Furniture Vanities: Design Considerations

When designing a bathroom, you have a lot more options with cabinetry style than you do in a kitchen. Why? You have now entered the realm of furniture vanities. Sure – you can put legs on kitchen cabinets and get the same idea, but usually, your cabinet boxes will extend all the way to the floor, and there are lots of reasons as to why this is best. However, in a bathroom, a furniture vanity piece can really jazz up the entire room. Instead of looking like a normal cabinet box, you’ve now elevated your design by adding legs or creating a perfectly customized piece. However, there are some things to think about before just finding the best looking one to install. Let’s investigate these together.

Exposed Plumbing

This is usually the first issue to address, especially in remodels. If you look at your vanity cabinets today, it is likely that your plumbing is coming in about halfway up the cabinet, and the P-trap hit just above the floor. In traditional cabinetry, this is not an issue because everything is hidden. Unfortunately, not all furniture vanity pieces will cover this. As you start to look at more “open” furniture vanities, this becomes an issue. Nobody wants an eye-sore in their newly designed space, and plumbing can be a big one. So, you will likely have to move the plumbing up as high as possible to cover it with your new cabinet, or you will want to invest in “good looking” plumbing. As seen below, we covered the exposed plumbing with matching brass pipes. This way, it doesn’t stick out as much and actually matches the furniture piece.

Floor Interaction

The second biggest issue is how the vanity piece will interact with the floor, and there are two parts to this. First, standard cabinets can be shimmed up and an unleveled floor can be “hidden” by toe kick. Furniture vanities don’t have that option. Your floor needs to be completely level so that the cabinet can stand on its own. And the longer the vanity, the more precise you’re leveling needs to be. The other thing to consider is how the piece will interact with the base molding. Above, there are no back legs, and the vanity mounts to the wall, but that’s not always the case. Usually, the piece will have back legs and you will press the cabinet up against the wall. You will want to work closely with your designer to ensure the thickness of your legs and the base molding work together like they do in the picture below.

Proper Spacing

We’ve probably mentioned this before, but we will tell you again: clearances in your bathroom are important! And one of the biggest ones people tend to forget about is space for cleaning. Sure, it’s great to use as much space as you can, especially in a smaller room, but don’t forget that you need to keep the bathroom looking good too! Furniture vanities are no exception. In a lot of homes we remodel, we have seen people with furniture vanities, but they go almost wall-to-wall. While the vanity may technically fit, you really want to aim for a 4-inch clearance on both sides. This gives you plenty of space to stick your arm through to wipe down the sides or even sweep and mop around the vanity legs. A good looking bathroom is only better when it’s clean!

At the end of the day, as long as you are smart about it – and work with a good designer – a furniture vanity is probably a great fit. We absolutely love them, and hope you will too! Want more bathroom ideas? Check out this featured home with bathrooms galore, and learn if it’s time for a master bath remodel yourself.