By Cheryl Hackett
Mark Twain once said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” How many minutes do we have to wait? As I write this column in late March, snow gently falls outside my window in Newport, Rhode Island. I’m sure many of you agree that the epic winter of 2015 has given way to the spring of our discontent. A succession of blizzards and flurries delayed the rejuvenation of our 1811 Federal home in Newport by a couple of months. As a result, we’ve had to adjust our project’s scope and budget accordingly.
Needless to say, indoor plumbing never factored into the original design of our Federal home. During the late 19th century, a previous owner converted two corners of the house into makeshift bathrooms. When we purchased the house last summer, both bathrooms failed inspection and needed to be taken down to the studs for remodeling. We seized the opportunity to reconfigure the home’s floor plan to accommodate a first floor bathroom suited for aging in place, a spacious second floor master bathroom, and an additional smaller second floor bathroom that is in concert with the small space trend. We originally planned to have custom bathroom vanities made for our three bathrooms. However, to hasten the project along, we modified our vision and purchased vanities sold at a national home improvement store.
We are very pleased with the vanities. The trio feature quality wood construction, beautiful finishes and furniture-like details, cabinet hardware, slow close drawers, marble tops and back splashes and under-mount sinks. To achieve a custom look, we plan to pair the vanities with Federal style faucets, mirrors, and lighting. If we went the custom route, all of the above mentioned features would have to be purchased separately, the completion time would have been longer than buying built vanities and the final price point would have been significantly higher.
If you are designing a bathroom or remodeling an existing bathroom, a vanity will serve as the focal point of the room’s new aesthetic. As you plan your project, consider studying the websites of the top bathroom vanity sellers that include Home Depot, Lowes, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and Wayfair . The freestanding and wall mounted vanity options are endless and they range in size from 24 inches wide to 73 inches wide. Prices vary from $99 for a single sink vanity to over $4,000 for a double sink vanity. If you are budget-minded, remember to track the companies’ sales, clearance items, and outlet stores for discounts on your favorite vanity. If possible, set up email alerts with the companies so you can be notified of a sale.
When it comes to selecting vanities, one size does not fit all. Every bathroom from a powder room, to a guest bathroom, to a luxury suite requires different vanities and poses different design challenges.
There is no Place Like Home
One of the hottest design trends today addresses aging in place. Many homeowners are creating first floor bathrooms that meet the American Disability Act standards so they can remain at home during their golden years rather than transition into an assisted living facility. According to a report sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in 2011 entitled, Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices by Nicholas Farber, JD and Douglas Shinkle, “Nearly 90 percent of people over age 65 indicate they want to stay in their home as long as possible, and four of five in that age bracket believe their current home is where they will always live. Accessible building standards allow older Americans to remain in their homes longer, instead of either spending money on retrofits or relocating to other housing.”
Architects and interior designers are heeding the call and designing residential bathrooms with wider doorways, safety bars, non-slip flooring, comfort height toilets, and showers with easy access and seating. Vanities are wall mounted at a height that accommodates a wheel chair. Faucets have lever handles for easy maneuverability. Mirrors that tilt are mounted above the vanity and can be adjusted with a slight touch of the hand. And easy to reach electrical outlets are installed on the wall beside the vanity or in the vanity itself. To ensure that your bathroom plan complies with ADA standards, consult with a design professional who is fluent with aging in place bathrooms.
Powder Rooms and Small Bathroom Vanities
Lori Gilder of Lori Gilder.com of Beverly Hills, California, is President of Interior Makeovers Inc. and Co-Founder of the Kitchen Design Network, an online design source for kitchen obsessed consumers, designers and brands, featuring design inspiration, resource trends, cooking and global culture. She is known for her clean architectural lines and classically contemporary interiors. Lori collaborates with her clients to create high-end, relaxed modern environments. A featured guest of multiple HGTV shows and a contributor to television, print and digital media platforms, she specializes in custom solutions for homes and vacation properties throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.
When asked about new trends in bathroom designs, Lori explains, “Today’s bathrooms large and small are trending toward the more modern and transitional design aesthetic. Simpler lines, uncluttered spaces, geometric patterns, floating vanities, and the love of grey, white and polished nickel finishes remain popular. Since luxury, comfort and convenience is on top of everyone’s list I see more clients wanting to incorporate radiant heated floors, steam showers and innovative storage units into their bathroom renovations.”
For homeowners who are challenged by a small bathroom, Lori says, “When square footage is at a premium the main objective for the bathroom’s vanity is to function well and act as the focal point within that small space. Incorporating a floating wall mounted vanity with storage below and a stunning vessel sink perched on an elegant piece of stone creates a classically modern design aesthetic. Not only is it a space saver but elevating it off the floor creates the illusion of more space.”
She adds, “If still more storage space is needed consider installing a wall mounted floating shelf above the sink for display and/or recessing a state-of-the-art decorative cabinet between the studs on an adjacent wall. A bathroom that is small in size should be big on style.”
Lori recently designed a unique vanity for a small bathroom. The lacquered floating vanity is mounted against a floor to ceiling mirror. The modern luxury of a round vessel sink and geometric glass tiles are on trend and add depth and an iridescent glow to the decor. The cantilevered vanity floats above the marble floor creating the illusion of space. A chic recessed cabinet on the opposite wall provides extra storage.
Double Duty Vanities
For couples and siblings who share bathrooms, a double sink vanity is synonymous with convenience. If you think your bathroom is too small to house a double vanity, you will be pleased to know that manufacturers create double vanities in a variety of widths.
Chuck Wheelock of Wheelock Maidique of Old Greenwich, Connecticut, has over 26 years of experience in design, project management, sales and marketing direction for WoodMode, Poggenpohl, Smallbone, Christopher Peacock, Johnny Grey Studios and Wheelock Maidique. Chuck earned a B.A. in Environmental Design from the University of Colorado and has designed corporate, educational and residential projects in the United States and Middle East. After a chance meeting at a mutual friend’s home project in 2006, Chuck started Wheelock Maidique LLC with architect Mark Maidique. Working at the proverbial dining room table and later a design office in a local bike shop, they opened a new showroom in the village of Old Greenwich, CT.
Chuck offers valuable insights for double sink vanities. He says, “If space allows for enough dedicated storage and countertop set-down area, the ultimate luxury in bathroom sink configuration is a double vanity. A double sink vanity in a master bath is an expectation and not merely a necessity: a definite must.” He adds, “A double sink vanity gives personal space for intimate bodily care. Most personal bath items take little space. Too much countertop area encourages clutter. Mirrored medicine cabinets are essential. Towels should be stored elsewhere, and the moist environment of a bathroom is not ideal for applying makeup.”
below are vanity styles via Restoration Hardware
Interestingly enough, Chuck says, “Many realtors consider a double sink vanity an important resale feature, even in children’s bedroom areas. Most busy households these days prefer the idea of two sinks for one simple reason: they lead busy lives and need access to bathrooms at the same time.”
Now that spring is in the air, perhaps you should rethink your bathroom sink for your next home improvement project.
To follow the progress of the rejuvenation of our 1811 Federal home in Newport visit Homes of the Brave.