The carpenter side of me shudders when I see metal cabinets, but they do have a few advantages that make them a good choice in this particular situation. For one thing, they have more usable space inside than a wood cabinet of the same outside dimensions and are good for recessed installations because the sides of the cabinet will be hidden in the wall. Metal cabinets are also good for unobtrusive recessed installations when a vanity is set into a mirrored alcove; the metal cabinet can provide storage in the side wall to compensate for the fully mirrored surface directly behind the vanity.
So the typical storage gives you places for the little stuff and the bulkier stuff you want hidden, but where do you put extra towels and washcloths? A linen cabinet or built-in linen closet is a good way to provide storage for this type of item. In many cases, a linen cabinet can be accommodated by making the vanity smaller and placing a matching full-height cabinet right next to it. Large countertops just tend to collect clutter anyway, while a linen cabinet’s smaller vertically arranged shelves are more efficient and make more items easily accessible.
If there will be a recessed medicine cabinet centered in front of the sink, I’ve found that it pays to make room for it while doing the framing, whether or not an actual decision has been made at this point about cabinetry. While larger cabinets will need an appropriately sized rough opening (and advance planning), at the very least lay out studs so that a standard 14-in. recessed cabinet can fit where it is supposed to without having to tear into framing again. A little foresight can save a lot of aggravation later if plans about cabinetry change and can help ensure that a plumbing vent won’t have to be rerouted around the recessed cabinet.
There are a number of different cabinet accessories available to help make bathroom cabinetry more user-friendly. The depth and low location of most vanities means that storage there is often poorly utilized, but a roll-out drawer that mounts on the bottom of the cabinet makes it easier to reach items like cleaning supplies or extra rolls of toilet paper that might otherwise get shoved to the back of the cabinet. A roll-out or tilt-out hamper is another good way to utilize this space (assuming that the plumbing doesn’t interfere with its operation), and it provides a convenient place to throw dirty laundry.I prefer tilt-out hampers mounted on a bottom-hinged door because they require only one motion to open.