Selecting new bathroom cabinets can seem like an overwhelming process with so many options to consider. Proper planning and research will ensure you make the best choice for your space and needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key factors to evaluate when choosing bathroom cabinets, from design and materials to organization and installation. With the right information, you can confidently tackle this home improvement project.

Choosing a Style

The style of your bathroom cabinets will set the overall aesthetic for your space, so this is a key initial decision. Consider the look you want to achieve and how well it will pair with your existing bathroom style. Here are some of the most popular options:


Traditional cabinetry features ornate decorative details like raised panels, crown molding, and carved accents. The cabinets have a timeless elegance perfect for formal powder rooms or vintage-inspired baths. Dark classic wood tones like cherry or mahogany work well with traditional styling.


For a sleek modern look, contemporary bathroom cabinets have clean simple lines and little ornamentation. Shaker-style cabinets with flat recessed panels offer an updated take on classic. Glossy lacquers, glass doors, and metal finishes give contemporary cabinets their streamlined aesthetic.


Transitional cabinetry strikes a balance between traditional and contemporary with simple panels and minimal hardware mixed with crown molding or other ornate touches. This versatile style works well in many homes. Painted or stained wood finishes help transitional cabinets span both classic and modern decors.


Rustic bathroom cabinets incorporate natural unrefined wood textures and visible nicks and knots for a raw woodsy vibe. Distressed paint techniques like chipping and rubbing through paint to reveal wood below also produce rustic charm. Rustic cabinets complement farmhouse, cottage, and lodge-inspired bathrooms.


Coastal cabinets evoke breezy beach house living with weathered driftwood finishes, shell accents, and reclaimed wood textures. Painted cabinets in soft white, sea glass, and misty blue hues reinforce the oceanfront appeal. Use open shelving to display beachy decorative accessories.

Once you settle on a style, browse photos online or in design magazines to find inspiring examples and ideas you can apply to your own bathroom cabinetry.

Selecting Materials

Bathroom cabinets come in a range of different materials, each with their own aesthetic appeal, durability, and pricing. Consider how often your bathroom gets used and the level of moisture to help guide your materials selection.


Wood remains the most popular choice for cabinetry. Timeless and versatile, it can be stained, painted, or decorated for any style. Oak, maple, cherry, and hickory are common wood species used for their durability and attractive grain patterns. Keep in mind that solid wood can warp or crack over time when exposed to repeated moisture.


Plywood offers great stability for humidity-prone areas like bathrooms. It resists warping better than solid wood. Plywood with a veneer or laminate top layer provides the look of solid wood with plywood’s structural integrity.


Thermofoil cabinets have a durable plastic laminate bonded to a wood substrate. The water-resistant laminate resists chipping, scratching, and staining while offering extensive style and color options. Thermofoil is an affordable choice that wears well in humid environments.

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood products like veneered MDF and composite boards provide very consistent cabinets resistant to warping and moisture damage. They can mimic pricier solid wood at a lower cost. Primed engineered wood takes paint exceptionally well.


High-pressure laminates create a durable plastic coating over particleboard or MDF. Most laminate bathroom cabinets have water-resistant finishes that protect from spills and splashes. Textured options like woodgrain laminates provide realistic looks. Laminate offers budget-friendly durability.

Metal & Glass

For a sleek contemporary look, metal and glass cabinets bring eye-catching style to modern bathroom designs. Stainless steel, powder coated steel, aluminum, and glass inserts create a lightweight, streamlined look. Keep surfaces sparkling clean since smudges readily show.

Once you review material options, weigh the pros, cons, and costs to select your top choice suited to your goals and bathroom conditions.

Door Styles

The door style makes an impactful design statement. Consider how the doors coordinate with your chosen cabinet style and materials.

Solid Doors

For a seamless unified look, solid cabinet doors come in a range of materials from wood to thermofoil. Simple flat panel solid doors work well in contemporary and modern bathrooms. Ornately carved solid doors complement traditional styling.

Glass Doors

Glass-front cabinet doors showcase contents while providing an airy open feel. Frosted, etched, and tinted glass options let you control visibility. Mirrored doors add glam and the illusion of expanded space to small bathrooms.

