vanity advice needed--x-post from home decorating

writersblockSeptember 28, 2012

I've been helping a friend figure out what to with her incredibly squeezed master bath and I'd really appreciate some input on our options for a vanity. I left my camera there, but here's a pic of the identical bath from a real estate listing:

It's actually shorter than it looks in the photo, only 72" long. The toilet is behind the door in the photo and the crossways wall is the end of the shower enclosure. It's not possible to move any plumbing or to raise the ceiling, so as you see, it's pretty squishy. (Fortunately, there's another larger bath on the same floor.) This is a townhouse so we're not able to reconfigure much. The tall mirrored door at the end of the room is a little cabinet built into the depth of the wall (of the roof mansard, actually). That will stay, although we may wind up taking the door off and having open shelving there. The big mirrored medicine cabinet will go.

Of course she'll do a glass shower surround this time, and that will open things up quite a bit. We also decided that the only way to make this work is to go with light colors, lots of reflective surfaces, and a very minimalist modern look. She's also on a very strict budget since she has to do the other bath and the kitchen as well.

We decided to use the ikea Godmorgon vanity, although without the ikea sinks, which make it heavier looking, and probably with push latches instead of handles. We chose them because they're only 18" deep and offer a ton of storage because of the way ikea arranges the plumbing.

She would ideally like a quartz countertop with an undermount sink, but as mamattorney has just found out, that may be hard to do, so we may try gray washing a piece of the thin ikea BB and using that. The shower and floor are an imitation calacatta marble tile, 12x24.

So here's the question: how should we configure the vanity side? Here are the options:

1. Go with a wall mounted vanity that runs the length of the bathroom, like this, only this size in that bath would go wall to wall:

The advantage: that would give us the longest run of wall mirror. Disadvantages: It's going to be kind of weird to run that long without double sinks, and if we use undermounts the drawer immediately beneath the sink is compromised for storage, so that's two drawers with less space, or else use obtrusive overmount sinks (the ones in the picture aren't that big, but you see how formidable they look on a narrow vanity). Also, you get to admire yourself sitting on the toilet.

2. Use the 56" version of this cabinet and the ikea wall cabinet at the end near the door. (You can see the tops of a pair of them reflected in the mirror in the first photo of the vanity.) This configuration also fills that side wall to wall, but since the tall cabinet is only 12" deep, it gives a little more space when you first enter the room. It's probably the most storage of any of the options, and you don't have to see yourself on the toilet. Disadvantages: it's still pretty solid on that side. a link to a pic of that configuration, although keep in mind that there's an awful lot going on that bath, so it's kind of hard to get a good idea. If you need a better idea of the relative depth and height of the vanity and tall cabinet, this gives an idea, although that is vanity is only 39" wide.

Option 3: Use a 48" wall mount vanity with the tall cab. This would be slightly less squooshy looking, for sure, but the problem with that is that we want to mirror all the free space on that wall, and that gets complicated when it's not just a case of putting the mirror above the backsplash. We'd have to do something like tiling the whole wall up to the bottom of the mirror and would rather not do that.

So which would you choose?

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Well, I don't have sage advice, but I'll still offer my opinion. I have read several times here that wall mount vanities can lighten a space. I would agree that might be a good way to go. I'd also either remove the mirror door as you mentioned, or replace it with frosted glass if it would look cluttered open. Also make sure there is enough lighting.

I'm not sure why an undermount wink with quartz would be hard, I got a prefab one off the shelf at Lowes at a very reasonable price, they come in several different standard sized. Might be worth checking out.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 2:44PM
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>I'm not sure why an undermount wink with quartz would be hard

Thanks, willamsem. The problem is that the vanity is a non-standard size, being only 18" deep, and it's very, very hard to find quartz remnants. It's totally out of the budget to buy a whole slab to get 10sf. We would need a piece that is either 49 x 19-1/1 or so or 57 x 19-/12, and with the sink at one end. I've never seen that prefab around here, alas.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 3:03PM
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Yeah, that makes sense. All the 49x19 ones I saw have an integrated sink, so not quartz. What about a granite remnant? More readily available and still easy to care for.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:18PM
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Yes, that might be possible, but there are two maybes about that. First of all, the granite around here is mostly 3cm and I'm not sure about the vanity's ability to support that weight. If we could find some 2cm that would be more possible. The other thing is that she's doing a calacatta look porcelain for the walls/floor and I suspect it's going to be hard to find any real stone that doesn't make that scream "FAKE!" I find it hard to combine more than one stone, even when they're both real, and have it look good.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:39PM
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Oops, I meant to say that it's hard if the stones are both patterned. Something like absolute black and a marble backsplash works fine. Anyway, that's something we'll explore, but it's going to be a luck of the draw thing when the time comes. Thanks again for your input.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:44PM
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I like option 2 because it makes sense to fill the whole wall because of mirror issues, as you said, and I think a 56" vanity provides a nice amount of counter space. The shallow cabinet in front of the door will help the room feel less cramped, and I agree the wall mount vanity will help too.

If she can live without solid surface, there's lots of formica out there that could look really good and modern without breaking the budget. I am in the process of a bathroom remodel, and also have the marble-look floors. I ended up finding a quartz remnant that is almost white, with just slight veining. It looks great with the floors. I had to look pretty hard to find a remnant, but it can be done. I'd say I probably saw an equal number of 2 and 3 cm remnants. But definitely finding granite remnants is easier, and black might be a good option.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 11:57AM
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Thanks, kmcg. I think, too, that the smaller the remnant we need, the more likely to find one. Incidentally, the long vanity in the photo with the vessel sinks is actually using a cut down piece of the ikea laminate, the one with the steel-effect edge.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 1:39PM
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Writersblock, did you see this post on Apartment Therapy about concrete counters? Might that be a possibility?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:52PM
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Thanks, walkin_yesindeed! At first I thought, "Are you kidding--those are so heavy," but her solution is very clever.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:29PM
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I remodeled two bathrooms with Godmorgon vanities and used granite tops (remnants for $150 a piece)installed and holes made onsite to make sure they are aligned with the faucets and sinks I bought. Here is the link of the master bedroom (this one has the full mirror, my favorite).

Here is my daughter's bathroom, more modern based on her taste:

Feel free to ask questions, the granite is normal thickness as used in kitchens, it holds up well with the Godmorgon legs and also E-Z anchors (4) against the wall each holds 75 lbs.

Here is a link that might be useful: Godmorgon Vanity with Ubatuba Granite and Vessel Sink

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 10:40PM
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Thank you so much, pibalorena. That was incredibly helpful. I'm sure I will have some questions once I've had a chance to digest it all. The plumbing photos were especially good to have.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 11:20AM
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pibalorena, I do have a question for you. We've been thinking about possibly doing a semi-flushmount sink instead of a vessel sink. Do you think that with something like this we could still get the necessary clearance to avoid having to cut the top drawer?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 5:11PM
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