Exploring Elegance: What is a Bathroom Vanity and How to Choose One?

Hey friends! Sarah here from Home Décor Chat, coming to you from my little 1910s bungalow. Today, we’re diving into a bathroom essential – the vanity. I know it is not a glamorous fixture, but stay with me! By the end, you’ll see why this practical piece plays a starring role in your bathroom’s design.

First things first – what is a bathroom vanity? Essentially, it’s a combo piece of furniture that combines a sink basin and countertop with storage below. Vanities allow you to wash up and get gorgeous while organizing all your products.

Now, I don’t know about you, but my bathroom wasn’t always so pulled together. When I first moved into this place, I worked with a tiny pedestal sink and some sad, mismatched drawers. It was chaos! I constantly had product bottles crowding the edges of my sink, dripping water everywhere. My hair tools were stashed haphazardly in baskets under the sink, tangled up in cords. Not such a good look.

So when it came time for a bathroom reno, a proper vanity was at the top of my list. And let me tell you. It was a game-changer! But more on that later. First, let’s break down what makes up this wonder of a furniture piece.

The Anatomy of a Bathroom Vanity

A bathroom vanity has a few main parts that work together for maximum function and storage. Here’s what you’ll typically find:

What Is A Bathroom Vanity?


This flat surface provides a handy spot to place toiletries and do your makeup, hair, and other daily rituals. Countertops are usually made from hard, durable materials that can withstand water splashes, like marble, granite, quartz, or laminate.

I went for a budget-friendly laminate countertop in a chic black finish. It elevates my space while still keeping costs down. Score!

Sink Basin

The sink is the vanity’s raisin d’etre. This is where you’ll wash your face, brush your teeth, shave your legs – you get the idea. Most vanities have the sink seamlessly integrated into the countertop for a streamlined look.

For vintage charm, I found the cutest porcelain pedestal sink from a salvage shop. The white and blue floral detailing ties in my cottagecore vibe.

Blue Bathroom Vanity


Under the countertop, you’ll find cabinets or drawers to stow away all your stuff. This storage space makes the vanity super functional. The cabinets are similar to kitchen cabinetry, just more shallow in depth.

I scored some secondhand cabinets and gave them new life with a coat of sage green chalk paint. The soft color pairs nicely with my tiles and mirrors the outdoorsy style I love.


Every vanity is complete with a mirror situated above to check your look. Some vanities have mirrors attached, while others are separate. Lighting is often built right into the mirror frame as well.

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I found a gorgeous arched mirror with an antique gold frame at the flea market for $20! It completes my vanity vignette beautifully.

Single Bathroom Vanity

Plumbing + Electrical

The unsung heroes that make the vanity operational are the plumbing and electrical. Water lines and drainpipes are neatly integrated into the cabinetry to hook up your sink faucet. Electrical wires connect any lighting fixture.

For my DIY vanity, I called in a plumber friend to handle the hookups. Always defer to the pros when it comes to getting water flowing correctly!

Now that you know what makes up a vanity, let’s explore the different setups you might encounter…

Different Types of Bathroom Vanities

With so many sizes, configurations, and styles, how do you select the right vanity for your bathroom? Here’s the lowdown on some popular options:

Single Bathroom Vanity With Vessel Sink

Freestanding vs. Built-In

Freestanding vanities are basically like pieces of furniture, with exposed legs versus cabinets that reach the floor. I love the light and airy aesthetic. But the open bottom can collect dust and clutter, so they work better in larger bathrooms.

Built-in vanities have cabinetry that extends fully to the floor, creating a more closed-in look. It is excellent for maximizing storage, but it can make small bathrooms feel more cramped.

Single vs. Double Vanities

Single vanities, as the name implies, have just one sink basin and a narrower width. These are great space savers! But for busy family bathrooms, double vanities with two sinks allow multiple people to use the bathroom simultaneously. Twice the storage, too.

