself doesn’t even have to be particularly elaborate, it just has to be bigger and more distinctive than the basic round knob or rectangular pull. The vanity above, for example, uses pulls that are simple and square, but larger than normal and offset in a slightly saucy checkerboard pattern.
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As long as the vanity is all simple, straight lines, you really have a lot of freedom to go crazy with the hardware, since it will be the one and only really detailed point on the vanity. I absolutely adore the drawer pulls on this Malibu vanity, which are made of gorgeous wooden beads in varying sizes and finishes. The hardware is supremely unusual, which makes it eye catching, and has a lovely texture that instantly elevates the appearance of an otherwise very simple vanity.
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It’s an age-old adage that changing out your cabinet hardware is one of the fastest ways to give your bathroom a facelift, but vanities designed with the hardware in mind can be even more stunning. The oversized semi-circular door pulls on this Ovation vanity would be lovely on any contemporary vanity, but that they accentuate the the patterned wood veneers on the door fronts, showing off the concentric circular design, is something else entirely. Though the vanity itself has almost no textured embellishments, the pattern on the wood and distinctive hardware make it delightfully eye-catching.
Where the knobs are installed matters, too. That might sound a little odd, but hear me out: because cabinet hardware is primarily functional, not decorative, it’s almost always installed with usefulness in mind: i.e., on the front of the drawer or opposite the hinges on a cabinet door. But what that means is that hardware used purely for decoration – and placed somewhere other than the ordinary this-is-a-door-handle spot – immediately gives the vanity an artistic, designer look and feel. The antique-inspired ring pulls on this Mykonos vanity can still be used to open and close the cabinets, but because they’re placed front and center on the cabinet doors, they give the vanity a totally unique and distinctive style, even without a lot of other embellishments.
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Using hardware that isn’t typically found on bathroom vanities is another way to infuse a simple vanity with a slightly exotic look and feel. The door pull on the vanity above looks more like something you’d find on a window than a bathroom vanity (especially paired with the shuttered cabinet doors). The unusual style of the handle paired with its subtle, old fashioned detailing completely change the look and feel of this otherwise very simple, slightly rustic vanity, giving it the look and feel of a reclaimed antique.
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Really, though, vanity hardware doesn’t even have to be particularly unusual to be showy. In fact, on slightly more modern bathroom vanities, more often than not the showiest hardware is almost the same as the simple, standard, rectangular hardware: it’s just bigger, shinier, and sometimes positioned a hair off center or otherwise asymmetrically. By and large, chrome is a no-no finish right now, but on an extremely simple modern vanity done in a dark finish, there’s absolutely nothing more eye-grabbing.
Opting for slightly showier hardware is a great way to enhance a simple, casual vanity design without making it feel too old fashioned or ornate for a contemporary bathroom. What are some of your favorite ways to add a little personality to a simple bathroom style? Let me know in the comments!
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