If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you know I’m a big fan of bathroom storage, especially when it comes to well designed bathroom vanities. But while I tend to prefer cabinets and drawers to keep my toiletries hidden, I’m willing to admit that there’s a time and a place for open shelf bathroom vanities, too. Specifically, I love bathroom vanities that are just slightly impractical, with enough open space on the outside to put a few beautiful bathroom accessories on display.
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This is actually the biggest draw of open shelf bathroom vanities for me, and it works especially well with an antique or period-inspired decor. Take this Dark Cherry Antique Vanity from Legion Furniture, for example. The dark cherry finish and delicate woodwork are all old world elegance, perfect for a truly decadent style. Sure, you could put some rolled up towels in those open shelves, but I think that’s just wasted space. This isn’t the kind of vanity you go for if you don’t happen to have a linen closet. Instead, I’d fill these shelves with beautiful antique glass bottles, delicate vases, decorative soaps, or even vintage style powder room accessories.
Adding period appropriate accessories to a vanity like this Antique Parchment Vanity from Belle Foret will help lend authenticity to your decor. Especially if you’re going all out with the antique style, you really want to get the details right. Just make sure that your accessories matches your vanity and your overarching decor. For this vanity, for example, you’d probably want something a little more delicate and feminine to go with the antiqued parchment finish, whereas the cherry wood of the other vanity would work well with more masculine accessories, like a vintage shaving set.
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Of course, the vanity itself doesn’t have to be over-the-top antique for this look to work. In fact, while this Vermont bathroom vanity from Avanity retains a similar shape and structure to the other two, it’s a very pared down version without any of the intricate woodwork found on the others. This is a great way to bring the impression of decadence into a more contemporary bathroom. If you aren’t in it for the whole parlor-style period-inspired bathroom, a more transitional bathroom vanity like this is a great way to even the playing field. Opt to decorate with nice toiletries in pretty maybe-antique-maybe-just-chic bottles for an elegant display.
Keep in mind, though – a beautiful display doesn’t have to have anything to do with a period style. Modern bathroom vanities are often designed to serve much the same purpose – though obviously with a much different design. The staggered shelves on this Cruz bathroom vanity from JSG Oceana are anything but practical for daily use, but they have just a slight museum style flair that makes them perfect for enhancing your decor. Look for small decorative figurines, especially interesting geometric shapes with a glossy finish. Forget perfume bottles, this simple vanity is the perfect way to play with modern art.
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It’s important to make the distinction between shelves that are practical and ones that are purely for display. The shelves on this Oxford vanity are just about tall enough to house a bottle of hotel shampoo or a 3 oz. travel container, way too small to serve any practical purpose. Short of stashing some creatively folded washcloths, the shelves on this baby aren’t good for anything BUT display.
The open shelves on this Vineta bathroom vanity, on the other hand, are among the most genius I’ve seen. Perfectly curved to give it a hollowed out urn shape, the sloped sides of this vanity are the perfect shape for stuffing spare, rolled up towels if you need them… or creating a Brady Bunch style display case with four sections sheltered sections on top of the closed cabinet – perfect for displaying small breakables you don’t want bumped or knocked.
So when you’re shopping for a bathroom vanity, remember to consider whether or not all of the open shelves are usable. If not, ask yourself whether you need the storage space, or if buying a vanity with space you can’t use for something practical will give you permission to have fun playing with your design! What are some things you would love to put on display in your bathroom?
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