Not so long ago a basin and pedestal was the norm in the bathroom. But changes in lifestyle and tastes have seen vanity units rise to the fore making them about as common an option as a standard basin.
There are many reasons for this increase in use and we will look at them in detail.
Cover Up Unsightly Pipework
One trend that has definitely changed over the years is that of avoiding visible pipework.
Back in the day, all pipework was exposed whereas these days most installations will employ buried pipework, boxed in pipework and false walls to cover as many of the pipes as possible.
A basin and pedestal allow all of the pipework to be visible – both supply pipes and waste pipes. By fitting a vanity unit instead, all of these pipes are hidden within the cabinet. This takes away the unsightly pipes from view and makes the whole design look sleeker. Larger units sometimes have a false back enabling the pipes to be hidden from view inside the cabinet as well.
Another great advantage of the vanity unit is that it offers extra storage. It’s amazing how a cluttered bathroom can look smaller than a clean and tidy one. So the more items you can stow away the cleaner on more open the room feels. This is very important in small bathrooms.
Obviously, the units themselves vary in size so the amount of clutter they can swallow will depend on its physical dimensions. Semi-recessed vanity basins are the neatest where the unit is only half the depth of the basin. But even these have enough space to hide away a good few bottles and sprays that would otherwise be out in the open.
As more and more vanity units are being made the price has dropped markedly making them much more affordable.
They can be made from cheap materials like MDF or plastic but still perform well in the home. More expensive units will not necessarily out-perform cheaper alternatives but might feel a bit more substantial in use.
Make sure any MDF items are fully sealed to ensure no water can get into the wood. Chipboard and MDF will swell up when exposed to water while plastic units will be unaffected.
Many of the low-cost vanity units utilise a plastic basin rather than made from porcelain. This is not necessarily a problem as most people’s baths are also made in this way. If you do manage to scratch the basin surface it is usually possible to polish it out.
Vanity Unit Designs
A popular option (if you have the space) is to install two vanities side by side. This is usually referred to as a “His and hers” design and does add a little touch of luxury to a room. This works best if you have a continuous countertop across the cabinetry rather than two separate vanity units.
This type of design, employing separate cabinets and countertops is also used with built-in bathroom furniture. Here, many cabinets are installed to provide maximum storage. Matching Wall units and tall cupboards can link all of the storage together to give a neat, homogenous appearance.
Installing Vanity Units
Vanity units are easy to install and cause no real problems during the fit-out process.
One question that is asked regularly is “Should I tile or panel behind the vanity unit?” There is no right answer to this. In general, for a stand-alone vanity unit you would tend to tile the wall or fit the bathroom cladding and then fit the unit on top.
If you have a lot of bathroom furniture to fit you would usually fit this first and then decorate – the same as you would with a kitchen. Bathroom cladding is not structural so it needs to be treated slightly differently to tiles when fitting large heavy objects to it.
So you can see that vanity units provide a range of options to give a bit of extra style and storage to your bathroom design. Your choice will be limited by your budget, available space and your design goals but there are now masses of designs to choose from. So you should be able to find something that fits the bill perfectly.