What to Look For in a Modern Bathroom Vanity

As we’ve previously written, a bathroom vanity is one of the most important elements of your bathroom design. Creating an attractive space for the sink that also provides a much-needed storage area will go a long way in improving the overall functionality of your bathroom. Whether in the master bathroom or a hallway half-bath, the right vanity can have a significant impact.

But a bathroom vanity should be about more than just functionality. Despite being one of the smallest rooms in the house, the bathroom is also one of the most frequently used. Because of this, whether you are planning on staying in your house for many years to come or making renovations to increase your property value for a future home sale, stylish amenities are key to creating an inviting atmosphere.

While features like a luxury shower head can make a big difference for these goals, one of the best upgrades you can make is installing a modern bathroom vanity.

Understanding ‘Modern’ Furniture

Of course, before you start looking into modern bathroom vanities, it probably helps to understand just what is meant by “modern” furniture design. This design trend first appeared in the late 19th century. Modernism marked a direct departure from the ornate and intricate furniture that had been produced in the past. Instead, artisans began to focus on emphasizing functionality with a more minimalist design.

Several societal changes played a role in this design shift, the most notable being the factory production techniques introduced by the Industrial Revolution, as well as desire to create quality furniture that was more affordable for the general public. A minimalist design was easier to mass-produce.

A key consideration in modern and contemporary furniture design is functionality. It isn’t enough for a piece of furniture to look good. It also needs to conform to the user’s needs. This ultimately affects everything from the dimensions of the piece to the way doors and other features are integrated into the overall design.

As part of this minimalist approach, modern furniture designers further sought to separate themselves from the past by focusing on a clean, streamlined look. The basic idea was that the piece reflected the present and future, rather than attempting to connect with the past.

New trends in modernism bloomed after World War II, when industrialization became even more prominent and new manufacturing techniques allowed designers to utilize metals and other materials in their designs. 

Modernism has continued to evolve over time, and many of the earlier modern styles that were introduced decades ago remain extremely popular today. Just consider the resurgence of “midcentury modern,” which evokes styles first introduced in the 1950s! 

Furniture that is designed today is often referred to as “contemporary” rather than modern, because it combines the modern values of minimalism and functionality with some of the design trends that are currently popular in the world at large. Contemporary trends often differ from country to country based on the unique design influences in each area.

With their simple, smooth designs, modern and contemporary furniture helps create an uncluttered look in any room — a great attribute for pieces like vanities, which are already meant to help you better organize your bathroom.

What Defines a ‘Modern’ Vanity?

So what makes a bathroom vanity modern or contemporary? Being manufactured in the year 2019 isn’t enough. After all, many individuals still desire a more traditional look, and many bathroom vanities are still made that evoke these classic designs. Despite being produced today, their look hardly qualifies as modern or contemporary.

It can sometimes be difficult for homeowners to figure out what defines the look of a modern or contemporary bathroom vanity. What makes the selection process even more confusing is that the terms “modern” and “contemporary” are not always viewed as interchangeable.

Tonya Lee of The Spruce gives some great examples of the similarities and differences that define modern and contemporary furniture, including bathroom vanities.

She writes: “Both styles tend to favor simple, uncluttered spaces with smooth, clean lines and artistic flair. This imparts a comfortable and calming feeling in a room that is very inviting. Neither style prefers ornate designs or heavy elements. Contemporary spaces can, however, bend this rule frequently as the trends change… They each tend to gravitate toward reflective surfaces such as exposed metals and glass. You will also find plenty of exposed wood in both styles, from structural beams to raw wood end tables with metal bases.”

However, modern and contemporary furniture pieces also have some noteworthy differences. As an example of this, Lee notes, “Modern pieces of decor tend to have a function, whereas contemporary pieces may concentrate more on the form itself…Modern design favors strong lines, while the contemporary style loves curves.”

Generally speaking, modern bathroom vanities reflect design trends that were introduced between the 1920s and the 1960s. Contemporary bathroom vanities will utilize newer design trends from the 1970s to today.

