Bathroom Vanity Countertops

Vanity tops must play the dual role of being durable and capable of standing up to water, soap, cosmetics while serving as an ample work surface for morning rush hour in the bathroom. This is no place for delicate, porous (read: easy-to-stain) surfaces. At the same time, the vanity top can be a focal point and a connecting point, where wood cabinets below meet tile wall above, for instance.

By: Kristen Hampshire

All the Details on 3 Single-Sink Vanities

Article by: Becky Harris

There are more decisions that go into planning a bathroom vanity than you might think. Since January is the month when the most people go in search of the right vanity, we decided to take a closer look at them. In this story we focus on three single-sink vanities designed for three different situations. We chose three fairly modest full bathrooms, ranging from 50 to 74 square feet, and looked at each vanity’s style and dimensions, sinks, faucets, color, materials, hardware, storage, countertops and lighting.

Vanity 1: Eclectic traditional-modern mix in a double-duty bathroom

“This bathroom acts as both the guest bathroom and the powder room in this condo,” says interior designer Jodie Rosen. “The vanity had to do double duty in looking pretty and functioning for a secondary bathroom with storage and counter space.” 

Style: The approximately 50-square-foot bathroom mixes elegant traditional elements like the marble countertop and glass knobs with more modern ones like the clean-lined vessel sink, square hand towel holder, mirror and faucet. “It’s fresh- and light-looking while still providing the utility required,” the designer says.
Door style: Raised panel with a beveled edge
Dimensions of vanity: Five feet long by 32 inches high by 18 inches deep
Paint color on vanity: Oxford White in a matte finish, Benjamin Moore
Hardware: Glass knobs, Upper Canada Hardware in Toronto
Sink: Ove by Wetstyle. Vessel sinks change up the height of the vanity. “The overall height of the sink should sit between 34 to 36 inches [from the floor], and if you’re working with a vessel sink, the top of the sink should sit at that height and the countertop height would be subtracted,” Rosen explains. “So a 4-inch-high vessel sink would be at 36-inches high and the countertop would sit at 32 inches high.”
Faucets: Open-top tall fixture
Counter: Statuario marble
Floor: Statuario herringbone mosaic
Backsplash: 7-inch Statuario slab
Mirror: This is a custom mirror. Its sharp lines add a modern touch to the room.
Lighting: These are custom refurbished fixtures. The finish is stainless steel.
Wall color: Oxford White, Benjamin Moore
Challenges: “We had a limited depth we could work with because of the door opening and the subsequent casing,” Rosen says. “The vanity is slightly narrower than standard, and it meant that we had to put the faucet to the side, which was not originally part of the design — it’s an interesting detail that I think makes the bathroom that much more beautiful.”

Rosen advises being mindful of the proportions of each piece. “The hardware sizing, if too large or small, can offset the look dramatically,” she says. “I always like to keep things somewhat monochromatic with the fixed finishes — too much zing can pull your eye drastically away from the overall feel of the space.”

Vanity 2: Transitional and functional for her

In this 55-square-foot bath that was the “hers” half of his-and-hers bathrooms, interior designerTracey Stephens was going for “feminine but not froufrou.” The vanity’s curves accomplish this. “The vanity is rather large for a one-sink configuration, but she wanted lots of countertop space and storage underneath,” Stephens says. 

Style: This is the Louis vanity by Waterfall Bathroom Furniture, crafted in custom extra-long dimensions and then customized by a carpenter who turned two awkwardly large doors into four. A gracefully shaped edge along the bottom adds feminine flair and throws a few curves into the room.
Dimensions: 60 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 36 inches high
Vanity paint color: Light Pewter, Benjamin Moore
Special details: Stephens included a holster for a hair dryer inside one of the vanity doors.
Hardware: The designer chose polished chrome, which coordinates with other accessories in the room. The cabinet knobs are the K-11485 Archer by Kohler.
Sink: Stephens chose an undermount sink that gives the countertop a sleek look. The sink is the Loretta undermount by Bates & Bates.
Faucets: Nexus faucet by Toto
Counter: Quartz Reflection 7141 by Caesarstone
Backsplash: A pencil line of glass tile in a color that that picks up on the wall paint breaks up the simple white porcelain 6-by-6-inch square tiles. The square tiles are topped off by a 2-by-6-inch bullnose tile. 
Mirror: “More storage was also the reason for three medicine cabinets,” Stephens says. To fill the length of the vanity, the designer used three recessed cabinets ganged together. 
Lighting: A three-light sconce over the mirror provides plenty of light for makeup. 
Wall color: Thornton Sage, Benjamin Moore

Because the client wanted an extra-long vanity top with a single sink for lots of counter space, the company customized it for her. The problem was, they could only make it in a two-door version. 
Challenges: “When the vanity was delivered, as I suspected, the two doors were huge and quite problematic due to the narrowness of the room,” Stephens says. “My awesome cabinetmaker, Jason Aksman of Fine Custom Carpentry, made four smaller doors out of the two.”

