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The “Floating” Cabinet

8/1/2014 4:00:00 PM
Article by Holly Berecz

Custom-built wall-mounted vanity made from rift cut white oak with custom stain by Whitney Architecture. Photo via Houzz.

One of the latest trends in cabinetry involves kicking the toe kick to the curb. The wall-mounted or “floating” cabinet may have begun as an ultra-contemporary design statement, mainly in the bathroom, but it’s evolved into a movement that offers many advantages in virtually any area of the home where cabinetry is used.

Mounting cabinetry on the wall, without legs of any kind, creates the illusion that it’s “floating” above the floor. This adds a genuine sense of authenticity to a space, no matter what its prevailing décor theme might be. Floating cabinets offer a unique choice for adding personality and creating the feel of custom cabinetry, even if it’s not. Because it’s unexpected, floating cabinets provide an innovative way to create a striking focal point that helps define the character of a space and make a statement.

These high-pressure laminate kitchen cabinets by Henrybuilt demonstrate the contemporary style of “floating” wall-mounted cabinets. Photo via Houzz.

Though it’s probably most popular in the bathroom (where even toilets seem to float these days) it’s also a look being embraced in the kitchen, media room, bedroom, bar, family room, and even the fireplace. Clean, modern, and compact, the design is, overall, minimalistic. However, it’s not reserved just for contemporary design. Wall-mounted vanities can be purchased (or custom created) in any style, finish, or color and out of virtually any material. From ultra contemporary with smooth lines to traditional, more detailed pieces, floating cabinets in the kitchen and other areas help your clients embrace modern minimalism while staying true to their design tastes and the theme of the rest of the home.

Floating 8-inches off the floor, this bar gives a feeling of openness to the space. By Studio S Squared Architecture. Photo via Houzz.

One of the biggest “pros” to this style of cabinet is that it both frees up space and creates the illusion of more space all at once. Hanging cabinets on the wall creates an uninterrupted surface, thereby opening up the floor area and making the room appear more spacious than it actually is. With a floating vanity, a bathroom seems to extend on forever, and suspended kitchen cabinets make this space seem far more open and vast. Particularly when a monochromatic color is used for the cabinet, floor, and wall, the cabinet appears to be a natural extension of the wall, making the entire space feel much wider and more open.

Even a few inches of space underneath a cabinet can go a long way in making cabinetry feel less bulky and more streamlined. Plus, since it’s floating above the floor, you can get under it with a vacuum, broom, or mop making it far easier than stooping underneath a kitchen cabinet or bathroom vanity overhang to clean around a toe kick. Or you can always go the other extreme and raise it up a few feet. That’s the great thing about wall-hanging cabinets…you can hang them at any desired height for completely customized toe, leg, or knee space.

Maple wall-mounted cabinets appear to “float” on a sea of blue glass tile. By Sarah Barnard Design. Photo via Houzz.

Just like the pale blue bathroom shown here, floating vanities help to create an ethereal spa-like atmosphere, especially in the bath. Here, maple cabinets seem to “float” on a sea of organic form glass floor tiles. The horizontal wood grain helps to soften the vanity and the whole overall feeling is light and airy.

Those who shy away from floating cabinetry often do so because they think it will limit their storage space. Granted, if you buy bulk vanities from Sam’s Club and hope to store everything in your bathroom vanity, this likely isn’t the style for you. But your clients might be surprised to learn how much storage really can be incorporated into a wall-mounted cabinet. The Encore vanity from The C.G. Collection by Christopher Grubb is one fantastic example. Designed specifically for wall-mounting, it incorporates a series of shallow drawers ideal for organizing all of the petite-sized items typically kept at the bathroom vanity.

The Encore vanity, part of The C.G. Collection by Christopher Grubb.

Afraid the wall-mounted vanity might feel dated in a decade? Most designers don’t see it that way. The style has been going strong for at least the past five years. And while, as mentioned above, it may have begun with ultra-contemporary designs, it’s now become a popular option from modern to more transitional, offering practical benefits. Plus, as more homeowners begin to request wall-mounted vanities, builders and designers are branching out, offering different designs and styles. They’re even getting more creative with lighting and floor-to-ceiling tile, which are both intriguing accents to floating cabinets.

For you in your shop, the possibilities are endless. The sky’s the limit when it comes to colors and styles for vanities. There are really no rules. The only rule of caution to observe is to measure twice and hang once. If wall-hung cabinets aren’t precisely aligned, they can look haphazard and unappealing. But you’re a professional, so that’s not likely to be an issue of concern.

What’s your experience been, thus far, with floating cabinets? Do your clients request this style of cabinetry? Are they open to considering this innovative choice? We’d love to know!

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