If you're anything like us, all of the bathroom ideas that you've pinned over the years involve lots of storage. After all, if there's anything we've learned in the age of Marie Kondo and The Home Edit, it's that you can never be too organized. Always looking to streamline the notoriously hectic morning routine, we've upgraded our primping wish list to include a chic spot dedicated solely to the purpose of making oneself look and feel gorgeous, also known as a makeup or vanity table.
Believe it or not, the modern-day makeup vanity is steeped in history and can be traced back to the 1700s. They were originally developed so that members of the French aristocracy could sit comfortably while their glam squad went to work. Early makeup tables, dressing tables, or toilet tables were quite comprehensive and included a folding top, cistern, and even a basin drawer for light bathing. Like the vanities of yore, today's makeup vanities cater to men as well as women and are used for more than just painting one's face, so it makes sense that they are being incorporated into home interiors more and more often.
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One of the best things to note about au courant makeup vanities is that they're available in various styles and sizes, from contemporary to traditional (and everything in between), and can seamlessly tie into any aesthetic. And while some are integrated into a bathroom's custom vanity, others are freestanding pieces of furniture that can be placed wherever you can carve out the space. "More and more of my clients are requesting makeup vanities in their primary bathrooms. Not only is it a place to get ready, but there's something about an organized area where you can sit that brings a sense of calm to the beginning of the day," says Daleet Spector, founder and principal designer of Daleet Spector Design.
When homeowners are determining where to place a vanity table, it's important to keep a few things in mind. First and foremost is lighting. When it comes down to it, nothing is quite as essential to makeup application, shaving, or hair styling as good lighting, and the more natural light, the better. Don't forget to add wall lights to keep things illuminated when the sun goes down and avoid direct overhead lighting, which will cast unwanted shadows. Invest in a high-quality mirror or two — ideally one hung on the wall in front of your vanity as well as a tabletop magnifying version. "If space is at a premium, I create a "makeup area" by installing a lighted magnifying mirror on the wall next to the sink and make sure I plan accordingly to hardwire or have an outlet nearby. Wall-mounted lights at eye level are ideal for casting a soft glow and minimizing glare and unwanted shadows," says Spector.
Storage is also an important consideration for makeup vanities because of ... clutter. Ample counter space and drawers will keep your belongings orderly and easy to find. Also, if you are splurging on a custom vanity, be mindful of counter height. The standard bathroom cabinet height is 30 to 34 inches, but 26 to 29 inches is more common for sit-down vanities. And of course, make sure that you add comfortable seating that can fit below the countertop.
Want to get in on the trend? Scroll on for some luxurious design ideas worth considering for your own home.
18 Bathroom Makeup Vanity Ideas
1. Add one to the end of a traditional cabinet.
If space permits, connect your makeup and sink vanities for a cohesive look that maximizes space, storage, and convenience. Shea of Studio McGee designed a traditional all-white stunner with sophisticated details, like Venetian glass mirrors, brass knobs, and marble countertops, for the ultimate beauty station. A stool with a leather seat and a black metal frame add warmth and contrast.
2. Make the most of an unused nook.
If you're under the impression that makeup vanities are only for the rich and famous, we have good news: You don't need lots of space (or money) to create a prep area of your very own. Make like Amber Lewis and transform an awkward alcove or overlooked nook into a pared-down, midcentury-inspired grooming area. All you need are a mirror (or two), a counter with a pull-out drawer below, and a cute bench.
3. Carve out space in a long vanity.
Break up a lengthy wood vanity cabinet by creating a designated space for your personal primping station. Interior designer Kate Marker keeps the Carrara marble countertop the same height all the way across to extend sight lines and create continuity. An oversize wood framed mirror complements the vanity design while ample drawer space offers up plenty of storage.
4. Create symmetry.
Bookend a bathroom makeup vanity that's just the right size with double sinks for calm-inducing symmetry. Daleet Spector selected oak cabinets for warmth, depth, and necessary storage under custom integrated concrete sinks. Shiplap walls add texture and a welcome nautical vibe while high-contrast sconces are both practical and decorative, grounding the room and providing overhead illumination.
"If space allows, I often try to bookend a built-in makeup table with a pair of sinks. This imparts symmetry and separation for people sharing the vanity and it's a nice way to add softness in the form of an upholstered stool or chair," says Spector.
5. Pair with a bouclé chair.
A bathroom makeup vanity is a luxury, and as such, it deserves a posh seat to perch on. Enter the bouclé chair. The team over at Studio Life/Style added the trendy piece of furniture to this setup, and the combo is picture-perfect. The marble countertops, warm wood cabinetry, sleek vanity lighting, and sculptural chandelier are the ideal finishing touches.
