The 8 Vanities that Helped Us Design Our Vanity

February 13, 2018

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We’re going the custom route for the vanity in our master bathroom. It’s something we’ve never done, but we really want to maximize the space we have (between 75″-80″) so we met with a contractor who really gets our vision and he quoted us a $2500 allowance for a vanity. That doesn’t mean we’ll use that all, but that included really nice drawers and all the bells and whistles. When searching for ready-made vanities around the size we needed, it came so close to that amount without not even including what we were envisioning.

Our contractor basically said, “Show me a picture of what you want and we’ll get it done.” Cue my eyes getting really big and then spending the next week trying to figure out what exactly we did want and learning, no picture or previous example has it all. But, I found 8 vanities that I pulled ideas from that ultimately landed us where we wanted. I put them below, in sequential order of my thought process…so hopefully you can follow along!

This was the first vanity I had pinned. I loved the drawers and the black, but it felt really heavy for our smaller bathroom.

Then, I came across this one and thought–yes! Floating! But we need two sinks still, so the cabinet/drawer configuration wasn’t quite right.

This one was floating and in a wood tone, which I kind of loved. Also the extra shelf underneath for towels got my wheels turning.

And then I saw the inset drawers on this one and added those to the list.

But maybe in a more medium toned wood like below? This is also the photo where we decided–a thinner marble countertop would be lovely. (Side note: inspiration photos for spaces don’t always have to come from that kind of space!)

I went to bed, but couldn’t sleep. A wood vanity just didn’t feel right. Although I did want to add some warmth to the space, black felt right for our home. To tie in with the kitchen–and it just feels so sophisticated.  The photo below sold me on black again. With two wood mirrors!

But we then decided a lower shelf wouldn’t really be functional for our bathroom, especially with a linen closet 4 steps away. So nix the lower shelf. Keep it floating. But, ooo!!! Wider inset drawers, like the below image, would be perfect for storage. I can organize smaller things like makeup, deodorant, face lotions and perfume in the top drawer and leave the bottom drawer for larger storage like blow dryers and toiletry bags.

But in black. With a marble top.

And still floating. And nix the shelf. And at a comfortable 36″ high. We are working with a carpenter to make sure we’ll still be able to store things with an undermount sink.

On that note: What are your thoughts on a vessel sink? Not the 90s bowl vessels, but the more modern rectangles that just kind of sit on top? I imagine they save so much on storage!


Source Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

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What do you think?

  1. Carrie says:

    For practicality, a vessel sink may save on storage below, but actually using it to wash your face is not functional in my experience. The high edges and the faucet interfere with full range of movement and you actually feel cramped for space just getting washed. For what it’s worth! ????

  2. Geraldine says:

    I have this Ikea sink ( that I used as a vessel sink on a much larger countertop. It works wonders!! Plus, no problem to clean behind it as it is flush with the wall (and I caulked that extra mini gap).

  3. Sarah says:

    I design custom vanity cabinets for clients and I really like your thought process! In most cases that top drawer will have to be a false drawer front. Even with the newer styles of vessel sinks, definitely sketch out the dimensions to make sure that it would actually allow you to have a functional top drawer. You might be able to squeeze a side-scooped, u-shaped drawer in the top, but it could still be a tight fit. Your second drawer will likely have to be a u-shaped drawer to make room for the p-trap. It also sounds like your drawers may have two drawer pulls, which could be frustrating when have to use two hands to open the drawers everyday. Can’t wait to see what custom solution you guys come up with!

  4. Sara says:

    i think vessel sinks will look very dated soon

  5. Tess says:

    All the Yaasss! Although- the sinks that sit on the surface might be a trial and error thing. We have one (for the same reasons: looks awesome, saves space in the vanity) but it is very splashy. I think it’s a matter of getting the sink and faucet to play nice together- low flow and getting the water to hit the downward slope on the drain cover were key for us. Something to keep in mind. Can’t wait to see your end results!

  6. Liz says:

    Vessel sinks are more difficult to clean (harder to get behind the sinks and you have the added hassle of cleaning the cracks where the sink and countertop meet). They also make countertop space more awkward since they obstruct a lot of your view of the countertop. You will also want to be careful of the height, because if you are going with taller cabinetry to begin with, the elevated sinks may feel too high. We had a vessel sink in our last house and if I could have gone back I would have used a standard sink.

  7. angela s sewell says:

    I think for you, the vessel sinks are a nice option, but not for everyone. They look great but for those of us who aren’t as vertically blessed, they can be awkward. I’m 5’7″ and I recently came across a bowl type vessel sink at a restaurant. The counter top seemed to be the standard 35″ or so that I have in my home, but with the bowl on top I felt like I had to do a weird reach-over to get my hands under the water!

