Beyond Vanity Cabinets: Bathroom Furniture Trends

The trend of installing bathroom vanity cabinets got its start a decade ago when designers and do-it-yourself homeowners began converting antique cabinets into special vanities made for the bathroom. Back then it was a little risky to store old wooden furniture in a wet and steamy bathroom, or to install a basin in the top of an antique cabinet, but these days there is a wide variety of lovely and durable furniture made specifically for the bathroom. The idea that bathrooms should contain actual furniture has made increasing headway in North America in recent years, mirroring a look that has been popular in Europe for ages. As modern bathrooms have gotten larger, filling up to anywhere from 200 to 300 square feet, there is now a lot of extra space to fill, and the “furniture look” — including anything from vanities to armoires to upholstered chairs — serves to give the bathroom a “homey” feel, making it into more of a refuge than a utilitarian space. Small bathrooms too can feature bathroom furniture, with a basin set into a small, freestanding vanity an ideal candidate for this compact area.

Popular Styles

Bathroom vanity cabinets allow the designer or homeowner to give the bathroom a personal touch. The bathroom vanity cabinets that are rising in popularity tend to feature clean lines and easy-to-maintain countertops. Darker stains and painted finishes are also gaining popularity. In general, simpler, more defined lines tend to be paired with greater attention to detail. Stone tops, such as quartz or granite, are gaining appeal because of greater durability.

Greater storage space, too, is becoming more highly sought after. People are choosing vanities with more numerous, deeper drawers. Some vanities even come with internal hampers. In many cases, vanities can be custom ordered with a variety of storage options that can be customized to the needs of the homeowner.

(Image credit: Better Homes and Gardens)

Adding to the “Furniture Look”

In addition to a wooden vanity, use wood accents. Complement your bathroom vanity with additional wood furniture such as a small table. A water-resistant area rug can help make the bathroom feel more cozy and comfortable. Using floor and tabletop lamps to add layers of lighting (plugged into ground fault circuit breakers, of course) or adding accent lighting can also emphasize your existing wood furniture. Installing a smaller framed mirror is also a great compliment to this style.

Converting Old Furniture into a Bathroom Vanity

For the DIY crowd who wants to get in on the “furniture look” there are a wide variety of guides online for making your own bathroom vanity out of old furniture. You can use many types of furniture for your project. A vanity, sideboard, dresser, desk, or a table with a deep apron can have a hole cut in the top of the furniture to drop the basin of a sink into. Additionally, for powder rooms and half-baths, a small table with a vessel sink on top can provide a more compact but equally delightful effect. The projects are highly customizable; you paint or stain the wood, install a marble countertop, add a backsplash, anything you want to give you the look you desire.

More Eco-Friendly Ideas

Increasingly in recent years, there has been an increase in demand for environmentally friendly products. This has certainly been the case in the kitchen and bath industry, with numerous green and responsibly-procured materials and products available to consumers.

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One response to this trend is the reclaimed wood movement. Reclaimed wood adds warmth and rich texture to a bathroom at no cost to the environment. While not every type of reclaimed wood is ideal for use in a bathroom (because of various degrees of water resistance), there are many viable options available. Also, wood can always be treated to protect it from direct contact with water. It is generally recommended to seal whatever wood you plan on using, regardless of its initial water resistance. Reclaimed wood can be used to provide an excellent contrast to the existing features, and can also be used as an accent.

A well-designed bath can serve as a diversion from the hassles of everyday life. The increasing emphasis in bathroom design on a home-like space and eco-friendly materials is changing the face of the modern bathroom, and with more options than ever available, it doesn’t look like the trend is going anywhere anytime soon.