Vanity Fair: Cabinets and Curiosities In Modern Bathrooms

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Modern bathrooms, cabinets, and vanities are changing: Here’s what you can expect in 2016 when you plan your next bathroom renovation. 


There are few things I love more than a lush bathroom.

In fact, if I had my way, I’m pretty sure that my whole home would be one giant spa, complete with multihead showers, an enormous claw-foot tub, and soft, white, fluffy towels everywhere. The room would be filled with natural light, and I know that I’d probably want it to be filled with modern, fresh tiles and windows that would open onto a meadow strewn with wildflowers. Oh, to dream.

Modern bathrooms and usability

Strangely, though, I’ve found that my predilection for a beautiful (and over-large) bathroom is something that many of us share. Modern bathrooms are changing the way that we think about the usability of our spaces.

This coming year in particular, you may see a lot of shifts in how we construct and use cabinetry and vanities in modern bathrooms. Here’s what you can expect in 2016 when you plan your next bathroom renovation.

Tear down that wall

One of the biggest trends in bathroom design is eliminating the bathroom altogether. By this I mean that there is a case to be made for merging bedroom and bathroom in one master space. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have privacy for, you know, those activities that you share with your porcelain throne.

Usually open-plan master suites do allow for a door or two here and there, or you can even try a modern bench toilet: it’s exquisitely hidden when not in use. But it does mean that you can eke out a few more feet of room for your shower or bath (or even your closet) if you take out that extra wall.

open plan bedroom bathroom

(image: Ngsyatowuahg)

What this means for your bathroom cabinetry is that you’ll need to think about how it matches the rest of your space. You’ll likely be able to see everything from your bed, so think about a custom vanity or set of cabinets that can draw the look together. You can create an overall theme using natural materials like reclaimed woods, for example, or you can think about installing a sink in an antique set of drawers instead.

Float some cool cabinets

Twenty-sixteen is all about the floating vanity, floating medicine cabinet, and floating, well, everything. Technology has made it easier to install sleek, modern storage units on the walls in your bathroom that create a spacious feel.

The more that you can lift your units off of the floor, the less crowded your bathroom will feel. This is especially important for those of us who can’t quite afford to do a major renovation and expand our bathroom’s floor space.

powder room bathroom floating cabinets

One of the best ways to achieve this goal inexpensively is to invest in a deep shaving cupboard or medicine cabinet. No longer a relic of the past, these mirrored units can be easily installed DIY, and can help create accessible storage, especially in small apartments.

Some new medicine cabinets are even available with cold storage, so that you can protect medicines, nail polish, or probiotics from spoilage without having to go back and forth to the kitchen.

Try vanity on for size

Some modern bathroom trends up giving you less storage space, rather than more. Bowl-shaped sinks that sit on top of a boxy vanity are no longer at the top of designers’ wish lists. Instead, the trend for 2016 is to use a traditional sink, flush to the edge of a table-like vanity. Try a table with turned wooden legs for a hipster look, or natural wood countertops and metal for a contemporary vibe.


Modular, installed vanities can be brought up to date with a new countertop as well. This year, quartz countertops are becoming the design feature of choice, beating out granite in the style stakes in modern bathrooms. Quartz offers a little more shine than marble or granite, but it comes in many different brilliant colors. It stands out against a backdrop of darker tiles and bright white porcelain or silver fixtures, and looks wonderful in bathrooms inspired by exotic travels.

Think big

When it comes to cabinetry and vanities in modern bathrooms, think big. In 2016, you don’t have to make sure every piece of furniture and cabinet matches perfectly, but you may want to think about how you use your space.

If, like me, you find yourself longing for the spa seven days a week, you can create the feeling of spaciousness by installing new, lighter, and higher cabinets, and in doing so give yourself a larger floor area so that you have the room for that new tub for two. Don’t be afraid to open up your master suite and expand what it means to relax in your own private world.

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Lisa Michelle

Lisa Michelle is an editor, lifestyle writer, and novelist. She’s also an avid traveler, lover of animals, and admitted Anglophile.