You have a choice: buy an annoying vanity that falls apart in a year, or get one that makes you feel more sane and your bathroom look bigger. The right vanity might even increase your home value.
Here’s what top-rated contractors on Thumbtack say about which vanities to buy, how much to spend, and how to pick one with a modern bathroom design in mind.
“Usage comes first,” says Thumbtack Top Pro James Tapia of Global Housing Contractors. Ask yourself who’s using the vanity and how, then plan from there. “Will it be a hallway bathroom that your kids are using? If so, the vanity needs to be larger. It doesn’t have to be a double, but there should be enough space to accommodate an extra toothbrush or two. Functionality comes first.”
Tapia says white and gray vanities are the most requested. Forest Ponder of Beyond Boundaries Construction agrees. “We rarely install stain-grade cabinets in bathrooms,” he says. “Clients are selecting cooler-color vanities with clean lines in the design.”
If you’re still working through inspiration and ideas, consider finding an interior designer near you who can help with everything from laying out the space to selecting colors and sourcing materials.
Turnkey solutions — vanities that include countertop and sink — are key for Ponder’s clients. “Our downtown loft clients are [choosing] the industrial look, with plumbing fixtures in satin nickel or chrome,” says Ponder. He likes turnkey choices from Wayfair, Overstock, and Restoration Hardware.
“The Kohler Tresham 36” shaker style vanity in Linen White or Mohair Grey is simple yet elegant,” adds Thumbtack pro Michael Big of Big Brothers Development, “and can be combined with so many gorgeous looking vanity tops — we personally love anything Carrara marble.”
For larger spaces, “The Fairmont Smithfield 60” transitional vanity is a double bowl design that’s sturdy with soft-closing hinges, solid pine dovetail drawers, and hardware that can be changed to match the color scheme,” recommends Big.
To make a space feel less cluttered, attach your vanity to the wall instead of putting it on the floor. Big says you can get a good option at IKEA. “We have been really partial to the floating vanities from Ikea lately, specifically their Godmorgon and Edeboviken line,” he says. “They come in single or double bowl options, ranging from 23” to 55” in length. They’re super easy to put together and come in five color options.”
Natural stone is far more popular than cement, solid surface, or laminate countertops. Quartz is the standout for clients of Beyond Boundaries Construction, while marble and granite are go-to materials for Global Housing Contractors. “Marble tops are priced competitively right now,” shares Tapia (with Global Housing Contractors). So if you like marble, buy it now.
Big reminds customers to keep in mind that a vanity may not always come with a top, so they’ll have to include that in their planning. “Customers buy a cheap vanity and don’t realize it doesn’t come with a top or a sink, and then they have a whole new round of custom purchases to make.”
If you do find yourself in that situation, try this tip from Thumbtack Top Pro Brian Ernest of Ready to Sell Renovations. “Granite shops will typically have a remnant that’s large enough for you to make a countertop out of, so don’t hesitate to buy the vanity from one place and the top from another.”
Your vanity needs to survive heavy daily use (like slammed cabinet doors and exposure to moisture). You should expect to pay for that quality. And if you want it to look like wood, buy actual wood.
“We strongly recommend avoiding lower-priced cabinets found in big box stores,” says Big. “The cheaper the vanity, the higher the likelihood the manufacturer used MDF/particle board, and it will only be a matter of time before it swells from the moisture or water of the bathroom environment.”
When it comes to price, “Don’t go for the cheapest and don’t go for the most expensive,” suggests Tapia. “Choose an option in the middle.”
Want to expand your vanity footprint but need more space? Take out that clunky 90s built-in tub and replace it with a freestanding tub or shower, recommends Ponder with Beyond Boundaries Construction. His clients are selecting transitional tub styles that are 17” to 19” deep and ditching jetted tubs in the process.
Do your research, online and off, before you jump into a purchase. Besides looking for inspiration on Pinterest, you can visit your local home improvement store or even local marble shops. If you go for a more complex option (like selecting the countertop and the vanity base separately), try talking to a local contractor about what the project will entail up front, so you won’t be surprised by any masonry or plumbing costs involved down the line.