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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.

Hudson 36" Single Bathroom Vanity in Hampton Gray CABDAVGRY36S from Vanity by Design
Hudson 36″ Single Bathroom Vanity in Hampton Gray CABDAVGRY36S from Vanity by Design

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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.

Ivory 48" Single Bathroom Vanity in Rich Black CABIVOBLK48S from Vanity by Design
Ivory 48″ Single Bathroom Vanity in Rich Black CABIVOBLK48S from Vanity by Design

Even the most thoughtfully designed bathroom vanities have to accommodate the underside of your sink, the water lines, and the drain pipe. Most 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.

London 36" Transitional Espresso Bathroom Vanity TVN414-36X18ES from Eviva
London 36″ Transitional Espresso Bathroom Vanity TVN414-36X18ES from Eviva

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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.

Davenport 36" Single Bathroom Vanity in Hampton Gray CABDAVGRY36S from Vanity by Design
Davenport 36″ Single Bathroom Vanity in Hampton Gray CABDAVGRY36S from Vanity by Design

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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.

Newberry 36" Single Bathroom Vanity in White CABNEWWHI36S from Vanity by Design
Newberry 36″ Single Bathroom Vanity in White CABNEWWHI36S from Vanity by Design

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The good news? This all-too-common cover-up has gotten a more modern upgrade. Instead of a fixed, immovable panel, you’re much more likely to see faux looking drawer fronts that actually tip 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. Of course, pull-out or tip-out drawers are far from exclusive to bathroom vanities with offset sinks, but are a feature that’s commonly paired with them, especially when the cabinets are larger or the sinks are undermount rather than vessel, drop-in, or integrated sinks.

Jasmine 36" Single Bathroom Vanity Set in Hampton Gray CABJASGRY36S from Vanity by Design
Jasmine 36″ Single Bathroom Vanity Set in Hampton Gray CABJASGRY36S from Vanity by Design

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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.

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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