Open Shelving

Open shelves give easy access to contents and a casual feel. Keep baskets or trays on open shelves to wrangle smaller items. Use for display or frequently used items since open shelves don’t hide clutter.


You can mix and match door styles to suit different cabinet functions. Glass upper doors maintain visibility while lower drawers or solid doors conceal contents. Mixing finishes like stainless steel frames with glass inserts creates another fresh two-tone look.

Browse design magazines, model homes, and online photos to gather door style ideas you like. Keep your overall bathroom style in mind when selecting cabinet doors.

Choosing Cabinet Measurements

Take careful measurements of your bathroom space to determine the ideal cabinet sizes and configurations. Focus first on the minimum functional space needed around toilets, showers, and sinks when deciding cabinet dimensions and layouts.

Measure the area available for cabinetry and create a rough layout sketch mapping out potential cabinet sizes and locations. Use graph paper or simple layout software to experiment with different arrangements. Calculate all the storage needs for the bathroom and approximate how cabinets of various widths and heights can fulfill the space and storage requirements.

Remember to leave enough clearance space around bathroom fixtures for using and cleaning them. At minimum allow 15 inches clearance on each side of toilets and 24 inches in front.

For sinks, leave at least 4 inches between the cabinet and the wall behind it so faucets and plumbing are accessible. Include at least 21 inches front clearance from sink rim to opposite wall or counter to allow leg room.

When planning corner cabinet placements, allow for the door swing so doors don’t block access through a narrow bathroom. Also check that drawers and doors have room to open fully without colliding into other fixtures or cabinets.

Carefully thinking through measurements during the planning process will help you select bathroom cabinets tailored to your functional space.

Storage Solutions

The way your bathroom is used and how much storage you need should inform cabinet design choices. Maximize your storage by selecting cabinets suited to key bathroom items.

Linen Storage

Cabinets specifically designed for towels and toiletries make it easy to organize these essentials. Consider drawers or open cubbies for neatly folding towels. Enclosed cabinets keep toiletries tidy and concealed. Pull-out vertical dividers add storage flexibility.

Medicine Storage

Mounted medicine cabinets with mirrors provide easy access to daily toiletries. Deeper cabinets hold large bottles while shallower shelves work for smaller items. Look for electrical options with built-in outlets to plug in shavers and toothbrushes.

Cleaning Supply Storage

Designate a cabinet just for cleaning essentials using slide-out trays and caddies to organize items. A dedicated cleaning cabinet prevents cleaners and chemicals from cluttering other storage. Locking cabinets keep unsafe products secure.

Wastebasket Storage

Hide garbage and recycling bins in discreet cabinets with large openings or swinging doors. Some designs feature custom-fit holders to secure bins in place. Choose cabinet depths that can fully contain your waste baskets.

Get creative in selecting storage options for your most-used bathroom items. Specialty organizers, dividers, trays, and bins all help customize cabinets for your needs.

Choosing Hardware

Don’t overlook the importance of hardware like knobs and pulls in finishing your bathroom cabinets. Bathroom hardware sees a lot of use, so durability comes first. Solid brass, stainless steel, and die cast zinc hardware can all withstand frequent handling in humid bathroom conditions. Matching hardware throughout the bathroom creates a pulled-together coordinated look. For traditional cabinets, crystal, ceramic, or glass knobs add upscale accents. Stainless steel and matte black hardware give contemporary cabinets bold modern style. If you’re unsure where to start, many manufacturers offer hardware pairings coordinated to specific cabinet collections.

Finding the Right Sink and Faucet

An integral decision is choosing the sinks and faucets that coordinate with your new bathroom cabinets. Look for faucets and sinks that share similar styling in terms of traditional versus contemporary design, brushed metals versus polished finishes, straight versus curved silhouettes, and decor accents.

Vessel sinks that sit atop the counter surface pair well with wall-mounted faucets, allowing greater flexibility in the counter and sink layout. Undermount or drop-in sinks fit right into the counter opening. For these, select widespread or single-hole mounted faucets aligned with the countertop holes.

