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In the world of washroom design, the inclusion of commercial vanity tops that feature a purpose built set-down area is a concept that should see more widespread adoption. However, there are several reasons why they may not be included as frequently as they ought to be.

One such reason could be the priority of maximising space within the washroom, which might inadvertently lead to the oversight of the user’s need for additional space along the vanity unit. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise the significance of this feature in order to enhance the user experience.

If space is available to extend commercial vanity tops in washrooms, our washroom consultants frequently propose a variety of ideas to enhance our clients’ washroom design. For instance, we might recommend reducing the tap centres between each washbasin, thereby creating additional space for a set-down area at one or both ends of the vanity unit.

In this article, we present vanity area ideas to design commercial vanity tops that effectively cater to users’ needs and explain the reasons why it may be necessary to allocate clear vanity space in some washroom designs.

Black themed vanity area for set-down space

What is a vanity area for set-down space?

A set-down area is additional vanity space free from taps, soap dispensers, and washbasins, which provides individuals with a clear area to place their personal belongings. Essentially it is a ‘dry’ set-down space.

While additional vanity areas may be a great addition to office washrooms, they are particularly important in public spaces such as airports, train stations, and shopping centres. In these environments, it is essential to consider the purpose of why users are there and what they might bring into the washroom.

A shopping centre's washroom without vanity areas for setting down bags and shopping parcels

What is the purpose of a set-down area?

Shopping centres, for instance, have individuals with shopping bags who need a place to set them down while at the washstation, instead of having to put their bags on the floor. Airports and train stations have travellers with baggage, while end-of-trip facilities may have gym bags, all requiring spaces for personal grooming and convenience.

For example, in this washroom design located in a shopping centre, the commercial vanity tops do not have vanity areas for setting down bags and shopping parcels.

While it is understandable that designers aim to maximise space and accommodate the high foot traffic in the washroom, it is crucial to also consider the functionality of the washroom in relation to the environment and the purpose for which people visit.

Vanity area design ideas

Shelf slab installed above commercial vanity tops

1. Shelf above the washbasin

In this design, you can see there is space on the shelf slab above the commercial vanity tops to accommodate small items like mobile phones.

The design serves two purposes: firstly, it provides a convenient surface to place a small item on, and secondly, it functions as a removable top, allowing facilities teams to access the working parts of the sensor tap and touch free soap dispenser.

However, the drawback is that the washstation is equipped with behind mirror hand dryers which means if a user activates the hand dryer, water can be blown down onto the shelf area and onto whatever item has been placed there.

Another factor to consider when designing commercial vanity tops like this is ensuring the proper height for the behind mirror system. Due to the gap in the shelf area between the sensor tap, soap dispenser, and the behind mirror system, there is a possibility that the behind mirror system may need to be installed at a higher position to accommodate the shelf beneath it. This may be impractical to achieve a good user experience, especially for shorter individuals or children.

Set-down area adjacent to an additional drop-down washbasin

One possible solution is to include an additional drop-down washbasin, designed specifically to accommodate children and individuals of shorter stature and it can be accompanied by a set-down area adjacent to it.

Set-down vanity areas between each washbasin with enough space for personal items

2. Vanity space between each washbasin

Another design option for commercial vanity tops is one that incorporates set-down vanity areas between each washbasin, providing a enough space for placing personal items.

The hand dryer is strategically placed behind the mirror between the vanity mounted soap dispenser and sensor tap, directing the airflow downward into the centre of the basin.

This style of vanity area in commercial washroom designs ensures that users can dry their hands without concern for water droplets blowing onto their personal items located next to them.

Set-down areas placed on both sides of vanity unit

3. Set-down vanity space on both sides

In this design, you will find a similar layout with small set-down vanity areas dividing the washbasins, while the behind mirror paper towel dispensers and bin chutes are positioned in the larger set-down areas on both sides of the vanity unit.