  8. Lori says:

    I really liked how you walked us through this… I’m a hard pass on vessel sinks.

  9. Katie says:

    We did vessel sinks in our bathroom reno and they still take some storage space from the drawer below, plus, I don’t know if our plumbers didn’t install correctly, but they were always leaking onto the counter. Especially it they were holding water, like to shave.

  10. Kirsten says:

    I’m not a fan of vessel sinks–maybe I have bad cleaning habits or something but we had one when we moved into our new house and I couldn’t stand it. Splashes were always everywhere, and I hated trying to clean behind it. We replaced that vanity ASAP. Went the IKEA route and I really love the way those sinks are seamless with the surrounding counter.

    The look of those cut-out vanity drawers is just gorgeous, but I think that maybe considering a set of drawers in between your two sinks might be a good idea. You wouldn’t have to worry about losing the space under the sink, and you wouldn’t have to be either bending over a drawer while getting ready or constantly opening and closing it! Maybe something like the second picture, but with the drawers in the center and two sinks with cabinets on each side.

    I’m sure whatever you guys do will be fantastic! Looking forward to following along :)

  11. M’Lisa says:

    We loved our vessel sinks in our last home. I miss them everyday. We are tall 5’10” and 6’4” and loved the extra height. We had big copper bowl looking ones and they looked great and cleaned up great. One thing I liked was the faucets. They were plumbed to the side and were tall as well, but I just loved that they were to the left of the bowl instead of the back of the vanity. I could get up close to the mirrors and I just loved how unique they were! Bathroom renos are so fun! Can’t wait to see what you do with yours.

  12. Paige says:

    Speaking of saving space under the sink for storage, we did a single very large under mount sink with two wall mounted faucets. They’re usually called trough sinks on Pinterest. It’s centered in our vanity with doors below, and then there are full banks of drawers on either side. This way there’s only one P-trap to contend with and you lose way less space. Excited to see yours come together!

  13. Lauren says:

    Love following your thought process here as well as the vision you’ve landed with. A quick note on modern vessel sinks: moved into a home with a beautiful, sleek minimalist rectangular sink with a similarly sleek rear-mounted faucet. While I love this asthetically, I curse it every day when water inevitably splashes on my shirt and when it’s so awkward and difficult to clean that sleek rear-mounted faucet behind that sleek vessel. Not something I ever would have considered until living with it!

  14. Jennifer says:

    I like the look of those long drawers, but I think they would annoy me when I was getting ready in the morning/for bed. If everything you need is in the top drawer right in front of you, you either have to open and close it repeatedly for each thing you need, or stand there with it open, which would put you leaning over an open drawer. One set of smaller drawers in the middle would allow you to keep the drawer open while you used the stuff inside. Does that make sense? You guys can basically do no wrong in my book though so I’m sure it will end up amazing!

    • Julia says:

      That makes so much sense and I honestly never even thought about that!

    • Karen says:

      We have a 120″ long floating vanity from RH, and have been using it just a few weeks since completing our master bath remodel. Jennifer is so right! However, my solution is to use trays inside the drawers to organize items, and my “go to” items are stored together, so I pull out that entire tray and place it on the counter when I need to use those specific items.

    • Chris says:

      This makes so much sense. I love the final style you landed on but I would add a column of shallow drawers to the middle to store all of those make up items! And I personally don’t understand the allure of a floating vanity. I would much rather have a third row of storage. But my bathrooms have always been comically small, so maybe that’s why.

  15. Keltie says:

    I love your final concept! On the vessel sink front, I’m not a fan. They end up looking messy–I don’t know how to explain it. Like water get splashed down the sides and then the silicone or grout along the edges gets funky. Also, I just find it a dated look, in general. That being said, I bet if you guys were to use them, I’d end up eating my words hahaha!

  16. Carol says:

    What about cabinets on either side (under the sinks) and drawers in the middle? We did that in our reno last year and I love the flexibility of storage. That way you can keep handy things in the drawers in the middle and don’t have to really move yourself to get into them when standing at your sink. The drawers are different heights so the top drawer is shallow for small items and the lower is deeper for standing items. The cabinets make it easier to work around the plumbing.

  17. LQ says:

    I think vessel sinks look great on vintage furniture pieces that are retrofitted to be vanities, especially when they keep the wood top and don’t add countertop (like Emily henderson’s old mid century guest bath). But if you’re going with a custom piece I feel like it would be a mistake functionally and aesthetically.

