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The Tempting Virtues of Bedroom Vanities

The bedroom vanities at present a rich mix of design influences and decorative purposes. Dressing table, writing desk, lowboy--a vanity by any other name may perform a similar task, but the design elements that set these styles apart are well worth investigating if you're a shopper with an eye for detail.

The origins of vanity: blame it on the boys

The vanity as we know it today can be traced back to the William and Mary period of British design, which lasted from about 1690 to 1725. Bedroom drawers known as highboys or tallboys were placed atop dressing tables known as lowboys, which commonly had three small drawers above a single longer drawer. A typical vanity today is a simplified lowboy: a single row of drawers beneath a mirror-equipped tabletop.

Points to ponder

Our selection includes both traditional and modern features for kids and adults. Here are some of the major style points to look for:

  • Stool or chair? A practical question, but a good one to start with if you're buying a vanity set.
  • White, black, and cherry are the most popular wood finishes. Metal's a non-traditional choice, but presents a very modern silhouette, particularly with open fixed shelves in lieu of drawers.
  • Contemporary designs tend to avoid flourishes such as scalloped drawers, turned legs, or curved aprons. Dark finishes and clean lines distinguish our modern options.
  • For kids’ models, you can't go wrong with classic: pink and/or white color schemes, and sets with princess and butterfly themes.
Finally, don't overlook your mirror options. Mirrors come in a wide range of types, including:

  • Triptych or tri-fold mirrors, a traditional design reminiscent of ancient and medieval artworks
  • Oval cheval-style mirrors, which offer dual-pin adjustability for any makeup task
  • Flip-top designs, excellent for dual-use areas or presenting a cleaner look when not in use

Vintage styles

A bedroom vanity table is an elegant, multi-functional alternative to standard vanities. Consider these distinctive styles:

  • Writing desks with clean contemporary lines and warm wood finishes such as cherry and walnut
  • Wood vanity tables topped with a small hutch, a charming style reminiscent of the 18th-century French bonheur-du-jour desk
  • Some of the earliest vanities featured cabriole legs (outward curving top, inward curving bottom); our tables include vintage lowboy designs with similar leg shapes, as well as saber legs and fluted tapering legs topped by intricate rosette carvings.