In a recent post, I mentioned that it’s a little more difficult to find antique style bathroom vanities that have good, usable storage options. Drawers tend not to mesh well with a conventional small cabinet, and many designers overlook even including shelves inside. But today I’d like to take a look at one of the big exceptions: antique vanities that are designed to look like a chest of drawers, dresser, or bombe chest.
The swap here is both simple and ingenious. Most antique vanities are comprised of a single large cabinet with a counter and sink on top, which leaves little or no room for small item storage. But trade that large, open cabinet for a dresser style design, and you immediately get the best of both worlds. On the one hand, these antique-inspired pieces are both ornate and elegant, with beautiful carved details and luxurious wood finishes. On the other, they deftly replace a large, disorganized cabinet with two, three, or more usable, accessible drawers.
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Personally, I prefer dresser style bathroom vanities with more, smaller drawers, but what works best for you will depend entirely on what you store as well as your most oft-used toiletries. Small drawers are ideal for organizing small items – makeup, cotton swabs, razors, hand towels or washcloths – while you probably want a larger drawer for things like hair driers, hair spray, toilet paper, or full sized towels. Occasionally you’ll find dresser style bathroom vanities that have a few of both, but most models will only have drawers in a single size, so it’s important to consider which will work better for you before you buy.
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Dresser style bathroom vanities come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Ones inspired by French Bombe chests are svelte and petite, with a narrow, curvy build and small footprint, and tend to be among the smallest (and most storage efficient) of any type of antique bathroom vanity. But you can also find vanities modeled after much larger, heftier dressers, too. These are typically wider and more rectangular in design, with usually three very large, very wide rectangular drawers, just like an actual dresser. Which style works better for you will depend, of course, on the size constraints of your bathroom and your preference for storage, but also to a certain extent on the overall aesthetic of the space, since bombe chests have a very sleek, feminine appearance while heftier models are much more masculine.
If you’re hesitant to give up the cabinet entirely, look for slightly rounded dresser style bathroom vanities that sneak in some small cabinet space on either side of the main drawers. These are often camouflaged as simple panels, with just a small knob or pull on a curved door that opens up to a wedge-shaped cabinet, sometimes with a shelf in the middle. I really love this type of cabinet, as the smaller size makes it easier to keep the items inside visible and organized. And with one on either side of the vanity, it offers just enough space for storing those larger items – like a stack of TP, soap refill bottle, or cleaning products – that won’t fit with your personal items in the main drawers.
Now, dresser style bathroom vanities aren’t what we typically think of as being “antique” in style. But in many ways these vanities are actually more authentic. The concept of having a bathroom as its own separate room is actually a fairly modern one. Bathrooms as we think of them today didn’t really show up until very late in the Victorian era and beyond, and even then only really as a novelty. Victorian bathers believed in washing leisurely and air drying before dressing, all in a single, comfortable, lounge-like space. While you might not have time to do the same every morning, dresser style bathroom vanities can help evoke some of that plush, relaxed opulence and dressing room feel.
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If you choose to go this route, I can’t caution you strongly enough to pay attention to what you’re actually getting. Very often, traditional vanities will be designed with a front face that looks like drawers, but opens up into a large cabinet without a single drawer in sight. Sometimes you can see the hinges of the “drawer” door on the outside, but often they aren’t visible at all on a cursory inspection. Almost all antique vanities will have at least one false drawer directly beneath the counter (where the underside of the sink and plumbing hang out), so it’s incredibly important to take stock of the number, size, and location of the functioning (and faux) drawers on any antique bathroom vanity.
What do you think of these dresser style bathroom vanities?
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