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Design

The Surprising Piece Of Furniture Gen Z Wants… Turns Out We Do Too

The first time I ever had a vanity in my room was my first apartment in college. Luck was on my side because I drew the big straw (literally) and got to pick the biggest room with a BUILT-IN vanity. I tried to find a picture of it but I wasn’t as good at taking photos (or backing up my computer) back in 2007. Actually, I’m still bad at backing up my laptop… Anyway, the feeling of adult womanhood washed over me like a delicate spritz of an expensive perfume the moment it was officially mine. I pictured how elegant and grown I would feel sitting on a vintage stool in front of my vanity mirror while probably wearing something like a long silk robe. Can you tell I was a theatre major with this scene I created??? Not sure if it was the movies, the musicals, or the older women in my life that created this huge imprint but regardless of the influence, it was real and I am still under it. However, I’m not alone… Gen Z wants in too.

design by julie rose for ehd | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: a refresh of our favorite “child client’s” – bedroom 8 years later

When Julie refreshed 17-year-old Grace’s bedroom (above), one of Grace’s main requests was that there was a vanity. Since Julie likes to make her clients happy she did her one better by making it a vanity/desk since ya know, dumb homework. Then as I was pursuing the internet this past week, I noticed that Urban Outfitters was STOCKED with tons of vanity options. My conclusion, given these two strong pieces of intel, Gen Z wants in on vanities. Like me, as a 19-year-old yearning to be grown, they are likely feeling the same. But instead of its primary purpose to be a place to become “perfect” looking (ie giving Marvelous Mrs. Maisel vibes), now it’s more about self-care. This is the way it should be, right?

If you were anything like us gals at EHD, you went kinda deep into the skincare life during quarantine. Actually, creating a solid routine was one of my proudest achievements since washing my face daily was only a 50/50 probability pre-covid. Look, some of us are late bloomers. But I seriously fell in love with the gentle, slow care I did for my face. And it’s something I don’t want to lose just because life is getting busy again and I have a tendency to put myself last. I really think sitting down (after you wash your face) is crucial for ease, enjoyment, and ultimately, consistency… at least for me (a certified sitting lover).

You may remember seeing that I had a built-in vanity in my last apartment. It was a HUGE perk and is probably what made me say “I’ll take it!” three minutes are stepping inside. I thought, “FINALLY, after 10 years sans vanity, I’m back baby!” Well, that was until I moved. There are about 1000 things I love about my new apartment but having a built-in vanity isn’t one of them. And obviously, that’s totally ok… we’ll it’s mainly ok since I can probably fit a free-standing one in my bathroom. Let me show you…

This is the current state of my bathroom. It’s ummm, fine for now. Actually, that’s Emily’s “paint can riser” desk from waaaay back in April of 2020. If you don’t know what I’m talking about go here for a good laugh. Anyway, I was going to use it for a potential sponsored thing that ended up shifting its focus but I still had the table and Em didn’t want it back. Since I had a lack of sink counter space for when I wanted to do my skincare routine or put on makeup, I thought I’d see if it fit between my sink and toilet. As you can see it did. While definitely not the right scale, it’s been SO nice to have to set things on. But boy do I want a vanity where I can sit down. I promise I stand and walk too!

Vanity Set

I honestly wasn’t even looking for one yet but then I came across this AWESOME vintage set for under $400! It’s in northern California but my dad lives up there:) I quickly started to craft my “Hey dad, best guy in the world. Could you maybe, possibly pick up this vanity set for me???” Luckily for him, size-wise it wasn’t going to work given that the mirror would’ve covered the air conditioner vent. It’s the only ac unit in the whole apartment. I actually need it. So despite the heartbreak, I got the urge to see what’s on the market in case something jumped out at me and/or in case any of you could use a self-care vanity of your own. Here’s what I found…

design by studio shamshiri | photo by stephen kent johnson

Let’s start with a good ole wooden vanity. Wood will always bring in texture and warmth to a space. And especially in a bathroom filled with tile that could be really nice, right? But also remember vanities can absolutely go in bedrooms if your bathroom doesn’t have “vanity square footage”.

