Design by Jackie Lopey, Certified Interior Designer 6824. Photo by Boaz Meiri.
The final step in designing your own vanity is selecting a countertop and backsplash.
In this post, I'll review:
- The function of countertops and backsplashes
- The materials used for them
- Two design approaches to take when choosing your countertop and backsplash
This blog post is part of a series. See the first four steps below.
Designing Your New Vanity, Part I - Feel
Designing Your New Vanity, Part II - Space Planning
Designing Your New Vanity, Part III - Off-the-Shelf or Custom?
Designing Your New Vanity, Part IV - Choosing Your Sink & Faucet
You're Reading: Designing Your New Vanity, Part V - Choosing Your Countertop & Backsplash
Before we get to the fun part, choosing stone and tile, let's talk about function.
What is a countertop for?
A countertop is a work surface - a place to set your equipment and supplies while you get things done. When you're fixing your hair, that's your blow dryer and hair gel. When you're shaving your face, that's your razor and shaving cream.
So, think about what you need to accomplish and size your countertop accordingly. In a powder room, little or no counter space is required. All you need is soap and a hand towel, and you can place them on wall-mounted holders. In a master bathroom, you need a lot more. Short change yourself on counter space there, and you're signing up for a frustrating start and end to every day.
Also, your countertop and backsplash are water barriers. The countertop shields your wood cabinet from water, and the backsplash protects your walls. Don't forget the backsplash's cousin, the sidesplash. If your vanity sits against a side wall, you need to protect that side wall, and the tile or marble slab you place there is called a sidesplash.
Countertop & Backsplash Materials
There are two types of countertop and backsplash material: slab and tile, and the same material, say marble, is often available as both a slab and a tile.
A slab is one piece of continuous material without seams or grout lines. Slabs are commonly natural stone or man-made quartz. Tiles, in sizes ranging from 1/2" x 1/2" to 3' x 4', are individual pieces cemented to a substrate. The gaps between pieces are then filled with a cement mixture called grout.
Think beyond natural stone, quartz, and ceramic. Countertops and backsplashes can be made of concrete, glass, laminate, copper, and stainless steel. I'm sure I've forgotten some other exotic choice. The cost of materials and installation vary widely. So, your best bet is to pick the one you like best and get two or three bids for materials and installation before you commit.
The Star of the Show or a Supporting Player?
Like a good movie, every room you design should have one or two stars and several supporting players. Deciding "who's who" will make selecting your backsplash and countertop easier.
Here the blue vanity is the headliner, and the countertop and backsplash are there to make it look good.
Photo by Boaz Meiri. Design by Jackie Lopey.
In this bathroom, it's all about the cut-glass floral mosaic backsplash:
Photo by Tom Minczeski. Design by Jackie Lopey.
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.