Who knew there were so many types of bathroom vanities? It is the one piece of furniture in your bathroom that sets the tone for the style and feel of the space, so it’s the one piece of furniture that should be well thought out and selected.
How much space it takes up, where it’s located, what it’s made of…these factors all contribute to how a vanity will fit into the space and how functional it will be.
Are you looking for a statement piece? Or a sleek, modern design? Or maybe a timelessly classic look? Does it need to be more function than form?
Here we present the different types of bathroom vanities. An overview of styles that will, hopefully, help you narrow down what you’re looking for.
Types of Bathroom Vanities
A free-standing vanity is just that; it is a piece of bathroom furniture that is not built in but instead stands on legs. They truly do appear to be a piece of furniture in the bathroom, which is why they are so popular.
Free-standing is bit of a misnomer really. While these vanities are supported on legs, they also must be secured to the back wall to ensure that they stay in place and don’t accidentally move and dislodge the plumbing housed within.
Offering tons of storage, free-standing vanities are great if this is going to be the only space to store extra toilet paper, toiletries, and towels. There are usually a few variations of cabinets and drawer combinations which means you can customize it to what your family needs.
These types of bathroom vanities are also available in a tremendous variety of dimensions. From small, single sink options with open shelving underneath, to large double-sink behemoths that run the entire length of a bathroom wall. The size and design options are endless.
Oftentimes, free-standing vanities are sold with a counter top and sink also; ensuring that the top and bottom of the vanity complement each other. But, if you are more of a ‘design every element yourself’ kind of person, then switching out a different countertop and/or sink is definitely possible.
- Lots of different style options available
- A large amount of under sink storage space
- Plenty of counter space
- Elegant and stylish appearance
- Great for larger bathroom spaces
- Cleaning under them can be a nuisance
- May overwhelm a small space bathroom
Things to Consider:
Don’t forget to keep these things in mind when looking at free-standing vanities:
- Counters and Sinks Included. Some freestanding vanities are simply the cabinetry, shelves, and drawers and do not include the countertop and sink elements. While this is perfect for those looking to customize their design, it can be disappointing if you think you ordered a whole package and only the cabinetry arrives. Check to see if what you are purchasing includes all that you expect it to.
- Space and Size. Free-standing vanities definitely take up space. That is the reason for their design; to provide countertop and undersink storage; so, of course, they are going to be larger. Be sure that it doesn’t overwhelm the bathroom you have and will fit into the space you have planned for it.
- Cleaning. The vanity is supported on legs, which means there is floor space underneath the vanity. Be sure to consider what it will be like to keep that space clean.
Wall Mounted/Floating Vanities
Wall mounted vanities also offer an abundance of storage capacity but are a little more modern looking as they appear to ‘float’ off the floor. This gives them a sleek appearance that offers up more style possibilities.
While free-standing vanities are attached to the wall simply to secure them for safety, wall-mounted vanities are literally hung from the wall and so are attached much more securely. It is important to ensure that the wall it will be mounted on has the internal structure to support the weight of the cabinetry and also of the contents.
Wall mounted vanities are available in many of the same configurations as free-standing vanities; with combinations of drawers, cabinets, and open spaces to store extra towels, toilet paper, and toiletries.
They are also often available in one, or two sink options and again, be sure to check whether the vanity you select includes the countertop and sink(s) or not. Sometimes it is nice to be able to fully customize the look, but sometimes it’s just nice to be able to have the whole package delivered together.
Floating vanities are great option for smaller space bathrooms. The visual space under the cabinetry can make a small bathroom feel much larger than it is.
- Can make a small bathroom appear larger
- Simple minimalistic, contemporary design
- Cleaning underneath is easy
- Provides sufficient storage space
- Requires strong wall structure for mounting
Things to Consider:
Wall mounted vanities are similar to free-standing versions but with a few main things to think about:
- Wall Structure. Newly constructed homes will almost surely have a wall structure that can support a wall mounted vanity, but older homes should be checked to ensure that the weight can be adequately supported.
