Vanity Unit Buying Guide
What is a vanity unit?
Instead of choosing a standard pedestal basin for your bathroom, why not consider a vanity unit? Vanity units are easily the most important piece of furniture you could buy for your bathroom, as they combine your bathroom basin with a stylish storage unit that also cleverly covers your pipework. Vanity units come in a wide range of styles, sizes and finishes, enabling you to find one that best suits your bathroom design.
We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you choose the perfect vanity unit for your bathroom, ensuite or cloakroom!
Things to consider when buying a vanity unit
Before jumping in and buying the first fancy vanity unit that catches your eye, first consider these 3 main factors to ensure you’re choosing one that will work best for your needs and your space.
What size and shape is your bathroom?
First of all, you need to consider how much available space you have in your bathroom for your vanity unit so you can work out what size you need. If you have a smaller bathroom, then choosing a single basin vanity will give you the storage you need without overcrowding your space. If you have a large bathroom then a double basin vanity is definitely one to consider – giving you twice the amount of storage and the luxury of two basins!
If you have an awkwardly shaped bathroom you could try and choose a vanity unit that will fit in a comfortable position. If you have an awkward corner, then you could utilise the corner by choosing a corner vanity unit or selecting a narrow unit to fit into a nook.
How much storage do you need?
Vanity units have been designed to give you a practical storage space directly under your basin whether it be shelving, drawers or both! Whether you'd prefer a cupboard or a drawer it is completely up to your personal preference, either way you will get a great place to store your bottles and products. The wider the vanity unit the more storage you get!
What design will suit your bathroom décor?
A big factor to consider is the overall design of your new vanity unit. There are many different styles, colours and finishes available to choose from, whether you want a stand-out feature piece or something to fit in with your existing bathroom interior. Modern or traditional? The choice is yours!
Keep reading to find out all about the different vanity units available...
What sizes do vanity units come in?
Whether you're looking for a compact vanity unit for your cloakroom or ensuite, a single vanity for a small bathroom or even a larger double vanity for your family bathroom, there's a unit out there to suit any bathroom size and design,
Single vanity units
Single vanity units feature one basin with a storage unit underneath. Sizes can vary from as little as 400mm wide to as big as 800mm wide. The smaller-sized units are excellent for cloakrooms, en-suites and smaller bathrooms, whilst the larger units are fantastic for bringing extra storage space. These units feature both single and double doors or drawers.
Double vanity units
Double vanity units feature not one, but two basins with a large storage unit underneath. Sizes generally start at around 1200mm wide to compensate for both basins. Double vanity units are a real luxury if you have the space to fit one, especially if there are multiple people using it. His and hers basins or one for the kids, a double basin is double the practicality!
Reduced depth vanity units
If you’re lacking in space or looking for a smaller unit for your en-suite or cloakroom, then there are vanity units that have been designed with a reduced depth. Reduced depth units are slimmer than a standard unit but with all the great features and looks you’d expect from a full-sized version. Just because space isn’t a premium, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on function or style!
What installation options are there?
Choose whether you'd like your vanity unit to be wall hung, floor standing or even designed to fit in a corner!
Wall-hung vanity units are an excellent space saver as they are hung on your wall to keep your floor space free. By hanging a vanity unit on your wall, it gives the illusion of more space which makes it a great choice for a smaller bathroom.
Floor-standing vanity units come in a variety of sizes and depths, giving you practical storage without taking up too much room in your bathroom. They are quick and easy to install, as they don’t need to be fitted to the wall like a wall-hung unit.
If you have a free corner in your bathroom, utilise the space and opt for a corner vanity unit! Designed to fit perfectly in a corner, these vanity units are an excellent space saver and give you practical storage you wouldn’t have benefited from before. The compact design of corner vanity units also makes them perfect for a cloakroom or en-suite!
Modern or traditional style?
Modern or traditional designs? The choice is yours!
Shiny, easy clean gloss finishes. Crisp well-defined lines and edges. These are the hallmarks of contemporary styles. Modern vanity units are available in the ever-popular monochrome choices of black and white, they are also available in bold blues, dusky greys and exotic wood colours. They tend to have straight chrome bar handles, or handles recessed into the doors to maintain the sharp lines.
