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A Fresh Twist On Shaker Style Bathroom Vanities

Shaker style vanities are one of the hottest new trends in bathroom design this year, in no small part because they’re such a great pair for the relaxed, casual-yet-elegant look that’s become so desirable in all areas of home design. But while traditional shaker style cabinets are fairly simple and square, there are a few ways to dress up and personalize this look for a style that will really stand out. 

What Is A Shaker Cabinet?

Chatham 30" Shaker Vanity VAN090-30-T from Hardware Resources
Chatham 30″ Shaker Vanity VAN090-30-T from Hardware Resources (click image for product details)

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The most basic shaker style bathroom vanities are closer to the kinds of cabinets you’d find in the kitchen than a traditional bathroom vanity. Rather than a single cabinet door, they typically have two doors side by side, though they’ll often also have a drawer or faux drawer panel above the cabinet just beneath the counter. The most defining feature, though, is the cabinet doors, which have a smooth, flat surface and a fairly thick but very simple and straight rectangular frame – basically the simplest possible form of flat panel cabinet door. This combination of sharp, clean, simple lines has a very contemporary feel, but the presence and prominence of the frame also evokes more traditional and ornate styles, which makes shaker style cabinets feel a bit more elegant and classic than a more modern slab style door.

Give It Some Lift

Seacliff Bayhill 42" Bathroom Vanity SCBAY42SCG from Ariel
Seacliff Bayhill 42″ Bathroom Vanity SCBAY42SCG from Ariel (click image for product details)

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One of the simplest ways to change up the look of a shaker style vanity (and one of the easiest ways to get a look that’s even trendier) is to put shaker doors on an open shelf style bathroom vanity. Open shelf vanities have become a staple of a relaxed, spa style bathroom, and adding shaker style doors gives them a cozy cottage or seaside vibe, particularly if done in a light shade of wood or a clean white finish. Shaker style vanities often have feet, but giving them a little more lift and adding a simple shelf underneath adds visually pleasing white space that can help make the bathroom feel more open and spacious.

Asymmetry

Seacliff Nantucket 42" Single Bathroom Vanity Set SCNAN42SWG from Ariel
Seacliff Nantucket 42″ Single Bathroom Vanity Set SCNAN42SWG from Ariel (click image for product details)

Ditching the traditional two-door style in favor of a single cabinet door paired with a column of drawers is also a way to pretty drastically alter the look of a shaker style bathroom vanity while still getting many of the benefits of the overall aesthetic. Shifting to an asymmetrical style will give the vanity a much more modern feel and emphasize the sharp simplicity of the lines, but it will still have a softer, more relaxed feel than a more modern frameless cabinet. The added bonus for this look is that you have a little more flexibility in terms of storage.

Vary Size And Shape

Milano 48" Vanity Cabinet 065148 from RonBow
Milano 48″ Vanity Cabinet 065148 from RonBow (click image for product details)

Changing up the size, shape, and placement of the doors is another great way to give a shaker style bathroom vanity a more unique and distinctive look. The Milano vanity above is a great example, with two thin, elongated cabinet doors, two shortened cabinets, and two long, thin drawers. Though they’re all done in a very simple shaker style, the final effect feels much more nuanced and traditional feeling. As with creating a more asymmetrical shaker vanity, playing around with the number, placement, and orientation of cabinets and drawers is also a way to get a better storage layout for your bathroom.

Add Detail

Urban North Hamption 72" Double Vanity 900-V72-WCH-ABK from James Martin
Urban North Hamption 72″ Double Vanity 900-V72-WCH-ABK from James Martin (click image for product details)

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The stereotypical shaker style cabinet door has a simple frame and no other ornamentation, but it isn’t unheard of for them to have a little more detail, too. Admittedly, it’s not the kind of detail you’d find on other types of cabinets: there’s no wood carving, layers, beveling, or patterning. Instead, more “ornate” shaker cabinets simply add more of the same simple rectangular bars that make up the frame of the cabinet door. Adding a simple vertical bar down the middle is one of the most common options (for a “two panel” door), but horizontal bars at 2/3 or 3/4 height are also a common embellishment.

Play With Lines And Thickness

Madison 60" Double Vanity In Cottage White 800-V60D-CWH from James Martin
Madison 60″ Double Vanity In Cottage White 800-V60D-CWH from James Martin (click image for product details)

On a traditional shaker style cabinet, the frame around the cabinet panel should be almost completely seamless – the places where the top, bottom, and sides of the frame meet should only be  visible on close inspection. But some shaker-inspired cabinets intentionally leave a small gap between these pieces to give the vanity a subtly different look. Showing straight horizontal lines can give the vanity a slightly more contemporary feel (though this is the more conventional way of constructing the doors), while having visible angled joints at the corners has a more old fashioned feel. Also, pay attention to the thickness of the frame; shaker style cabinets come in all shapes and sizes, but having a thick, thin, or medium width frame can have a big difference on the overall appearance of the vanity.

What do you think of these slightly unconventional shaker style cabinets? Do you like the hybrid contemporary/traditional look and feel of this trend? Let me know in the comments below!

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