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Which Basin Style Should I Choose for my Contemporary Bathroom?

If modern is your preference for a washspace, you have a whole lot of designs to ponder before choosing a basin

Houzz UK deputy editor. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for the… More

From cast black concrete to moulded solid surface or even a huge slab of marble, there are lots of very fancy design ideas for basins out there that work beautifully in modern bathrooms. But for the more low-key among you, there are also plenty of more understated designs that will shine. Check out this selection for inspiration.

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Choose a seamless design
If you’ve ever worried that contemporary + functional = characterless, let this bathroom change your mind. The basin and vanity unit are the stars of the show: warm wood below and clean white and practical up top. There’s also a good work surface for guests’ toiletry bags, make-up, razors, plants (as here) or that book you can’t put down even when cleaning your teeth.

Generous storage below means you have the luxury of only putting your aesthetically pleasing bits and bobs on display. And opting for wall-mounted or ‘floating’ furniture is a good choice for smaller spaces, as being able to see the floor enhances the effect of more space.

Typically made from a solid surface material or acrylic, and sometimes concrete, an all-in-one moulded basin and shelf area is a good move if you have the space. It’s hygienic and easy to clean, as well as having a simple, modern profile that doesn’t clutter the view.

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Bowl them over
Concrete is an increasingly popular material for basins. As you can see here, it doesn’t have to be mid-grey and industrial in style. These sleek black numbers are also pleasingly compact (a circular shape will generally take up less room), meaning double basins fit into a relatively small footprint.

This bespoke vanity unit is made of a recycled plastic material, but a 1950s chest of drawers or small sideboard could equally be used to hold basins and would give a similar feel.

See the whole of this house tour

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Try half in, half out
Here’s another option for moulded (or, indeed, standard) basins. A semi-recessed design allows you to maximise space, since the support beneath does not need to be as deep as the basin.

Here, rather than a vanity unit, the basin has been mounted onto a continuation of the false wall built to conceal plumbing behind the loo and below the tap.

Get more inspiration for contemporary bathroom design in the Houzz photo stream

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Get a-round
When a basin is relatively small, like this elegant bowl design, wall-mounted taps are an excellent choice. Basins typically come either with no tap holes (as here), with one – for a mixer – or with two, for a pair of taps.

A deck-mounted tap behind or to the side of this basin would be another option, but wall-mounting lets the clean line of the circular basin design get the attention it deserves.

Shop around for the perfect taps, too – when they’re such a key feature, they have the chance to really stand out. Black is a strong, contemporary choice, but try to tie it in with other features in the room. Here, the basin detail, mirror, cupboard and light fitting do an excellent job of making the whole effect look super-coordinated.

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Don’t dismiss a washstand
Typically, a washstand is a traditional addition to a bathroom – something that looks at home in a vintage-style space. This ultra-modern take on the idea blows that theory out of the water, though, with fashionable-right-now slimline black legs giving this steel basin a delicate, slick presence perfect for a contemporary room.

With a design like this, lack of storage is a consideration, but if your bathroom’s big enough, or you have all the cupboards, shelves or drawers you need elsewhere, or you simply don’t collect zillions of bathroom bottles, it’s hard to argue with a shameless style statement like this.

Want to know more? Click onto the photo, then scroll down to ‘Ask a Question’ on the right to find out about this basin.

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Keep it simple
This clean, invigorating yellow family bathroom proves you don’t need to be flash to cut a dash. Chrome fittings have become timeless accessories, and a simple, wall-hung basin in a generous size, no gimmicks, is all that’s needed when the tiles are making all the noise.

Note how shallow the basin is (would you need anything deeper?), boosting the sense of space. The gently curved edges also shave back a bit more room, at least visually, and opting for an exposed bottle trap, ditto (though this is probably a luxury if you’re short of storage, in which case a shallow vanity unit could be a good compromise).

The basin is also a good length – a nice touch if you have the space, as two children could easily clean their teeth at the same time with a design like this.

When choosing a basin with no vanity unit, or something that doesn’t have a work surface built in (as in image number one) consider where you’ll put toothbrush cups and handwash or soap. Basins like this handily have a ledge at the back, but if yours doesn’t, consider where you could fit a shelf near enough to serve your functional needs.

11 times a bathroom basin with an exposed bottle trap looked ace

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Make for marble
These basins show a different way to work the exposed bottle trap look, but still pack in some storage. Open shelving allows the sense of airiness you get without a solid vanity unit, while storage drawers beneath allow plenty of bathroom clutter to be kept out of sight.

Consider whether drawers, as here, might be more useful than cupboards for you – they can be extremely practical and user-friendly, since you won’t have to rummage around at the back for anything.

The basins themselves, though they look a little like raw concrete, are carved solid marble, polished on the inside and textured on the outside. Especially when combined with the wood, these add a gentle and natural element to an otherwise modern bathroom, whereas marble in its more common, highly polished form tends to add a sense of luxury and elegance.

Solid stone basins may need sealing to prevent staining and to make them waterproof. They’ll also be extremely heavy, so think twice before setting your heart on mounting them on a fragile cupboard. Be prepared for colour variations, too, as with any natural material.

Chrome taps work beautifully, as the silver goes so well with the grey of the stone. However, bronze, the darker and rougher sister to brass, could provide a textural match instead.

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Let it barely be there
What a calming, uncluttered and yet nonclinical space this is. Keeping everything white and going for cool-toned chrome risks a bit of a futuristic surgical theatre feel, but savvy designers know how to take the edges off.

It might be with lighting, an unexpectedly vibrant floor or, as here, with pattern. The contrast between all that marble and the matt white units and gloss white sanitaryware is all it takes.

In keeping with such classy understatement, a barely there basin is perfect. Circular and surface-mounted is, no dispute, a style statement, but placed on such a long run of floating cabinets, and being so shallow, it doesn’t shout for all the attention.

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Meet halfway
Full pedestal basins can look fantastic, especially in a traditional bathroom, as they tend to have period or retro connotations. Making them work in a contemporary bathroom is by no means impossible, but a half pedestal, if you like the look but don’t want to go back in time, might be a good compromise.

It hides your pipework but doesn’t reach the floor, so you still get that nice sense of space. It’s a good choice for a modern but not all-white bathroom, as it stands out as a feature. In this Cornish seaside home, the backdrop of wood, slate and pebbles makes for a suitable theme for a contemporary coastal cottage.

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Say yes to long and lean
If you really want to reach the floor with your support, but not via a washstand or vanity unit, you could go for a modern reinvention of the traditional pedestal idea, like this.

You might imagine something as swanky as this would only come as a bespoke item, but in fact you can buy them for a relatively affordable price off-the-peg from quite a few places. Try Googling ‘stone pedestal basin’ or ‘marble pedestal basin’ and you should be on the right track.

This bathroom also solves the problem of where to put the soap when there’s no shelf. A wall-mounted dispenser looks super-stylish coordinated with the taps. A similar container for toothbrushes might be a good idea, too, if this were your primary washspace.

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Be bold
This unusual cast basin has everything you need in one seamless piece: somewhere to mount the taps, and a shelf for soap. Orange taps may not be for everyone, but against that stormy grey backdrop they certainly make a style statement.

Tell us…
Which of these basins would you consider for your bathroom? Let us know in the Comments section.


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