Vanities and Cabinets
If you've always wanted a double-bowl vanity, think twice. "Two bowls are useless if two people don't have enough elbow room to use them at the same time," says kitchen and bath designer Judy Bracht, of Richard M. Tunis Inc. Fine Kitchens and Baths in Chevy Chase, Maryland. You'll need at least 60 inches from side to side, 72 inches if possible. If you already have a double-bowl vanity and space is tight, consider replacing it with a single, centered sink. "You'll gain counter space and can locate storage on both sides," Bracht says. Include at least two electrical outlets, one on each side of the sink. A third outlet inside the medicine cabinet lets you put a blow-dryer, contact-lens cleaning device or electric toothbrush where it's out of sight but ready to use. If you must install a lavatory bowl to one side, Bracht suggests locating it based on whether primary users are left- or right-handed. The standard vanity depth is 21 inches. But you can gain floor space in a small bath by trimming at least part of the vanity to 18, 15, or even 12 inches deep. Use a banjo top that extends over the toilet for added storage; just be sure you either hinge the section over the toilet tank so it lifts for repairs or use a one-piece, low-profile toilet. You might also find the 30- or 32-inch standard height of a vanity too low. If so, consider building up the toekick on a stock vanity or ordering a taller one that stands 34 to 36 inches off the floor. Kitchen and bath designer Sharon Hopkins of Designpro in Lafayette, California, suggests choosing a vanity with drawer storage instead of doors; most items stored in a bathroom are small and get lost at the bottom of a cabinet or on shelves. Make drawers even more efficient with molded-plastic dividers and cosmetic trays. You can even consider narrow rollout shelves on either side of the P-trap under the sink; just get in the habit of storing cleaning supplies elsewhere. Wall cabinets that extend from the vanity top to the ceiling and 8-inch-deep recessed medicine cabinets also stretch storage space. In all these cases, make sure you have clearance for drawers and doors to open. "Especially if you're using full-overlay cabinet doors, which extend to the edge of the cabinetry, you may need a filler panel next to the wall to space the vanity away from door casings," Lenner says. Rawson suggests using tambour doors where there's no room for swing-out versions. For example, a tambour door on a cabinet that extends all the way down to the counter keeps a clock radio or curling iron tucked away without taking up counter space required by a swinging door.
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