Single Bathroom Vanity Modern

Floating Vanities

Floating vanities are wall-mounted, so they visually appear suspended above the floor. This look opens up floor space and makes cleaning easier. But it can be tricky to get the mounting height just right.

Corner Vanities

Slip a vanity into an unused corner to take advantage of every inch possible! Corner vanities are expert space hacks. However, access can be tight.

Vanity Styles

Beyond the configuration, you can find vanities in nearly any style imaginable – traditional, modern, contemporary, coastal, industrial, and more! Choose one that fits the overall aesthetic you want for your bathroom. I always say – decorate for who YOU are!

Single Bathroom Vanity Wooden

The options are nearly endless when it comes to vanities. Keep bathroom size, storage needs, and personal style in mind to choose the right one for your home.

Now, let’s get into more vanity specifics…

Selecting the Right Vanity for Your Bathroom

Picking out a vanity can be fun, but there are a few practical things to remember so it works seamlessly in your space.

Size Matters

First, think about the physical size of your bathroom. Measure to ensure you have enough clearance to accommodate a vanity you like. Allow space for doors to swing open fully and for comfortable navigating around it.

If it’s a tight squeeze, a wall-mounted or corner vanity can help maximize every inch. Or downsize from a double to a petite single vanity.

Style Considerations

Your home decor should reflect your personality. So, choose a vanity style that makes you happy! Play up your vanity as a focal point by selecting one with incredible details like metal legs, open shelving, or unique hardware.

See if you can incorporate particular elements that tell a story like an antique mirror passed down to you or a handmade ceramic sink you picked up on your travels. This adds that extra layer of heart.

Storage & Function

Double Bathroom Vanity Large Mirrors

While looks are important, remember that vanity needs to work for your lifestyle. If you have many products and tools, prioritize ample storage with drawers and cabinet space. Good organization leads to a calmer start to your day.

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Opt for easy-clean materials and an open design below if you prefer quickly grabbing items versus rummaging through cabinets. Find that sweet spot between form and function.

Take all this into consideration, and you’ll end up with a vanity that checks off both boxes for aesthetics and practicality.

Moving on to the finer details…

Vanity Countertops and Sinks – A Close Look

The countertop and sink are the vanity’s shining stars. Let’s discuss popular options for these statement pieces.

Countertops: Materials for Every Style

What vibe are you going for? Countertops come in so many different looks and textures.

Double Bathroom Vanity Floating Vanity

Laminate is budget-friendly and comes in tons of colors. Go bold with glossy black or muted with a matte finish.

Quartz offers a natural stone appearance but with more durability and stain resistance. Great for busy family bathrooms.

Granite, marble, and limestone bring elegant veining with slightly more maintenance required. Better for lightly used spaces.

Concrete and stainless steel lend an edgy, ultra-modern feel. Durability varies based on your daily wear and tear.

Sink Styles and Placement

Undermount sinks are installed below the countertop for a sleek, contemporary look. No rim means easy wipe-downs!

Vessel sinks sit on top of the counter like works of art. They come in all different shapes, colors, and materials.

Floating Double Bathroom Vanity.

Wall-mounted faucets pair nicely with floating vanities, keeping the countertop clear.

Integrated sink basins are carved right into the countertop material for absolute seamlessness. A pricier but super sleek effect.

Sink Materials

Beyond style, sink materials impact durability and ease of care. Let’s compare.

Porcelain sinks are inexpensive but prone to chips and stains. Best for lightly used powder rooms.

Stainless steel brings that commercial kitchen appeal for less. It resists stains but can show water spots.

Solid surface materials like Corian can be molded into any shape. Seamless but pricey.

Antique Bathroom Vanity

Natural stone makes a luxe statement but requires more maintenance to prevent etching.

Fireclay is super durable and resistant to chipping. A smart choice for families.

With all these options, you can put your stamp on your vanity. Have fun with it!

