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Bathroom with black bathtub and wash basin along with golden fittings, mirror and black and white floor.
The working centre of the bathroom needs a can-do cabinet! Choose one that’s just right for you.

Essential steps to choosing the right vanity

The vanity sets the style tone of a bathroom, but it’s also one of this area’s most practical pieces; its importance can’t be overstated. In all aspects, including size, shape and position, it pays to do your research before you have it plumbed in. Remember that one person’s perfect vanity is another’s not-quite-right, so think about the needs of your space and your household before you shop.

Maximise space for a family bathroom

If you’re running late, then having to queue to brush your teeth, shave or apply make-up can be hugely stressful. To ease the morning rush, opt for a wide (preferably double bowl) unit for your family bathroom. Regan Clare from Stein suggests a freestanding, floor-standing unit, which will provide ample storage space to keep your products and grooming tools neat and tidy. Bunnings bathroom buyer, Liam Gregory says to “consider drawer or cupboard organisers to maximise your space.”

Will it be in an ensuite?

It’s likely you and your partner may need the ensuite vanity at the same time. If space allows, opt for a double basin, but if this isn’t practical choose a single basin with space around it. To maximise your storage, think carefully about your morning routine and how this applies to vanity use. Is there room for make-up, hair products, styling tools and toiletries? The ensuite is usually a smaller space, so consider other bathroom ‘obstacles’ in its final placement. Liam says, “Think about the layout of the bathroom to make sure the drawers of the vanity do not interfere with the ensuite shower or walls.”

Are you looking for a powder room vanity?

By their very nature, powder rooms are small – and a compact vanity is ideal. “Size really does matter with a vanity, especially when you’re trying to fit it in an alcove,” says Regan. “You don’t need much storage space in this situation, so a wall-hung countertop unit would work.

A wall-mounted vanity in a small bathroom, featuring an arched mirror and above-counter basin.

Get the location right

Whatever vanity you decide on, make sure you’ve got it positioned correctly – there’s nothing worse than a shower door crashing into it daily, having zero room for cleaning around it, or bruising your hip every time you walk in or out of the bathroom. Allow a minimum of 300mm for entry, exit and cleaning access. “Make sure you carefully plan enough space for opening drawers and cupboards,” says Regan. Don’t forget to consider the area above the vanity, too – is there space for a mirror, cabinets or lights to hang comfortably?

Also investigate the plumbing requirements; leaving it in the same spot is the least expensive option, but if you’re switching from floor-standing to wall-hung, you may need to have drains and plumbing rerouted.

Scandi style bathroom featuring a double basin vanity and pill shaped mirrors.

Floor-standing vs wall-hung

With their floating, contemporary look, wall-hung vanities are perennially popular and give an illusion of spaciousness in tighter rooms. Other benefits include the ability to hang them at a customised height, and having a space beneath leaves room for items (or storage baskets) to be tucked underneath. Ensure your wall is structurally sound enough to hold the vanity, and factor in the cost of hiding your plumbing.

Classic floor-standing vanities often offer greater storage with more drawers and cupboards. They stand on the floor so can appear bulky, but you don’t need to hide the plumbing in the wall. With no void underneath, there’s one less area to clean! “Drawers are easy to access and see what you have in there, while cupboards can be good for storing larger, bulkier items,” adds Regan.

Determine your basin style

Above-counter basins provide additional visual interest, especially with the choice of colours available. They give bathrooms a chic, luxurious ‘spa feeling’, says Liam. While being stylish, an above-counter basin can be harder to clean, as you have to get behind the basin and around it. As it is set higher than other basins, make sure you choose tapware at the appropriate height.

An inset basin is a better choice for high-use areas. “While above-counter basins are very on trend and allow you to mix and match with your vanity unit, inset basins tend to be much easier to take care of,” Regan says. Gorgeous new finishes for basins include concrete, glass and natural stone, which make stunning aesthetic statements in the bathroom. But if practicality is top priority in your household, a vitreous china finish is the easiest to clean – the surface allows toothpaste or makeup smudges to wipe off effortlessly. “Basins with less detailing are always easier to maintain,” says Regan.

A white on white bathroom featuring subway tiled wall, light timber flooring, and a large shaving cabinet.

Keep in mind…

  • All plumbing and hardwired electrical work must be carried out by licensed professionals.
  • Before drilling into walls, use a stud finder to check for wiring or pipework, and turn off the power before working. If unsure, call a professional.

Ready to renovate your bathroom but not sure where to begin?

Check out our steps to planning a bathroom renovation.

Some products are not available at all stores, but may be ordered.


Photo Credit: Getty images, Alejandro Sosa 3D and Cibo

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