- Design. The sleek, modern design of floating vanities may not suit more traditional or farmhouse style bathrooms. This design is best suited to a more modern decor.
The most common type of bathroom vanity is the built in, or cabinet, vanity.
Cabinet vanities can be either entirely custom built or, they can be purchased from common dimension options and installed to appear built in. Obviously a custom built option is much more expensive, but it also means that the vanity fits the space perfectly.
These types of bathroom vanities offer a luxurious look – especially the custom designed versions – as they often fit the space perfectly and are constructed of materials that fit the entire feel of the space.
Built in vanities are good for both large spaces, where the expanse of a room can be filled with cabinetry options, and for small spaces where a small, custom cabinet can be designed to fit perfectly into the required space.
As we have mentioned, built-in vanities offer a lot more customization than other types of vanities that you can buy. The majority of built-in vanities are made to measure so they are totally unique to you, giving you the ability to tailor it to exactly what you want.
As with most vanities, some are available with countertops and sinks included, while others offer the option of customizing the look by purchasing these pieces separately.
- Customize your storage space to your needs
- Can be designed to fit into “dead space” in your bathroom
- Works well in large, or small, bathroom spaces
- Designed to fit the look and feel of the bathroom
- Custom built in vanities are on the more expensive end of the scale
Things to Consider:
Built in vanities are the most flexible option; here are some things to be aware of:
- Price. Custom options depend not only on the size of the vanity, but also of the material used in construction, and how much of the cabinetry must be installed in place (rather than being constructed offsite and then fully installed).
- Materials. Be sure that the materials being used in the construction are not only sturdy but will also withstand the humid, bathroom environment.
- Installation Cost. Check to see if the cost of installation is included in the cost of the custom cabinetry. It can be a shock to receive a bill for something that you assumed would be included.
Small bathrooms seem to be the norm nowadays and finding space for a full bathroom setup may seem impossible.
This is where narrow vanities can fit the bill. They are, by design, small and narrow so that they will fit in the smallest of spaces while still providing all the elements of a vanity.
While it’s true that narrow types of bathroom vanities will not provide as much storage as some other options, there is often a drawer and a cabinet available to hide all the bathroom necessities.
They are also available in many of the types, or styles, as other types of vanities. They may be free-standing, or wall mounted, or even built in. Their defining feature is their narrow dimensions.
Obviously these are best for small space bathrooms, or powder rooms, where space is at a premium but style is not.
- Perfect for small bathrooms
- Does not take up much space
- Ample storage for all your bathroom essentials
- Doesn’t take up much floor space in your bathroom
- Small design limits storage space and sink size
Things to Consider:
A smaller, narrow vanity does not mean that there aren’t things to consider when choosing:
- Size. Measure the space carefully to ensure that the selected vanity will actually fit in the limited bathroom space.
- Scale. While a narrow vanity will definitely help a small bathroom appear larger, they can have a detrimental effect if placed in a space that is too large. A small scale vanity in a large space can just look lost and forlorn. Be sure that the vanity fits the scale of the room.
- Design. A small vanity does not mean scrimping on design. Narrow vanities are available in a number of different style and design options; finding the one that fits best stylistically is as important as fitting physically.
Pedestal sinks are often not even considered to be a bathroom vanity because of their lack of storage.
A bathroom vanity is designed to hold a sink and to hide the associated plumbing. A pedestal vanity does this, although granted, it doesn’t provide much storage.
They are, however, very popular due to the simplicity of its design and that it doesn’t take up much space. As houses, and bathrooms, get smaller a space saving design can be worthwhile.
Stylistically, pedestal vanities can either blend in to make a space appear larger, or they can command the space with their sleek design.
Usually, pedestal vanities are paired with a sink. Unlike other vanity styles, where the sink is selected and sold separately, most often the pedestal and sink complement each other and are meant to be together. This takes one other design decision of your plate.