1. Wood and Metal Vanity | 2. Composed Vanity II by Ladies & Gentlemen Studio | 3. Marte Vanity | 4. William Vanity | 5. Linnea Vanity | 6. 21st Century American Walnut Veneer Vanity Desk with Mirror | 7. Loren Vanity Set | 8. Mcmaster Solid Wood Desk | 9. Caroline Rattan Vanity

If me loving #1 isn’t enough to convince it’s great, it’s also one of Jeremiah Brent’s picks of the Studio 3B collection. Juuuust saying. Now if you have a bigger budget #2 is well, perfect (?). I love how simple yet interesting and functional but beautiful it is. It also comes in a natural wood so you have options. Oof, I wish it could work for me. But truly I really like all of these…which is why I picked them:)

design by alyssa coscarelli | styled by elaina sullivan | photo by sharon radisch | via domino

If you really want to go modern to either contrast your bathroom’s (or bedroom’s) style or keep the modern look going strong then here are some great options.

1. Chloé Vanity Desk Design By Emmanuel Gallina | 2. Blaire Classic Vanity Desk Set | 3. Grubbs Vanity with Mirror | 4. Williams Bedroom Vanity with Mirror | 5. Wall Mounted Heavy Duty Folding Dressing Table | 6. Mid-Century Vanity Desk Set | 7. Sonnet Storage Vanity Desk | 8. Mangino Vanity Set with Stool and Mirror | 9. Charlette Vanity

Of course #1 (the most expensive) is really speaking to me but for under $300, I love number #9. But if storage is what you need (and after “the great skincare product testing of 2020” a lot of us do) #5, #6, and #7 look like they can hold a lot.

design by harding & read | styled by michelle kelly | photo by seth carnill | via remodelista

But it’s always a good (and sustainable) idea to check out if there are any vintage options that might be perfect. Plus these vanities have seen a lot and deserve a second life to be there for a new generation of people wanting to take a little extra time for themselves…while sitting.

1. Antique Art Deco Veneered Vanity With Mirror | 2. Vintage Woman’s Vanity with Mirrored Panels | 3. Mid Century Vanity by Meredew Furniture Teak | 4. Midcentury Modern Birch Wood Veneer on Black Legs Vintage Dressing Table | 5. Danish Teak Vanity Desk | 6. Danish Art Deco Vanity Desk with Tri-Folding Mirror | 7. Vanity Desk Dressing Table | 8. Mid-Century Scandinavian Teak Vanity | 9. Mid Century Modern Danish Teak Vanity Table

I’m personally most drawn to #2 and #9 but I feel like #1 has Caitlin’s name written alllll over it. You’ll get what I mean if you read this post. But honestly, check out your local thrift and consignment shops. I always see vanities so you might just find your perfect match.

design by lea berman | photo by stacy zarin goldberg | via architectural digest

Not all of us can have a vanity. If only. Space can be a real jerk in this department. All you want to do is sit down and put on your eye cream like the luxurious person you are! But if you grab a tabletop mirror, any table or desk can become a temporary vanity.

1. Tabletop Vanity Mirror | 2. Modo Vanity Mirror | 3. Antique Shaving Stand | 4. Wooden Swivel Mirror | 5. Coraline Vanity Mirror | 6. Metal Vanity Flip Mirror with Tray Black | 7. Pond Table Mirror | 8. Vintage Mirror | 9. Harper Tabletop Vanity Mirror

Is it any surprise that I LOVE #1?? It’s so good. Please, someone, buy it and tell me how good it is in person. Modern elegance. But on the other hand, I am totally charmed by #3. What a cutie. But #2, #5, and #6 are great since they have little trays things like jewelry.

So what do y’all think? Do you have similar feelings toward having a vanity table? Do you have one and love it? Are you not down and prefer to stand up while doing all your routines? If you are a parent to a Gen Zer, do they have or want one? Fun Fact: Emily is planning to get one for her closet in the farmhouse. I can’t wait to see what she chooses!

