Small Bathroom Solutions: Offsetting The Sink

One of the most frustrating parts of using a small bathroom is the lack of surface space. Sure, you can hang up shelves or store your stuff in drawers or cabinets. But the truth is, most of us don’t want to totally tidy up the bathroom every time we use it. Unfortunately, in a small bathroom, the bathroom sink takes up most of the space on the bathroom vanity; there’s little or no room on either side to stash toiletries. Offsetting the sink is a surprisingly simple solution that opens up more usable counter space without increasing the size of the vanity itself.

Usable Surface Space

Most small bathroom vanities leave a thin strip of counter to either side of a fairly large sink. The sink is the functional fixture and is put front and center, which means there’s rarely room for anything more than a soap pump or toothbrush holder behind the sink, and little or no surface space on either side. But most people use many more toiletries than that on a daily basis. Even if you don’t store them on your countertop, it’s nice to have a place to put them. Whether it’s shaving cream or makeup, the issue is less about adding storage and more about increasing usable work space. Even on a fairly slim vanity, offsetting the sink combines two unusable strips of countertop into a single usable surface. That, in turn, makes it a little easier to spread out your stuff while you’re getting ready.

Styling Center

If you use a curling iron or hair straightener, a little extra counter space can actually make your bathroom safer. Heated hair styling wands can get very, very hot; at risk of sounding like someone’s mom, it’s important to have enough space to put them down securely – not hanging over the edge of the vanity, not rested against something, just all in their own space and allowed to sit perfectly flat. In a small bathroom, that can be hard to pull off. But resting a hot iron against your sink or wedging it haphazardly into a narrow space between the sink and the wall makes it a lot more likely that you’ll bump or drop it, potentially scorching or melting your counter, floor, or worse, burning yourself. Offsetting the sink gives you enough space to comfortably lay out all your hair styling products.

Extra Drawer Space

The benefit of offsetting a sink isn’t just that it provides more counter space; it also frequently means there’s more drawer space, too. That’s because it isn’t just the sink that’s moving – it’s the plumbing, too. On a standard bathroom vanity, the area directly beneath the vanity top is occupied by the sink and plumbing. This leaves only a few inches of space on either side, so often the whole space is simply closed off. But when the sink is offset, those few inches add up to a space wide enough for a drawer. Putting a row of drawers on the side opposite the sink enhances the asymmetrical look of these vanities, but also hugely enhances the amount of storage space for smaller items, again without changing the dimensions of the vanity itself.

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Why So Hard To Find?

You might be wondering why such a simple, elegant solution is the exception rather than the norm. And it’s true – this type of vanity isn’t common, and can even be a bit difficult to find. But the reason for this is simple: people like symmetry. This is true of everything from people’s faces to bridges to buildings, and yes, bathroom vanities, too; we’re hardwired to prefer equal, mirrored sides, and naturally favor symmetrical things, even when they’re less practical. Creating a symmetrical vanity is pretty much the default, which is why it’s so much more common. The flip side of this, though, is that making an asymmetrical vanity is a very deliberate choice. Vanities with even subtly offset sinks feel quite modern and stylishly convention-defying. Many even include stylishly asymmetrical storage mirrors which helps enhance the modern effect while keeping the mirror centered over the sink.

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The Catch

The only real drawback of bathroom vanities with offset sinks is that they’re often more than 30″ wide. With a narrower bathroom vanity, the sink takes up such a huge proportion of the available counter space that shifting it the few available inches to the left or right really won’t make much difference. You won’t really find this look on vanities under 30″ (the smallest are about 31″) that combining the little strip of counter space on either side of the sink really starts to add up. So if your bathroom is small enough that you have to shoehorn in a 24″ vanity, this look is probably a no-go. That said, if you have the space, this is a great, no-fuss way to make your small bathroom more usable.

For all but the smallest bathrooms, simply shifting the bathroom sink a few inches to one side can make a world of difference in the functionality and usability of your bathroom vanity.