Pedestal sinks: Faddish, fabulous or folly?

Written By: Kathy Price-Robinson - Jul• 15•07

PedestalsinkI’m considering a pedestal sink for my 40-square-foot bathroom and I wonder if it’s a mistake. It’s exactly what I want for the space, and it’s consistent with the vintage look of the house.

But I’ve been warned by a designer I respect that I will regret installing that sink and that I will eventually try to put a skirt around it to create storage space underneath. All that’s under my raggedy old vanity now is a can of Comet and my house-sitter’s shower cap. What’s the big deal in losing that space?

Then, I read this in a column by architect Arrol Gellner:

Myth: A pedestal sink is the best choice for a small bathroom. Fact: Current design fads notwithstanding, a sink in a well-designed vanity cabinet will not only provide far more usable countertop area, but also a good bit of storage below — a feature that’s even more important in a small bathroom than in a large one.

But you know how it is when you want what you want?

So what do you think? Should I go with my gut? Or heed these voices of reason?

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12 Comments

  1. Ann says:

    I remodeled my standard 1960, 5′x8′ master bath 5 years ago and took out a vanity and put in a pedestal. I love it! It suits my aesthetic better than the vanity, and the room seems more spacious. I have never gotten around to installing a recessed medicine cabinet which I thought I would need for storage. Turns out the small built-in shelving area next to the corner shower has sufficient space for my edited down stash of stuff. I do have a second bath, with a vanity, and that’s where the cleaning supplies & extra TP are stored. Go with your gut!

  2. Ann says:

    It’s personal really isn’t it? You mention that a pedestal sink will go with the vintage look of your house. I probably would last about 30 seconds in your home in any sort of comfort zone. I see your statement and roll my eyes and go into my jeez, another theme park house. (“Look, ma, I live in a Victorian, and we are taking out the slate tiled shower and putting in a claw foot tub – sure its uncomfortable, but hey, it’s vintage”)
    You get my point. I don’t like it, but in a heartbeat I would tell you – do what you like. Make it YOUR comfort zone. You said it is just what you want for that space. End of story – stop asking and put it in! Enjoy.

  3. Stop the Madness says:

    I was just ranting about this very topic after watching home decorating and renovating shows (particulary those dealing with “flipping”). Flippers seem obsessed with putting in pedestal sinks and ripping out vanities. I agree that they provide a much better asthetic, particularly in tiny bathrooms. However, although I can’t tell from the posting, I’d be willing to bet that the author is a male!
    Pedestal sinks, in my humble opinion, should only be used in a master bathroom if it is sufficiently large enough to include some sort of linen closet or built-in storage. Take a look at online real estate listings sometime: ever see the bathrooms that have a hodge-podge of plastic containers, makeshift shelving units and over the toilet contraptions next to that cutesy sink? That’s because anyone besides a very low-maintenance bachelor needs STORAGE AND COUNTER SPACE. A pedestal sink may suit your needs and look sleek, but believe me when I say you may have a problem with reselling your property.
    This from an average woman who has a small condo bathroom , but mercifully has a 48″ vanity (filled with nail polish and related supplies, hair care products, a blow dryer, curling iron, flat iron, makeup, lotions, sunscreen, mouthwash, hair sprays and mousses, “feminine related items”, hair accessories, and cleaning products). I have to keep the overflow in my hall closet, and believe me, I’m positively BOYISH compared to most of my friends/colleagues and their beauty supply storage needs! I hate a cluttered bathroom so I don’t want anything out even on the counter.
    Go for it if you want to, but I agree with your designer!

  4. Thanks for the feedback. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I don’t do my nails or curl my hair. But if I did choose to — and I like to keep all my options open — where would I keep this stuff? So, thanks. I’ll ponder all of what you wrote. And I guess I shouldn’t have said it had a vintage “look” but rather than it is kind of vintage, of unknown age, probably built in the 60s or so, custom home, and looks kind of like a cabin inside but with high ceilings. It’s a rural home with a cozy yet light feeling.