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Design by Jess Bunge (me!) | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Makeover Takeover: Jess’ Long Awaited (Small Space) Living Room Reveal

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Rusty
3 days ago

I’ve never had one, but the concept is useful and valid. A couple of people I know have similar things, buuuut in the bedroom.
I don’t understand why it has to be IN the bathroom? If you’ve already washed your face and you’re going to put stuff on your face and leave it on your face, can’t this be done in the bedroom with the mirror you like, therefore not impeding the aircon??🤔

Elaine
3 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

I had one growing up but we called it a dressing table. Like your friends’ furniture it lived in my bedroom, not the bathroom. That being said Irish bathrooms aren’t allowed to have electrical sockets, so maybe that’s why we doll ourselves up in our bedrooms!

Karen
3 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

If I were a young person, I would want it in my bedroom. As an old married lady who normally looks for clothes to wear with my watch flashlight while my husband is sleeping, I would need to get my face prepped elsewhere. I’ll stick to jamming all my things in the only bathroom drawer until the rest of the house realizes they don’t have their own drawer.

Lisa
3 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

I had one in the bedroom that I used to use for makeup application and it was perfect. Skincare in the bathroom, then move to the bedroom and use the vanity for makeup. Unfortunately we moved to a new home and the lighting in the bathroom is now so much better that the vanity is currently collecting clothes and dust, so if someone has a recommendation for a great looking vanity light that mimics natural light, bring them on!

Rebecca Goodwin
3 days ago
Reply to  Lisa

I have a vanity in my bedroom as well. I honestly don’t use it as much as I envisioned, sadly. Maybe I would if it were in the bathroom! Although in this case, sitting down at my vanity -right next to the toilet- would zap away any sense of luxury for me.

Sunny
3 days ago
Reply to  Rusty

For me, I need to wash my hands after applying foundation so a vanity would work outside of the bathroom for eyes and cheeks. I like the built in vanity in the bathroom so I have a sink.

Emily
3 days ago

I am very pro vanity and always have been. I think part of it is I just don’t like getting ready in the bathroom and part is that I’ve always lived in homes with small bathrooms so I wouldn’t have the space to do my hair and makeup even if I wanted to. That might be part of the appeal for gen zers too – most probably still live at home or with roommates and don’t have their own private bathroom where they can spend as long as they want getting ready without being a bathroom hog. I keep mine in my office but have had them in my bedrooms in the past.

Cris S.
3 days ago

Hi! I think the author’s name is missing at the top of the post (Jess – I think it’s you? Get that credit girl!). And in the first paragraph I think the term is ‘perusing the Internet’ not ‘pursuing the Internet.’

I think I’ll have to look at getting my daughter a vanity in her bedroom when she goes to college next year or she’ll never leave the bathroom and her roommates will hate her! Thank you for bringing this up!

Rusty
3 days ago
Reply to  Cris S.

Yep….missing.

Kate
3 days ago

I absolutely love having a vanity! My mom has had one as long as I can remember, and I inherited an antique vanity from a great great aunt as a child that I’ve managed to squeeze it into every post-grad school apartment I’ve had (even when I didn’t really have the space) Now as the only female in a house full of little boys, it is tucked into the dormer in our primary bedroom and is my one girly corner of the house.

C
3 days ago

I have always thought vanities were icky. I prefer to do my skin care, makeup, and hair at the bathroom counter where it’s easy to wipe up any mess and wash my hands afterwards.

