Bathroom Vanity Tips

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What's a vanity?

The vanity, explained

Was King Solomon in a bathroom remodeling mode when he said "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,"? We'll never know. But no matter. Modern day vanities are cabinets that hold built-in lavatories (sinks) and faucets, usually sold separately. In Anglophone countries, they are called vanitory cabinets. Who knows why. Your typical vanity is a smaller version of a kitchen cabinet. You might say they are kitchen cousins. (Sorry.). You can get a better idea of the different vanity styles on cabinet manufacturers' websites.

What is a frameless bathroom vanity?

The frameless vanity

As you might expect, a frameless vanity cabinet does not have a face frame. Why they are called European we can only guess. Maybe Queen Anne or King Louis liked their vanities frameless. Anyway, the doors are are hung directly on the cabinet box. Here's a little technical trivia you can use to impress a designer. The holes in most frameless cabinets are drilled at 32 millimeter (1¼") increments vertically along side panels. All shelf pegs, hinges, drawer slides, and other fittings are set in these holes. This "32mm" system makes modifying a cabinet a lot simpler. Frameless cabinets offer cleaner, more contemporary look, primarily because door hinges are fully concealed. Finally, on a design note, if you want to soften and warm up the look of your vanity, you might want to use a traditional door style.

What do I look for in a quality bathroom vanity?

Finding the right vanity cabinet

In today's throw-away culture, it is easy to find bad stuff cheap. Most low-end vanity cabinets are stapled together. Now if that's what you want, that's fine. But if you are looking for something that looks good and is made to last, you need to pay attention to the details. Raised panel or concealed-hinge doors, dovetailed drawers, hand-rubbed finishes, and brass hardware are just a few things you will want to take into consideration when purchasing a quality bathroom vanity cabinet.

What mirrors are there for my bathroom?

Bathroom mirrors

You don't have to be a wicked queen to know that there is a bathroom mirror for every style and taste. A large wall hung mirror or mirrored medicine cabinet can create the illusion of greater spaciousness in your bathroom. A medicine cabinet also adds more storage space, the advantage of which cannot be overestimated. Of course, the daily mirror, (the kind you look into, not the one you read) offers a interesting variety of styles and types designed to enhance your self-viewing pleasure: There are fogless mirrors, vanity mirrors, magnifying mirrors, swivel mirrors, compact mirrors and...well, you get the idea.

What is a standard framed vanity cabinet?

The framed vanity

In North America, vanity cabinets for the bathroom are usually framed. Not by the police, but by kitchen cabinet manufacturers. It just seems to be the way things worked out. Why are they called framed cabinets? They have a "face frame" affixed to a box to which the doors are hung. The cheaper cabinets such as you find in many DIY home centers have MDF (medium density fiberboard) or plywood face frames. Higher quality, (and higher priced) cabinets have solid wood frames. Hey, you get what you pay for.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.