  18. Kensley Ross says:

    Loved the way you walked us through it picture by picture! I do that with my husband all the time, but its not so organized and I’m switching from tab to tab and he gets lost very quick ha! Your bathroom is going to be beautiful! Love all the inspo photos!

  19. Caitlin says:

    I am LOVING the direction your inspiration images are taking you! I’m sure whatever you and your contractor come up with will be functional and so, so beautiful.

    My thoughts on vessel sinks? I HATE THEM. Every time I use them, they seem to be extra splashy, and it drives me crazy.

  20. RAchel V says:

    Vessel sinks are terrible (in my oh-so-humble opinion, hah)! So impractical – usually the water hits the drain at a funny spot and always splashes out, plus the spout is way too close to the edge of the sink that you’re wasting most of the sink space.

  21. Stephanie says:

    I will echo others sentiments regarding vessel sinks. When I worked in Nashville, we had rectangular vessel sinks in the women’s restrooms. Aesthetically, they had a really great look. They fit the style of the bathroom and gave it a real modern edge. However, they are not functional. The water drains poorly, and we were always having to take our hands and cup water underneath to “rinse” the sink out. If you brushed your teeth after lunch, forget it! You would have to stand there and rinse the sink out for several minutes. I think vessel sinks can be a great look in a half bath or powder room, but I would steer clear in a master bathroom.

  22. Meredith says:

    I am firmly anti-vessel sink, both the 90s versions and the current semi-flush ones. They so quickly date the whole bathroom and if you decide you hate them in 2 years, it’s not something easily (or cheaply!) changed.

    I’ll also chime in on how nice it is to have drawers of varying depths. I once had an apartment bathroom with giant, deep drawers which I thought I’d hate but ended up loving. All but a couple toiletries could stand up in the drawer (in divided bins/baskets) next to my hairdryer, flatiron, and brushes. I’m not always the neatest person, so being able to dump everything back in a drawer and shut it really helped me keep a tidier bathroom!

  23. Lindsey F says:

    I’ve always thought the vessel sinks look like a nightmare to clean (less so with today’s rectangular designs gaining popularity). But I also think they make the vanity look less intentional.

  24. Dani says:

    Thanks for the great post! We’re actually currently renovating our master bathroom and recently selected a black vanity with a marble top. To top that, I’m also set on finding two rectangular wood mirrors for the vanity setup but am stuck – I can’t find the right ones anywhere. Where are you looking for your wood mirrors? I love your style and could really use some help!

  25. Elyse says:

    I would suggest trying to use a vessel sink before committing… I had one in my old apartment and it looked pretty, but there was zero function. Impossible to wash my face, everything made a mess, more surfaces to clean. Then it got wobbly because the water got under it. I disliked it so much I can promise you I will never look at one the same way again. (it’s like food poisoning, where you can just never look at that potato salad that made you sick the same way ever again – that’s how much I hated it)

    It is really cool to follow your thought process! I liked the way you laid it out for us. I know whatever you pick will be great!

  26. Liz says:

    I have a vessel sink that I love. When we remodeled our house, the bathroom counter in our hall bath was originally designed as a vanity with a seat. Since it’s designed for sitting, the counter is quite low, and it had a 1950s tiled in baby blue sink. We took off the old faucet and put a large rectangular vessel sink on top of the existing “sink hole”. It raises the sink to a more manageable height, and I think it looks beautiful. We haven’t had any issues with it, and it didn’t interrupt anything underneath at all.

  27. Natalia says:

    I am 6’2″ and my husband is 6″8″. We put in a double vanity this year with vessel sinks and the extra height is so nice! I know guys you know what I’m talking about :). There are really pretty vessel sinks out there that don’t look like a bowl glued on top of a vanity, I love ours.

    • Julia says:

      I never thought about the extra height!

    • Christina says:

      That is why we actually put a vessel sink in our master bath. My husband has very few requests, but he said he is so tired of leaning over so far to do his teeth/face. We raised the height of our floating vanity a few inches and did the vessel and he LOVES it. I’m only 5’5″ so with the two things we did, I sometimes have water run down my arm while washing my face. Other than that, it is great. And I don’t understand the issue with cleaning around the vessels…absolutely no problem for me/my children and actually, it feels cleaner.

  28. Jennifer says:

    We have a tall bowl-shaped vessel (on top of an already-tall vanity — hard for me to wash my face!) and we still don’t have use of the middle two drawers. So, not sure it will actually save your storage space, def want to run that by your contractor.

