Do you regret surface-mounted medicine cabinet?

k9fanDecember 20, 2011

When I list my regrets about how we handled our remodel, not allowing enough lead time for all the big and small decisions will be at the top. The contractor is telling us that he needs to know about the medicine cabinet NOW if we want it in the wall of our rather small master bath. I hadn't even given it a thought, just assumed that we would have a medicine cabinet as I'm very used to them (in our rental, I keep trying to open the above-sink mirror) and find them useful.

My husband suggests we just get a surface-mounted cabinet instead of the flush mount I'd intended. That way the contractor won't have to move a pipe that's currently in the way, we can let him proceed with the sheetrock, and we will have more time to choose the cabinet. Again, I have never had a surface mounted medicine cabinet and I'm afraid it will be obtrusive and look like an afterthought. Any thoughts on this?

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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

I have surface mounted and like it just fine. It is a nice big one with glass adjustable shelves, and 3 glass doors.

The problem with mine though is that it has the Broadway lights across the top, and is quite dated. I can't find any that I like that are big that don't have doors that open wide, or that don't cost a small fortune.

Have you thought about lighting? Sconces on either side? Overhead lighting? Lights on the cabinet itself? That might play into your decision too. Decisions...decisions...

If it is a smaller master bath and you aren't wanting a big cabinet, you might be able to find numerous ones you like. Mine is 37" across and 32" high if you count the lights.


Here is a link that might be useful: Medicine Cabintets Google images

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 3:28PM
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In our Master Bath the surface mounted medicine cabinet works fine. The vanity is deepter than the other sinks in our house and because of that it would be quite a stretch to reach into a recessed cabinet. Also, we preferred surface mount on that particular wall, because it is an outside wall and we did not want to interfere with insulation. In the kid's bath we have a semi-recessed cabinet that we could not fully recess because we did not want to move a pipe. That middle way might also be an option for you.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 4:06PM
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We did surface mounted in our recent bathroom remodel. We were mounting a TV on the wall on the other side of the vanity (not a small reason in plan to remodel as this area used to be a doorway) and needed the studs for the tv mount.

I'm very pleased with our medicine cabinets.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 4:49PM
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Different viewpoint here. I went without medicine cabinets completely. I had always assumed we would get them but as I started thinking more about it, I realized that the drawer space in my new vanity and 8" deep towers to the left and right of the double sinks were much more useful. Medicine cabinets are shallow so they are very limiting in terms of what you can put in there. For you, I think it depends on what your other storage looks like. Do you have a vanity with drawers? A stack of drawers can be great. You can do some shallow ones and one deep one. You can buy organizers to hold everything. Much more useful than a medicine cabinet. Alternatively, is there a place that you could put a tall deeper closet?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 6:59PM
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Fori is not pleased

There are some beautiful ones out there now so you don't have to worry about it looking like an afterthought--you just have to find one that goes. If it was that or move a pipe, I wouldn't think twice. Also, I like having the mirror a wee bit closer.

The surface mount might impact lighting positioning though, so keep that in mind if you're planning on sconces or something close to the wall.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 7:53PM
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DH and I are legally blind without vision correction, LOL. So for us, closer is a LOT better!

We have storage up the kazoo in our small master bath (5x13') and I wouldn't give up our paired triple door mirrored cabs for anything. The one thing I regret is not putting an electrical outlet inside the cabs for rechargeables....oh, well.

Here's our bathroom medicine cabs - pardon the mess in the first photo, DH was being extra-messy that day:

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 9:44AM
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How big is the bath?

In our 8 x 10 main bath I put in a surface mount Restoration Hardware cabinet and like it. Saved some framing etc. and it looks nice over the large pedestal sink.

In my small 4 x 7 powder room I'm doing now, I'm installing an inset cabinet (also RH - polished nickel etc. to match the rest of the fixtures and surprise my wife who has no idea I have the cabinet yet).

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 3:48PM
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Tim, that is *beautiful* tile on your floor! What is it please?

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 4:53PM
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Thank you all for your replies. There are some lovely bathrooms there and no one has said that they regret having a wall mount instead of a recessed cabinet. One interesting point is about the cabinet's being closer with the wall mount (we are not tall people) and another helpful comment is about placing the sconces, which is what we've installed wiring for.

The width of the bathroom as you face the cabinets is about 7 feet to the "pony wall" (short wall) you see on the right. The tub will be to the right of that. (Above the pony wall will be a glass block partition.)

The cabinet area consists of 24-inch upper and lower cabinets on the left (the upper is 7" deep, the lower 16"), then a 36-inch wide, 21" deep base cabinet for the sink t, then a 27" base cabinet for the makeup area that is again 16" deep. The medicine cabinet will be centered over the sink. We were thinking of a 24" cabinet, but we tend to like a single mirror so as to avoid a seam, so maybe we will have to go with 20" wide.

Any more thoughts would be most welcome. A line drawing of this bathroom can be seen by clicking the link below. The left rectangle represents the area where the medicine cabinet would go. I don't think we'll have a mirror over the makeup area: I'm trying to get a custom flip-up top with a mirror inside.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 7:16PM
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So we think we're going to choose this one: Afina Basix Antique Silver. It seems to have the look of a simple frame mirror with a silver frame. Thanks to all who gave input.

Here is a link that might be useful: Afina Basix Antique Silver

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 3:21AM
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We installed a very similar medicine cabinet a couple winters ago. It had the option of surface mount (with mirrored sides) but it looked "clunky". Very glad we recessed it as the unit closed looks like a wall mounted mirror.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 10:12PM
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I put in a medicine cabinet similar to the one above. Most people don't know that a medicine cabinet is behind the mirror, which I love.

If you have a chance now, just move the pipe and frame in the space. You'll be glad you did!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 10:26PM
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SusanCF, that is a pretty cabinet but the picture only shows it recessed. How does it look if you surface mount it? Will you be able to use the silver frame and will it stick out 4 inches? We chose a plain Robern with mirrors on the side and that looks straight forward.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 8:20AM
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has anyone used the Ikea Godmorgon surface mount medicine cabinet? They are 38" tall. It seems most others do not come this tall (unless you go to Robern)

I have a single sink vanity and was thinking about 3 of the 15" ganged together.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 3:49PM
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razmatazzy, yes, we had the Godmorgen cabinet in the hall bathroom - now it is in the basement... While we liked the quality of the Godmorgen just fine, it turned out to be too deep over the small vanity. The kids would hit their head when washing their hands. We replaced it with a Kohler cabinet that is not quite as deep and that we could sem-recess.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 4:27PM
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I wanted to correct the statement "Medicine cabinets are shallow so they are very limiting in terms of what you can put in there." This is not true at all. Robern sells medicine cabinets that are up to 8" deep. Duravit medicine cabinets are up to 10.5" deep. The duravits are not meant to be recessed. The Roberns can be recessed or semi recessed. My 8" cabinet holds large rolls of toilet paper without a problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Robern 8

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 12:05PM
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Yes, I am aware of all of the Robern cabinets--I almost bough the uplifts in fact. But I don't think they represent most of what is out there in the way of medicine cabinets. And for a lot of people posting here, they might be out of their price ranges. I firmly believe that most medicine cabinets are of the 4" variety.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 7:53PM
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Just a belated follow-up. We're very happy with the Basix recessed medicine cabinet (mentioned in my post above) that we ended up with. Like fnmroberts, I find that it looks like a mirror mounted on the wall, but we still get the medicine cabinet storage.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 2:24AM
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