  5. CandW says:

    You could consider a console sink and look for other opportunities to accomodoate storage, such as a medicine cabinet over the sink and another over the toilet. The console sink provides room to set things on similar to the counter around the vanity, but won’t provide the under sink storage. We put this one on our bathroom after dealing with simialr considerations:
    http://www.faucet.com/decor/product.pl?mid=3991&fh=White&P&CID=FRO&CAWELAID=45188946

  6. Hey, I love these console sinks, CandW! Thanks for reminding me of that. I’ve even seen some with a couple of wire shelves for towels and such. I’ll look into that. Thank you!

  7. I’m grappling with the exact same issue for our tiny bathroom!
    Except the decision needs to be made fast because our current sink is leaking around the faucets and needs to be replaced ASAP.. I’m loath to have to patch up the tile floor too if we go pedestal instead of vanity…
    I’ll be interested to see what you decide!

  8. Tim says:

    First off, I’d say “go with what YOU want” but otherwise I’ll have to chime in for the “looks nice but isn’t functional” contingent! My wife and I are in the middle of the house hunting process right now and when we see a pedestal sink we mentally add in the cost of ripping it out and putting in something useful instead — we need all the bathroom space we can get. Not the end of the world if this sink is yours to live with for a while, but a minor consideration if you’re looking at resale value?

  9. You know, the more I think about pedestal sinks, the less I want one. It’s something I thought I always wanted, but I admit I didn’t really think it through. I’m definitely leaning toward a console sink with a shelf or a small cabinet integrated into it. I guess I just didn’t want an standard run-of-the-mill, tract house, no-charm cut-rate budget vanity. I want something kind of cool, but not impractical. When Stop the Madness mentioned the plastic containers all over a bathroom with a pedestal sink, that really got my attention. Don’t want that. The good new, becoming-home, is that my vinyl floor is a mess, so I have to start fresh anyway. If I had tile that would have to patched, as you do, I would probably go with a vanity, but something with a bit of a kick to it. Then, you get to enjoy all that storage space!

  10. Stop The Madness says:

    Glad my chiming in may have helped with your decision. I’m actually on the hunt for a new vanity cabinet myself… I dislike the run-of-the-mill stock ones also. Good luck!

  11. Enid says:

    I recently remodeled my townhouse and couldn’t wait to get rid of the pedestal sinks!
    I deem them useless because although they might create the look of having more space, they don’t function which is more important (to me). I have a tiny powder room in which the previous owners tore out a great wall-to-wall cabinet and put in a pedestal sink. Since it’s used primarily for guests, there was nowhere to put a guest towel, much less extra toilet paper.
    I ended up designing a wall-to-wall cabinet, putting a vessel sink on it with a very cool wall mount faucet and then I wallpapered the entire tiny room, even the ceiling. It’s not only functional (guests don’t have to yell for toilet paper) but it’s a little jewel of a room which everyone comments on. You can em me if you want to see photos. enid@enidharris.com

  12. Sarah says:

    Whatever you choose, I think finding a balance between beauty and function is important. If you go for the pedestal, make sure you have enough storage–medicine and other cabinets, towel bars and shelves. If you want something in between, consider a console or go for a non standard vanity.
    I’m a restoration hound, so in our 1926 mediterranean, which had its original pedestal, I installed two medicine cabinets–one over the sink and one over the toilet, then took out a door (the bathroom had 3) and made a cabinet with 2/3 flush inset doors and 1/3 open shelves that I filled with baskets. Now, we live in a 1951 colonial revival that has its original console sinks with towel bars. All three bathrooms have generous closets that I’m organizing with labeled baskets–that’s where most of the usual vanity stuff is going. I’m using toilet paper “towers” by the toilets so guests can always find extra paper, plenty of towel bars on the walls, a recessed medicine cabinet in the master bath, and I’m planning a few wall shelves as well.
    Storage solutions abound for every period look if you are willing to do your research. Even if you aren’t dedicated to period detail, the research and thought will serve you well. And, if you present your bathroom as well organized, with plenty of storage to prospective buyers when the time comes–even if you have that pedestal sink–they may not think of ripping it out. Pedestal sinks and glass shelves, for example, can be a winning combination.
    Best,
    Sarah in Alabama

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