Choosing a Bathroom Vanity

Get tips on how to choose the right vanity for storage and style.
Double Vanity from Xylem

Xylem Capri Double Vanity

This beautiful double vanity from Xylem marries elegant design and practical storage.

Photo by: Xylem


This beautiful double vanity from Xylem marries elegant design and practical storage.
By: Peter Walsh

There are no hard rules for choosing a bathroom vanity. Often it's the size of the room that dictates the size of the vanity.

Powder Room Vanities

A powder room, generally the smallest room in the house, can only accommodate a small vanity. The powder room is not used for bathing so there’s no need to store shampoos, bath towels and hair dryers. A vanity that holds one sink with a minimal counter top is sufficient as long as there is enough room to access the toilet.

The style of the vanity can complement the style of the public rooms of the house or make a bold statement. “If you have a Craftsman-style home, you might want to go with a clean-lined Shaker style vanity,” says Jennifer Markanich, owner and designer of Timeless Interiors. "A pedestal sink works well in a powder room but there is no counter space," which is the reason she doesn’t recommend using pedestal sinks in a guest bath or master bath. "You lose storage unless you have plenty of storage space elsewhere in the bathroom," she says.

Guest Bathroom Vanities

In a guest or hall bathroom, which might be used by children or teenagers, the vanity should be large enough to contain clutter and hold daily bathing essentials. Regardless of who uses this space, opt for drawers instead of cabinets under the sink. "If possible, choose a 60-inch vanity that can hold two sinks," says designer Jessica Allison, owner of Essence Design Studios. Store the majority of extra essentials in a hall linen closet.

Guests needs are basic. But if the room is used by teens, you should have designated places to store hair dryers and cosmetics that would otherwise crowd the counter. "Create structure for teens with good storage so they can put things away neatly," says Anna Aycock, owner of Designs by Anna Aycock.

Bathroom Vanity Design Options
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Master Bathroom Vanities

The master bathroom is the hub of daily bathing for the parents of the home, and to make it functional, a vanity with two sinks and plenty of storage is imperative. The style of the vanity could echo the style of the furnishings in the bedroom but it doesn’t have to match.

While a floating vanity will give the illusion of more space by increasing the perception of more floor space, a furniture-like piece standing on legs will help the bathroom blend in to the style of the home, says Aycock.

Vanity Lighting

Regardless of the type of vanity you choose, proper lighting is essential. "Typically, there is a lighting fixture over the sink or mirror but that casts shadows on your face,” says Jennifer Markanich, owner and designer of Timeless Interiors. “Use sconces instead.” Placed on the wall at about five and a half feet from the floor and flanking a mirror will illuminate the face properly for applying makeup, shaving or drying your hair.

In a powder room, two sconces are all you need while in a master bath or guest bath with two sinks, use three or four, she says. A light over the tub and shower and one over the toilet should be ample light for a large master or guest bath.

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