Often the focal point in a bathroom, the vanity area seems to have blossomed lately. It provides a strong style statement that is sometimes subtle, but, more often – particularly in the powder room – it is a place where clients will be bolder in the use of color, features and furnishings.
With such a fun opportunity for creativity, bath and product designers have come up with some great concepts. These concepts and issues regarding the vanity are the subject of this column, which I was writing as I headed to Louisville to join Penny Chin and Ellen Cheever for our annual judging of the Decorá Cabinetry Design Competition. The trip gave me the opportunity to discuss the current trends and “state-of-the-art” with them, adding their thoughts to my own experience regarding two of the current vanity trends.
First, let’s look at the use of furniture in the vanity area. We are seeing hand-painted or carved antiques or replicas that are being cut to house the lavatory. The look can be great, but there are some issues that need consideration.
Unless the furniture piece has been designed to accommodate the plumber, the fixtures and the plumbing, installation can be a challenge. Since these are frequently too shallow and/or too low to properly house the lavatory and the faucet, designers must shop carefully to find the fixture and fittings that will work. Often a wall-mounted faucet is the best choice, and when the cabinet is low, a vessel-style sink can be a good choice. Another issue is finding usable storage; where can you conceal the waste container or supplies? A number of our plumbing fixture suppliers are improving this situation by offering furniture pieces that are built to accommodate the plumbing and to make the best use of the storage pockets created by this type of design.
Additional attention must be given to the ability of the finishes on the furniture to withstand the intended bathroom use, and to the design of the top. The original wood top may have a marine or other finish that will minimize water damage, or a glass deck may be added for greater protection.
Still, how do we address the back-splash and the seam between the back of the furniture piece and the wall? A wood backsplash can be added – distressed and finished as desired, a new stone top with splash can be added, or the entire length of wall can be tiled with the furniture piece placed in front of it.