Key Features of Modern and Contemporary Design

Clean lines and a minimalist look are a key component of most modern and contemporary bathroom vanities. For example, you won’t find intricate carvings adorning the vanity’s drawers and doors. Instead, you should expect smooth, flat surfaces. A modern bathroom vanity will utilize straight, hard edges, while contemporary vanities are more likely to feature a curved design. Geometric shapes are especially popular.

For materials, it is most common for modern bathroom vanities to use a wood veneer with an acrylic countertop, though marble or other stone materials are sometimes used for the countertop as well. 

Those interested in a bold, unique look for their bathroom can also find other materials among modern bathroom vanity selections. For example, the Chans Furniture 504GC Austell 32 Inch Gold Mirrored Bathroom Sink Vanity  uses a mirror veneer with an antique gold finish. Not only does this create a refined, upscale appearance, but the integration of mirrors can help your bathroom feel more spacious.

Those going for a truly minimalist design can even find metal wall-mounted vanities that create an industrial aesthetic.

Color is another area where modern and contemporary bathroom vanities distinguish themselves from traditional designs. While lighter wood-grain style veneers are still plentiful, you are more likely to find colors like silver gray, pearl white, or even bolder blacks and blues.

Modern bathroom vanities may use a more streamlined design, but they don’t skimp on quality and durability. These vanities are designed to withstand exposure to water and moisture. Even those that use a wood veneer incorporate special waterproofing to prevent water damage and ensure lasting performance.

Is a Modern Bathroom Vanity Right For You?


There is no denying that a modern bathroom vanity can offer a distinctive look for your bathroom. But is it the best fit for your home? If you plan on upgrading to a modern vanity, you will likely want to consider making other changes to your bathroom. Otherwise, your new layout may come out as a mishmash of styles rather than a cohesive whole.

In addition to selecting the vanity itself, you will also need to consider the look of your medicine cabinets, the tub/shower space, and the flooring, wall coverings, and lighting. You may also need to select a new sink and faucet, as not all bathroom vanities come with this hardware. 

To get the most from your upgrade to a modern bathroom, you should carefully consider how the bathroom vanity will pair with the rest of these features. Depending on the current layout of your bathroom, you may also need to upgrade other amenities to ensure a consistent look.

The good news is that even if you do need to make additional upgrades, modern design’s focus on functionality and minimalism helps keep costs from getting out of hand. Of course, the look will be even more effective if you already use modern design elements in other parts of the home.

The good news, however, is that with so many styles of modern bathroom vanities available, finding a model that blends well with your current decor likely won’t be as hard as you think. It is a relatively low-cost upgrade that can make a big difference in how you perceive your bathroom.

Sizing Your Modern Bathroom Vanity

As with a traditional bathroom vanity, there are several factors beyond style that you need to consider to ensure that a new vanity is a good fit. Start by considering the vanity’s height, width, and depth. After all, with the wrong dimensions, a vanity may not even fit into your current space.

Traditionally, bathroom vanities stood at about 30 inches high. Over time, however, people have become taller, which means that these shorter vanities aren’t always as comfortable. Because of this, many modern vanities stand up to 36 inches tall. However, you should also consider the position of mirrors and medicine cabinets when determining which height would be best for your bathroom.

The width and depth of your modern bathroom vanity will have a direct impact on foot traffic. Bathroom vanity widths can range from a mere 24 inches to larger double vanities that are up to 80 inches wide. These larger vanities typically have two sinks instead of one. 

Bathroom vanity depths can range from 17 to 24 inches, with deeper models offering more storage space. However, you shouldn’t merely consider the depth of the vanity itself. You should also account for how much space will be used when opening doors and drawers. You don’t want a drawer to hit into the wall or another bathroom fixture!

A good rule of thumb is to start by measuring the dimensions of your current bathroom vanity. Quite often, this will serve as a good guideline to help you determine which dimensions will work well in your bathroom.

When in doubt, err toward a modern bathroom vanity that closely matches the dimensions of the model you’ll be replacing. A vanity that is too big may not even fit within the available floor space. On the other hand, a vanity that is too small likely will not provide adequate storage space.

