I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about how to build a bathroom design that’s beautiful. But I think it’s equally important to think about the more practical side: how to build a bathroom that’s functional. Unfortunately, the keystone piece of every bathroom – the bathroom vanity – is also often the most poorly designed. Between accommodating for plumbing and putting a greater emphasis on aesthetics than utility, the majority of bathroom vanities aren’t as intuitive or functional as they could – or should – be. So if you’re concerned about ease of access, here are a few more contemporary bathroom vanity features that will help get your bathroom in order.
The biggest problem with bathroom vanity storage is that the most easily accessible space – the area immediately underneath the counter – is necessarily occupied by the plumbing from the sink. Most bathroom vanities simply stick a faux drawer front over this space, and leave you with a large, poorly organized cabinet underneath. But smart designers find creative ways to utilize this space. From offset sinks that make room for drawers at counter level, to creative tip-out style drawers that turn the space around the sink into storage, the best vanities won’t simply cover up this super-accessible storage space.
Bonus: Extra Counter Space
That said, while there are multiple ways to accommodate counter-height drawers, offsetting the sink on your bathroom vanity specifically opens the door for a few other useful space-saving features. Often having a counter height drawer will also mean having a whole column of drawers, which is fabulous for getting organized. Bonus: it also leaves you with a little sliver of extra counter space. While conventional bathroom vanities, especially smaller ones, leave you only with the corners to put a toothbrush holder and maybe a soap dispenser, offsetting the sink provides more usable surface space without upping the footprint of the vanity itself.
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Shrink The Door, Raise The Cabinet
One of the little annoyances in life is having to open the cabinet in your bathroom vanity and bend down and rummage through all that big, unorganized space. But many well designed small bathroom vanities offer an alternative solution. First, they move the cabinet to waist level, which makes it much easier to access. Others do this and leave the bottom half open, but personally I prefer ones that use that space for added drawer storage. Second, the traditional cabinet door is replaced with two smaller ones. This allows you to reach down, open the doors, and grab what you need… without having to bend, stoop, or dodge a big cabinet door.
Go For One Big Drawer
One of my favorite innovations in bathroom vanity storage is the use of a single oversized drawer instead of a cabinet or many smaller drawers. This is most often seen in wall mounted vanities, but is becoming much more common in full-height vanities, especially ones with a more modern look and feel. These use one large drawer designed to accommodate the plumbing so you get all the usable space right up to the level of your counter. They’re also often well designed on the inside, with full-extension drawers that make it easy to look down and find what you need.
This certainly isn’t the most elaborate or ornate solution to the problem of bathroom vanity storage, but I think it’s one of the more elegant. Instead of a cabinet or a drawer or even shelves, some of the most streamlined, minimalist vanities offer nothing more than a simple, straightforward cubby. It’s easy to access, at just the right height, and large enough to fit all your most important toiletries – from toothpaste to hand towels. Obviously people with a lot of hair care products, makeup, or other grooming items will be grateful for the pull-out drawer above, but this petite wall mount bathroom vanity is innovative for its sheer simplicity.
Don’t Despair For Style
You might be noticing something of a trend here. The best designed bathroom vanities in terms of storage capabilities are often ones that tend toward the contemporary end of the spectrum. But if you want a traditional style, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice usability. You just need to double and triple check what kind of storage a more traditional vanity actually has. Traditional vanities are much more likely to feature the aforementioned faux-drawer panel, but manufacturers are increasingly incorporating modern storage elements into more traditional-looking vanities. While on a contemporary vanity it’s usually obvious how many and how large your drawers and cabinets are, with a traditional style these features are often camouflaged beneath more traditional elements, making it difficult to judge a truly storage-smart vanity at a glance.
The emphasis on aesthetics over utility encourages people to choose bathroom vanities on appearance alone. All too often, it’s not until you actually try to find a place to put all your stuff that you realize how inconvenient standard large-cabinet bathroom vanities really are. So if you’re in the market for a new bathroom vanity, especially if you have a small bathroom, you should keep an eye out for one of these innovative storage solutions. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did when you’re trying to find a place to put your mouthwash!
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