Vanities and bathroom furniture have two jobs: offer functional storage for an uncluttered feel and showcase individual style. The size and location of the bath dictates vanity design and style choices, but a soothing, relaxing feel is a top priority.
“The look should be clean, tailored and uncluttered,” stresses Judy Hedreen, president, Strasser in Woodinville, WA. “Because of all the societal changes, the bathroom can become a private retreat for renewal and self expression.”
“We are seeing designers and homeowners prioritizing simplicity and function, with an emphasis on using natural materials like wood, metal and stone,” offers Asa Harrison, product manager, furniture-style vanities at Bossier City, LA-based Hardware Resources.
Size trends shift depending on available space. “We continue to see great interest in compact storage vanities and bathroom consoles with shelving. For larger bathrooms, larger vanities with expansive storage and customized organization remains in high demand,” remarks Bob Downie, North American president, Duravit, based in Atlanta.
Other trends include furniture-style vanities, dramatic accents in powder room baths, painted color finishes, and organizational and functional features within the vanities. So say manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.
Setting the Tone
Vanities and bathroom furniture play a significant role in the overall feel of a bathroom, manufacturers say.
“When it comes to the overall design of the bathroom space, if done right, the furniture piece is second only to the choice of tile in terms of setting the mood and look,” stresses Nathaniel Mucha, exec. v.p., bath, Fairmont Designs in Buena Park, CA.
“Vanities are the starting point in creating a seamless design language in the overall space,” adds Downie. ”They set the look/tone and feel of the bathroom and inform the rest of the bathroom product selections.”
“Subtle details play a big role in defining the overall aesthetics of the bathroom,” he continues. “Distinctive hardware, like those included in Philippe Starck’s new collection, White Tulip, add further elements of interest to the bathroom space. As a unique design option, handles/pulls, etc. offer a striking contrast to the matte or high-gloss lacquers or solid wood vanity furniture finishes, allowing for the look and feel of the overall space to be reflected in each and every detail.”
“The vanity is often the first thing a person notices when entering the room,” says Hib Johnson, president, The Furniture Guild in Canton, GA. While the vanity must be big enough to perform necessary functions, selecting the correct size can maintain balance and harmony in the room, he adds.
Manufacturers believe designers and homeowners are using vanities to make a statement, especially in powder rooms.
“We really find that the vanity and the bathtub are the focal points,” reports Bob Gifford, director of business development, Hastings Tile & Bath in Ronkonkoma, NY. “They’re the things people want to reach for and design to make a statement.”
Vanities are often the starting point, rather than the “second thought” in house design, concurs Carmine Lacava, CEO, Lacava in Chicago, IL. The finishes and colors begin in the bathroom and reverberate in the rest of the house, he says.
“Furniture-style vanities are the statement piece for the bath space,” adds Harrison. “In addition to the functional benefits of storage, they are also the focal point of the bath, so style is equally as important as functionality.”
Larger, furniture-style vanities customized to fit the size and feel of the space are in high demand, manufacturers say. Details that add visual interest are also important.
“Although designing wall-to-wall installation will absolutely maximize storage, folks are ditching fillers and opting for a more furniture approach,” observes Johnson. “One of our most popular designs, Hayden, features a traditional turned leg with detailed base trim that absolutely must be seen from all sides!”
Mucha says homeowners are more often opting for bath furniture over cabinetry in their primary bathroom. “This can be in the form of freestanding furniture pieces as well as wall mount,” he adds. “This, of course, means we are seeing more demand for larger units – 60″ double- and single-sink vanities as well as 72″ units. On that same theme, we are seeing increased requests for linen towers,” he says.
Al Rykus, eastern regional manager, Lenova Group in Hillside, IL notes, “Wall-to-wall installation versus freestanding vanities give an overall custom feel for the bathroom. Separate pieces like a linen tower and vanity look choppy in a small bathroom but can be used to separate personal spaces in a two-person bathroom.”
Gifford reports that the company is seeing a lot of requests for fluted style fronts, whether in wood or painted colors.
Rykus notes that the ever-popular shaker styles are easily modified by using flat trims in a frameless application for a smooth, seamless feel. “Frameless styles are easy on the eye and offer less maintenance and a more modern look over older frame door styles,” he states.
Using a variety of materials allows designers to customize and create individual looks. “Mixing materials such as brass, matte black metal and nickel with natural wood to enhance the design of the vanities continues to be popular,” Mucha says.
“Using metal accents are a sought-after way to personalize your designs,” says Johnson. “Whether it’s fully welded constructional fabrication or added pops of metal details such as our newest BAND1 optional upgrade, your Furniture Guild vanity will be a one of a kind statement piece!”
In creating serene, relaxing spaces, both natural materials and softer colors have emerged as recent trends. Hues that mimic nature, such as blues and greens, are popular as well.
“Natural materials are making a return,” stresses Hedreen, with natural wood finishes in vertical or horizontal grains. “Buyers are wanting the bathroom to look and feel comforting, relaxing and calming,” Hedreen adds.
Gifford notes that the company has had a lot of requests for colors, but these colors are more muted and not as brilliant as they have been in the past.
Lacava agrees, adding, “Pastel colors in matte finishes are becoming very popular.”
Downie notes that white high gloss and neutrals that lend themselves to a calming “oasis” feel or that can be dressed up with pops of color are popular. These range from warm, inviting woods that coordinate nicely with the 2022 biophilia trend, to Nordic jewel tones in blue and gray hues.
“We are also seeing a trend toward calming colors and finishes for vanities,” Harrison reports. “Select Jeffrey Alexander vanities are offered in a unique Blue Steel finish that brings tranquility to any space. The color is reminiscent of blue hues found in nature and coordinates easily with silver or gold tones.”
