Vessel Sinks Are Back in Bathrooms But with a Fresh New Look (2024)

At the 2023 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, vessel sinks were an unexpected attention-getter. Since then, we’ve noticed vessels trickling back into the product mix with new styles hitting the market. Now, Houzz reports that vessel sinks have increased their presence in bath remodeling after years of declining popularity.

“The vessel sink harkens back to the origin of the sink basin being a bowl or vessel that sits on a piece of furniture,” says Denise Merbeth, associate kitchen and bath designer behind Denise Merbeth, LLC. Though they have a long history, vessel sinks were most recently popular in the early 2000s. “At that time, we saw vessel sinks in metal and colored glass, and more often than not in modern settings,” says Merbeth. Today, vessels come in many materials and styles, making them much more than a contemporary-style companion.

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The Enduring Appeal of Vessel Sinks

“A vessel sink is the perfect choice when you are looking for a focal point in your bathroom,” says Meghan Cates, interior designer at Meghan Cates Design Studio. Unlike inset sink styles, vessel sinks sit on the countertop and are often paired with wall-mount or tall, single-handle faucets. This raised profile gives the sink area more visual attention than a recessed sink. And while sinks are a fundamental bath fixture, vessels offer opportunities for adding color and design elements to the space. “They come in myriad colors, materials, and shapes to fit your unique style,” says Merbeth.

This array of styles is, in part, what’s bringing vessel sinks back to the bath. “Homeowners are seeking personalization within their home interiors, and a unique vessel sink is a great way to add a wow factor and elevate a bathroom,” says Merbeth. In addition, many styles use natural and authentic materials like marble, concrete, or glass, which complement current popular decorating styles, from Scandinavian to organic modern.

Vessel sinks can also be intentionally incorporated as part of more thoughtfully designed home experiences. “Washing your hands in a vessel sink with water cascading from a wall-mounted faucet can be a sensory experience, aligning with the current trend of mindfulness and well-being,” says Merbeth.

Pros and Cons of Vessel Sinks

Whether it’s the stand-out style or the above-the-counter installation, there’s plenty to consider among the advantages and disadvantages of vessel sinks.

Pros of Vessel Sinks

Timeless look. With their long history, a basic vessel design is an easy way to get a timeless look for your bath, regardless of style. “A round or square vessel sink is classic and simple and will fit well in both traditional and modern bathrooms,” says Cates.

Fewer spills. If you’re tired of cleaning up splashes, vessel sinks might be your stylish solution. “Vessel sinks contain splashing when handwashing better than other sink styles since they are generally closer to the water source,” says Merbeth.

Ideal for small bathrooms. Vessel sinks are popular for small-space designs.“They are a great option when you have a smaller bathroom and need to save space,” says Cates. Above the counter, you can gain a bit of space because a vessel basin takes up less of the surface of the countertop area than a recessed sink, and the partnering wall-mount or single-handle faucet takes less countertop space, too. Below the countertop, forgoing a deep, recessed sink offers more space inside the vanity.

Easy to update. Vessels are easier to replace than drop-in or undermount sinks. If the look starts to feel dated, or you simply want to switch your style, it’s less of a commitment to update. “Because they only require a round drain cutout, unlike an undermount sink, they can easily be changed out later,” says Merbeth.

Cons of Vessel Sinks

Atypical installation. Installation for vessel sinks requires different considerations than other sink styles. Notably, and not always realized, is that vanity height should be different for a vessel sink. “The top of the sink should be approximately the same height as the countertop would be with an undermount sink, typically 34- to 36-inches,” says Merbeth. “This may require a non-standard vanity cabinet height, or a different type of support.” Without the height consideration, the sink may be difficult for many users to maneuver. In addition, not every faucet style works with a vessel sink. “They often require a taller faucet or one that is wall-mounted in order to properly clear and fill the sink,” says Merbeth, adding that wall-mounted faucets have added plumbing and cost considerations.

Hard to clean. Vessel sinks can be more difficult to clean. Depending on the shape, there may be an exposed underside to maintain, and it can be tricky to clean where the sink meets the countertop.

Best suited for powder rooms. Great for a powder room that sees limited daily activities, vessel sinks are not a smart choice for every bath. “They are not as well suited for primary or kids’ bathrooms since they can be more difficult to clean around, and the material may not be the most durable,” says Merbeth, who also notes that the vessel sink shape and placement of the faucet can make some activities, like washing your face, a little more challenging.

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How to Incorporate Vessel Sinks in Today’s Baths

The trick to incorporating a vessel sink is embracing new materials, shapes, and colors so your design feels fresh. “I recommend using natural or handmade materials to avoid appearing dated. The sink will appear like a work of art and not a plumbing fixture,” says Merbeth.

Opt for Texture

“Texture is a current design trend for kitchens and bathrooms, as fixtures and surfaces have become increasingly tactile,” says Merbeth. “Today’s vessel sinks come in an array of textures and materials.” Stone and concrete, for example, have a natural texture, while glass or metal can be shaped or finished to exude a dramatic texture. Merbeth chose a coup-inspired vessel sink for her own bath, which adds both color and texture.

Go Natural

Vessel sinks made of stone or concrete also have an organic look that complements current cabinetry trends. “Stained cabinets have been making a comeback the last few years and the combination of warm natural wood with the organic texture of stone creates a grounding and calming atmosphere,” says Cates. “The contrast of the two materials adds visual interest and provides such a beautiful and natural look.”

Choose a Modern Shape

“For a contemporary bathroom, I would suggest selecting a vessel sink with clean lines, simple shapes, and a monochromatic color scheme,” says Cates. “The rectangular-shaped vessel sink is a newer trend and can be a great option when you need a larger sink.”

Create a Focal Point

Vessel sinks naturally draw attention given their elevated placement at the vanity. Cates suggests leaning into it and creating a focal point, including choosing handmade sinks in unique colors, shapes, and designs, and adding dramatic lighting. “I love pairing pendant lights with vessel sinks to create a bold and one of a kind look,” says Cates

Embrace the Aesthetic

As more traditional decorating styles have started to become more popular, a vessel sink may be a logical choice. “Homeowners looking to bring an authentic, historic element to their bathrooms will appreciate them,” says Merbeth. The variety of vessel sinks can help you lean into a particular traditional aesthetic, too. For example, Cates recommends metals like copper or bronze, or weathered and earthy-looking materials for more rustic approaches. For a more formal traditional style, “look for white or cream sinks or one with a fun decorative edge band detail,” says Cates.

Vessel Sinks Are Back in Bathrooms But with a Fresh New Look (2024)
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