Designing Your New Vanity, Part III - Off-the-Shelf or Custom?

Designing Your New Vanity, Part III - Off-the-Shelf or Custom?

Knotty Alder Kitchen Cabinets, Wire Brushing, Black Highlight, Jackie Lopey Wide Canvas

Custom Knotty Alder Kitchen Cabinets with Wire Brushing and Black Highlight, Design by Jackie Lopey, Photo by Boaz Meiri

Are you wondering if you should design your own custom vanity or buy an off-the-shelf one? 

There's no one-size-fits-all answer. I've designed beautiful bathrooms using both custom and ready-made vanities. To make your decision consider cost, size and design, and quality.

Vanity Cost

Let's get cost out of the way first. A custom-made vanity will cost more than a ready-made one. You get limitless size and design options and better quality, and the price reflects that. 

The cost of the vanity - the cabinet itself - is not the whole story, though. A custom vanity can reduce your construction costs. It comes down to size. Would an off-size vanity, say 58" instead of 60", allow you to avoid moving the toilet or wall? If so, the more expensive custom vanity may save you money.

Vanity Size and Design

Off-the-shelf vanities are built for everyone. They're designed to appeal to mass-market tastes and are sized for average bathrooms. That might work for your project.

But, if you're looking for an uncommon size or an elevated design, shopping for off-the-shelf vanities is frustrating. You quickly realize that, while there are thousands to choose from, they are strikingly similar. There are only about half a dozen styles and sizes on offer.

If you're searching for a narrow vanity, say 15-24" wide, or a wide one, over 72", your ready-made options will be even more limited. (More on standard off-the-shelf vanity widths here.) Ready-made vanity depths and heights fall within a narrow range, usually 21 to 24 inches deep and 33 to 36 inches in high.

With a custom-made vanity, you choose. You choose your width, height, and depth. You choose your style and finish - paint or stained wood. You choose which elements are included - drawers, doors, and accessories. You choose your countertop and backsplash.

Vanity Quality

Custom-made vanities are generally better quality. They are made-to-order with the same care that goes into a fine piece of furniture. 

The cabinet box is more sturdy. Higher grade wood is used for doors and drawer fronts. The finishes - paint or stain - are richer and more durable. The hardware operates more smoothly and is more reliable.

Quality can be hard to nail down, though. My blog post, What to Look for When You Buy a Bathroom Vanity, tells you how to tell the difference between a quality vanity and a cheap one.

This blog post is part of a series.

Designing Your New Vanity, Part I - Feel
Designing Your New Vanity, Part II - Space Planning
You're Reading: Designing Your New Vanity, Part III - Off-the-Shelf or Custom?
Designing Your New Vanity, Part IV - Choosing Your Sink & Faucet
Designing Your New Vanity, Part V - Choosing Your Countertop & Backsplash


    Jackie Lopey, Certified Interior Designer & Founder of Wide Canvas

    She didn't know it, but Jackie Lopey's days as an advertising executive were numbered when she bought and renovated a 1950's bungalow. She soon went back to school and started her own design studio. Jackie is an award-winning, certified interior designer and the founder of Wide Canvas.


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