Don’t forget to factor in clearances when choosing sinks and faucets. Avoid splashing and make cleaning easier by allowing ample room between the faucet spout and backsplash or wall. Make sure the faucet height accommodates vessel sinks placed higher than a standard vanity.

When browsing faucets and sinks, take along your cabinet door and hardware finishes to test pairings and ensure your complete bathroom suite works in harmony.

Installation & Repairs

While installing new bathroom cabinets may seem daunting, with proper planning and patience, most DIYers can tackle it successfully. Carefully review the full cabinet installation guide before beginning. Confirm that plumbing hookups align with sink and faucet placements before fastening cabinets in place. If altering electrical, be sure to turn off power at the breaker before starting.

Have an extra set of hands available to hold cabinets steady and aligned as you anchor them to studs in the wall. Use a level frequently to double check cabinets sit evenly. Don’t overload shelves and hang doors only after cabinets are secured. Follow all safety precautions when using tools and ladders during the installation process.

For more complex remodels involving electrical or plumbing changes, consider hiring a professional installer or contractor to ensure the job is done right. They can also repair any cabinet or installation issues that may arise after the project. Be sure to get multiple quotes and check references to find a qualified pro.

With good planning, quality bathroom cabinets suited to your needs, and careful installation, you can create a beautiful new bath sanctuary that adds comfort, convenience, and style to your home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Selecting Bathroom Cabinets

Selecting new bathroom cabinets involves many decisions from style to storage to installation. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about choosing and buying bathroom cabinets.

What are the most popular bathroom cabinet styles?

The five most popular styles include traditional, contemporary, transitional, rustic and coastal. Traditional features ornate decorative details, contemporary has clean simple lines, while transitional balances traditional and contemporary elements. Rustic incorporates natural unrefined wood textures and coastal evokes breezy beach house living.

What cabinet materials work best in bathrooms?

Moisture-resistant plywood, thermofoil, engineered wood and laminates are great bathroom cabinet materials. Solid wood can warp or crack from repeated humidity exposure. Avoid particleboard since it degrades easily with moisture.

How are cabinets installed in bathrooms?

Most bathroom cabinets mount to wall studs for sturdy support. After determining positions, carefully measure and mark stud locations. Use a level to ensure cabinets hang plumb. Attach with wood screws driven into studs. Add corner braces for reinforcement in frameless cabinets.

How much clearance should you allow around bathroom fixtures?

Leave at least 15 inches clearance on each side of toilets and 24 inches in front. For sinks allow 4 inches between cabinet and wall, and 21 inches sink clearance in front. Check door and drawer clearances so openings are not obstructed.

What organizational accessories maximize bathroom cabinet storage?

Roll-out trays, slide-out vertical dividers, custom-fit wastebasket holders, slide-out hampers, pull-out medicine cabinets, drawer organizers and adjustable shelves all help optimize space.

What should you look for when buying bathroom cabinet hardware?

Prioritize durability in material and finish since bathroom hardware gets used frequently. Solid brass, stainless steel, die cast zinc and porcelain stand up well to humidity and handling. Match finishes throughout the bathroom for a cohesive look.

How do you coordinate cabinets with sinks and faucets?

Choose sink/faucet combinations that share similar aesthetics and finishes to the cabinets for a unified look. Coordinate widespread faucets with countertop sink holes. Opt for wall-mount faucets with vessel sinks. Check clearances.

When should you hire a professional for cabinet installation?

If the project involves significant plumbing or electrical changes, or you lack experience hanging wall cabinets, consider hiring a qualified professional installer. They can also properly repair issues that arise after installation.


Selecting bathroom cabinets requires balancing style, function, measurements, storage needs and budget to meet your goals. defining your ideal aesthetic and must-have features helps narrow the many options. Focus cabinet choices in high humidity areas on moisture resistant woods, thermofoils, and laminates. Maximize storage with smart organizers and specialty options for linen, toiletries and cleaning supplies. Don’t neglect hardware and sink/faucet pairings that unify your new bathroom suite. With research and planning guided by this overview of key factors, you can confidently tackle your bathroom cabinet project. The result will be a stunning new bath space that meets all your needs with cabinets tailored expressly for you.