Gray is one of the hottest colors in home design right now. It’s showing up in everything from tile to tea towels, and recently there’s been a big surge in the popularity of gray bathrooms, and gray bathroom vanities in particular. This seemingly neutral color is the perfect transitional bridge between a cool modern color scheme and a more traditional palette, giving vanities a contemporary style that still has a slightly formal look and feel.
There are two big trends that are fueling the rising popularity of the color gray, and interestingly enough, one of them is all about modern materials, and the other is about a return to classic design. On the modern side of things, stainless steel and concrete have become major hallmarks of modern design, particularly in the last few years, and simple gray bathroom vanities evoke this cool, modern industrial palette. It’s rare (though increasingly common) to see stainless steel or concrete in a bathroom, but the color gray alone helps evoke them, giving gray bathroom vanities that subtle contemporary edge.
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On the other end of the spectrum is a very different sort of industrial decor: a resurgence of turn of the century warehouse and farmhouse inspired designs. These styles see a lot of gray, both in concrete and weathered wood, as well as more elegant touches like gray upholstery. This trend is less about antiques and more about things that are simply old, but that air of tradition is important, and lends the style a little touch of sophistication. Even very modern gray bathroom vanities often mimic the weathered gray of reclaimed wood to get this slightly earthier, more traditional look and feel.
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All that said, part of the appeal of gray bathroom vanities is simply that you don’t see them that often. Usually, if you’re considering a painted bathroom vanity, the choice is between a classic cottage white and a sleek modern black. Here, a gray finish literally forces these two styles to meet in the middle by combining the two colors – and the result is exactly that: something that’s a little more daring than the traditional choice, but not quite so bold or assertive as a very modern solid black.
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Most gray bathroom vanities also fall into the transitional category in terms of overall style, too, with lines that are simple and straight, but with more texture to them than modern cabinets. The Shaker-inspired cabinet fronts on this Harper vanity are a perfect example: it’s a very, very traditional style, but an incredibly simple one. It has that subtle classic feel without being too ornate or elaborate for a contemporary space – and the light gray finish helps underscore this balance.
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Of course, there are modern gray bathroom vanities, too, and these aren’t exactly a minority. These often have a faux wood grain or a very glossy gray finish, and which one you want depends on whether you want your space to skew more classic or more modern. Even if it obviously isn’t real wood, a “wood grain” gray vanity has a slightly earthier, more traditional feel, while a high gloss surface is pure modern design. The latter are also typically simpler and sleeker in design, without the ornamentation you’d find on more staunchly transitional vanities, so the look winds up being a bit more chic than casual contemporary.
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It’s worth noting that the trend towards gray bathroom vanities mostly overlooks metallic grays. But there are a few exceptions, and I think this Buchanan vanity cabinet is a notable one because of the way it makes the most of this balance between old and new. The metallic finish (which is actually made of aluminum) is reminiscent of a modern stainless steel, but because it’s slightly “tarnished,” it also evokes an antique silver or pewter which balances it with a much more classic feel. Depending on the surrounding decor, this gray bathroom vanity is perfect for toeing the line and creating a chic yet elegant transitional style.
What do you think of these gray bathroom vanities, or the growing popularity of the color in general? Do you like the look? Let me know in the comments!
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