If you have a Victorian or Georgian design theme, then a traditional vanity unit is perfect to give your bathroom an authentic, period feel. The designs of the timeless minimalism and straight lines and of course modern gloss finish materials were not available. The traditional styles, therefore, tend to be wood veneers, or painted wood and have more surface pattern to the doors with panels.
Storage shelves, drawers or both?
Vanity units are a fantastic storage solution to keep your bathroom clutter-free, giving you a practical place to keep all the bits and bobs you don’t want on display. You have the flexibility to choose whether you'd like a unit that has doors with shelves inside or large pull-out drawers. Or even both! Wall-hung vanity units generally feature drawers and floor standing vanity units feature doors with shelves, but you can also get larger units that have a mix of the two- best of both worlds!
You can even get vanity units with stylish open shelving! You retain exactly the same amount of storage space, gain easier access to your essentials and add a really unique design feature.
Handles or handless?
You can choose whether you’d like your doors/drawers to have a fancy handle or knob, or alternatively there are many stylish handless designs.
Handles/knobs can add an extra edge of style to your unit. Remember, it's all in the details!
Handless doors and drawers have an easy-to-access groove along the top. This means you won’t need to have handles protruding out, keeping everything looking stylish, neat and minimalistic.
Vanity unit basin types?
Top mounted and semi-recessed
Top-mounted and semi-recessed basins sit perfectly within the top of your vanity unit. A top-mounted basin gives you a seamless appearance whilst a semi-recessed basin protrudes out to give you more bowl space. These can be paired with a standard basin mixer or pillar taps installed on your basin edge.
Vanity units designed for top mount or semi-recessed basins come complete with the basin included.
Countertop basins – top board or stone top
If you’d prefer to have a basin that isn’t built-in, then you can opt for a vanity unit that features a top board or stone top. This enables you to sit the basin directly on top, giving you surface space around it.
If you’re looking for a vanity unit specifically with a solid stone top, you have options! You can opt for a vanity unit with a complete solid stone surface with a countertop basin sat on top, or you can choose one that features undermounted basins. Please note that these require either wall-mounted or high-rise mixer basin taps to be installed into the top board or the stone rather than the basin edge.
Countertop basin vanity units can be purchased on their own or with a countertop basin included – the choice is yours!
What are vanity units made from?
Vanity units are generally made from MDF or MFC, with a thickness of either 18mm, 25mm or 28mm. Keep reading to learn more about them both…
MDF - stands for medium density fibreboard.
MDF is such a versatile material. It's strong but without weighing too much for an easy installation, and it has a smooth surface so a water-resistant coloured vinyl layer can be added. This vinyl layer allows worry-free fitting in your moisture-rich bathroom and a surface that's super easy to keep clean.
MFC - stands for melamine faced chipboards
MFC properties are very similar to MDF when it comes to versatility, water resistance and its durable yet lightweight construction. Instead of a vinyl layer wrapped around the fibreboard, MFC is a layer of chipboard that features a melamine top layer and is slightly more lightweight than MDF.
What are vanity unit basins made from?
When it comes to the vanity unit basin, they’re made from either ceramic, vitreous china or polymarble resin.
Ceramic consists of clays that are fired at high temperatures to create an incredibly durable construction. Ceramic is an ideal material for a bathroom basin because it's highly resistant to stains, chemicals and heat, and is also extremely difficult to scratch and chip thanks to its durable enamel coating.
Vitreous china is very similar to ceramic, though it consists of finer clays that are fired to a higher temperature to make the surface even more durable. Another difference is that vitreous china tends to be slightly less thick than ceramic, making it slightly less weighty and a more minimalist appearance.
Polymarble is a lightweight composite stone that consists of 50% limestone and 50% acrylic resin with an ultra-durable 2mm coloured gel coating. Polymarble is a popular material for a bathroom basin as it also provides a stain and scratch-resistant surface that's not only easy to clean but looks fantastic too. Polymarble is much lighter than ceramic and has a much more durable construction due to the specialist resins used.
Multiple colours and finishes
Whether you’re looking for a coloured vanity unit to create a stylish feature in your bathroom or vanity to match in with the rest of your design, there are multiple finishes available.
