Designing Your Bathroom Around the Vanity
The vanity has evolved from an afterthought into the starting point for your entire bathroom's design. Here are some expert views on how today's vanities fit in.
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Trying to figure out just how important a vanity is in today's bathroom design? Let the pictures tell you the story. One after another, photos of past Bath Design winners from the National Kitchen & Bath Association's annual Design Competition focus on the vanity: its sinks, counters and bases, front and center. It's clearly the bathroom's focal point and its primary design statement — oh yes, and sometimes the place to store the towels and toilet paper. The vanity is obviously a key, maybe the key, to a successful bathroom design.
But the same series of photos also makes it obvious that there is no "everybody's doing it" vanity design. There is a movement towards furniture-style vanities, and a couple of trends in the way vanities are being used in master baths and powder rooms. But the only constant is that designers are using all manner of vanities to put a creative stamp on a bath. As Tucson, Ariz. designer Lori Carroll puts it, "In bathroom design, the vanity is one place you can really change it up."
Here are some of the features that two award-winning designers are focusing on when they consider the vanity:
Daringly detailed. Designer Martha Gargano featured a hand-painted, glazed vanity with intricate carving as the focal point in her NKBA First Place-winning "Water Lily Masterpiece" in 2003. That traditional look and detail would still fit in with current vanity designs in her area, says Gargano, who designs for A Matter of Style in Cheshire, Conn. "Vanities still have lots of detail and hand-glazing here in New England, where you don't see a lot of contemporary design, even in the master bath. We're using the vanities that would have a place in a traditional or Tuscan bath design." Her clients have their needs met with custom-made vanities by Habersham French Country, or they sometimes buy an antique and have Gargano retrofit it for the bath with a stone top.
Feels like furniture. Elsewhere in the country, Gargano's detailed vanity would still be trendy because it has the "furniture look" proliferating in every style, price point and market. Along with the Habersham stuff, the range includes intricately carved and painted Old World looks like the Marquis Oval Chest from Cole & Co. and streamlined and slick styles with chrome legs and glass tops resembling nothing so much as desks from Atlantis, available in a plethora of styles from companies such as Luxaris Home & Spa's Dreamline.
Give an old vanity a fast makeover with fresh paint and repurposed door knockers.