We’ve rated some of the top bathroom furniture brands and collated expert tips on choosing the right bathroom cabinets, storage and vanity units to make the most of your bathroom.
Bathroom furniture is an integral part of any bathroom. Cabinets, vanity units and any other bathroom storage have to withstand an incredible amount of wear and tear from frequent use, and be resilient to water splashes and steam clouds.
Whether you’re totally renovating your bathroom or sprucing it up with new furniture, the quality and durability of your bathroom furniture are as important as the way it looks.
That’s why we’ve asked bathroom owners to rate not only the bathroom brand they bought their suite from but their bathroom furniture too.
The results are based on an online survey of 6,732 adults – members of the Which? Connect panel and members of the public – conducted in June and July 2021. ‘-’ means not enough responses to include a star rating. Sample sizes in brackets for quality/durability.
Roca and Ikea topped our table with an impressive five stars for quality – the maximum rating – and four for durability. Seven bathroom brands, including John Lewis, Victorian Plumbing and Wickes, achieved respectable four star ratings for both quality and durability. Bathstore and Better Bathrooms propped up the table, received middling three-star ratings for both quality and durability.
Good quality bathroom furniture and units
As well as opting to buy from a reliable bathroom brand, there are a few things you can look out for to ensure the furniture you buy is better quality. Like kitchen units, the joins you choose will make a difference to how long they stand the test of time.
There are three main types: wooden dowels glued into holes;
wooden dowels secured in holes with two or three screws;
wooden dowels secured in holes with two sets of metal studs and cams.
These are essentially discs that, once inserted into the holes and turned 90 degrees, secure the dowel in place. The first option tends to be the weakest, and the last the strongest.
In addition, units that are pre-built tend to be sturdier while flat-pack cabinets can be weaker, in part because there is more chance of them being put together incorrectly.
The material will also make a difference. As you might expect, solid wood units are stronger and more likely to last longer than their cheaper MDF and chipboard counterparts. Make sure you check what the cabinets you’re considering are made of, how thick they are (the thicker the better) and how they’re constructed.
Bathroom furniture sets
You can buy bathroom furniture as separate items or as sets. The latter is particularly the case if you’re buying vanity units that go around a sink and toilet. Buying a set guarantees that each piece will be the same style and compliment each other – if you buy different elements from separate sources there might be subtle differences. You can also take advantage of deals if you buy everything together at the same time, particularly if a company is selling off end-of-line sets. However, we know from members that shopping around and buying items from different places can pay off too, so it’s worth doing your homework.
Planning your bathroom storage
What bathroom furniture you buy, and subsequently your bathroom’s layout is, will be determined by what storage you need.
Start by thinking about how you use your bathroom. What exactly do you need storage space for and how much will you require? How regularly will you use different things and how easily will you need to access them? How much do you want to hide away or have out on display?
Don’t forget the essentials – where will you hang your towels or keep toiletries you use on a daily basis? Answering these questions will give you a good idea of how much storage you’ll need so you can better plan what bathroom furniture you should get.
Now you can think about the different types of furniture and storage options available to you. You can get built-in cabinets – for example, bathroom vanities that sit around the basin, which will make use of wasted space – or freestanding ones that give you flexibility to move it around.
Bathroom storage ideas
Bathroom furniture can be the perfect way to solve all your storage solutions, particularly if you think cleverly about it. Flick through our gallery for some ideas.
Bathroom storage ideas
Fitted bathroom furniture
Bathroom cabinets and units
Bathroom cabinets come in a range of options, including floor units, wall cupboards and vanity units – more on these below. You can opt for ones with drawers, internal shelves, or a combination of both. Most fixed units come with doors to keep any clutter hidden away, but there are options with open shelves, allowing you to display decorative items or use attractive baskets.
But you don’t have to be limited to one type as there are unique designs that marry different options – take a look at the gallery above to see some examples. Again, think about the questions above and what you’ll be storing – would you want shelves inside the cabinets for pull-out baskets, for example?
Most bathroom stores sell fitted bathroom cabinets, but you could upcycle or adapt furniture designed for any room, as long as it’s varnished or painted to withstand the wet and damp.
And don’t forget the finish. The majority of units come in gloss or are painted, and usually in white or cream. But there are a whole host of other options – different woods, bold colours and even metals. So why not use your bathroom furniture to play around with materials and tones?
Bathroom vanity units, which are essentially bathroom cabinets that sit around the base of a sink, are one of the most common types of built-in furniture.
You can also get combination bathroom vanity units, which adjoin a sink and toilet, to create one large cabinet. These are good if your bathroom is small as they make use of often-wasted space between a sink and toilet.
They can also hide ugly pipework, although keep in mind that they do make it trickier to access plumbing if there are any issues. Depending on their size, they can include various storage options too, such as shelves, drawers, etc. Also think about what you’ll need to make space for, such as a loo roll holder and the storage of loo rolls, as some vanity units include space for these items.
