The first step in any major bathroom remodel is deciding on a type of decor. Depending on the style of the rest of your home, the choice might be obvious. But if your home doesn’t fit neatly into a particular style, the age-old traditional vs. modern debate might be a little more complicated. If a traditional design would be too ornate, and a modern design too spare, it might be time to look to a design that falls somewhere in between. Transitional bathroom design strikes a compromise between the elegance of older styles and the sleek, simple lines of a more contemporary design. Transitional bathroom vanities are a great place to start building this look for your bathroom.
Transitional Is The New Traditional
Traditional design is so called for a reason: it’s been around a long time, and people tend to gravitate towards it, both out of a sense of habit and history. But for the first time, more modern styles are starting to surpass “traditional” as the most popular. Many designers are paring down traditional vanities to better fit a contemporary decor. With less intricate detailing, more uniform coloration, and often more thoughtful storage, transitional bathroom vanities combine the elegance of traditional design with a simpler, more casual contemporary vibe.
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Transitional bathroom vanities echo the formal, traditional design, but without so much detailed woodwork. Instead of column or floral style detailing on the corners, transitional vanities leave the lines clean, and bring out the traditional aspect with more subtle details, like decoratively paneled doors and bun-style feet. This alternative choice of woodwork plays up the sophistication and nostalgia of traditional design, but is much, much better suited to the wide, open, and clutter-free spaces that are more appealing to the contemporary eye.
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Traditional design has always prized real wood of all colors and varieties, but that’s significantly less true of contemporary design. With homeowners making every effort to make their homes greener, you’re starting to see a lot more furniture made of MDF, plywood, or sustainably grown hardwoods. Transitional bathroom vanities are often finished with a deep espresso brown, mirroring traditional mahogany but without the expense of exotic hardwoods. As well, while traditional bathroom cabinets often come in white or off white, transitional vanities often come in black. This more modern color highlights the contemporary feel while creating a new sort of elegance and sophistication to mimic a more traditional style.
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In traditional design – especially where antique styles are involved – you tend to see a lot of weathered finishes. With off whites especially, this is generally a way to create the image of age and authenticity. The same is true of transitional bathroom vanities, but the effect is slightly different. Both attempt to create an air of history: for antique style vanities, it’s a history that implies rarity, value, and luxury; for transitional vanities it’s a more casual, well-worn weathering, like a favorite piece of furniture you remember from your childhood at gramma’s house.
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One of my least favorite thing about most traditional bathroom vanities is that while they might be pretty on the outside, they typically aren’t designed very well for accommodating modern toiletries. But many transitional vanities go the way of modern design, streamlining cabinets and adding drawers and shelving to optimize storage, especially for smaller everyday items. The difference, though, is that modern bathroom vanities are very minimalist and utilitarian, often very square and with little or no ornamentation. If you want a smart design on the inside AND outside of your bathroom vanity, transitional is definitely the way to go.
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What I personally like the best about transitional bathroom vanities is that they don’t need a whole lot of backup to look good. Often antique vanities look out of place unless paired with lots of real stone, dark wood, heavy fabric, and decorative lighting fixtures. Transitional vanities are simple enough to work with subway tile, beadboard, or just plain old paint. But even paired with a simple decor, they have enough traditional style to lend a sleek sense of sophistication to your design.
What do you think of a transitional bathroom design? Do you lean more towards the modern, the traditional, or is this just the right spot in the middle?
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