Updating the Medicine Cabinet with a Dose of Style

The modern medicine cabinet has evolved from being just a toothbrush holder with a mirror into a work of art that can be the centerpiece of your bathroom.

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Robern's Metallique collection

If you're one of those people whose morning routine gets stymied by the maddening effort of wiping off the foggy medicine cabinet mirror that hides your face, then read on. Medicine cabinets have met the 21st Century.

Today, medicine cabinets are highly functional products — yes, they now have fog-proof mirrors — that are as much a statement about the bathroom as are vanities or bathtubs. Gone are the days when the only derivation from the typical metal medicine cabinet was one with three plain doors wrapped in chrome trim instead of one. In fact, medicine cabinets reflect, and sometimes even determine, the style of the bathroom as much as any furniture or artwork might.

Some are so unique and contemporary, says Designer Lori Carroll of Lori Carroll and Associates in Tucson, that they remind her more of wall sculptures than tools for organizing toiletries. When designing a bathroom, Carroll will choose a medicine cabinet that stands out in the same way a piece of art does. With that in mind, she doesn't always put the cabinet in its traditional place above the sink. For instance, it is sometimes more eye-catching to hang a modern, stainless steel medicine cabinet (one of her favorite companies is Valli & Valli) above the toilet. "It looks very contemporary, it's functional and it's interesting," she says.

A Jensen oval mirror
Nutone's iColor line

Just as a stainless steel cabinet will bring cohesion to a modern bathroom, a cabinet with a mahogany or antique gold frame will finish off a bathroom that desires a Victorian look. And that's the beauty of medicine cabinets these days: There are hundreds of styles, sizes and even shapes — from oval to rectangular — to discover.

The functionality of a medicine cabinet has also evolved. "They've become just about anything but a cabinet for medicine," says Kevin Pine of Kitchen and Bath Plus in Fresno, Calif. "They're more like pieces of furniture. Some people even put them in their bars to hold glassware"

Built-in electrical outlets are also popular for those who want to store their hairdryer or electric razor in the cabinet. Designer Jodi Fitzpatrick of Renata Resources in Fresno says her clients appreciate having their bathroom appliances within easy reach, especially when they are in a hurry to get out the door in the morning.

"Built-in medicine cabinets with at least 6 inches of depth and built-in electrical outlets allow my clients to store grooming appliances and toiletries at eye-level and give me greater design flexibility with the sink area. We're not locked into the traditional bath vanity cabinet-counter-sink set-up, where access to basic items requires bending, and blow dryers and tooth brushes are often left out, creating visual clutter," says Fitzpatrick.

Here are a few of the many manufacturers that make medicine cabinets worth peeking at and inside:

Robern
www.robern.com
Designers love Robern cabinets because they are well made, innovative, fashionable and diverse. The Metallique collection, for example, offers a smooth, modern look while the Fairhaven collection evokes the style of New England seaside cottages in the early 20th century.

The Designlogic F-Series cabinets are striking with framed glass or mirrored doors. They're so anathema to the stereotypically plain medicine cabinet, one can see why they might be used over a bar or even in a kitchen.

If you're looking for classy, simple cabinets that can be mounted next to the sink, rather than above it, investigate the Designlogic A-Series.

Afina
www.afinacorporation.com
Afina designs luxury cabinets that come in unique shapes including ones with arched and scalloped tops. Other styles include crown molding and solid wood frames with antique gold or silver finishes.

Jensen
www.jensen-ind.com
Stainless steel cabinets with oval mirrors are a popular choice among Jensen consumers. Jensen also makes metal frame corner cabinets, narrow body cabinets and cosmetic boxes. Some of the high-end features on Jensen cabinets include interior mirrors and European style hinges with soft-close attachments.

Nutone
www.nutone.com
If you're looking for something that is chic, bold and has a contemporary, urban feel, consider Nutone's iColor line. These powder-coated steel cabinets come in six rich colors that give your bathroom an instant flash of brightness. Nutone also makes several other great medicine cabinets including the Gallery Oversize, which is ten inches wider than a typical cabinet.

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