There is still a great variety in types of pedestal vanities. Round sinks, oval sinks, rectangular sinks and bowl sinks are all possible in a pedestal vanity design. A simple solution to a space problem need not be a simple design.
- A great choice for smaller bathrooms
- Simple to clean due to the materials used and the design
- Very durable as they are commonly made with ceramic or china
- Gives the room an “open” feeling due to the little space that they take up
- Easy to keep un-cluttered as they are designed to have little space
- The perfect choice if you want a minimalist design in your bathroom
- No storage space
- No counter top
Things to Consider:
A pedestal vanity can be the perfect solution to bathroom design, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Storage. Obviously, pedestal vanities do not include any under-sink storage so items such as spare toilet paper, toiletries, and towels will need to be stored elsewhere.
- Counter space. Pedestal vanities do not have any counter space. While this can help with a minimalistic and uncluttered design, it can also be frustrating if you need space to hold or display items. Be sure to consider whether this is an occasional space or your family bathroom.
- Material. Most pedestal vanities are constructed of china but some are plastic so be sure to read the details before ordering. Ceramic is much more durable and easy to clean.
- Size. One of the benefits of a pedestal sink is its small size, but be sure that it fits the scale of the bathroom. A pedestal sink in a large bathroom may appear dwarfed or even smaller than it is. And, in some very small bathrooms, a pedestal vanity may indeed still be too much. Perhaps a narrow or corner vanity would be a better fit.
Vessel vanities are not, by definition, a type of vanity. They are, rather, a type of sink that sits on a vanity.
That isn’t to say, though, that the type of vanity should not be considered when installing a vessel sink. There are definitely some vanities that work better than others.
Vessel sinks are a beautiful, modern design element that can really complement a bathroom decor. However, they need to be installed on a vanity that best fits or they risk looking out of scale or like they don’t fit.
Things to Consider:
- Vanity Size. If the vanity, and countertop, are too small then the vessel sink will appear out of scale and will appear to have just been plopped on top with no thought. On the other hand, if the vanity is too large, the vessel sink can appear too small and won’t provide the drama that a vessel sink should.
- Materials. There is a large variety of options in vessel sinks; some of constructed of traditional material while others may be made of pottery or glass. Be sure that the vanity and countertop are complementary to the material used in the vessel sink.
- Cleaning. Sitting on top of the vanity, vessel sinks naturally have more nooks and crannies that will require cleaning.
Corner vanities are an excellent option for small space bathrooms. Just as the name implies, they fit into the usually wasted corner space of a bathroom; tucking in where a normal vanity may not fit.
Similar to a narrow vanity, this option often has narrow dimensions to take up the least amount of space.
Some corner vanities are triangular in shape and have angled cabinetry making for a smaller footprint, while others are square or rectangular but are smaller so that they fit much better into smaller bathrooms.
Most often these types of bathroom vanities offer limited storage space. Usually there is no drawer but often there is a shelved cabinet underneath. Space saving is the name of the game here.
- An efficient way of using up “dead space”
- Lots of different styles of corner vanities available
- An excellent option for small bathrooms and bathrooms with minimal wall space
- Limited storage due to smaller design
Things to Consider:
A few things to keep in mind:
- Size. Fitting cabinetry into small spaces is all about ensuring that the dimensions of the vanity will fit into the small space assigned to it. Measure carefully to ensure the vanity you choose will fit.
- Scale. Corner vanities are definitely designed for small spaces. Installing one in a large bathroom would feel out of scale.
Types of Bathroom Vanities Round Up
There are many elements involved in the design and feel of a bathroom space. Selecting the right bathroom vanity is important as it is one of the main features of a bathroom and sets the tone for the entire decor. Whether traditional or modern, free-standing or wall mounted, narrow or pedestal; the type of bathroom vanity you choose should be carefully considered.