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Small Bathroom Solutions: Pedestal Sinks

I’ll be honest – I have a love hate relationship with pedestal sinks. I think they’re beautiful, traditional, and timeless – the kind of design that looks good and makes anywhere you put it look good, too. The problem is, they’re made to take the place of your bathroom vanity… and all the storage and surface space that come with it. As stunning as really lovely pedestal sinks can be, they don’t exactly come with a convenient place to stash your hair dryer. But I was recently staying with a friend who has 1) a pedestal sink in her 2) very, very small bathroom, and somehow, it worked. It baffled my mixed feelings, and really got me to thinking – what makes a pedestal sink so great for a bathroom when all signs point to it being a terrible choice? Here’s what I came up with.

Pedestal Sinks Are Smaller Than Bathroom Vanities

China Series 28" Traditional Pedestal Sink AR834-AR805 from Whitehaus
China Series 28″ Traditional Pedestal Sink AR834-AR805 from Whitehaus

Well, of course pedestal sinks are smaller than bathroom vanities – it seems almost obvious enough to be a gimmie, but it isn’t really. Your average “small” bathroom vanity ranges between 30 and 36 inches wide. There are smaller ones, of course, but pedestal sinks top out at about 28 inches wide at the widest point, with many models being much narrower. The big thing, though, is that instead of a big bulky vanity body, you get a slim, svelte, often beautifully designed pedestal. In the same way that a dress with an hourglass shape can help visually take in your waist, the tapered structure of a pedestal sink isn’t only literally smaller, it also makes your space seem bigger. While a big vanity can dominate a bathroom, pedestal sinks are more like a svelte accent, making the room seem larger by their smallness and allowing you to put fixtures closer together without them seeming crowded.

Greater Flexibility Of Design

Washington Vitreous China Pedestal Sink 3-398WH 550 From Barclay
Washington Vitreous China Pedestal Sink 3-398WH 550 From Barclay

A subset of the fact that pedestal sinks are smaller than bathroom vanities is that you have a whole lot more flexibility in terms of the actual layout of your bathroom. Because you don’t have to block out as much space, there’s a little bit more wiggle room in what you can put where. For a major renovation, that means the liberty to get creative with where you put your tub and toilet, and for a smaller remodel it means maybe having a little extra floor space or even room for a small storage cabinet. The added clearance you get from a narrow, shallow pedestal sink can really be a game changer in a small or odd-shaped bathroom, since you’ll be able to fit a sink in a smaller space without crowding your other fixtures.

Forced Cleanliness

Colonial White Pedestal Sink LPT962 from Toto
Colonial White Pedestal Sink LPT962 from Toto

One of the unfortunate realities of designer bathrooms is that no one lives in the kind of austerity you see on magazine covers. We have toothbrushes and dirty socks and hair clips and razors and so on that, well, tend to make themselves at home in all those nice clean spaces you probably associate with modern design. It’s why master bathrooms are attached to the master bedroom – so no one mistakenly wanders in and discovers that you leave your towels on the floor. But pedestal sinks, unlike larger bathroom vanities, have exactly enough “counter” space for a toothbrush holder, tube of toothpaste, and a bar or bottle of soap. And, trust me, it’s hard to accumulate clutter when you don’t have a lot of spare space to put stuff. While, yes, it might be an inconvenience to have to stash and stow some of your oft-used items, the flip side is that your bathroom will be a little bit self-policing in the cleanliness department, which can help cut down on clutter.

Symmetry

Dual pedestal sinks can be a major space saver in a small master bathroom, and they provide a nice sense of symmetry, too (by Echelon Custom Homes)
Dual pedestal sinks can be a major space saver in a small master bathroom, and they provide a nice sense of symmetry, too (by Echelon Custom Homes)

You might not think so, but pedestal sinks are actually a great option for a smaller master bathroom. Why? Well, because while you might want two separate sinks in your bathroom so you and your honey aren’t stepping on each other’s toes in the morning, you don’t necessarily need all the space afforded by a big bulky double vanity. Twin pedestal sinks offer clearly designated spaces for each person, with a medicine cabinet for personal items and room for shared storage in between. Again, the appearance of a pedestal sink is much more svelte than a solid vanity, and when set up like this it has quite a nice symmetry to it. Bathroom even smaller? Stick with a single sink, and put his and hers storage on either side.

Plays Well With Others

Sedona Beige Pedestal Sink LT532.8 from Toto
Sedona Beige Pedestal Sink LT532.8 from Toto

Pedestal sinks may not have any built in storage – which is generally a big no-no in my book – but they play surprisingly well with others. Their classic style is a perfect pair for a large white-painted wood-framed medicine cabinet , and their small size opens up space for an additional storage cabinet or cart – even one right next to the sink or over the toilet – to keep your stuff organized and accessible (sometimes even moreso than a bathroom vanity with only one large, amorphous interior chest). Even simply setting a decorative laundry basket alongside your sink is a great way to get more mileage out of your space while still keeping it looking streamlined.

Ultimately, a pedestal sink might not be the absolute best choice available, but for a small bathroom it’s definitely one worth considering – especially if your bathroom is small because you happen to live in a hundred year old house!