Across the room, a valance plays off the curved shape of the vanity. A polished nickel square pyramid nailhead detail picks up the other finishes in the room. 

Vanity 3: Clean and contemporary with lots of storage

This is the master bathroom for a husband and wife. “It’s their sanctuary from their four kids,” says interior designer Beth Kooby. “They wanted a clean, contemporary look.” Because there’s no medicine cabinet, the vanity needed to hold all the toiletries the couple needed at the sink and mirror. The bathroom is 74 square feet. 

“I custom-designed this to be simple, sleek and not too fussy — because my clients are not — but also elegant,” Kooby says. “I chose a warmer-colored wood to balance the coldness of the marble floor and all the glass in the room.” The style of the vanity also coordinates with custom cabinetry in the adjacent master bedroom, creating a pleasing cohesiveness between the two.

StyleContemporary
Dimensions: Forty-two inches wide by 20 inches deep by 34 inches high
Sink: Kohler Ladena in white
Faucets: Purist line by Kohler
Backsplash: 2-by-12-inch Lucian glass tile in Oxygen Gloss from Ann Sacks
Mirror: Custom
Lighting: Modern sconces in clear glass

Vanity wood: Sapele
Hardware: “I had a dream about this hardware before I found it!” Kooby says. “It’s acrylic with nickel posts, from Matthew Quinn Collection.”
Countertop: Custom concrete with bits of recycled glass, fabricated by Dex Industries. The bits of glass pick up on the glass tile as well as a Starphire glass shower niche. 
Challenges: This vanity, with its six drawer fronts and pedestal base, has the look of a contemporary dresser. But of course, with an undermount sink and plumbing hidden behind it, there’s more going on than meets the eye. 

Both of the top drawers have an L-shaped interior to accommodate the sink; the middle section is one front made to look like two separate drawer fronts, with a U-shaped interior to accommodate the plumbing, and the bottom is two separate full drawers,” Kooby explains. 

The vanity turned out so beautifully that the clients didn’t want anything mucking it up. “She insisted on a free-standing toilet paper holder so we wouldn’t drill in to the side of the vanity, because it’s so pretty!” Kooby says.

How to Choose the Right Bathroom Sink

Article by: Anne Ellard

“Eight,” I hear you say. “She can’t possibly be serious. Isn’t a sink just a sink?” But yes, I am serious — and my clients are often baffled when trying to choose from the available options. The truth is that choosing one can be a bit overwhelming, but only when you’re not sure what you’re looking for. First, you need to consider which room you are shopping for (master en suite, family bathroom, powder room), who will use the room and how much space you have. 

So before you head off to choose your new bathroom sink, grab a coffee, have a read and then go out armed with the information you need to help narrow down the best options for you and your space.

1. Top-mount sink. Probably the most commonly used sink, a top-mount, or drop-in, sink is designed to sit on top of the counter, as the name suggests.

Generally speaking, most of the sink sits below the counter, with just the rim of it sitting on top of, and visible above, the counter. The rim can be either very slim or a bit chunkier, like the one pictured, depending on the style you choose. 

Pros: Top-mount sinks are suitable for pretty much any countertop material, including wood and laminate, as the cutout is completely covered by the sink and therefore doesn’t risk being damaged by water. They are also less costly to install in a stone countertop, because they don’t require laborious polishing of the cutout edges, as with an undermount sink. 

Con: You can’t wipe water and spills straight from the counter into the sink. 

Good for: Elegant en suites and minimalist schemes.

2. Undermount sink. This sits underneath the counter. The rim of the sink is fixed to the underside of the countertop, as opposed to sitting on top of it. 

Pros: This creates a seamless, clean look, as less of the actual sink is visible. Another advantage is that water and spills can be wiped directly from the countertop into the sink without any obstruction, making it a great, easy-to-clean option for family bathrooms. 

Cons: Undermounting a sink will usually only be possible with a solid-surface countertop, such as stone, and isn’t suitable with a laminate, as it can’t be sealed as well against moisture. These sinks also tend to cost more than top-mount ones. 

