The medicine cabinet is one of those products that most people don’t even think about, but a new breed of product is stepping up the style.
Medicine cabinets are pretty much a mainstay of present-day bathrooms, but before the late 19th century, homes didn’t really have them. Prior to their inception, medicines and personal tools were probably stored in kitchen cupboards, in large part because there was a fair bit of overlap between ingredients used to make both foods and medicines. But as indoor bathrooms and indoor plumbing became ubiquitous, a whole consumer industry related to self-care was born.
The Victorians began installing wooden cabinets in a recessed style primarily because they thought protruding edges would attract all kinds of unhealthy germs. Antiques hunters find and refurbish these, although they usually repurpose them rather than giving them back their old jobs.
Uplift cabinet’s vertically opening, no-swing door makes for more installation options. The handle is available in standard anodized aluminum or upgrades such as matte gold, matte black, and polished nickel. Defogger, charging ports and interior illumination are some of the other features.
Meant as a place to store unguents and potions for health maintenance, the cabinet quickly developed a clinical aesthetic: polished metal box; a mirrored door; neat and discreet shelving.
Today’s medicine cabinets give us all the practical considerations we expect, but with the addition of innovative lighting, smart storage components, and snazzy design elements. We’re seeing this workhorse become something far more than a supporting player on the bathroom furnishings stage. It may still hide our secrets, but it does so with style.
Tim Schroeder, Duravit USA’s president, says customers are looking for practical bathroom storage solutions that are easy to use and flexible. And those demands have driven innovation.
Brioso offers two mirrored doors, back panel inside mirror glass, and two glass shelves. It features an 11-watt LED light module that offers a 4000 kelvin light color. Trims can be specified to match a variety of finishes. It’s available in a variety of colors.
“The medicine cabinet’s no longer just a cabinet for storing toiletries, but rather a thoughtfully-designed piece of engineering at the center of the bathroom,” he says. “New technological advances provide choice of light color, flexibility in switching, defogging and other customization options.”
One of Duravit’s standout cabinets is from Sieger Design, the German design group that Duravit has collaborated for several decades. The XViu collection offers a cabinet with icon control on the mirrored surface—an industry first—that includes an ambient light mode and colored light switching function. At a luminosity of more than 300 lux, the light color can be continuously adjusted from a warm 2,700 to a cold 6,500 kelvin.
Enhancements on the Verdera line of medicine cabinets include mirrors with carefully placed, integrated task lighting that transmit light through LED bulbs as well as a light guide to deliver consistent lighting—a game-changer that eliminates hot spots and shadows. Verdera lights are compatible with most LED dimmers, and can be paired with Alexa.
New York-based designer Michael Wood says his projects drive the choice of medicine cabinet. If the project has special needs, custom designs are required. On one project, he’s designed cabinetry clad in walnut veneer, with a nearly 18-inch clearance depth—“you’d never get that from a stock vanity”—and an extendable shaving mirror sourced from simple human was affixed to the larger mirror.
“When budget is an issue or site conditions are limiting, both the Duravit and Robern lines never disappoint and also offer a great deal of custom options. But in NYC apartments or to accommodate a client’s specific needs, we prefer to design custom units.”
The 24-inch Bastian medicine cabinet is made of teak hardwood to bring a natural look to the bath. Fitted with soft-close hinges to prevent slamming, the unit features a single mirror that opens to reveal two shelves for storage. It measures 30 inches tall, 24 inches wide, and 4½ inches deep.
The new Underground cabinet is a sleek, minimalist backlit rectangular mirror neatly framed in wood. Available in a range of finishes, the unit has a ledge along the bottom that holds essentials, or could be used as a decorative shelf.
Godmorgon is a practical basic medicine cabinet unit measuring 31½ inches by 5 by 37¾ inches. It offers a self-closing door and four heat resistant, high-load bearing tempered glass shelves. The unit comes with knobs, but customers can their own to customize.
Trim yet functional, Maxstow’s 3/5” depth is slimmer than most traditional cabinets, allowing for a sleeker design. But staggered interior shelves accommodate a good range of bathroom products.