Where would we be without our bathroom vanities? They carry all manner of beauty essentials, are a canvas for beautifully designed faucets, and are often well-equipped to house our less good-looking toiletries, too.
So, how high should a bathroom vanity be to make the most of this iconic bathroom staple? I asked myself this question recently when staying in a hotel, realizing I was particularly fond of double vanities (no surprises there) with quite a low position.
Still, I wondered whether experts would approve and if it was mostly a matter of function or pure design desire that should take priority when choosing the right vanity height for your bathroom space.
How high should a bathroom vanity be?
As I suspected, there is a modern-day standard measurement for bathroom vanity units, which appears to have changed over time. As Goldilocks would have it, there are different features and design aspects to consider so that you can find the sweet spot for your specific bathroom space.
All of the designers I spoke with shared measurements from 30-36 inches, with most suggesting that we err toward the higher figures on the measurement tape. So how should you choose, and what would Goldilocks say? Let's start from the top.
The modern standard vanity height: 36 inches
Interior designer Amy Youngblood says that 36" is the current industry average, noting that this accommodates most adults, supporting general bathroom activities and daily routines. 'This height allows one to easily lean over when standing, brushing their teeth, doing makeup, etc., without overstretching their back.'
Diana Burton, Senior designer at Drury Design, recommends a measurement that is ever so slightly below 36": 'The standard height for vanities with under-mount sinks is typically around 35 ¾ inches, similar to kitchen counters.'
So if you want a vanity for a guest bathroom, or if you would like to make sure it will appeal to potential buyers in the future, Burton suggests leaning towards this measurement. Furthermore, for those who like an elevated look of luxury in the bathroom, going for a taller vanity may bring the charisma you want for your space. 'Vanities standing at 36" tend to look grander and offer more storage, contributing to a more luxurious appearance.'
Diana Burton has been a senior designer at Drury Design in Chicago for almost 11 years, and merges her background in fashion design with her expertise in kitchen and bath interiors, creating a unique niche in the design world. Renowned for her innovative and functional designs, she has garnered numerous NKBA awards over her 20-year career.
The Goldilocks height: 34 inches
When designing a bathroom and choosing the right vanity, the key is to accommodate everyone using the space as best you can. Interior designer Kati Curtis says that despite industry standards, 34 inches high is the sweet spot for bathroom vanities. 'Many designers will say 32-36” but 34” is not too tall or too short, as Goldilocks would say, it’s “just right” for all heights.'
This also means the vanity can work for children and adults if everyone shares one bathroom. 'It's about comfort for every user in the family,' adds Artem Kropovinsky, Founder of interior design studio, Arsight.
Kati energizes spaces with a fearless commitment to pattern and texture, color, and motif. That commitment is invigorated by friends, mentors, and clients who share her design passions and passion for design. It’s reinvigorated by Kati’s travel bug, which has taken her around the world.
Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and the founder of Arsight, a global award-winning design firm with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial interior design.
Powder room height: 30 inches
Vanities used to be a little lower, as did we. 'Years ago 29” was more of a standard height as people tended to be shorter,' says Amy Youngblood.
But this is not to say that shorter vanities are off-limits when designing a bathroom in the twenty-first century. In fact, for anyone on the shorter side – including children or those who like to be seated when applying makeup – a vanity that measures closer to 30" may be more suitable.
'For makeup areas, a height of about 30" is common, accommodating a standard chair or stool,' says Diana Burton. 'If you're opting for a vessel sink, the vanity height should be customized based on the specific sink and faucet.'
Alas, this reveals why I found my low hotel modern bathroom vanity particularly appealing...
How can I make my bathroom vanity taller?
Sometimes a vanity just doesn't suit the space and those using it. If swapping it out is not an option, Diana Burton recommends a couple of workarounds, particularly ideal in children's bathrooms where they might not be tall enough (yet).
'For a too-high vanity in a kid’s bathroom, a simple step stool works well.' You can find aesthetically pleasing footstools with curved designs, like this Eden Creations small wooden stool on Amazon, which can double up as a plant stand when not in use.
If you are fine with a little DIY, you could edit the countertop itself: 'For a too-low vanity, consider a thicker mitered countertop to add 2-3 inches in height. Alternatively, raising the vanity on a platform that matches the flooring can achieve the desired height, though it may increase labor costs due to plumbing adjustments.'
Should I have a shorter vanity in a smaller bathroom?
Much like if you are pondering whether you can put a double vanity in a small bathroom, where there is a will, there is a way. Diana Burton suggests that the size of the bathroom isn't as important as ensuring that you have created a space that everyone can enjoy.
'In my 20+ years of experience, clients usually prefer standard-height vanities, regardless of the bathroom size or vanity type. This standardization helps maintain broader appeal, especially important for future home resale,' says Burton. To keep a small bathroom space streamlined, be sure to choose an ergonomic design that is not too bulky and ensure you keep your entire bathroom space organized too.
Select your vanity height depending on how your household uses the space so that it can enhance the bathroom as a whole and elevate daily routines. Being conscious of what other built-in items exist in the bathroom will also bring cohesion.
'Match the vanity height with other bathroom elements for a unified appearance,' says interior designer Artem Kropovinsky. 'The right vanity height boosts the bathroom's look and usability.' And for the ultimate comfort, go bespoke.
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Camille is the former deputy editor of Real Homes where she covered a broad range of topics, including house tours, small space design, and gardens. She studied English language and Italian at the University of Manchester and during a year abroad studying linguistics and history of art in Bologna, Italy she started documenting her adventures and observations in a blog. Camille is always creating and spends her downtime painting, taking photos, traveling, and writing short stories.
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