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Modular Bathroom Vanities: Building A Custom Bathroom For Less

When you’re shopping for a new bathroom vanity, it can seem like you have two options: either buy a pre-made vanity from your local big box hardware store, or shell out for custom cabinet work. But having someone else design and build your vanity isn’t the only way to customize your space. Modular bathroom vanities have gotten more sophisticated in the last few years. While they were once simply a way to decorate a larger bathroom without a custom price tag, more sophisticated modular pieces have made it possible to get the distinctive look of built-in cabinetry sets that you can pick, choose, and install yourself.

What Is A Modular Bathroom Vanity?

An image of a modular double vanity, with one vanity on either side and a large tower in the center.
This vanity set looks like a custom job, but is actually five modular pieces from James Martin’s Addison Collection – plus two mirrors and a seat

Simply put, modular bathroom vanities are cabinets that come in several pieces, that you can assemble into a larger unit. In the past, that usually meant two matching bathroom vanities, plus a connecting cabinet or bridge. The idea? To make it easier to ship very large vanities, and possible to get them up stairs and through doors. This practical solution spawned a whole slew of stylish makeup vanities – which then became a trend in custom cabinetry. Now, modular vanity sets have made another leap forward. Upping the variety of supplemental storage options makes it possible to fine tune a built-in cabinet look from pre-purchased parts.

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So How Does It Work?

An image of a single bathroom vanity with tower-style linen cabinets on either side.
This vanity is also composed of parts from the Addison Collection – but a different color, cabinet sizes, parts, paneling, and configuration create a radically different finished look

There’s a beautiful simplicity to modular bathroom vanity design. All the pieces fit together – and I don’t mean like IKEA furniture. Rather, each individual piece is free-standing, but when you push them all completely together, they form a single seamless piece. Now, some of the more complex pieces might need a little more sophisticated installation, like wall mounted floating cabinets. But by and large, any modular piece will fit with all the pieces in the set, in any configuration.

Why Do I Want A Modular Bathroom Vanity?

An image of a modular bathroom vanity that has only a single sink, but two large cabinets and vanity tables to either side.
Modular bathroom vanity sets like this one make it easy to visualize and assemble your ideal vanity, no matter the dimensions of your space.

The fun starts when you see a whole big collection, and start to imagine what you can do with it. Those cool designs that used to require custom fitting and installation are now well within reach. Pre-made vanities often come paired with linen cabinets that match, but are free-standing. Modular vanities give you the look of a single solid unit, with a layout that works for your bathroom. A common custom built layout is two vanities with a tall linen cabinet in between. In the past, that was well out of the possibility for a pre-fab vanity. Even recently, you were looking at two cabinets with a lowered central piece, and an uneven counter. Now, though, it’s possible to find the parts you need to get the look you want.

Prioritizing Your Storage

A diagram featuring parts from the DeSoto collection, arranged to mimic a built in cabinetry
This diagram illustrates a proposed layout based on parts from James Martin’s DeSoto Collection, which uses an asymmetrical design to better distribute the vanity’s storage.

For years now, I’ve preached the importance of choosing a bathroom vanity that has good internal storage. The vast majority (and most budget-friendly) of bathroom vanities have a single, wide-open cabinet. But drawers, shelves, cubbies, and chargers can turn that basic box into a piece of furniture you enjoy using. Modular bathroom vanities let you address your storage needs on a larger scale; not only are you controlling the features of the cabinet, but the number, type, and placement of your add-ons. In a master bathroom shared by two, controlling the layout of your space (and letting each partner pick and place their own storage) will not only give you a gorgeous custom look, but can help reduce conflict over who stores what, where.

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An Easier Way To Decorate A Big Bathroom

An image of a white modular vanity that features two small cabinets connected by a tower, and a matching separate linen cabinet.
The beauty of modular vanity collections, like the Athens Collection from James Martin, is that you can add as many or as few pieces as your space requires.

In a really big bathroom, it can seem like custom cabinetry is the only way to go – if only to fill up the space. After all, most standard bathroom vanities top out at 72 inches. Even with multiple add-on linen cabinets, that can leave a large bathroom feeling unfinished. Basic modular sets can bump that width up to as much as ten feet wide, but do so with a samey symmetry and uneven surface that leaves something wanting. More sophisticated sets can fill a large space more organically – with linen cabinets, make up tables, extra drawers, and towers. The one drawback? Neither type of modular vanity is particularly good at rounding corners – at least not yet!

A Modular Look For A Small Bathroom?

An image of a small modern vanity with matching add-on cabinets hung on the wall and attached to the adjacent mirror.
This petite vanity may look simple, but it’s comprised of four modular parts – a small portion of James Martin’s Milan Collection – that’s engineered to fit together in almost any configuration for a huge degree of customizability

As a final note, while modular sets are often the domain of bigger bathrooms, minimalist modular cabinetry has long been a space-saving staple of smaller bathrooms. Rather than big connector pieces or hefty linen cabinets, that means smaller pieces that modify a base cabinet and mirror, adding storage in spots where it’s needed most. This is actually something that pre-made vanities do better than custom work (or at least, do it for less!). The core pieces are typically basic wall-hung cubes. But the way you install the add-ons allows you to create a compact, stylish look that perfectly fits your needs.

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For too long, “custom” cabinetry meant you had to pay someone else to build the vanity you wanted. But with new sophisticated and extensive modular vanity collections making their debut on the market, you can do that customizing without the middle man. Simply choose the parts and pieces you like, arrange them the way you want, and be ready to enjoy your dream vanity – right out of the box.