Even if you love antique bathroom vanities and authentic period styles, a bathroom is probably the last place in the world you’d want to put a real antique. Between the daily use, spills, and fluctuating humidity, you’d have a disaster waiting to happen. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t have a genuine-looking antique bathroom vanities out there to play the part. I’m not talking your typical antique-inspired bathroom vanity, with exotic wood veneers and elaborate carvings. I’m talking truly decadent antique bathroom vanities for a perfect focal point in a lavish period style bathroom.
While quality wood and intricate hand finished detailing are a good start for an antique bathroom vanity, if that’s all you’re looking for, you might as well start your search with traditional bathroom vanities. They’re a little less elaborate and a lot less showy, but they’re also better suited for a more neutral, timeless bathroom. If you want a specifically period inspired style, keep in mind how lavish (and often exclusive) the bathroom space used to be. Look for antique bathroom vanities like this Antique Cherry Vanity that combine exotic wood and carved detailing with elaborate hardware and decadent, parlor-style shapes.
Traditional bathroom vanities are often structurally quite similar to more contemporary bathroom cabinets – long, rectangular, and static. In a way, that makes them invisible. Even with very lush woodwork, it’s still visually a storage space. To really make a statement with antique bathroom vanities, you need to think a little outside the box, opting for rounded units like this Antique Walnut Vanity from Legion Furniture. Simply clipping the corners and giving the vanity a little curve acts as a little visual surprise, and can help turn your vanity into a focal point of your bathroom.
Another thing to look for are antique bathroom vanities that echo other types of furniture. Especially in the days before indoor plumbing was common, bathroom furnishings weren’t constrained by the location of the plumbing. So look for a bathroom vanity that looks freestanding, more like an elegant table or chest than a cabinet. Better still, choose something that also has a beautiful vessel sink like this Semi Circle Vanity from JSG Oceana. It will evoke antique washbasin while helping to make your bathroom vanity a more interesting focal point.
Dresser style vanities work in a similar way. Though this Dresser Vanity is about as wide as your average cabinet (and much heftier than a real dresser), the curved edges and dresser-style hardware set it apart. Even if those drawers only ever hold rolled up towels, the style makes a great basis for a lavish period inspired bathroom, and a great prop to help you bring back the slow, sophisticated ritual of bathing and dressing of bygone days (rather than our modern shower and dash!).
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to go big to have a beautiful, lavish, period-inspired bathroom. Smaller antique bathroom vanities, like this Goblet Style Vanity from Silkroad Exclusive comes with all the ornate detailing and eye-grabbing pizazz you want for a really decadent style. Pedestal vanities in general are, admittedly, not a terribly traditional or authentic choice, but for a smaller guest bathroom or powder room, they work incredibly well to elevate your decor.
Some antique bathroom vanities, like this Dark Cherry Vanity are made for decoration. Open shelved bathroom vanities make a perfect platform for little trinkets, and this one is perfectly suited to small antique glass bottles or even a silver soap tray. While the vanity itself is fairly simply adorned, with delicate beaded carvings and tooled, spindly legs, the space afforded by the open shelves gives you plenty of room to customize and emphasize your antique bathroom decor.
To really take your period inspired bathroom to the next level, though, it might be time to throw woodwork out the window. Authentic antique design relied heavily not only on wood, but also on color, texture, and pattern. This Aquarelle Vanity from Sterling Lighting is relatively simple when it comes to the woodwork, but is unique and eye catching in almost every other way. The slightly distressed teal finish is the perfect pair for luxurious upholstery and window dressings. At the same time, the silver paint adds a little flair and takes the place of floral carvings typical to antique bathroom vanities. Finally, the vanity has a sassy, unconventional shape and antique style feet and molding, which make it a perfect, lavish focal point.
This Jakarta Vanity might not pass for an antique vanity if you had it to pull out of a lineup. But for a truly decadent bathroom decor, you really can’t beat the stained-glass style paneling and matching vessel sink. While it’s far from traditional, the shape and styling of this vanity make it a picture-perfect centerpiece. The simple ebony (rather than wood) finish makes it easy to pair with a wide variety of materials and styles, but the pane-style peepholes and rich color make it a perfect pair for a vintage decor. If you’re looking for something really opulent, this modern twist on a vintage style is a great way to pull it off.
The simple difference between typical antique bathroom vanities and ones suited for a truly lavish style is, quite simply, the “wow” factor. For a bathroom vanity to stand out, and especially if you want it to carry your bathroom space, look for ones with different shapes, colors, textures, and materials to get just that little something new. What do you have in mind for your new antique bathroom decor? Let me know in the comments!