Kelly
3 days ago

I used to play at my grandmother’s vanity back in the 70’s. Hers had lightbulbs that surrounded the mirror and little gilt stool. She played the role too, wearing long silk robes and fancy negligees. Gold brushes and old perfume bottles (like really old – from the early 1900’s) completed the scene. I’m definitely missing that ceremony in my life. Maybe it is a good idea to bring it back. Maybe replacing the name ‘vanity’ would be a good idea. A self-care table? Something that doesn’t make it sound like we are being vane when taking care of ourselves…..

kk
3 days ago
Reply to  Kelly

Oh man you’re bringing me back. My grandmother had a whole lighted separate vanity area in her 1930’s built home , with built in dresser and lighting- next to her fancy built in closet! The luuuuuuxury of it all! ‘Vanity’ is an Americanism, Brits called them “dressing tables”

Kelly
3 days ago
Reply to  kk

Dressing table is so much better! Yes, it had a 30’s vibe to it. Her’s was in a room separate from anything else. It felt more like an altar!

Rusty
3 days ago
Reply to  kk

So do Aussies!

Kelly
3 days ago
Reply to  kk

Love these both! The brass! Wow! The Italian one looks art deco to me.

Rusty
3 days ago
Reply to  Kelly

Isn’t tgat where tge term “dresser” came from?? Definitely better than “vanity”.

Susan
3 days ago

Both my bathroom and my bedroom are so small I have to step outside to change my mind. (Ha ha). I have 4 inches of shelf space for personal care so it’s been whittled down to face wash, retinol and lotion. I’m ok with it. Discovered I’m much happier as a minimalist than I ever was when my head was filled with keeping track of a million products. I do enjoy seeing other people’s spaces though. What I really want is a small ,retractable, accordion-armed wall mirror. I can’t seem to find a stylish one. Being able to pull a mirror close and put it back when Om done without taking up the few inches of counter space I have would be the ultimate in self indulgence for me.

Rusty
3 days ago
Reply to  Susan

IKEA has those!

Robin
3 days ago

I canNOT get over your Greek key toilet. It’s bananas.

Nina
2 days ago
Reply to  Robin

YES!! 😀 I specifically searched for “toilet” to see if someone mentioned that.

kk
3 days ago

Great post, great examples, thanks for sharing your bathroom! I think a lot of teens want vanities because they had to be on ZOOM for the past year, so the vanity is basically home office but make it for ME ” feeling for them. As for vanities It all depends on the space and the light. In your bathroom – I personally l would not find it appealing to have a seated vanity btw that ( fabulous BTW) sink and toilet. I would find a narrow dresser the height of the sink, smack a vintage marble slab on the top, skirt the sink with fabric and tension rods to make a clean visual line. ( I hate seeing pipes LOL) Keep face products in a dresser drawers and apply in the bathroom over the sink- standing. It really depends on the light -In my old place I had skincare in closed storage in bathroom and makeup on my dresser, in my dressing/ office/ sitting room: close to amazing south light, available to put on after I dressed, away from humidity and damp, standing or sitting on my sofa, and not hogging the bathroom. Keeping face care standing keeps it simple,… Read more »

Kate
3 days ago

Our primary bath vanity has double sinks with space in the middle for a chair. But the whole vanity is at seating height – which means I have to bend at 90 degrees to brush my teeth and wash my face. Plus, the open space for the chair and the lower height makes for terrible storage. Ripping that sucker out ASAP lol.

Roberta Davis
3 days ago
Reply to  Kate

My last place had the same, and I never used it as a vanity! Put my clothes hamper in that space!

Roberta Davis
3 days ago

I’m more of a stand-up-at-the sink to do it all person. I like the look of vanities, but have had them in the past in my life and never used them.

Sheila
3 days ago

My house was designed with separate his & hers bed/bath suites. The “hers” bath originally had a sit-down vanity and a single sink on a long, table-height counter. A previous owner put in a 36″ tall vanity with double sinks. I love the height but often plot how I might get rid of the second sink and restore the sit-down vanity.

3 days ago

I thought long and hard about squeezing in vanity space into my bedroom, because my bathroom has almost no storage, and it would be wonderful to have a space to do some “beauty” stuff. Plus, I’m usually forcing Charles out of the one bathroom we have to do my makeup when I’m in a hurry (or I stand in there while he showers, but I can’t see in the mirror because of the fog…fun times). Anyway, ultimately I realized I didn’t really have the space for it, but it IS a total dream!