Mucha states, “While white will always remain the top-selling color, and grays have continued to hold their own, we are seeing opportunities for painted vanities in blues and even black.” He adds that the company is also seeing a return to lighter natural tones that highlight the natural grain of the woods, such as walnut and oak.
In upscale bathrooms, dark wood tones are trending, Rykus reports. “Highlights of gray, blues [and] forest greens bring a homey effect when one wants to highlight their bathroom furniture.”
Function & Storage
The primary purpose of bathroom vanities and furniture is to stash essential items close at hand as well as provide ample surface space for self-care and personal hygiene activities. While some open storage is desired, a clean and simple look is preferred, making closed storage spaces a critical element in the room.
“Vanities and furniture cabinets must offer ample, practical storage space across all bathrooms from large to small,” stresses Downie. “Above all else, vanities and cabinets allow for concealed storage, making for a more organized, expansive space.”
Hedreen says the design of the cabinet storage – transitional furniture style for maximum storage vs. a floating vanity with one or two long, horizontal drawers – is often dictated by the size of the room and number of people using the space. ”A floating vanity with complementary wall shelves can add space for that splash of color in a smaller bathroom,” Hedreen adds.
“When it comes to bathroom furniture, functional storage continues to be a key factor,” notes Mucha. “We are seeing more opportunities for more drawers, which allows a homeowner to store things at the back of the vanity and still find it without having to reach around the plumbing pipes.”
Easy access and features that aid in organization are top priorities in bathroom storage, manufacturers say. Additional features that make the space more functional are also in demand.
“Storage and organization is critical for functionality,” Johnson adds. “Most of our designs offer deep drawer storage for those taller bottles, and with optional upgrades like our Glass Divider Systems, even the smallest items won’t be lost in the shuffle!”
Gifford says Hastings sees a lot of requests for open storage, as well as interior drawer organizers. He’s encouraging the use of vertical storage, getting away from “the box on the wall,” because it’s a more user-friendly storage solution.
“Bath vanities need to provide maximum storage space and easy access,” agrees Harrison. “Rollouts and drawers that eliminate the hassle of losing items in the back of the cabinet are in high demand. Another functional trend we are seeing is for vanities to incorporate features like powered drawers for storing hair styling equipment. These are features that can be added to custom and semi-custom bath vanities.”
“In-drawer organizational tools, such as drawer dividing systems, remain a popular accessory to ensure optimal organization. Such accessories are also easy upgrades for vanities and storage cabinets,” reports Downie.
“Soft-closing drawers [and] big, deep drawers with internal lighting and electrical/USB outlets are popular for multi-tasking,” agrees Rykus.
Lacava adds that features like towel bars incorporated into the vanity, interior lighting, self-closing drawers, and electrical and USB hook ups inside drawers are popular.
While some trends are consistent across all bathroom spaces, many trends shift depending on who is using the space. Master bath vanities and furniture are generally larger and colors evoke a relaxing spa-like feel, while powder rooms have smaller storage elements and incorporate bolder design, manufacturers say.
“Master bath trends tend to be a bit more conservative, with the wall-to-wall vanities still dominant, but ‘his’ and ‘her’ kind of solutions [are] becoming ever more common,” explains Lacava. Powder rooms tend to have more pronounced individual styling trends, with unique vessel sinks and less need for enclosed storage.
“The vanity or washbasin that is located in the master bathroom will differ in size, functionality requirements and aesthetics from that of a powder room washing area,” Downie says. “However, having flexibility in storage – whether it is storing spare toothbrushes, soaps and hand towels for guests, or larger items like dopp kits, makeup bags and bath towels in master bathrooms – will continue to be an important aspect in choosing a vanity.”
Gifford stresses that, while vanity size variations are the obvious difference for different bath spaces – with much larger vanities in the master bath – a lot of the same materials are used across all spaces, such as glass countertops, high-pressure laminate that looks like wood, and porcelain. In the master, however, he states that more money is spent on luxury materials. In secondary baths, there may be more simple wood or solid surface countertops.
The master bath has long been a space for relaxation and restoration. This trend continues, with soft colors and natural materials frequently used.
“The bath off the primary bedroom has become a sanctuary space that is designed to be used to de-stress and relax,” Harrison points out. “Natural materials and calming tones contribute to the ambiance of these spa-like spaces.”
“Primary bathrooms gravitate towards neutral palettes, with pops of natural wood providing that spa tranquility,” agrees Johnson
“The master bath is becoming a focus for wellness, both physical and mental,” adds Hedreen. “Colors will tend to be less saturated and softer; individuals will still want to add their own touches via artwork or lighting accents. Add a lounge chair with a colorful throw. Add ceiling lights in the shower or around a tub. A favorite of mine is to have a heated floor and heated wall rack for towels.”
Powder rooms, on the other hand, are a space where creativity reigns, where homeowners are looking to show off their personal style.
“The powder room or guest bath is often seen as a statement space. Bold wallpaper and color drenching are popular features that create a dramatic effect,” Harrison notes. She adds that she is seeing more designers moving away from freestanding sinks and opting for 30″ vanities in powder room baths. “These vanities provide storage, which is increasingly important to homeowners,” she reports.
“Powder bathrooms have become a fun place to jazz up a space with radiant colors and textures,” Johnson adds.
Hedreen stresses that powder rooms can offer an opportunity for playfulness and a rich mixture of color and designs. “Anchor a colorful wallpaper with a complementary or contrasting colored vanity. Go for a sophisticated and dramatic black, white and red look. Consider red or black faucets to add a spark to a neutral vanity. Finish the room off with a lighted oval mirror – have fun,” Hedreen says. ▪