6. Keep it minimal.
Dressing tables of yore were very ornate with Victorian flair. For a more contemporary look, try a streamlined vanity area with a simple floating drawer topped with stone like the one in this setup from Nune. The minimalist design is cozied up to a tall cabinet, resulting in a look that's big on storage without the visual distraction. Pair it with an elegant stool, a round mirror, and ample natural light.
7. Consider an L-shaped vanity.
If you have extra wall space, follow the lead of this sophisticated bathroom design by Bex Studios and add a return on one side of your vanity cabinet. The L-shaped design keeps the sink area separate from the makeup station, allowing two people to use the space simultaneously. Throw in home decor — such as a dash of greenery, a few ceramic pieces, a woven rush chair, and a kilim rug — to personalize the space and add a subtle dose of color.
8. Play with shapes and patterns.
Not everyone has the luxury of space, but with a bit of creativity, you can still carve out a dedicated one-of-a-kind bathroom vanity. For example, in this setup, Sarah Sherman Samuel made good use of patterns and shapes to introduce a bit of personality into the small space. From the checkerboard floor and wall tile to the round disc-style wall sconce to the luxe marble backsplash to the whimsical vanity chair, this design is a feast for the eyes.
9. Go for an old-school look.
Follow the lead of the rest of your bathroom, as Heidi Caillier did in this well-appointed space. Here, a scaled-down vanity flaunts the same vintage style that's used throughout. An etched mirror, traditional wall sconces, cafe curtains, and a skirted chair are classic touches that manage to blend in seamlessly while still making quite an impression.
10. Keep it small.
You don't need to reserve a large section of your bathroom countertop for a vanity table. Follow the lead of Kate Lester Interiors and keep it small. Complement the cozy setup with an equally stylish yet compact stool. With ample natural light, a large vanity mirror, and plenty of storage for basic necessities, this makeup vanity has all of the bases covered.
11. Go big with mirrors.
Mirrors play an integral part of any bathroom vanity, bolstering light and making it possible to apply makeup or shave with precision. Invest in a large wall-mounted mirror (or two) along with a smaller magnifying mirror that will allow you to tackle more detailed grooming up close and personal. In this setup by THELIFESTYLEDCO, a large frameless mirror clads the wall above the sink and vanity table for a continuous, uninterrupted finish. Note the small, round mirror perched on top of the vanity as well.
12. Be thoughtful about your seating.
Regardless of your type of makeup vanity, don't let your seating be an afterthought. Opt for something that is equal parts functional and attractive. Seating has the ability to amplify even a standard bathroom vanity into a conversation-worthy destination. In this modern design, Angie Hranowsky added interest to an all-white color scheme and angular built-ins with a sculptural peach vanity stool that marries form and function.
13. Enhance natural light with soft hues.
There are a few tricks that can enhance the natural light around a makeup vanity: add mirrors, select a light color palette, and add mirrors and reflective finishes. In this timeless bathroom by Studio McGee, the design team opted to go with all of the above: cabinetry in a soothing shade of seafoam green, a trio of mirrors, and a high-gloss subway tile backsplash.
14. Go for a moody palette.
If you prefer the look and feel of a moody space, transfer that energy to the makeup vanity as well by selecting elements with a dash of drama. For example, in this elegant bathroom by Mandy Cheng, a dark wood cabinet mingles with the gray floor and wall tile plus charcoal limewash walls. Aged brass fixtures add a lustrous sparkle.
15. Consider a standalone piece of furniture.
Standalone makeup vanities offer versatility and flexibility, allowing you the freedom to place them where space allows and to move them if necessary. For example, a freestanding wood vanity in this open floor plan by Studio Shamshiri helps separate the bathroom from the bedroom and introduces warmth and a welcome organic note. Despite its compact size, the vanity also provides ample storage.
16. Stick to a color scheme.
Avoid visual clutter by sticking to a monochrome color scheme. For instance, Chango & Co. created a clean and crisp look with an all-white bathroom, including a white makeup vanity that blends in seamlessly with its surroundings. To add interest and depth, the design team opted for shiplap walls and wood accents for a bit of warmth and contrast.
17. Imbue history with a vintage piece.
Imbue warmth and old-world charm to your daily routine with a vintage wooden dressing table. The rounded edges and rich material are an inviting counterpart to the hard lines and cold elements typically found in bathrooms. Jessica Helgerson placed a classic piece complete with a makeup mirror in this timeless bathroom and paired it with a one-of-a-kind chair.
18. Punctuate with black hardware and fixtures.
Take note of this stunning bathroom design by THELIFESTYLEDCO and punctuate your space with the color black. Here, ebony details such as the hardware, fixtures, trim, mirror frames, toiletries tray, and vanity table chair legs anchor the light-filled space and add a modern edge. And bonus: The natural light pouring in through the large window will make primping that much easier.