Bathroom sink units have a worktop to protect them from splashes. There are a lot of different options, from marble effect to stone, that can bring another layer of design and a different feeling to your bathroom.
You can have one that covers the sink pedestal, or, to make even more use of the space, consider having a ‘floating’ basin that sits on top of a unit or is embedded into it. If you have quite a lot of space, you could have a much more expansive vanity unit that spans the width of a wall (like in the picture at the top of the page).
Bathroom wall cabinets
Bathroom wall cabinets are a great way to maximise the space in your bathroom. They commonly come with internal shelves hidden by doors, although you can get open shelving units to go on the wall. You can also get wall cabinets with mirrored doors, saving the need for a separate mirror. Some of these units come with lights around the edges of the doors or underneath the cabinet to make it easier . Again, you could upcycle here – would a glass wall cabinet previously used in the kitchen work, for example? Whatever you choose, make sure it’s properly affixed to the wall and check that it will hold the weight of what you want to store in them.
Bespoke fitted bathroom furniture
If you have the budget and want something very specific, you could also consider asking a builder to make bespoke bathroom storage for you. The benefit of built-in bathroom furniture is that it makes the most of the space available, and makes use of awkward areas that would otherwise be left unused.
For example, you could get floor to ceiling cupboards with a mix of open shelves and hidden drawers that wraps around your sink and toilet. Plus, getting someone to create furniture for you might get you to think outside the box. Maybe a bench storage seat would work well for your family? Or how about recessing shelves in your bathroom wall?
A local bathroom fitter should be able to create a truly bespoke design to suit your needs and be able to marry this with an entire bathroom refit. Use our search tool below to find a reliable trader near you.
Freestanding bathroom cabinets and units
Freestanding bathroom furniture and cabinets are usually cheaper than built-in ones, and often offer more flexibility. From full-length shelving units to mirrored wall units, the options are seemingly endless. They also mean you can make use of your walls and the height of your room.
Consider these different options: drawer units freestanding cupboards shelves with pull-out storage baskets wall cabinets with mirrors full-height units with shelves and/or cupboards. Plus, you don’t have to stick to the well-known bathroom brands for furniture – many other stores, such as John Lewis and Argos, sell freestanding bathroom furniture and bathroom cabinets.
Before buying, just check that the furniture is intended for use in the bathroom, as it will be exposed to a lot of moisture and heat.
Tall bathroom cabinets
Full-height bathroom cabinets, also called bathroom tallboys, make maximum use of the space in your bathroom.
You can get units that are all cupboard with shelving inside – these come with one or two doors, sometimes with one glass-fronted section – or one that is half cabinet and the other open shelves. Slimline units and corner models are great if you don’t have a lot of room, but you can also go for a wider unit.
Bathrooms shelving units
Shelving units come in all shapes and sizes although, like bathroom tallboys, floor-to-ceiling ones make the best use of space. But you could alternatively go for a half-height unit and use the top for decorative items, or choose wall units to keep the floor clear.
The latter also allows you to unlock space over other elements, such as your bath or toilet. Again, the look and feel of it doesn’t have to be limited – try open metal shelving units, slatted wood to echo a Swedish sauna, or glass versions to allow the light to bounce around the room. You can see some examples of these in our gallery of bathroom
A bathroom mirror can make the room seem lighter and larger, and many now include features such as lights and internet connectivity. If your bathroom lacks space, try a folded corner mirror, which wraps around two walls and will accentuate the existing space and light. Or, try a skinny vertical mirror to create a greater sense of height. Alternatively, try an unusual shape such as an octagon mirror.
A light-up mirror will bring brightness to a dull, dark room, even if it’s just a simple one back-lit with LED lights. There are a vast range of styles to suit any bathroom, Smart bathroom mirrors are popular as they do far more than just show a reflection.
On a smart mirror you can watch TV or streaming services, and display information such as your calendar, news, weather and transport updates. Before splashing out on an expensive gadget mirror, consider how often you will actually use all the new features and any technical difficulties you may encounter.
For example, if you struggle to get a strong internet connection in your bathroom, trying to watch Netflix on your smart mirror is going to be a frustrating experience.
Lighting is an essential part of a well-designed bathroom, altering how the room looks and feels. Consider the times of day you are going to spend time in the bathroom, and whether or not there is natural light you can utilise. Ideally, a bathroom will blend three types of lighting.
First, ambient or downlight from a main light provides illumination to the whole room. Second, accent lighting to emphasise a room feature or create effects. Finally, task lighting to help with specific activities. As mentioned in the section on bathroom mirrors, you can get LED lighting for your mirror.
This will make tasks such as shaving or applying makeup easier and help shape the ambience of the room. Make sure that any lights you buy are functional, providing enough light as well as being aesthetically pleasing.