Medicine Cabinets Medicine Cabinets

Many hypotheses exist as to why almost nothing wows and impresses like a beautifully decorated bathroom. Is it because the bathroom has been transformed from its unfortunate past when outdoor plumbing ruled? Is it the computerized functions that contemporary designers have integrated into these facilities that dazzle us so? Likely it's both of these possibilities and more. On theother hand, we rarely see these dazzling restrooms in friends' or families' homes; instead, they exist purely in the public realm - five-star restaurants, nice hotels, and such.

So while many people fret over every detail in the master bedroom - from the rug's knot count to the percentage of satin in the valences - they close and lock the door on beautifying the bathroom. Throw some matching hand towels here, a toilet seat cover there, and continue the long dreary history of the family bathroom.

When the outhouse came inside, good lighting, a possibility for design, and an infinitely more pleasant atmosphere came with it. Take full advantage of all of the possibilities that the bathroom holds for design, and make it a place that happily greets its visitors in the morning and bids them a restful goodnight in the evening. We're going to begin our three-part series on rethinking the look of bathrooms with a little thing called medicine cabinets.

Medicine cabinets are an essential piece in all bathrooms. The existing toilet and the bathtub (or shower) are there to stay in most cases, unless they absolutely have to go and your client decides to replace them. The medicine cabinet can be replaced with relatively little trouble, which is a good thing because it can influence the look and feel of the entire bathroom. Like old, garish kitchen cabinetry, these smaller cabinets can start to look outdated and consequently ruin the look of everything else in the space. Just think of a kitchen with 70's lime green cabinets and mustard countertops!

The majority of medicine cabinets come in a rectangular shape so they rest either vertically or horizontally on the wall. Some have shelving that is partly exposed and partly behind glass or mirrored doors. The smaller ones are often used purely for toothbrushes and other little things, while the larger ones can stretch across the wall and fit the electric shaver, hair dryer, and toiletries galore.

So which style do you choose for which bathroom? First, find out from your client what items will be stored in it. Possibly your client will want multiple medicine cabinets. After discerning which size and how many will suit your client's needs, locate a space for it. Will it go above the sink or on the opposite wall? If it will not go in the traditional area, above the sink, then have your client go through the motions of opening and closing the cabinet in the supposed designated area to be sure that it functions best there.

After determining the size and location of the medicine cabinet, it's time to actually go shopping for one. There's a wide range of styles so it's important to go into the stores already knowing what you're looking for. But the general style - modern, traditional, country, or antique - should reflect that of the master bedroom, the kitchen, or the television room depending on the location of the bathroom. For example, for a downstairs bathroom that is next to a traditional country kitchen, you might choose blue hand towels and a white stain antique medicine cabinet with brushed nickel knobs. If your client has a sleek, modern, chrome kitchen, you may opt for a metal with beveled glass medicine cabinet in the adjacent bathroom. The possibilities are as wide as that set for the entire house!

In recent years, unique and stylish medicine cabinets have grown in popularity and in size, proving to be even more accessible and functional. This definitely goes to show that it is not just vanity driving everyone to their mirrored medicine cabinets!


Reprinted with permisson by the Sheffield School of Design

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