If you are purchasing a modern bathroom vanity for a brand-new bathroom, take measurements of the room and plan out where the vanity and other design elements will be placed. You will also need to consider the location of plumbing hookups when determining the best placement for your vanity and sink.

Modern Vanity Varieties

As with traditional bathroom vanities, there are several design options available with modern styles. For modern bathroom vanities, the most common options are wall-mounted vanities and free-standing vanities.

Wall-mounted vanities are mounted directly to the wall, leaving open floor space underneath the sink and vanity area. The lack of legs or a toe kick further enhances the minimalist design that is emphasized in most modern and contemporary design.

Wall-mounted vanities are especially popular in smaller bathrooms. Because they do not extend all the way to the floor, they actually help the bathroom feel larger by creating more open space. This can also make it easier to effectively clean the floors in your bathroom. The ability to mount the vanity at different heights can also make it better suited for those with accessibility issues.

If you are considering a wall-mounted vanity, keep in mind that the installation process can be more complicated, as the wall will often require special framing and reinforcement. This could involve the installation of a steel carrier or specialized bracing. The added work will likely increase the timetable and total expenses for the installation.

Free-standing vanities are more often associated with traditional bathroom vanities, but are still quite common among modern designs. Modern free-standing vanities are frequently designed to imitate a dresser or other furniture piece to set them apart from the standard vanity look.

Installation of a free-standing vanity is typically much easier, as it is set in the desired location and then held in place by plumbing and caulk. Free-standing vanities also typically offer more storage than their wall-mounted counterparts. Many modern free-standing vanities utilize a mix of concealed drawers and open shelving to create a sleek look.

Free-standing vanities can also support more weight than a wall-standing vanity. Though the items you store within the vanity’s drawers may not add up to much, this added weight capacity is important to consider if you have small children who might climb on the countertop.

Finally, a smaller bathroom may benefit from a pedestal vanity. These fixtures are sometimes simply referred to as pedestal sinks, as they are a combination of a sink and base and generally don’t include any added shelving. 

Though traditional pedestal vanities are usually made from porcelain, modern and contemporary designs offer a few additional options. For example, the Fresca Ovale 24 Inch Modern Glass Bathroom Vanity features a tempered glass countertop and sink and a stainless steel base.

Modern pedestal vanities also incorporate additional features for added functionality, such as a towel bar. Some modern pedestal vanities also include pull-out drawers so that you can still have some storage space, even in a tiny bathroom.

What Do You Need?

When selecting a modern bathroom vanity, finding a style that appeals to you is a great place to start. But this shouldn’t be the be-all end-all of your selection process. Account for other vital attributes, such as how much floor space is available in your bathroom and how much storage you will need for towels, toilet paper, and other items. 

By accounting for these factors as you pick out a modern bathroom vanity, you will find the options that deliver both the modern style and timeless functionality that you need.

Here at Kitchen & Bath Authority, we have a wide selection of contemporary and modern bathroom vanities to suit almost any home. Whether you need a quick upgrade for your guest bathroom or you are planning extensive renovations for the master suite, our stylish vanities are sure to deliver the right look.

Need a lot of storage space? The Avanity Allie 37 Inch Vanity Combo in Twilight Gray with Gold Trim and White Quartz Top features a large open shelf underneath the standard pull-out drawers so you have room for bulkier items.

When you don’t need quite as much storage room, wall-mounted vanities like the Duravit Happy D.2 24-5/8 x 18-7/8 Inch Vanity Unit is the perfect companion to a stylish Duravit washbasin, creating a weightless appearance that helps your bathroom feel more open. Models like the Kubebath Bliss 36 Inch Nature Wood Wall Mount Modern Bathroom Vanity use a natural wood finish to evoke a luxurious, spa-like atmosphere.


No matter what kind of modern bathroom vanity you’re looking for, you can count on Kitchen & Bath Authority to offer vanities from the most popular brands at unbeatable prices, with great discounts and free shipping available on many products. 

Check out our full selection of modern and contemporary bathroom vanities today, and we’re confident that you will find the right match to help you transform your bathroom.

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