This setup offers convenience for users to access paper towels at the set-down area if needed. However, it is important to note that there is a possibility of a drip trail as users transition from washing their hands to the set-down area where the paper towels are located, potentially causing that part of the vanity surface to become wet.

Commercial wash trough designed with a set-down area at the right end

4. Vanity space at one end

Another idea for a commercial wash trough is to design a set-down area at one end.

The advantage of this design is that it provides individuals with ample space to comfortably settle on the side of the wash trough for their specific needs, thereby allowing them to utilise that space instead of occupying the washbasin area and causing others to wait for them to finish.

Rendered image of an accessible washroom designed with a vanity space

5. Vanity space in an accessible washroom

In an accessible washroom design like this, featuring a floating commercial vanity top with a washbasin and bin chute, the vanity extends further down the wall, creating a spacious set-down area for people with disabilities.

This vanity area serves a dual purpose: it offers individuals with disabilities a convenient place to store their personal belongings whilst using the WC or washbasin and effectively functions as a general use shelf.

Circular countertop washbasin with a vanity space in between

6. Vanity space between independent washbasins

The commercial vanity tops in this washroom project are designed with curved washbasins that effectively prevent water from splashing out. The distance between each washbasin provides ample set-down space for users to place their belongings while washing their hands.

However, one drawback is that the hand dryer and paper towel dispenser are located on the other side of the room. This means that users would need to pick up their belongings with wet hands and carry them to the combination unit.

For instance, if a person slings a handbag over their shoulder or holds onto their briefcase after washing their hands, the handles can become wet, potentially even wetting the user’s clothing.

This is one of the reasons why placing all handwashing appliances behind the mirror above commercial vanity tops is a more convenient solution for users.

End-of-trip facility with a dedicated set-down vanity area for hand dryers and plugs

7. Vanity space in end-of-trip facilities

Having dedicated set-down vanity areas in end-of-trip facilities is crucial for providing convenience to users. It is highly recommended to allocate space for hair dryers and plugs on commercial vanity tops situated in separate areas and away from water sources.

This arrangement allows for one area to be dedicated to washbasins and another area specifically designated for hair drying, grooming, and related activities.

A vanity space set-down area placed under a floating commercial vanity top

8. Vanity space underneath the vanity

One possibility is to create a set-down area underneath floating commercial vanity tops, but it is important to consider that since it is not immediately visible, there is a risk that individuals may forget they placed their belongings there and may leave the washroom without them.

Two commercial washrooms designed with ample set-down areas

9. Designated vanity unit areas

Here are excellent examples of commercial vanity tops in two separate shopping centres with ample set-down areas that effectively accommodates the expected number of users and their needs.

These washroom designs provide plenty of space, separate from the washstation, for users to comfortably place their personal belongings.

Illustrated diagram of Dolphin Alavo designed with washroom vanity tops

Design washroom vanity tops with the Dolphin Alavo

The Dolphin ALAVO Configurator Tool allows you to specify the dimensions of the commercial vanity tops in any arrangement that suits your behind mirror system design.

Simply use the interactive form to create personalised designs and our software will generate a specification document and scaled system drawings, delivered directly to your inbox.

Are you searching for a tailor made behind mirror system that perfectly fits your washroom design? We understand the importance of customisation, and we offer a variety of options to further personalise the ALAVO system according to your needs, including made to measure vanity unit designs.

Commercial washroom vanity designed with a set-down area at the left end

Improve user experience with washroom vanities

Set-down areas in commercial vanity tops significantly enhances user satisfaction, leading to a positive user experience for all. Users who carry bags and personal belongings will have a dedicated space to place their items, allowing them to utilise the clear space for their intended purpose with ease and convenience.

Our team of washroom consultants is ready to help you design your commercial vanity tops, providing you with various creative ideas on where to allocate your set-down area.

If you wish to start customising your washstation before reaching out to us, you can conveniently access our ALAVO configuration tool on our website and create personalised designs that perfectly fit your needs.