Shaker style vanities have been a huge staple of the design world over the last year, but in 2016 you can expect shuttered bathroom vanities to start stealing some of the spotlight. Like shaker style cabinets, shuttered cabinets are simple yet classic, with a humble, streamlined appearance and a subtle old world feel that make them an ideal fit for a transitional space. But while shaker style cabinets are fairly strictly minimalist – all sharp lines and angles – shuttered bathroom vanities have a slightly more casual, relaxed feel, evoking their historical origins more clearly than shaker-inspired furniture.
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Shaker furniture’s functionality derives from it’s simplicity – the simple parts and shapes make it easy to assemble and very durable. But a shuttered cabinet’s simplicity comes from its functionality – the slatted front faces are designed to allow air to circulate throughout the cabinet, and it’s only by coincidence that all those simple, straight, parallel lines appeal to the modern eye. The result is that shuttered bathroom vanities retain more of their historical feel because their function is more evident in the design – despite their simplicity, they immediately evoke old farmhouse pantries and laid back beachside cottages.
The two cabinet styles are often mentioned in the same breath, because they both have that relaxed transitional feel, but shuttered cabinets have a bit more substance and style. If not necessarily a more traditional look than shaker style vanities, they certainly have a little more flair and personality, if only for their ability to evoke setting. While shaker style cabinets are chameleons, blending in with almost any setting depending on the type of wood or finish used, shuttered bathroom vanities almost always have that functional/historical feel, whether they’re painted white or polished mahogany.
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That said, the most popular finishes for shuttered bathroom vanities are the same as the ones for shaker styled cabinets – white, and, increasingly, gray. Because both styles are beloved for their transitional feel, it makes sense that the most common finishes also have a neutral, in-between feel. Over the past few years, it was pretty common to see shuttered bathroom vanities done in neutral wood tones to create a beachy, spa-like ambiance, but in 2016, the trend is definitely shifting toward painted finishes, which have a much more modern feel. Wood shuttered cabinets can easily feel too rustic for a contemporary space, but for a transitional design, nothing can match the crisp elegance of a solid gray finish.
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Unlike shaker style cabinets, which are a popular choice for both kitchens and bathrooms, shuttered cabinets are much more popular in bathroom vanity form. While you will occasionally see them in a farmhouse style kitchen, more often they’re used to evoke a Cape Cod style in the bathroom. White shuttered bathroom vanities work particularly well for this, especially when paired with black vanity tops and set against a blue backdrop – either a baby blue for a beachy look, or a deep navy blue for a more nautical-inspired theme. If shaker style vanities are good for creating a cottage style, shuttered bathroom vanities will give the same space a more distinctly seaside feel, and this timeless look is definitely coming back around in 2016.
Interestingly, though shuttered bathroom vanities often have drawers as well as cabinets, it’s rare to see them paired with shaker style drawer faces. Usually, the accents and details are smaller and more subtle, featuring flat panels with very thin, simple frames that allow the shuttered doors to stay at the front and center of the design. While certainly there are exceptions, despite their similarities in popularity and style, shaker style and shuttered cabinets hardly ever appear on the same piece of furniture.
Shuttered bathroom vanities also tend to have a somewhat different layout than most conventional styles. Namely, rather than having a single cabinet door, they typically have two that open from the center. The change is mostly an aesthetic one, again with the aim of evoking a historical design – either cabinets for root vegetables, or more often the shutters used in the windows of Cape Cod style houses – but it also makes shuttered bathroom vanities a surprisingly good choice for a smaller bathroom. Since you need less clearance to open the cabinet doors, it’s easier to access the items inside the vanity without making the space feel crowded.
For years now bathroom design has been trending more modern – transitional rather than traditional – and the rising popularity of shuttered bathroom vanities is a good sign that this trend will continue in 2016. Rather than streamlining ornate antiques, these bathroom vanities merge already-simple old fashioned styles with a modern design for a look that’s classic, but clean, simple, and casual enough for a contemporary lifestyle.
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