  29. Ryan says:

    I love all the vanity looks you chose. And I’m definitely on the pro drawers train. I have an IKEA Godmorgon in my “master” bath (the only thing masterful about it is that it is in the master bedroom…it’s super tiny) and I absolutely love the deep drawers it provides. As I recall, you have an IKEA vanity in your half bath, so maybe try putting your lotions and potions in that vanity to gauge how deep you’d need to make the drawers in your custom unit. I have arranged things (and switched a few products) so that I don’t have to lay anything down in my drawers, so I’d definitely recommend going through that exercise to see what depth of drawers work best for you. And I love the floating aspect of my vanity…looks super modern/sleek and it’s easy to clean under! And personally, I think vessel sinks look like a mistake…like you didn’t design your vanity well enough to allow for both an integrated/under-mounted sink and plumbing and storage. Just cheap looking IMHO. Dina at @honeyandfitz has thoughts on vessel sinks too. You should watch her “Things I Hate” archived stories…you’ll crack up! Good luck and can’t wait to see where you guys end up!

  30. Jess says:

    I’m not a fan of vessel sinks, but that’s just me! But maybe it’d be worth it if it allowed you to have your nice shallow makeup drawer? xo

  31. Laurel says:

    I have put vessel sinks like these from Lowes in 4 bathrooms and love them. The ones I used were Aquasource brand, but they look the same.

  32. No to vessel sinks. Just no. You won’t save that much storage because they still have plumbing. I have a similar vanity in white but with cabinets (it’s Pottery Barn) and I wish it was drawers. BUT, I love the bottom shelf for towels and a basket for oversized hair tools (we keep extra toiletries, sheets, extra blanket, travel toiletry bags, a towel hamper, and first aid stuff in our linen closet – it’s full!), but I think the floating would fit your style more.

  33. KD says:

    If I was custom designing a vanity, I would make sure to design it so there were no water drips by the faucets. We recently rotated our single-hole kitchen faucet so the handle faces the front and it has eliminated all water on the counter at the back of the sink. It is the *best* thing ever. Wish all our bathroom faucets were the same. Also, make sure there is plenty of clearance behind your faucets to clean the countertop. Whoever designed ours really messed up as there is no room but gunk still manages to accumulate….so hard to clean.

  34. Emily says:

    The top drawers aren’t real drawers because of the sink and plumbing. I’d go with more smaller drawers or cabinets than a big long drawer. Hard to keep things organized in them (especially toiletries) and you have to open up a huge drawer to access your stuff, instead of a smaller side drawer that can be open while you stand next to it. Having to back up from your vanity to open a huge drawer to look for your hairspray or lotion isn’t as functional as smaller drawers/cabinets would be. I love how they all look though!!

    • Julia says:

      That’s a good thought!

      • Kimberly says:

        I agree with Emily on all fronts. But especially on the issue of storing all of your toiletries in drawers – unless they are deep enough to hold larger items standing up (alcohol/witch hazel-sized bottles, hair foam cans, body lotions or other pump bottles). I have only drawers in my bathroom and dream of shelves because everything is always rolling around, and, even with dividers, I hate laying so many things on their sides (always seem to have a leak/spill).

    • Jenna says:

      Yes! We have cupboards under our sink so you can stand up larger items, and drawers on the side for smaller items. The plumbing and sink is in the cabinet but out of the way. It is really effective storage. I could see how having a long drawer would be a pain because you would have to always move out of the way to open it. I’m sure whatever you do is going to be gorgeous!

  35. Courtney says:

    We did square, low-profile vessel sinks in our master bath reno because we *didn’t* do a new vanity and ours was always a little short for us. The added height has been amazing, and clean-up is so much easier! I’m not dead set on either option and I like both, but it really made sense for us in this house.

  36. Carmil says:

    You are going to love having drawers! They work so well, but you have to make the plumbing work out just right……….
    During our MB remodel of 2017, we went with 3 drawers for each sink–a double sink vanity. In the second drawer we included electrical outlets so the hair dryer and toothbrush charger is always plugged in and out of the way. At the last minute, I changed the dimensions, so the first drawer is deeper than what i see depicted, and the next 2 are around 18 inches deep- i think ( I would have to measure when I am at home!) I was really happy with the deeper first drawer, the original 4 or 6 inch depth just wouldn’t have held the things I put in it. I think I landed on 8 or 10 inches for the first drawer. Have fun, I love following your projects…….

  37. Susan says:

    I do like the look of vessel sinks but functionally they’re not great. It makes me feel a little claustrophobic when washing my face because now there’s a faucet that can take up space in the sink instead of being above it. Does that make sense? And yes.. they are messier like others have mentioned.