Good for: Busy family bathrooms.

3. Wall-mounted sink. This is fixed directly to the wall without needing to sit in or on a countertop. It looks streamlined and gives a minimalist feeling to a room. 

Pros: A wall-mounted sink doesn’t have any cabinets below it, which saves on space and also leaves more visible floor area, making the room feel bigger. For a wall-mounted sink to work in your space, all the plumbing, including the waste, must be positioned inside the wall to have a clean look.

Cons: There is no storage space, and there is a lack of “landing” space due to the absence of a countertop. Consider your need for storage in your bathroom before opting for a wall-mounted sink and maybe reserve it for the powder room, where storage isn’t as important. 

Good for: Small spaces.

4. Pedestal sink. If your preference is a simple wall-mounted sink, but your waste pipe has to go through the floor and can’t be changed, then a pedestal sink is a great option.

Pros: The pedestal under the sink sits between the underside of the sink and the floor, concealing any pipework in between. A pedestal sink is also aesthetically pleasing and perfect if you want to give your bathroom a classical vibe.

Cons: Again, consider the fact that you won’t have any storage space under the sink or any counter space around it. This option can also be a bit tricky to clean around, as there is usually a gap between the wall and the back of the pedestal (as pictured here).

Good for: Period properties and traditional schemes.

5. Semirecessed sink. If your bathroom or en suite has limited space, but you would still like some vanity cabinets below your sink for storage, then a semirecessed option might be the solution you need.

Pros: A semirecessed sink sits proudly at the front of cabinets and the countertop that it sits on, allowing you to have much shallower cabinets — maybe even as shallow as about 12 inches (300 millimeters), depending on the model you choose. This frees up valuable floor space. It also keeps a lot of the counter space free for cosmetics and other products. Much like a pedestal sink, this is a good option for young children and people with limited mobility, as you can get closer to the sink to reach the faucet without the obstruction of a countertop and cabinets.

Cons: The storage space underneath is limited. Also, because there isn’t any countertop around the front of the sink to catch water, splashes and spills onto the floor are more common, especially in a home with children. 

Good for: Mini-me’s and beauty queens.

6. Washplane sink. Washplane sinks, often spotted in sleek hotels and restaurant bathrooms, are the simplest of the options. They’re slim, streamlined and stylish. 

Pros: Washplane sinks take up very little space, so they are great in a room where space is limited, such as in a powder room. You can buy one made of ceramic, porcelain or glass off the shelf. Alternatively, a stonemason can make them in this style from granite, marble or engineered stone. They simply mount a small stainless steel trough under the sink to catch the water before it runs into the waste pipe in the wall behind.

Cons: Washplane sinks are best suited to the powder room, where the sink will be used just for hand washing. They don’t come with the option of having a plug, plus they are extremely shallow, so they’re not designed to hold water. 

Good for: Powder rooms.

7. Vessel sink. A vessel sink is one that generally sits completely on top of the countertop, although there are some models that sit partially below the counter. 

Pros: Unlike most other sinks that are exposed above the counter a little or not at all, vessel sinks demand attention and are a great way to create a statement in your bathroom. As the name suggests, a vessel sink is basically like a large bowl, so it is a great choice if you like a deep sink that can hold plenty of water. 

Cons: Due to the height of vessel sinks and the way they sit above the counter, careful planning of the counter height, and of the height of the cabinets below, is required to ensure that the sink doesn’t end up being too high and uncomfortable to use — this often leads to less storage space under the counter. Cleaning around the base and back of the sink can also be a bit tricky. 

Good for: En suite bathrooms.

8. All-in-one sink and countertop. Many off-the-shelf vanity cabinets that can be purchased from bathroom supply stores offer an all-in-one countertop with a sink that sits on top. With this style, the sink itself is actually molded as part of the countertop. It can be made from various materials, such as porcelain or acrylic. 

Pros: The main advantage is that it’s so easy to clean. There are no ridges or seams, so it’s very streamlined and a great choice for busy family bathrooms. These sinks are generally available in set standard sizes; however, some suppliers may offer the option to have one custom made to the size that suits your space best.

Con: These all-in-one tops are usually designed so the countertop gradually slopes down and inward to create a sink in the middle. This can lead to having less flat counter space to put things on than what you would have had if you had opted for a top-mount sink sitting on top of a countertop, for example. 

Good for: Time-poor renovators, and those who need to buy something straight off the shelf and don’t have time to wait for a custom-made sink.