If you’re looking to do a big, full-scale remodel of your master bathroom, I’m willing to bet there’s one thing above all else that you want that space to be: relaxing. A big, decadent bathroom is all about comfort and style – creating your own private little paradise where you can escape from the daily grind, settle into a tub full of bubbles or a custom shower and let your stress and worries wash away. If you really want your bathroom to feel like a getaway, aim for the exotic. An oriental or Asian-inspired bathroom decor can help transport you far, far away from mundane worries and just maybe put you in a more zen frame of mind. How do you do it? Asian vanities are a great place to start. As one of the most distinctive fixtures in any bathroom, the right Asian vanity can give your whole bathroom an exotic look, even if your other choices aren’t quote so bold.
Pagoda-style bathroom vanities are one of the easiest ways to set the mood for an Asian style bathroom. The shape is utterly distinctive and fairly universally familiar, and will immediately train the eye how to interpret other elements of the bathroom. This Ming Modern Vanity is a perfect example of what I’m talking about: the flared upper edge subtly echoes the wood construction and upturned roofs of pagoda towers, and the beveled, frosted glass paneling on the doors mimics their windows and doorways. As well, the glass door inserts are strongly evocative of Japanese rice paper shades.
This Dark Walnut Asian Vanity is quite similar, again drawing on the rice paper style of repeating lighter squares divided by dark wood borders. But rather than a strictly architectural influence, the casually curved, overlapping edges of the vanity and especially those of the matching Mirror are reminiscent of elegant brush painted Chinese or Japanese character paintings. While the little flair at each corner is relatively subtle, it leaves a strong impression on the Western eye and can really help transform your bathroom decor.
Even just a little bit of curve on the legs is enough to add a touch of the exotic. As far as Asian vanities go, this Asian Inspired Single Vanity is relatively neutral. No rice-paper style face, no overt flair. But the little flip of the feet and the dark, lacquered wood finish are just different looking enough to draw the eye and make it the perfect pair for an Asian styled bathroom.
The same goes for this Simple Asian Vanity from Silkroad Exclusive. The vanity is otherwise utterly minimal, but the curved sides again give the subtle impression of brushstrokes. A little less bend to the edges and this vanity wouldn’t be much to look at, but that simple bow and the flared feet, coupled with the dark espresso finish make it just that little bit eye catching, maybe not enough to scream “Asian bathroom” on its own, but definitely a great way to set the scene.
That said, rice paper styled glass-and-wood doors and drawers are really the most common features of Asian vanities of any shape or size. This Parkdale vanity from Sagehill Designs is pictured above with the default wood-frames-over-wood-paneling design, which is a little more subtle, but those wood panels can be removed and replaced with included obscured glass panels for a higher contrast rice-screen style look.
Rice paper patterning is probably so prevalent in Asian vanities because, in the Western world, it’s one of the most common and widely recognized Asian symbols out there. From privacy screens to paper lanterns to pagoda style structures themselves, the fragile repeating frames speak to us generally of “the East” – making it an easy and fairly universal way to set the mood for an oriental bathroom. This Traditional Asian Vanity from Legion is a perfect example. Other than the lantern-style windows on the doors, there isn’t anything terribly overtly eastern about it, but the style is just enough to set the stage for a more elaborate Asian style bathroom design.
One of my favorite things about an Asian inspired decor is that it pairs so well with a more modern design. Like modern decor, the Asian aesthetic is typically fairly minimal and derives its distinct look primarily from simple, repeating lines. Combine the two and you get a really stunning look. Take this Modern Asian Vanity for example; it has the characteristic rice paper doors and beautiful wood finish, but trims down the silhouette of the vanity significantly, making it quite shallow and visually giving the impression of being very tall. Add to that some ultra modern, minimal-yet-shiny door and drawer pulls and stainless steel feet and this Asian vanity suddenly looks a lot more sleek than antique.
Of course, many of the vanities you might consider for your Asian style bathroom are actually pieces you’d probably never find in most countries in Asia. Especially in Japan and heavily populated parts of China and Korea, space is at a premium, and you’d be hard pressed to find a space to accommodate some of the larger vanities. Instead, they’re likely to have a much more compact, often very modern design to compensate for the smaller space. Thankfully, you can have the best of both worlds – this Bambu vanity from Xylem is compact, sleek, and modern, and it uses another material we commonly associate with the east – bamboo – both in solid wood veneers and for an eye-catching Asian inspired accent.
Material is another thing that can go a long way towards turning just a vanity into something that would work well into an Asian inspired bathroom. This Two-Tone Asian Vanity, for example has an Eastern look and feel almost exclusively because of the gorgeous wood tones and finish. The gorgeous golden wood paneling is reminiscent of fine Chinese antiques. The bold red cherry body and golden panels make for a very Chinese coloration, and when paired with the same subtly curved legs as some of the other vanities here, it gives a very strong impression of oriental decor.
Vanities with floating counter tops, like this Modular Asian Vanity, also leave a strong Asian impression. Once again, the modern design coupled with rich, decadent hardwood is eye-catchingly exotic, and is a prime platform for an oriental design. In this case, the intricate but subtle carvings on the vanity doors do most of the legwork, but material choice or coloration can go a long way as well.
Finally, sometimes the right hardware is all you need. This Apothecary Asian vanity implicitly mimics old fashioned Chinese medicine and herb cabinets. Though the nine “drawers” are actually a single door covering a larger under cabinet storage (which is MUCH better when it comes to bathroom utility), the decorative antique hardwares create the impression of many drawers for a piece that looks straight out of a Chinese remedy shop.
If you’re looking for a recipe for a little R&R, an Asian style bathroom might be just the little change you need to help you unwind at the end of the day. The slightly exotic, slightly unexpected, and slightly unconventional style will help signal your brain that it’s time to relax, and the bold but subtle cues of Asian vanities are the perfect launching point. Why are you considering an Asian style bathroom? Are you more interested in the antique, the natural, or the minimal? I’d love to hear about your up and coming remodel in the comments!
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