Now, for what’s inside…

Storage Solutions and Organization in Vanities

Ahh, my favorite part – storage! As a treasure hunter always collecting pretties for my home, I need places to tuck everything away. Here are my tips:

Maximize Every Inch

Take advantage of all the vertical nooks in a vanity by adding shelves or racks. Use the underside of shelves for hanging bins or baskets, too.

Install specialty organizers inside drawers for smaller items like cotton balls and Q-tips. Use stacked trays and turntables to corral awkwardly shaped products.

Antique Bathroom Vanity Wooden

Don’t forget the backs of doors – perfect for nails, shelves, and over-the-door storage bags. You can hang just about anything with Command hooks, too!

Get Creative in Small Spaces

Tight on space? Time to get crafty. A rotating corner lazy Susan transforms wasted cabinet corners into functional storage.

Add narrow pull-out vertical drawers for toothbrushes, razors, and other crammed items. Or stash extra toilet paper rolls under a custom-cut sink skirt.

The Path to a Decluttered Bathroom

Remember – everything has a “home.” Make a point to always put items back in their designated drawer or shelf.

I keep “daily use” products out on the counter in cute containers, putting away things only used occasionally. This keeps surfaces tidy.

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Routinely edit out items you don’t need. And use baskets to stow “clutter catchalls” like blow dryers and curling irons when not in use.

Follow my tips, and you’ll be on your way to a spa-worthy oasis!

Single Bathroom Vanity Scandinavian

Vanity Lighting and Mirrors

Beyond storage, vanities provide the perfect opportunity to layer in decor. Lighting and mirrors magnify style.

Flattering Light Set the Mood

I’m obsessed with lighting – it completely shifts the vibe of a space!

Pendant lights on each mirror side illuminate your face evenly for makeup. Go modern with dome shapes or vintage with caged filament bulbs.

For a soft overall glow, try sconces on the wall or under-cabinet lighting. Dimmer switches allow you to set just the correct brightness.

Natural light is best, so situate your vanity near a window. Supplement with fixtures to match the sunlight color temperature.

Mirrors Visually Expand Small Bathrooms

Strategically placed mirrors can make a tiny bathroom feel bigger!

Hang one large mirror wall-to-wall behind the vanity to reflect light and views of the room. It opens things right up.

Or frame the vanity area with two matching vertical mirrors on each side. The symmetry and repetition create the illusion of more space.

Don’t be afraid to go for something with character, like an oval mirror or unique frame. This adds that special flair.

Wooden Double Bathroom Vanity

DIY vs. Professional Installation

Once you’ve selected the perfect vanity, it’s time for installation. Should you DIY or hire a pro?

If you’re pretty handy and have done similar projects before, a standard vanity installation is doable. Here are a few tips:

  • Carefully measure and mark stud locations to ensure the vanity base is securely screwed into the wall.
  • Fully assemble the vanity cabinet before carrying it into the bathroom.
  • Attach the countertop and sink after the cabinet is mounted.
  • Reconnect the plumbing and electrical, testing for leaks at all joints.

However, if the project requires tricky re-routing of pipes or electrical, it is best to call in a pro! Installers have the experience to get those connections done right the first time.

The most important part is getting your fabulous new vanity in place and ready to organize your morning routine!

Vanity Lighting and Mirrors

Maintenance and Upkeep

Whew, still with me? We covered a lot of ground on these bathroom beauties. I’ll leave you with my top tips for keeping your vanity looking its best:

  • For wood cabinets, use a microfiber cloth with a gentle wood cleaner.
  • Disinfect laminate countertops regularly with an all-purpose bathroom cleaner.
  • Seal natural stone like granite annually to prevent staining.
  • Immediately wipe up spills and water splashes to avoid damage.
  • Replace loose or corroded hardware so drawers and doors function smoothly.
  • Address leaks ASAP to prevent water damage, warping, and mold.

Take good care of your vanity, and it will serve your home – and your storage needs – for years to come!

Well, that about wraps it up for today’s decor chat! I hope you feel inspired to turn your colorful bathroom vanity into a stylish storage station that suits your life. Because remember – there’s beauty in the everyday.