  38. RC says:

    We have square sinks at work and at least here, water doesn’t drain that well. The bottom is too flat and water just pools in bowl and if anyone has spit or brushed their teeth and not rinsed the sink enough it’s just gross. If you get square sinks, make sure they are properly sloped to the drain.

  39. Lori says:

    I personally dislike vessel sinks because I like being able to wipe the counters directly into the sink and these create more spots for gunk to collect. If I wasn’t doing my own cleaning, I’d like them more for purely aesthetic reasons.

  40. Lynn says:

    As a real estate agent I hear a lot that vessel sinks are hard to clean and often loosen up, just my two cents.

  41. Veronica says:

    Hi – we are currently redoing our master bath as well! We went with IKEA godmorgon with custom walnut doors from semi handmade – they turned out beautifully. We usually prefer an undermount sink but for this we went with a semi flush vessel and I think it looks nice.

  42. Christina says:

    So exciting. I love seeing the process…the ‘thinking out loud’/working through your likes and dislikes. I love the vessel sitting on top look and think you cannot go wrong with it. I also love the 90s vessel sitting on top which I just put in two bathrooms in my new home over the last two years. I am scarred from brothers leaving water splashes across bathroom counter and then me laying makeup in it or leaning towards mirror to pop zit and getting water marks across clothes. The true vessel keeps all water in the sink…no splashing about! Back in the 80s and 90s when I was scarred, we actually had the sit on/in vessel type sink and sloppy teen boys = water everywhere. I’m guessing your husband is well-trained in thoughtfulness by now and won’t be messing up your area? :-)

  43. Amy says:

    Love all your ideas and inspiration! It’s gonna be so good! I design custom cabinetry for clients all the time so here are my quick thoughts… Most ppl do not like a vessel sink in a master or a bathroom that’s used frequently bc they are difficult to clean around. To maximize storage under an undermount sink ask your cabinet maker to chase the drawers for plumbing. So you will have a u-shaped drawer that leaves room for plumbing but offers storage as well. I’m sure you can google a photo to clarify what that looks like! Excited to see your vision come together!

    • Julia says:

      This is so helpful! Thank you!

    • Sara says:

      I just finished my master and our drawers have the u-shape which I really like. I have 2 open glass organizers from target on either side of the U in our top drawer. One with dividers that hold anything that stands up and another with no dividers that holds everything else (toothpaste, etc). I love having a clean counter. I think it’s really nice having both some cabinets and some drawers. Without my cabinets I wouldn’t have anywhere to put toilet bowl cleaner and other tall items that must stand up.

      I will second the issue with having a drawer right in front of the mirror. I used to have a vanity with 2 sinks and drawers in the middle. It was so easy to open a drawer, leave it open and still get close to the mirror to do my makeup. Now I either have to leave the drawer open or pull out the glass organizer. Both are annoying. That’s what I get for ditching my big double sink vanity and going to a little smaller single sink vanity, but with our tiny bathroom we needed the space!

      I wish I could have gone custom so I could have put in a wall mount faucet (swoooon). We found so many great, cheaper vanity options from wayfair where the sink and counter are all one piece but there is always a pre-drilled hole for the faucet. Can’t wait to see what you guys do!

  44. Victoria Kennedy says:

    Thank you for sharing your thought process with us Julia. I am certain your finished vanity will be everything you want it to be with all the thought you’ve put into it. Re your sink question, we have 2 of those – one in our finished bathroom in our basement and one in our cottage ensuite. I have noticed that while I love the look, they really do limit counterspace. While neither of these bathrooms are used a lot – when we redo our home’s primary bathroom in the future, I wouldn’t go this route – but that’s just me.

  45. Elaine says:

    Love all these options. I had a vessel sink and HATED it because, when cleaning, could not just swipe everything into the sink and be done. Also the people who chose it let an akwardly narrow gap to one side – not wide enough to use, plenty wide enough to have to clean (but also not really wide enough for a hand to fit comfortably between the sink and the wall).

    Summary: I think they look great but are better, function wise, for a bathroom not used daily.

  46. Sarah says:

    Love all the options you started with – can’t wait to see the final product. Have to admit I don’t love vessel sinks unless you’re working with a huge space: it’s as if you put a box in the middle of the counter and that’s what the eye focuses on. Probably fine as a statement for a short while but I think it limits your options as you want make quick tweaks later. For what it’s worth we had a 90’s version in an old house and it was also a pain to clean.

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