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The Big Secret To Better Small Bathroom Storage: Offset Sinks

There are a million tips and tricks out there for sneaking more storage into a small bathroom and in recent years bathroom vanity design itself has gotten smarter than ever. Better storage space – and making the most of smaller spaces – is on everyone’s mind right now, from designers to homeowners, and even to the people making the furniture for your spaces. I think that’s why I’m starting to see a lot more of my very favorite space saving bathroom feature: bathroom vanities with offset sinks.

I’ve talked a bit here and there about these types of vanities before, But for those who aren’t long time readers, I’ll give you the simple gist: if you want to make a small bathroom more usable, an offset sink is hands down the best feature to look for. While it might seem like a change so small as to be inconsequential, shifting the sink a few inches to one side or the other actually completely restructures the way the vanity is built. Why? Because moving the sink means moving the plumbing, and moving the plumbing means opening up a whole host of new options.

Even the most thoughtfully designed bathroom vanities have to accommodate the underside of your sink, the water lines, and the drain pipe. Many storage smart bathroom vanities accomplish this by creating U-shaped drawers that wrap around the plumbing, filling space that’s typically left open (and unusable) in conventional single cabinet vanities. It’s an improvement to be sure, and a good solution for many designs, but offsetting the sink can actually eliminate the need for complicated drawer designs entirely.

How do they do it? Simple: Moving the sink to one side leaves the opposite end of the vanity clear of all the hardware, aka with ample room for a full suite of drawers that go all the way up to the level of the counter. In a small vanity, using that side space for drawer storage also means tightening up the size of the cabinet, making it narrower and typically much shorter (with more drawer or shelf storage underneath). This change in turn results in a petite cabinet that’s great for storing tall toiletries and cleaning products… without leaving a bunch of empty, unused space in the prime storage real estate right beneath the counter.

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A few years ago, when vessel sinks were hitting their peak trendiness, they were also pitched as a way to do something similar: if the sink sits on top of the counter rather than underneath it, you have that much more storage space (and less plumbing taking up space) inside the cabinet itself. Now, bathroom vanities with offset vessel sinks are a little less common, which is a little more on trend, but often means these vanities regain one of my least favorite features: a faux drawer or decorative panel just under the counter top that covers up the space occupied by the sink.

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London Stanmark 36" Single Sink Vanity Set in White Finish With Drawers on The Right DEC076D-W-R from Design Element
London Stanmark 36″ Single Sink Vanity Set in White Finish With Drawers on The Right DEC076D-W-R from Design Element

The good news? Most bathroom vanities with offset sinks resist this all-too-common cover-up, opting instead to take one of two much more functional solutions. First (though more rarely), you’ll find ones that replace the single fixed, immovable panel with a faux looking drawer front that actually tips forward, revealing a small amount of storage space snuck into the few free inches around the sink. These “drawers” are just the right size for small toiletries like tweezers or toothpaste tubes, and are great for keeping your counter clear. More likely, though, you’ll find cabinets designed with a bank of drawers one one side, a small cabinet directly beneath the sink (to accommodate the plumbing) and an additional drawer down below, to help maximize your storage space.

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All that said, my very favorite thing about offsetting a bathroom sink has nothing to do with all the storage it facilitates within the vanity itself and everything to do with the counter space it creates up top. While most vanities in the 36″-48″ range have a little sliver of counter space to either side of a wide sink, pushing the sink and plumbing one way or another makes a surprisingly wide, extremely usable surface space. It’s no makeup table, but in a small bathroom, it can mean the difference between precariously balancing items to either side of your sink and actually having room to leave out a nice-looking display of items.

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Center-placed sinks are obviously still the standard in the bathroom vanity industry, and even now trying to find one with an offset sink can be a little hit or miss. But if you’ve been wracking your brain trying to find a way to make your small bathroom more usable, the answer might not be a hyper-modern bathroom vanity jam-packed with unique storage options. It might just mean taking a traditional style and scooting the sink a few inches sideways.

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