Like so many items in the home, bath vanities serve multiple purposes: They provide counter space for morning grooming routines, storage space for bathroom essentials, and, sometimes, an eye-catching design to add pizzazz to the space.
Styles vary between master and secondary bathrooms, but one thing remains true, according to manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News: Consumers want vanities that enhance the look of a room while remaining practical in the space they serve. Often, this means a vanity that is more like a piece of furniture than a simple cabinet.
“Both transitional and traditional designs are trending, and the overall atmosphere most homeowners want to achieve is a spa-like environment,” says Karen Wistrom, ASID, v.p./marketing for Dura Supreme Cabinetry in Howard Lake, MN. “Storage is of utmost importance, and many homeowners are paying close attention to organizational features and surfaces that are easy to clean.”
Steve Wilcox, director – marketing and product development for Sagehill Designs/SunnyWood in Cerritos, CA, says, “We continue to see the desire for furniture-like features on vanities rather than strictly cabinet-style vanities. This means having furniture-like details, premium hardware, visually interesting finishes and quality design features that are apparent on the sides of the cabinets as well as the fronts.”
In these still challenging economic times, designers and consumers are also looking for value, manufacturers say. “Consumers are looking ahead with a healthy dose of economic skepticism, but sprinkled with enough confidence in the future that they are willing to begin spending on their homes again,” says Scott Korsten, marketing director for Showplace Wood Products in Harrisburg, SD. “The most likely types of projects are on a smaller scale, where improvements can be made at a level where they don’t worry about over-extending themselves. This makes the bath a prime target for their attention.”
Wistrom concurs. “If anything, the current economic conditions have pushed more vanity sales,” she says. “Some homeowners may have delayed a kitchen remodel because of the investment, and instead they opted for a bathroom or master bath remodel.”
Lucas Liu, CEO of Design Element Bath Furniture in Ontario, CA, adds that the economy has impacted trends in some very specific ways. He notes that vanities are often marketed by larger companies as separate components – with the base, countertop, sink and drain all sold separately, which can make the entire unit very expensive. When the economy turned sour, people began to look for something more affordable, and his company is capitalizing on the idea by offering modern-looking products sold as a complete package, making the price much more affordable for the customer.
Conversely, Korsten says that some of Showplace Wood Products’ strongest growth is in styles that tend to be more expensive. “Much of this comes by way of the finish treatments that can help personalize the room,” he says. “As consumers engage in smaller remodel projects, such as a bath or master bath, they increasingly want the ability to project a style or flavor that is clearly their own. They are willing to pay for it – but only when they are comfortable the price is fair.”
Wilcox adds that Sagehill/Sunny Wood sees trend-setting styles first available at higher price points. “After they are introduced, the styles are reinterpreted in order to maintain the overall look but reduce the cost to manufacture. The process can be applicable to any style, but certainly cleaner, more casual-contemporary designs work well at the lower price points due to the simple lines, spare proportions and less complicated manufacturing methods.”
While today’s popular vanities run the gamut from ultra-modern designs and more ornate traditional looks to plain, clean styles, manufacturers agree that the more simple transitional styles are trending high right now.