White will always be and always has been a truly classic colour fit for bathroom suites, whether it has a gloss or matt finish. Bathrooms can sometimes be a bit on the small side and white units and fixtures help to reflect light making the room seem that little bit bigger. A white finish is second to none, with a crisp, neutral tone that will looks fantastic in any setting.
If you're looking for something a little different but with an abundance of style, then you've really got to consider choosing a grey vanity unit for your bathroom. With both gloss and matt finishes, they put a seriously modern spin on bathroom design with a neutral popular shade that will complement any interior.
Keep things stylish and contemporary in your bathroom with a gorgeous black vanity unit with a gloss or matt finish. Perfect for making a statement, match it with other black sanitaryware and bathroom accessories for the perfect monochrome bathroom design.
Instead of going for the norm, why not choose a coloured vanity unit? Great for creating a stylish feature in your bathroom, you can get vanity units in striking shades of blue in painted, gloss and matt finishes!
Although natural wood isn’t a good choice for a bathroom as it isn’t waterproof enough, you can get vanity units that feature a woodgrain to give you that wood aesthetic you crave. From whitewash to grey ash, black to beech, a wood effect vanity unit is sure to impress!
Substandard bathroom furniture can be a real nightmare which is why a lot of vanity units come with fantastically clever soft close doors and drawers. The soft close hinges allow you to access all your bathroom items with minimal effort and almost zero noise. When you push the drawer or door closed it’ll go gently back to its original position with no fuss whatsoever.
Flatpack or pre-assembled
You can buy vanity units fully assembled and ready to go, or alternatively if you’re up to the challenge you can also purchase them flatpack so you can build them yourself! Flatpack furniture has never been easier to put together. The parts are numbered, and the units are supplied with extremely easy-to-understand instructions so you can get the unit assembled and fitted in record time. Pre-assembled vanity units come ready to go, meaning you can get your new unit installed in your bathroom straight away with no fuss!
Where’s the best place to position your vanity unit?
The best place to position a vanity unit in your bathroom is an area where you can install a wall mirror above, enabling you to brush your teeth and get ready in the morning over your basin. A mirror is important when brushing your teeth and getting ready, so try not to install your vanity unit below a window. If you have a smaller bathroom, you don’t want to position your vanity unit where it won't get in the way such as near your bathroom door or shower door.
The easiest place to install your vanity unit is in the same place where your old basin is as your plumbing is already there ready and waiting. If you are thinking of moving your vanity unit to a different location in your bathroom then you have to consider your floor and pipework to make sure you are able to re-route your pipes.
How to organise your bathroom vanity unit storage
When organising your vanity unit, you want to first ensure that you have the items you use the most placed in the most accessible place, so you don’t have clutter that you don’t need taking up space. If you can get rid of any products that you may not need to be stored in your bathroom, this will give you optimum space for the things you do need. Your vanity unit is the perfect place to keep things like your soap, razors, toothbrush and toothpaste, and any other small toiletries so they’re in easy reach of your basin.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a larger cabinet, then you can dedicate one side to your toiletries, and the other side for either your hair/skin products, hand towels or your cleaning supplies! If you have a smaller cabinet, then prioritise the things that you use the most so they are neatly stored and easily accessible.
If you’re short on space, consider a combination unit!
Combination units are an excellent choice to save space and bring practicality to your bathroom if space is limited. These units combine two of the most important things in your bathroom – your basin and your toilet! Combination units have been designed to neatly fit together to save you considerable space compared to installing separate fittings.
Another fantastic aspect of a combination unit is that it creates a stylish feel for your bathroom, as the coordinated units fit together perfectly, giving you a seamless and consistent aesthetic. The vanity unit under the basin gives you practical storage whilst the toilet unit covers your cistern and perfectly matches the vanity.
You can get combination units in both left and right-hand versions or versions that are completely reversible, so you can be sure you will find one that fits your bathroom design.
If you’re lucky enough to have extra space in your bathroom, then you can also get other practical bathroom furniture such as storage cabinets and mirror cabinets that can match your basin and toilet combination unit perfectly.
If you're looking for more information on bathroom furniture or storage, take a look at the following posts - Design Inspiration: Bathroom Storage Ideas - The Bathroom Furniture Buyers Guide - Designing a Family Bathroom.
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