The best antique bathroom vanities are those with high quality finishes. Real antiques don’t look like you bought them brand shiny new from your favorite boutique, and to get an authentic antique look and feel, your bathroom vanities shouldn’t be, either. There are a lot of different types of antique finishes, from simple aged paint to elaborate multi-tone designs, each one accenting a different aspect of the antique style. Here are a few good examples, and types of finishes to keep an eye out for.
Many of the best antique bathroom vanities have finishes that come in multiple tones, highlighting or shading different parts of the wood in ways that mimic natural aging. This Halee vanity from Soci recreates the natural darkening of wood over time, putting the ornate panels on the front of the vanity in deep (but not solid) shadow. This creates the impression that the wood has been rubbed, worn, and discolored over time, but in a way that’s pleasing. The prominent wood carvings are accented in the same way, enhancing the antique look while attracting the eye to the vanity’s points of interest.
Similarly, drawing attention to the woodwork on antique bathroom vanities with a lighter or even metallic color, as with this Juno vanity from Stufurhome has somewhat the same effect. Instead of making the vanity look worn down and stained with time, doing this makes it looked rubbed light. Especially when the rest of the stain varies slightly in color, this gives the impression of uneven wear and tear. Instead of making it look either faded or too-new, this type of finish strongly visually accents the wood detailing, making even a fairly simple carved design stand out.
Two-Tone Or More
The more colors and layers of finish on antique bathroom vanities, the greater depth the piece will have, both in terms of color and visual interest, as well as antique authenticity. This Trentino vanity from Virtu is made of solid walnut, but with no less than three different stains, darkening the outside edges of the vanity to contrast the lighter paneling on the doors and drawers. The wood detailing has an even darker stain, which makes it stand out dramatically and enhances the appearance of texture. Not only does this intensify the three dimensional aspect of the vanity, but it also creates the impression of a variety of expensive wood types.
Of course, to get the most authentic antique style, you really need to go back to antique methodology. This Celine vanity from Herbeau is easily the most expensive of any of the antique bathroom vanities pictured here, simply because it’s made of heirloom quality solid ash wood with a painstakingly hand-applied antique finish. It’s the wood here that’s the real star, with beautiful, visible, completely natural wood grain with a finish that’s designed to allow the wood to age naturally over time. Not only does this vanity look like an antique to start, but is of such a high quality that it’s actually an antique in the making.
White is one of the most common colors you’ll see antiqued, because it’s just that much easier to pull off than giving wood a weathered finish. Why? Because it’s much easier to reproduce the wear and tear of decades on a painted finish than on a piece of bare wood. While natural wood can take decades to acquire the beautiful, slightly faded glamor of age white vanities like this Weathered White Vanity from Silkroad Exclusive can be painted to look worn down, and then roughed up to ramp up the authenticity. If you’re looking for time worn antique bathroom vanities, a white vanity is really the best place to start.
They can even create fragile-looking white bathroom vanities that look as though the paint has been crackled over time. Like old paintings or painted antique furniture, the hairline cracks in the finish on antique bathroom vanities like this Savannah vanity add both texture and age, but without adding actual flaws to the vanity. If you don’t like the look of wind-blown, worn-down edges on a white vanity, this is a good way to get a cleaner cream finish while still adding antique authenticity.
Black is another excellent choice for truly antique bathroom vanities. This Guild Hall vanity from Kaco is a personal favorite. Kaco’s specialty Sherwin Williams finishes are their greatest claim to fame, and this beauty is certainly no exception. Painted a not-quite-solid black, this vanity has a particularly homey feel, like the vanity has been in the same spot, being used for generations to the point that the finish is starting to grow thin. In fact, they’re just giving you a head start – perfect for a casual, old fashioned bathroom if you happen not to live in the house your great grampa built.
Aged black bathroom vanities can pull off sophisticated just as well as homey, though. This Arlington vanity – also from Kaco and with that same Sherwin William’s finish – uses a similar technique to create quite a different style. By wearing down the edges of all the wood detailing, it perfectly creates the impression of being well-worn, but the slightly faded gold stenciling is what really cinches the look. Hand painted to look like it was fresh and new a couple hundred years ago, the faded, period-authentic design is what really makes authentic antique bathroom vanities.
You can pull off colors in an antique bathroom design as well, but it’s a little harder. Bold colors, even well-weathered ones, are homier than they are antique (like Kaco’s signature kitchen islands). To do it right, you’ve got to find antique bathroom vanities that start with a historical design, paint it in a historical color, and the finish it with a historical design (much like the one on the Arlington vanity) before wearing it down and dirtying it up a little to add age. This Aquarelle from Sterling Lighting is a great example, with a gorgeous silver leaf pattern to go along with the vanity’s rugged, time-worn complexion.
What kind of finish are you looking for in antique bathroom vanities? Would you prefer a vanity with a distressed wood finish or a weathered paint?