3 Tips When Choosing A Vanity

By Sarah Carmichael on Bathrooms

James Martin Charleston 60" Vanity

James Martin Charleston 60″ Vanity

Common Sense Tips When Choosing A Vanity

We’d lived in our house for just over two years before we started the remodel of our upstairs bathroom. Why the delay? Well, things happen (like our furnace breaking down during the Great Boston Winter of 2015). But it also turns out that it’s really tough to find the right bathroom vanity.

The Challenges of Finding the Right Bathroom Vanity:

Part of our problem was size: we live in a historic home, which we adore, but which isn’t built to modern McMansion proportions. And because there’s no master bath, I knew I wanted a double-sink vanity. If one bathroom is going to serve me and my husband, weekend guests, and future children, I wanted it to have two sinks.

Size and Storage Needs

My search began — as so many do — on the internet. I must have scrolled through hundreds, if not thousands, of images for bathroom vanities. One dilemma immediately became clear: there were very few two-sink bathroom vanities that were a) a maximum of 60 inches wide and b) designed for a historic New England home. (However, if your tastes run toward sleek Swedish Modern or baroque Italian Renaissance, you may have more options!)

Complicating the matter further was our need for storage. Again, we live in an antique house: this means there’s not a ton of closet space (in the great tradition of Thoreau, those 19th century Concordians seemed to be wary of any venture that would require them to buy new clothes). We knew we’d need a vanity with drawers and cupboards, which is surprisingly tough to find in a 60” size. I did finally spot what I thought might be the perfect vanity at a friend’s house — it turned out she’d ordered it from Amazon — but when I actually started opening and closing the drawers, I realized it felt flimsy, like it was made of cardboard.

This caused a certain amount of despair. Even if we found a vanity that fit our space and design needs, how would we know that it was a high quality one?

3 Tips When Choosing A Vanity

James Martin Savannah vanity

A Better Way to Shop for Vanities

I turned to my husband, who implemented a different approach. Perhaps because he’s a marketer by trade, and thinks a lot about brands, he started researching vanity *brands* rather than just searching the web for specific vanities. That was the breakthrough we’d been waiting for.

James Martin Savannah Vanity

We found James Martin furniture, a company that makes all sorts of high quality bathroom furniture. So many companies just seemed to have one vanity in the 60” size — and if you don’t like that one, too bad for you.

But James Martin had tons of options, all in classic, tasteful designs. We chose the “Savannah” style for its marble top, gray color, and ample storage. It came with a sink, counter top included, which was a blessing — after spending so much time and mental energy searching for a vanity.


Benefits of the James Martin Furniture Vanity We Chose

When our vanity arrived, I was impressed with how solid the construction was. No flimsy Amazon vanity here! The drawers and doors close smoothly and the hardware feels heavy in your hand. It fits perfectly into our limited space, and we were able to fit all of our toiletries, cleaning supplies, and grooming gear into the drawers and cupboards.


3 Tips When Choosing A Vanity

If you’re now in the position of shopping for a bathroom vanity, here’s my 3 tips when choosing a vanity:

  1. Think about your total storage needs. Is your bathroom going to have a closet or wardrobe? Medicine cabinets? Or is your vanity going to be the primary place you’re storing stuff?
  2. Make a detailed sketch of your new bathroom, preferably on graph paper, so you can see how the vanity measurements will fit [link to Rob’s bathroom planning article]. Be sure to include room for the door to swing open!
  3. Think about how the vanity style fit with the rest of your bathroom. One reason we went with a Carrara marble top, for instance, is that we knew we wanted it to match our Carrara marble floor.


Conceptualizing your bathroom layout, plumbing, and electrical considerations really must be made together and in conjunction with the overall design concept – especially if cost is a concern. If you pan on relocating your vanity, read our article on Bathroom Remodeling Considerations.

Choosing a Bathroom Vanity

Bathroom Remodeling Considerations

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About the author

Sarah Carmichael

Sarah Carmichael is a writer and editor living in Carlisle, Massachusetts. She's covered a number of subjects, including business, baseball, politics, history, and culture. She is an avid hiker, gardener, and DIYer, and spends most weekends either climbing mountains or gardening around her 1684 home.

All posts by Sarah »

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