Splashy Bathroom Sinks
A balance of beauty and practicality is the key to choosing a lav you’ll love.
Synopsis: Thanks to an explosion in new and revitalized styles using a wide variety of materials, the once vanilla-plain, utilitarian bathroom sink has become a significant design element in its own right. In this article, we look at the pros and cons of popular designs, from the traditional pedestal to the countertop vessel, with an eye toward what you should keep in mind as you consider your options.
Long a practical necessity, bathroom sinks have evolved into functional works of art. A reinvention of traditional styles coupled with the use of nontraditional materials has resulted in an awe-inspiring—and daunting—array of choices. Designs that a few years ago were available only in higher-end markets have trickled down as major manufacturers have expanded their product lines in increasingly creative directions.
Selecting a bathroom sink—a lavatory in trade parlance— boils down to two decisions: what style and which material? Finding the right combination means not only weighing the pros and cons of each, but also deciding how well each fits into your bathroom and into your lifestyle.
Style choices, from Victorian pedestals to sleek vessels, are influenced by personal taste but dictated by the size and layout of the bathroom and the needs of those using it. At the same time, today’s stunning variety in sink materials offers real options to homeowners whose bathroom dimensions limit their choice of styles. In general, truly artistic sinks are best displayed in a powder room, where usage is light and guests are more apt to marvel. Ease of use, durability, and freedom from maintenance are qualities to value in a family bath.
Pedestals are still high style
Dating from the late 1800s, pedestal lavs, consisting of a basin atop a column, remain a popular choice, with contemporary designs updating them for the 21st century. Prices on pedestals range from just over $100 for vitreous china sets (most pedestals come in two pieces) to thousands (the list price on Porcher’s Glacier glass pedestal is $3,195). Several manufacturers have updated their traditional white china models by raising them several inches. American Standard’s Standard Collection design, for example, is a reissue of a 1922 model redesigned to stand 36 inches tall (past pedestals ranged from 31 to 33 inches). This Right Height design, along with similarly tall pedestals marketed by Standard’s competitors, is a bow to baby boomers who’d rather not have to bend over a sink. Visually unimposing, pedestals work elegantly in a small bath but offer little storage.
Console sinks are essentially wide pedestals, combining the breadth of a countertop with a pedestal sink’s elegance and visual lightness. Their increased popularity may be attributed to this functionality, as well as to the overall trend toward furniture in the bath. Consoles typically come in two parts, with a top of vitreous china or other material matched to legs made of china, wrought iron, or other sturdy metal. Some consoles have four legs; others have two and are braced against the wall.
Wall-mounts fit almost anywhere
Wall-mount sinks, like pedestals, were always fairly predictable—until now. New designs, particularly those in which a vessel bowl is mounted on a decorative bracket, have increased creative options. Because they provide barrier-free access and can be mounted at any height, wall-mounts are ideal for use by children or those in wheelchairs. Some—described as “semi-pedestals”— include a shroud that hides the pipes underneath. Wall sinks, especially corner mounts, are ideal for small bathrooms, but because they offer little room for toiletries and storage, a shelf or cabinet may be required elsewhere. Prices depend on materials and style.
For more photos and the pros and cons of the latest bathroom sinks, click the View PDF button below.