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Bathroom Vanities With Weathered Finishes (And Why To Love It, Not Leave It!)

I recently visited a friend who’s in the middle of the long and arduous process of renovating her new, lovely-but-outdated ranch home. We were most of the way through the dones and to-dos tour when she showed me her master bathroom. I burst out “I love it!” just a moment before she told me she hadn’t done a thing to it yet. Now, I might have felt a little silly if her bank of built in bathroom vanities hadn’t had the most beautiful, perfectly weathered finish I’ve ever seen. Of course, I found out quickly that the “finish” was natural and not intentional, and (to her mind) on the way out the door, but it fit so well with her homey ranch style that I did my best to convince her to keep it. It might seem silly, but bathroom vanities with weathered finishes can actually add a lot more personality to your bathroom than one that looks brand new.

Heirloom Bathroom Vanity From Cole and Co
Heirloom Bathroom Vanity From Cole and Co

Weathered finishes are most common on antique bathroom vanities like this Heirloom Vanity from Cole+Co, for the simple reason that an aged finish adds the appearance of age and authenticity to bathroom vanities done in a period style.  But I think weathered finishes do more than that. Not only does this vanity look more “real,” but it also has more character. Though the aging is done by hand, the little dents, dings, and rubs give this antique vanity its own personal story, giving it a greater depth of visual interest than bathroom vanities with a shiny new coat of paint. Plus, the worn-through edges of this vanity and it’s slightly beaten up look make it a much more casual kind of antique – an antique in the sense of being old and loved rather than in the sense of opulence and luxury, which is much better for an unpretentious period inspired bathroom or even a country or cottage style.

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Kelley Sink Chest From Cole and Co
Kelley Sink Chest From Cole and Co

Of course, the exact look you get depends a lot on just how weathered the finish is. This Kelley Sink Chest looks to me like it should probably be covered in ivy out in an overgrown garden somewhere. The trellis-style doors are accented with antique mirrors, and the once-white finish is worn down all over. Now, some people might see this and think it’s ready for the wrecking crew right out of the box. But if you love a weathered, layered look, this is the kind of finish that takes years to develop naturally, and a skilled professional hand to pull off otherwise. Personally? I’d put this vanity in a reclaimed loft space in a heartbeat – a perfect pair for old brick, old wood, and a sense of revitalized history.

Guild Hall Bathroom Vanity From Kaco
Guild Hall Bathroom Vanity From Kaco

Many weathered finishes are much more subtle, though, and more palatable to your average bathroom. This Guild Hall Vanity from Kaco is only very lightly distressed, with the black Sherwin William’s finish stretched a little thin on the door panels and drawer fronts to show some of the wood grain underneath. But even this, compared to a solid semi-gloss black, adds the personality of years of use, adding a subtle depth of detail and a casual, cozy quality that’s perfect for a relaxed, country style bathroom. While a solid black finish can be very formal or even a little too modern, even a slightly weathered black finish looks a whole lot more homey.

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Adams Sink Chest From Cole and Co
Adams Sink Chest From Cole and Co

This Adams Sink Chest is in about the same condition as my friend’s bathroom vanities – hand painted black, with a little rub-through around the edges to show off the natural wood beneath. As with antique bathroom vanities, this adds age because, quite simply, that’s the way paint wears down over time – any prominent edges, stand-out curves, or any frequently used moving parts start to go the way of the dodo. But why do it on purpose? Because letting the wood peek through breaks the solid, imposing face of all that black, softening it. Solid black anything is always a bold choice, and in a bathroom one of the best ways to pull it off (outside of a very modern decor) is to mellow it out with a little wear and tear. Instead of BLACK, it looks more like something that’s been through it’s paces – maybe aged, painted over to reclaim it, and then aged again, which is a whole lot of personality for a bathroom vanity to have right out of the box.

Romantique Bathroom Vanity From Cole and Co
Romantique Bathroom Vanity From Cole and Co

This Romantique Vanity actually takes that last idea – about painted, reclaimed bathroom vanities – a step further going beyond an antique weathered finish and into a totally new and fresh look. Designed like a perfect antique Bombe chest in Louis XV style, this vanity pays homage to its French origin in long hand all over the main faces. The effeminate white finish is chipped here and there for authenticity, but it’s the scrawled French words and phrases that breathe new life into this piece, turning it from old French into the perfect Parisian Chic. If you want to add a character to your bathroom, you could definitely do worse than this unusual, stylish vanity.

Davis Bathroom Vanity From Cole and Co
Davis Bathroom Vanity From Cole and Co

But then, sometimes bathroom vanities with weathered finishes are beautiful in their own right and for their own sake. This Davis Vanity is the perfect yard-sale, thrift-shop, flea market find you could only ever hope to get your hands on in the wild. Made with deliciously weather-worn cherry veneers, this vanity is actually designed to look like you’ve scraped a layer of paint off it, adding yet another layer of age (not to mention the picture perfect crackles of paint around the edges). As if that weren’t enough personality on its own, the dresser-style drawers are even lined with turquoise wallpaper. While some might prefer pretty hand painted antique bathroom vanities play first chair in their bathroom design, I’d let this baby stand center stage any day.

Whether you’re an avid furniture reclaimer or just someone looking to build a casual bathroom with a little personality, bathroom vanities with weathered finishes can bring a whole lot more style and charm to your space than you might expect. And for goodness sake, if you’ve had a vanity long enough to develop its own character, love it, don’t leave it! Do you like really intense, highly weathered finishes, or do you prefer a slightly lighter antiquing touch?

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