Tips and Tricks

Design Tip: Project Urban Cowboy Vanity Basics

June 5, 2019

Project Urban Cowboy Bathroom Basics

Every design project has a spring board, an element that is the inspiration from which everything else develops. In the #ProjectUrbanCowboy master en-suite, that jumping off point was the matte black fixtures. Sleek and modern, I was thrilled when my clients agreed to them. In particular the wall mounted faucets, which offer a clean and crisp look to the vanity. But unlike deck mounted faucets, wall mounted faucets require significant more forethought and planning. And, of course, should something ever go wrong, it’s good to have the name of someone local who could come out and fix any issues you may have with them, like the team at Make It Drain ( in Los Angeles. Given the popularity of these mounted faucets, I thought I would break down the basics of designing around them for you.

If you saw the project reveal, you’ll know that we were able to extend the bathroom by a foot, which gave us a space of 8 feet by 9 feet to work with. By no means palatial, but definitely enough space to accomplish our goals – a double vanity, a larger shower and a bathtub. In order to be cost effective, we decided to leave the plumbing as it was, which made things easy in that the layout was determined for us. We would have had to have called in an expert plumber, like Morris Jenkins, to do this for us but lucky the current layout was suitable for our ideas.

Project Urban Cowboy Bathroom Basics We chose to go with a 60″ vanity, which allowed for two sinks and enough room to get around the tub for cleaning. This is the smallest you’d want to go for a double vanity. It worked out well for my clients, because they were happy to have smaller sinks with a 17″ basin.

Project Urban Cowboy Bathroom Basics

There is nothing better than working with a client who know what she wants and likes. Struggling to find a commercially available vanity with the storage and esthetic she liked, we decided custom was the way to go. This allowed us to design every detail, including the height – 34″ (with the counter top). The standard height of a bathroom vanity ranges from 32-36″.

Once the height and width of the vanity was determined, we could work out the rest of the elements. Wall mounted faucets are typically installed 4-6 inches above the vanity. This is a general rule, it may be higher in instances where a vessel sink is used or if the faucet has a pronounced neck, say a goose neck. We chose to go 6″ above the vanity.

Project Urban Cowboy Bathroom Basics

My clients differ in height by over a foot, so we had to ensure we chose a mirror that worked for both of them. We went with a simple metal framed option, 34″ in height and 24″ wide. This not only met the height we needed, but fit the vanity width perfectly. The standard for hanging a vanity mirror is 5-10″ above the sink, or 1-3″ above the highest part of the faucet. We hung our mirrors 10″ above the vanity which meant they would extend to 6’6″ – a happy standard that allows for almost everyone to see their face, including the taller half of this couple.

Project Urban Cowboy Bathroom Basics

Once the mirrors were chosen, we moved onto planning the lighting. We chose these gorgeous sconces from SchoolHouse Electric. They have a bit of an industrial feel, which is tempered by the whimsy of the stripes. Generally speaking, we recommend above the mirror lights be hung between 75-80″ from the ground for 40″ above the top of the vanity. However when working with wall mounted faucets, that standard sometimes doesn’t apply. As in our case – we installed our lights at 89″. Since the shades of our fixtures drop down nearly 10″, that left about 3″ from the top of the mirrors, which was perfect. Ideally you want 3-5″ between the top of the mirror and your lights.

Project Urban Cowboy Bathroom Basics

Once the height of each element was determined, we then had to make sure everything lined up vertically. That is to say that the faucets were centered to the sinks and the mirrors and that the vanity lights and drawer pulls were lined up with the faucets. As you can imagine this was no easy task. In particular when renovating an older home. The casing around the pocket door shifted the placement of the vanity, which meant the faucets and lights had to be shifted as well. At one point, I even considered getting in touch with the plumber that my friend recommended, just to make sure that everything was working as it should once the faucet was moved. I’m not sure how, but we managed, and even if we have future problems with it, at least we know who to call. The effort was worth it because the result is a gorgeous vanity and the perfect spot to start the day.

Project Urban Cowboy Bathroom Basics

Images: Lindsay Nichols Photography

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