The bathroom is not generally required to house all manner of objects that differ greatly in size like a kitchen. The challenge with the bathroom is more to organise storage to be at arms reach from the user when required.
The vogue for Zen style minimalism means less is more, with storage seamlessly incorporated in built in cupboards or units. Clutter of any kind can undermine a sense of relaxation, but some people may find a bathroom entirely devoid of any focus a little austere. Custom made, built in storage makes good sense in the bathroom. It’s a good way of concealing things like plumbing pipes, undersides of sinks and other things you do not want on show. By custom making the cabinetry, you can maximise your use of space, and not leave any gaps that are awkward to clean. Built in cisterns can be hidden in false walls which can then double as cavity cupboards. This can give the impression of making the room larger due to the lack of clutter. Other options for storage include glass shelves, alcoves in the walls (which can be lit to create a feature) tall shallow cupboards which can fit into awkward corners, mirrored cabinets, or revolving mirrored cabinets.
A well designed bathroom vanity cabinet can be the centrepiece of your bathroom renovation. It is the highlight of the new bathroom and it is well advised that you spend some time considering the different options before finalising the bathroom vanity cabinet design.
1: Storage requirements
Consider the users of this bathroom vanity and vanity cabinet when working out your storage requirements.
I like to asses what you might need in a bathroom on a daily basis, and build the storage around that. Store everything else in another space in the house. Store only what is required for activities within the bathroom. The other thing to help determine storage requirements is to divide the items into what has to be concealed and that which you do not mind having on display. Medicine cabinets should be regularly purged for expired products or half finished potions. I like to store medicines up high in a wall mounted cabinet as a safety precaution to keep them away from any young prying fingers who do not know better. If you have teenage girls, allow lots of room for beautification products.
Keep tabs on this by ruthless culling at intervals as this like medicines have a limited shelf life. Extras can be kept in the offenders bedroom if necessary. It’s reasonable to keep a few cleaning products in the bathroom, as these may be needed. It’s handy to have them there rather than dash off to another spot to retrieve them when required. The most common place for storage is under the sink. There are many styles of vanity units which house the sink. Wall hung, floating, floor mounted to name a few.
Try to get as many drawers in the units as possible as these carry the maximum amount of materials and make them easy to access. Assess what you want to store in the drawers to choose their depth. Many potions and lotion bottles will be able to be stored standing up, maximising space. Keep in mind you will need some sort of a void under the sink to house the plumbing though. Floor mounted vanities have the most storage.
2: Custom or Off the Shelf
There are a huge number of manufacturers with many different sizes, shapes and designs available. The difficulty seems to be finding just the right one for your space and taste. Most Manufacturers offer a small amount of customisation, so ask your retailer what is available as far as the colour, basin, material finish and top options.
Off the shelf bathroom vanities are usually installed with 100mm minimum gaps either side of them due to overhanging tops which if installed adjacent to a wall, leave a 10-20mm gap between the side of the bathroom vanity and the wall. This is unsightly and is a dirt collector!
Often it is easier and not much more expensive to resort to custom made. That way you can get the exact size, design and finish that suits you and also choose a basin that will work with your design. In addition you can design a bathroom vanity which fits exactly the space you require minimising gaps and maximising use of space.
3: Materials and Finishes
There are a wide range of specialised finishes available for your new bathroom vanity cabinet. They all have advantages and disadvantages associated with them.
These are broken into two categories. High pressure laminate and Low pressure melamine.
High Pressure Laminate:
Laminates are available in a variety of colours, finishes and wood grains. Laminates are an excellent product to use in horizontal applications like bathroom vanity tops. Laminate is durable material with consistent colour and finish and is highly resistant to knocks, spills and scratches.
Low pressure Melamine:
Melamine is more suited to bathroom vanity doors and drawers as it does not have the impact resistance of laminate and should not be used in high use areas like benchtops. It is fine also for internal shelves.
The disadvantage of using either of the above is the edging of the join. While the benchtop can be supplied with a rolled or rounded edge, the cabinet doors are usually square edged. They can either be edged with laminate or sometimes ABS edging is used. It is best to discuss with your designer the look of this as it is difficult to describe well, and some laminates are more suitable for square edge and others suit ABS more.