2 days ago
Reply to  Arlyn

Hi Arlyn, I left a comment before reading yours, and in my comment I linked a photo of a lovely vanity nook tucked into a corner of a very small NYC apartment (Carly from My City Apartment on IG) that is gorgeous and inspiring! You might want to check it out. ~Deborah (FOAS) 🙂

Rusty
2 days ago
Reply to  Deborah Burns

👋 FOAS!

Michelle
3 days ago

In the before times I moved around all my makeup and jewelry into my desk drawers, as I wasn’t using them for much else, and was able to use some nice trays and cubbies to organize everything the way I want. When the pandemic hit I thought I was going to have to relocate everything, but, so far (you know 550+ days in LOL) it’s been working fine! I have a foldable light-up mirror that I pull out to do my makeup, then put it away and voila– I’m already at my desk for work! Certainly if we had a larger bathroom or two sinks (girl can dream) I would probably move everything somewhere else, but small space living means sometimes getting creative!

Juanita
3 days ago

Waaay back in 1981 or so my mom bought a vanity like the ones you have like #1 or #7, and she sanded and painted it a hot pink/salmon GLOSSY (probably oil paint from that time) color. It was quite a homemade show piece for my teen room and traveled with us to many different homes

Capture.JPG
RachieT
3 days ago

When I was about 10 years old, all I wanted was a nice bedroom set (weird, I know). I got my own room when I was 11 and when I was 13, my mom got me a bedroom set at a garage sale. It just so happened to be by Heywood Wakefield and included a full-size bed, nightstand, and a vanity with a stool. This furniture has moved with me everywhere and to this day, that vanity is my favorite piece of furniture. I’ve outgrown the bed as an adult and am getting ready to set it up in my 8 year old’s bedroom to pass on. But that vanity! That will stay with me till I die, lol. I can’t believe my mom got so lucky to have found it. And it freed up our single bathroom so (as a teen girl) I could get ready in my own space. Best gift ever. Thanks mom <3

3 days ago

I love vanities! Due to the romance of them in old movies, and I found a lovely one at a thrift store years ago for about $70. It is similar to the vintage one #1 on Chairish but mine is a mustard-y yellow with hand painted floral accents, which at the time I was set on painting, maybe white. Procrastination has once again saved the day and it remains it’s original color, so glad I didn’t paint it! I have it set centered against my large bedroom window, (there is another narrow window too) though I have never used it for makeup or skin care – maybe I will soon after this inspiring post. Currently it’s loaded with all my jewelry (I LOVE accessories!) in the drawers and hanging from jewelry trees which I love to see. So glad to see others embracing having a vanity. A lovely inspirational vanity set up tucked into a tiny bedroom corner is Carly’s from My City Apartment: https://www.instagram.com/p/COyOnIDHg-P/ It is a very small NYC bedroom (apt too) and she has wonderful interiors with amazing hacks throughout. For her vanity area, she uses a round, marble topped bistro table, table top mirror, folding cane… Read more »

2 days ago
Reply to  Deborah Burns

For everyone who thinks they don’t have space for a vanity: 🙂
A lovely inspirational vanity set up tucked into a tiny bedroom corner is Carly’s from My City Apartment: https://www.instagram.com/p/COyOnIDHg-P/
It is a very small NYC bedroom (apt too) and she has wonderful interiors with amazing hacks throughout. For her vanity area, she uses a round, marble topped bistro table, table top mirror, folding cane chair, cute pendant wicker light, and a floating shelf to hold flowers and needed items. The window the vanity area faces gets nice light, it does have an a/c unit blocking the lower half, but Carly leans some art against it when the unit is off. It is such a beautiful, and inspiring set up!

