Vessel sinks are truly the gems of modern bathroom design. Available in a huge variety of styles, colors, and (often hand-crafted) designs, a vessel sink is the perfect signature touch to give your bathroom a little extra personality. More than any other fixture in a bathroom, a vessel sink is an opportunity to insert a little artistic flair and a little designer chic into your decor. Each one is designed to look one of a kind, and is sure to make a statement.
Traditional bathroom sinks either mount underneath your countertop, are integrated inside it, or have a rim that sits around the edge of the opening in the counter. Vessel sinks, on the other hand, sit directly on top of the vanity, and many of them require no more than a 1-3 inch opening for the drain. Take this elegant Brass Vessel for example – you can actually see how it sits on top of the counter, a little like a bowl.
Many vessel sinks mimic more traditional sinks, and are made out of porcelain, vitreous china, or sometimes fireclay. But these glossy white sinks are anything but ordinary. Some of them are very thick, adding several inches to the whole surface of your vanity top like this Classically Redefined vessel, and are really ultimately not much more than very heavy duty re-imaginings of your basic drop in sink.
The ones in this material that I like tend to have a little more flair, and come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and thicknesses, some of them really wild and others just a cheeky re-imagining of a traditional sink. For example, the design of this Barclay Cascade is relatively simple, like a twist on an old fashioned wash basin, but the curved edges give it just a little sass. The vitreous china is smooth and slightly reflective, and the bowl is deep and almost perfectly spherical at the bottom… but those slightly asymmetrical curvy edges are all modern.
But where vessel sinks get really fun is where they depart entirely from tradition and start getting into more interesting materials. Metal vessel sinks – and I mean copper, brass, and bronze, not steel – are typically hand crafted with beautiful detailing on both the inside and the outside. These come in a wide variety of shapes and styles, from picture perfect stamped patterned bowls like this Grape Vine copper vessel sink from Artisan to free form modern shapes and patterns. Most importantly, with proper maintenance these sinks will age naturally over time and develop a rich, beautiful, one-of-a-kind patina as you use it, which means it will only become more grand and decadent with time.
Stone is another common material for vessel sinks, and they come in two basic types. The first are earthy looking sinks like this Xylem Rough Round Stone sink that are typically polished on the inside, but left rough-hewn and natural on the outside, a little like a geode or split stone. I especially like these as art pieces because each one has a unique natural character and is truly one of a kind. As well, their impressive heft makes them perfect for display – they pair especially well with museum-style pedestal vanities.
The other type of stone sinks are a little more refined, polished on both the inside and the outside for a smooth, finished bowl-shape that’s typically made out of a material similar to what you would use for a countertop – granite, travertine, marble, or even onyx, like this Yellow Honey Vessel. Again, each one of these is completely one of a kind, with a natural stone pattern polished to a fine luster, but with a little less variation and none of the rough texture of partially unfinished sinks.
The nice thing about stone sinks is that you can frequently buy them in tandem with or built directly into your counter top. Many of Silkroad Exclusive’s vanities actually come pre-installed with travertine counters and vessel sinks like this Travertine Vessel. While this does take some of the variety out of your selection, it can actually save you a decent chunk of money to buy your sink this way. And, though there may be a limited number of types of stone to choose from, they are made of 100% natural stone with all the beauty and decadence that go with it.
Last but not least are my personal favorite, glass vessel sinks. These come in an almost infinite selection of colors, patterns, shapes, and designs, and each and every one is a unique, hand-crafted piece of art. From the simplest clear tempered glass sinks like this Icicles sink one to ones with highly detailed scenes hand painted onto the glass, a unique glass vessel sink is really the best way to showcase a little personal flair, especially in a modern style bathroom that might otherwise tend toward the industrial.
Made of colored, tempered glass, glass vessel sinks are designed to be scratch proof and shatter proof, and easily stand up to years and years of daily use and abuse. Even simple textured designs like this Blue Bits Glass Vessel have subtle, natural variations – the natural bubbles in the glass or the exact distribution of the coloration, for example – that make each sink unique and beautiful. At the very least, it’ll give you something interesting to look at while you’re washing your hands.
More elaborate glass sinks like this Livorno have beautiful, intricate patterning designed to catch and beautifully reflect light. Some of them even have subtle metallic elements to enhance the luster of the sink. All brightly colored glass sinks are typically finished to be non-porous, which prevents both staining and fading and can help significantly extend the life of the sink.
Because glass is so malleable, not all of them are necessarily simply bowl shaped. I love this fun and funky Green Leaf Vessel, which is a relatively simple single-colored glass, but is beautifully shaped to look like a bright green spring leaf, veins and all, while still fully functioning as a nice, splash-free sink.
The highest end glass sinks are the hand painted ones. Though you’ll likely purchase a set design (unless you have the sink custom made), because each one is individually crafted, each one is a unique piece of art with one-of-a-kind artisan variations. Depending on your bathroom, the design should capture and reflect your overall aesthetic – this Bamboo Pattern, for example, would look excellent in an Asian influenced bathroom, whereas a vineyard themed one like this Vineyard Grape Design would make a better pair for an Italian villa or French winery influenced decor.
Vessel sinks come in such a huge variety of materials, styles, colors, and designs that no matter which one you choose, it’ll look like a one of a kind masterpiece… and depending on the sink, it really might be. So in a room that’s often largely overlooked and where it can be difficult to add a little personal flair, a bright, bold, beautiful vessel sink might be exactly the finishing touch you’ve been looking for. What material do you like best? Would you rather have a sink that will age naturally over time, a colorful statement piece, or something more subdued?