The right furniture choices can turn any bathroom into a stylish, comfortable and practical space.
When you’re renovating a bathroom, the furniture you choose can make or break the entire project. From vanities and mirrors to those all-important storage solutions, the furniture pieces you select can turn an ugly and impractical bathroom into a beautiful and functional retreat.
So rather than just rushing out and buying every piece of bathroom furniture that takes your fancy, it’s essential that you ask yourself some important questions and decide on the design, look and atmosphere you want to achieve.
What bathroom furniture do I need?
The furniture you need will vary depending on the size and scope of your bathroom renovation; a small ensuite, for example, will have very different requirements to a hard-wearing and spacious bathroom for a family with a couple of young kids.
However, the main furniture items you need to consider are:
- A vanity. The right vanity will look great and merge seamlessly with its surrounds, but it should also be practical and easy to use every day.
- Storage cabinets. Adequate storage space is a must in the bathroom, where all the lotions, potions and other personal hygiene odds and ends can quickly cause clutter if not properly concealed.
There are plenty of other accessories you will need to consider, including everything from mirrors and lighting to towel racks and toilet roll holders, but a vanity unit and adequate storage are two big-ticket items you need to get right.
Choosing the right bathroom furniture
Wander through a specialist bathroom supply store and you will quickly learn that there is no shortage of choice when it comes to bathroom furniture. Every possible colour, size, shape and design combination you can think of is available, so narrowing it down to the right choices for your space can be a difficult task. To make that task easier, ask yourself the following questions:
What is my budget?
This is perhaps the most crucial question for every renovator. We all have a certain “look” we want to achieve and specific items we’d love to include, but sometimes it’s simply not possible to justify the expense for some pricey items.
Before you go any further, sit down and work out a realistic bathroom furniture budget. This should help clarify future choices for you and ensure that you don’t end up spending more than you can afford.
What look and feel do I want to create?
Every good bathroom must balance two factors: practicality and style. We’ll get to practicality a little later, but for the moment let’s think about style. This early stage of the renovation is the perfect time to think of the big picture: what look and atmosphere do you want in your bathroom?
Is it to be a simple and low-maintenance ensuite, a luxurious and opulent retreat, or a bright and inviting family bathroom? Do you want a space custom-made to suit you and your family down to the finest detail, or do you want something a little more generic that might make it easier to sell the house in a few years? Will your bathroom be a sleek, modern space, a rustic French country design or a classic, elegant Hamptons-style bathroom? The possibilities are truly astounding.
Think about the colours, materials and finishes you want to include in the space, as well as the statements you want to make with your furniture. There are heaps of renovation websites that are overflowing with design ideas and inspiration for your bathroom space, so find some ideas you like and then start to narrow it down to your favourites.
How will the rest of the space look?
Next, consider the other features you are including in the bathroom. From large items like the bath and toilet, to smaller items like taps and faucets, everything you include in your space will come together to create a unique atmosphere.
Consider how your furniture will match the other features of the room. Would a wood-grain finish look best or maybe a streamlined all-white look? If choosing a store-bought piece of furniture, will its handles and knobs match the tapware and other handles in the room?
Of course, you’ll also need to think of the colour scheme and the overall look and feel you are trying to create.
What do I need from a practical point of view?
Bathroom cabinets can be used to create acres of useable storage space, to conceal pipes and plumbing connections, and to add decorative flair. Before choosing any furniture, consider exactly what you want to achieve with your bathroom cabinetry. This will influence your choice of product and the design you select.
At this stage of the process you should also consider your existing plumbing connections. For example, if you need to relocate your plumbing arrangements to suit your new vanity, such as if you switch from a floor-mounted vanity to a wall-mounted unit, you’ll need to budget for the extra costs involved.
What do I want in a vanity?
Take some time to think about what your vanity unit will be used for most often. For example, will you and your partner use it to get ready for work each day, making his and hers sinks a viable option? Or will it go in a bathroom for the kids, making durability and ease of cleaning the top priorities? Alternatively, if it’s for a rarely used guest bathroom, perhaps you may not need as much storage space as you think.
The height of the unit is another factor many renovators overlook until it’s too late, but being stuck using a vanity that’s too high or too low every day can get very tiring. Finally, don’t forget about easy access to power outlets for all those hair dryers, electric toothbrushes and other essential beauty implements you need to plug in.
The style factor is just as important. Will it be modern, traditional, European, Japanese or any other style you can think of? Consider how you want your new vanity to look and how it will blend in with its surrounds.
How much storage do I need?
Before you start your renovation, take an inventory of all the stuff you store in your current bathroom. Will you want to store all of the same items and more in your new bathroom?
Think about the items you want to be able to easily access every day, such as makeup and toiletries – does the new vanity unit have ample space where they can be stored close to hand?
Then think about all the other stuff you want to store. Will it be best kept in drawers, cabinets or on shelves? Is there anything that might require a uniquely-shaped space for easy storage?
Once you know what you need you can start browsing the available options – there are plenty of clever internal storage solutions available to help you make the most of the space you have.
How much space is available?
Get out a tape measure and work out exactly how much space you have to work with, remembering to factor in door openings, shower entry and the like. This will help narrow down your choice to furniture items that will fit in your bathroom without completely dominating the area. You should also consider the shape of the space you have to work with, and whether custom-made cabinetry might be a better fit than a store-bought piece.
You will also need to think about where each item will go. Make sure your vanity is located in a spot where it won’t impede the flow of traffic through the bathroom, even with doors and drawers open, and that you’ll have easy access to all the relevant cupboard space. Sufficient access to clean the vanity is also a must.
Built-in or freestanding?
Should your bathroom storage cabinets be built into the surrounding space, or do you want to purchase a freestanding unit? The main benefit of built-in storage is that it can be custom-made to suit your space, fitting in perfectly to your bathroom and blending seamlessly with the rest of your fixtures and fittings. Not only can this help you make the most of the available space, it can also contribute to the sleek and stylish look you want to create.
On the other hand, freestanding furniture can be a focal point in its own right. There’s a huge array of stylish and unique pieces available to add character to your bathroom, and there’s also the potential to move items around if you ever want to freshen up the space.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to remember to maintain the balance between style and substance.
What materials do I want?
Vanity units and other pieces of bathroom furniture need to be able to withstand life in a humid and wet environment. They also need to be capable of handling everyday use, plus be especially hard-wearing in a family bathroom.
Wood veneer and laminate will often work well, while a durable and easy-to-clean vanity top is also essential.
There’s a lot that goes into choosing bathroom furniture, so take your time and carefully consider each piece individually and in terms of how it fits into your bathroom as a whole. With a patient approach and knowledge of what will work and what won’t, you can select furniture to help create your perfect bathroom.