Vanity styles are available in a tremendous range of styles, but they can be loosely sorted into three different types; cabinet, wall mounted or shelf vanities.
Mounted shelf vanities
Something as basic as a shelf mounted under or next to a mirror can serve with a pedestal or wall sink to make the simplest of vanities. This option is cheap, easy to install and easy to maintain, but unless you've come up with something very clever it's unlikely to win you any design awards, no matter how fancy your shelf is. This can be an excellent space saving solution for those who don’t have a lot of room to work with. Colour matching is usually a matter of using a lick of the same paint you’ve used to colour the walls, though glass shelving is another good option here.
Wall mounted vanities
Wall mounted units are currently all the rage, and some real innovation in design has gone into some of the units on the market today. Wall mounted vanities are normally quite eye catching. Because they're affixed directly onto the wall, they leave a sizeable gap between the bottom of the unit and the floor, which creates the illusion of extra space. Materials used in their construction vary as much as with any other sort of vanity; they can incorporate glass, wood, stone or metal. A careful combination of different materials can add a great deal of flavour to your bathroom. Wall mounted vanity units are a versatile solution, but they do require properly reinforced walls and are considerably more complicated to install. For this reasons they're also the more expensive option, and unlikely to be a viable choice if you're on a tight budget.
Traditional cabinet-style vanities
Cabinet units are the most common style and are found in most bathrooms across Australia. Cabinet vanities can be mounted anywhere along a wall or in a corner, or can even be semi recessed for those who need extra space. In some cases, vanities can even be free standing units which have been converted from other furniture (like dressing tables).
The most common material used in vanities is wood in one form or another, whether it's furniture-quality exposed wood or laminated particle board. The benchtop is usually the main draw card. Stone has always been a popular choice for benchtops, as it is relatively easy to maintain and looks attractive. The types of stone used for benchtops include granite, marble and caesarstone. Other bench options include glass, which can be used to highlight textured materials underneath (like a nice polished wood) while keeping them protected from moisture. Porcelain is easy to clean, but is generally only available in white so isn't suitable in many bathrooms. Acrylic or laminate coatings over a chipboard base are normally the cheapest options, and are more than durable enough to do a good job. These also come in a very broad range of textures and colours.
Handles and hinges
Choosing a vanity cabinet also involves choosing hinges and handles. Soft-closing hinges are very popular at the moment - these hinges work in a way that dampens the hinge towards the end, ensuring that they don't slam shut. These hinges definitely add another layer of luxury to your bathroom, but (for now, at least), they're also priced to reflect this.
There are many different styles of drawer and cabinet handles to choose from too, ranging in style from very plain to extremely elaborate. Again, elaborate is fantastic if it fits the look of your bathroom, but you should also consider how the style you choose will stand the test of time. What's trendy this year might not be so trendy a few years down the track.
Dual sink units
If you have a lot of bathroom traffic, you may wish to consider a two-sink vanity unit. A two sink variety has the benefit of allowing two people to get ready at once without fighting for space. This can save valuable morning minutes and make your bathroom far more comfortable, but it does require considerably more space and is more expensive.