Another thing to consider is that it cannot be used for profile doors. (Only flat doors and drawer fronts)
Vinyl is becoming more and more popular as a wider variety of finishes and textures are available. The coating is applied to the outside of the board, and totally seals it, making the bathroom vanity extremely moisture resistant.
Vinyl is also very chip resistant, making it very suitable for any vertical surface.
Timber and Timber Veneer:
As timber is a natural material, the colour and finish varies. Be wary that the sample you have may be different from the actual finished bathroom vanity.
Timber is subject to denting and also to water damage, and the user should be aware that the bathroom vanity will require extra care if it is constructed from solid or veneer timber. Solid timber is more durable, but is also prone to warping or movement over time.
Timber veneer is a splice of timber glued to a substrate approximately 0.6mm thick. This is then sealed with a clear paint. The timber veneer may be from a real timber, or a reconstituted timer. The latter is more likely to be more consistent in colour. While the finished product looks great, the edges often give the veneer board away as not looking real.
Tow pack polyurethane is a very hard paint that can be applied to bathroom vanity doors, drawers and tops. It is consistent in colour and finish and very resistant to scratching and impact. It is an excellent choice wherever an intricate edge details is required.
However it is easily chipped and difficult to repair. It is usually associated with high end bathroom renovations as it is one of the most costly finishes.
4: Vanity top
Bathroom vanity tops fall into three main categories. Laminate, Stone and Timber.
This is the cheapest option, and in many ways is very hard wearing and practical. See above for the properties of the surface. Laminate benchtops come in a variety of edge profiles from square edge to rounded. Check with your bathroom designer which will be the most suitable to interact with the basin you choose and also suit the look of your bathroom renovation.
Without a doubt stone is the best material for a bathroom vanity top if you can afford it. These days reconstituted stone is used a lot as it has very even colour and can be reproduced to look the same, again and again. It is extremely hard wearing and stain resistant.
Natural stone is also used, and the natural colour variations are a feature. If you choose to go down this route, it is best to visit the stonemason and chose the actual slab you want the top made from. This way you will get what you want, rather than a nasty surprise. Granite is the hardest material and requires the least after care. Marble and limestones are more difficult to look after, but look fantastic. Both are very porous and require special sealing and after care. Check with your stonemason what is required.
Timber can be used for a more natural look. As with any natural material there will be variations in colour and texture. Choose the piece you plan to use and make sure it is finished and sealed in the way that you require. Timber will require more care than other benchtops. Natural timer is prone to expansion, contraction and warping over time. This is part of the beauty of this material, but if this will be an issue for you, then choose something else.
The basin is one of the features of the bathroom vanity and should be chosen with care. There are so many options, so it is often best to get your bathroom designer to help with the choice. I usually start by narrowing down what you require, square or organic, to or undermounted, and from there work through the choices available. Usually the basin is chosen from the same range as the bath and toilet suite to ensure continuity.
This is most common type of basin that sits on the vanity top, with the bowl under, in the cabinet. It is the most economical. Taps are usually mounted on the basin, which makes it practical for cleaning, and suited to families.
Semi recessed basins are used when space is at a premium. The cabinet can be made narrower, affording more room in the bathroom itself. Of course you sacrifice some storage space in the cabinet.
A seamless easy to clean look can be achieved with an integrated or undermounted vanity basin. This is only suitable for stone tops. It is possible to make the basin from the same material as the top if a material like corian is used. Many people find this cost prohibitive.
Top mounted or vessel basins have become popular recently and allow for easier cleaning. They can also generate more bench space. Care should be taken that the tapware works with the basin and if it is mounted on top of the basin, it does not interfere with the mirrored cabinet door swing.
The end design of your bathroom vanity is dependent on all of the factors above, storage requirements, finishes and the user’s requirements.
Consider who will be using the bathroom vanity and go from there. Consider what will be stored in the cabinet and this will drive the final vanity design.
Consider whether you require extra bench space or whether a larger basin is what you would like.
Cupboards are better for storing larger items such as linen, while drawers are better for smaller items like makeup and toiletries. Drawers are becoming more popular as it is easier to access items in the back of drawers than the back of bathroom vanity cupboards.
Keep in mind that you will need a cupboard or a space under the vanity basin to allow for the plumbing to run out.
Open spaces can be used for a feature, to display towels and items of interest.
The best idea here is to work with your designer to convert your requirements into the perfect centrepiece for your bathroom renovation.
Blog written by Smarter Bathrooms