European homes are much smaller than your average American one – their cities are, typically, more densely populated, with compact buildings and not a whole lot of sprawl. And that’s made European designers very, very good at making the most of small spaces. So if you happen to have an uncomfortably small bathroom and aren’t quite sure how to bring it up to snuff, the best advice I can give you is: look to the other side of the pond. They’ve had a whole lot more practice designing for tight spaces, and have come up with some pretty innovative (and aesthetically pleasing) solutions. I’m personally fond of Italian designer Iotti for their extremely small footprint bathroom vanities, which have smart storage and a whole lot of modern style.
Not Merely Small
One of the smartest things about compact European bathroom vanities is that they aren’t just narrow, they’re also shallow, with a depth somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 inches to a foot, rather than the standard, which is double that or more. That means you’ll have a lot more room to move around in the bathroom, not to mention a space that looks and feels a lot more open. This small, simple change can even open up a few more options for how you’re going to configure your bathroom furniture. While this type of low profile design might not leave you with a whole lot of counter space, the slim, trim, minimal depth means you’ll have a vanity that’s hardly there – nothing to bump into, and nothing to visually crowd your space.
I truly believe that having less space breeds innovation, especially when it comes to trying to stow your stuff. While your typical American small bathroom vanity has one cavernously large, totally unorganizable cabinet, European bathroom vanities, including those from Iotti, tend to use even less space more judiciously. Take this Linear Vanity for example. Where your typical bathroom vanity would have had a single cabinet, this one has a smaller, two-door cabinet and two easily accessible drawers, all of which are raised to waist level so you never have to bend down to get what you’re looking for. That makes it easier to keep all of your stuff organized – and makes it easier to get to all the little stuff that you use every day but might not want to leave on the counter. Plus, because the vanity is so shallow, it’s almost impossible to misplace your items in the back of your cabinet.
Minimal But Multi-Purposed
Because European style bathroom vanities are so compact, some of them can even be used for multiple purposes. Take this Fly Vanity for example – it’s little more than a shelf with a sink and a drawer, but it can be installed high enough off the ground to use comfortably either while standing or while sitting in front of it, which means it can easily be used as a dressing table. This style is nice if you want to have a lot of makeup or hair care products readily available, as the wide drawer is ideal for keeping small items spread out and easy to find, especially if you’re sitting right in front of it. And, heck, if you use a stool instead of a chair, you can store the stool completely underneath the vanity wen you aren’t using it, so it won’t take up any extra space.
It’s not just European style bathroom vanities that are well designed. Many of Iotti’s offerings are part of larger sets, often including multiple types of storage cabinets and medicine cabinets as well as sinks, faucets, and mirrors. All of these add-ons do one thing incredibly well: they make use of horizontal space. Like the vanities they’re paired with, most of Iotti’s storage cabinets are slim in profile, and usually have a wall mounted installation. They offer freestanding cabinets, too, but wall mounted ones make it possible to get a lot more storage space without having to sacrifice any floor space at all – simply stick the cabinet on the unused wall space surrounding the vanity. Even the largest cabinets are relatively small and packed full of storage, but the smallest ones are only about seven inches deep, so they can be hung almost anywhere without getting in the way.
Wall mounted storage cabinets are also typically small enough that you can easily hang more than one to get exactly the amount of storage you need. Of course, more than two is probably overkill for most, but however many you need, these slim profile cabinets offer a simpler, sleeker way to get the storage you need that most American designs simply don’t offer. The Simple vanity set above has a lovely sense of symmetry with one cabinet mounted on either side, and both cabinets are totally out of the way, in a space that otherwise probably wouldn’t have been used. Heck, the vanity even has its own built in towel rack, so you won’t have to waste wall space putting one in. Because the cabinets are so shallow, they’ll keep your storage neat, organized, and easy to access.
Like I said, the Europeans have had a little practice with this! So if you have a truly small bathroom and are at your wits’ end trying to figure out what to do with it… try thinking European! What do you think of these petite, European style bathroom vanities? Let me know in the comments below!