Sorry to post again, I was afraid it was lost in my original comment and I think this is SUCH a good inspiration for anyone who thinks they don’t have space. : )

DeeBee
2 days ago

Boomer here. I like to sit and do my hair and makeup. Had a built in vanity in the old “dressing area” of my master bedroom. Just ripped it all out and made a mega bathroom with walk in shower, soaking tub, double sinks and a SPOT for a new vanity. But since i am loving the large open space i debating a clear lucite waterfall type desk (no storage) versus the narrowest vanity with a drawer i can find. There are few on Wayfair and one i like at Ikea.

Lea
2 days ago

Love all of these!

Jen
2 days ago

My plan, as a 50-something single mom who STILL has a teenage son at home is, whenever I get a decent-sized bedroom, to have a lingerie chest big enough for everything—undies, pjs, swim suits, you name it, hang a velvet-covered bulletin board on the wall above it, with hooks for jewelry all around a mirror, a couple cute boxes on top, and put all my hair and make-up stuff in the top drawer. No seating option, but still a very girly corner, probably in Hollywood regency or Art Deco glam.

I’m surprised to see the emphasis on a vanity in the bathroom. To my mind, the bathroom is steamy and damp—and possibly has other people waiting to use it.

mzwong
2 days ago

I’ve had a few vintage vanities over the years – all parts of a full bedroom set with bed frame and dresser. Mostly from the 1930s, inherited from grandmothers. They can be great but those vintage ones generally are pretty low, so you can’t multitask them as a desk. These days I think a good desk with a vanity mirror is a better option if you’re short on space. I do love a built-in vanity in a bathroom or hallway, though!

Kate
2 days ago

Hmm, I’ll be the dissent here. When I was 13, perhaps. But I have a built-in one in my (not gigantic) bathroom and it does not spark joy. Doesn’t seem like a good use of space: a giant open space underneath that just collects crap, the wide, flat surface on top that… just collects crap, the all-but-useless extra shallow drawer—you know where this is going. In a perfect world, I’d magic it into cute shelving or extra drawers.

Kate
2 days ago
Reply to  Kate

In fact, suggestions for how to counteract (pun) this situation would be fantastic!

Timmi Davis
2 days ago
  • My husband just built one for me in an existing alcove in our 1950 mid century home ! We have not purchased the top for it yet ~it will be quartz. The wallpaper is also on the walls in the rest of the bedroom.
  • I am in love with the medicine cabinet he built in ! When you open the doors it is all mirrors on the inside. It is from IKEA
Timmi Davis
2 days ago

Oops! I don’t think the picture posted on my previous comment

8A94BD97-9D70-42F9-A0F6-64263F4AF52F.jpeg
D
2 days ago

Had such a bad experience with that Dims vanity! They have all sorts of supply chain and quality control issues, plus really poor communication. My preorder took over a year to arrive, and I had to send it back because the drawers were glued shut, and then the replacement took another few months. Meanwhile they kept opening up new preorder groups. I left a review about it that they deleted, which makes me wonder how many other reviews they’ve screened.

I would NEVER have guessed this is what Gen Z is into. I can totally see myself getting excited over a built-in one though because i love built-ins and back in the day i would have imagined i would use it all the time and it was so cool. But, in reality and nowadays, i would NEVER use one. and that’s because i have ZERO self-care routine. i only wash my face in the shower. and with the same soap i use for my body (dr. bronners baby soap – zero fragrance). and i rarely wear makeup nowadays because my lazy quotient is ridiculous. But…. just based on how cool these are, these are my faves:
Wood Vanity Desks #6 is so swoooooooooooooon!
Modern Vanity Desks #7 is good!
Vintage Vanity Desk #3, 4, 5, 8 are amazing! ugggg, love vintage!
Table Top Vanity Mirror #9 has such a cool base.

JH
2 days ago

My first thought was that Gen Z’ers don’t want vanity tables for self care. They want them because they are perfect for selfies or filming YouTube and TikTok videos of themselves! 😂

Abbey
2 days ago

Does anyone know why old school vanities are generally shorter than a desk / regular sitting height, and why they came with stools rather than chairs? I find both of these things not user-friendly, and surprising in ultimately utilitarian furniture…

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