Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds
Dressing tables, also known as vanities, are most often found in a girl's bedroom or in the master bedroom. This decorative piece of furniture allows you to get ready with all your accessories on hand. Dressing tables are available in a range of shapes and styles to match your existing décor. Read on for our top tips.
- Revolving or fixed mirror
- With drawers and shelves
- Matching or mis-matched seat
- Movable mirror in 3 sections
- Multiple storage options for acessories
How to choose the right dressing table
Both pretty and practical, a dressing table or vanity is a small piece of furniture designed to help you get ready. They allow you to do your make-up or hair and choose your jewellery in front of a large mirror. A decidedly decorative piece of furniture, a dressing table can also be used to accommodate a vase or photo frame.
You can choose a dressing table with a large single mirror or in triptych form (in three sections) where the side mirrors can be moved. The user can tilt the mirrors as required for the desired viewing angle. They also allow you to see the back of your head. This is ideal for complex hairstyles or for checking a bun.
Dressing tables are also favoured for their many storage areas (drawers, shelves, etc.). The aim is to be organised and have everything you need to get ready close at hand, from hairpins to jewellery, as well as make-up.
Dressing tables are often sold with a matching seat which may be a chair, stool or even a small bench. These special seats are traditionally well-padded and upholstered in fabric or velvet. Some prefer to opt for a mis-matched seat or a more comfortable model than the one supplied. Remember: it's all a matter of taste!
This charming piece of furniture was very fashionable from centuries past right up to the last century. It is now making a major comeback amongst those hoping to complete their bedroom furnishings and for fans of vintage furniture.
When buying new, dressing tables are usually designed for self-assemble. A self-assembly dressing table will usually comprise the following parts:
- ready-assembled shelf with drawers;
Dressing table style, material and finish
Dressing tables come in all styles. Here are a few examples:
- baroque dressing table with gilding and decorative legs;
- wooden, country-style dressing table with a white patina effect or white / wood combination;
- a modern dressing table with squared edges or glass;
- a sixties dressing table with metal legs;
- a twenties / Art Deco dressing table.
It is easy to find old furniture in second-hand shops or on the internet. Looking for a 50s or 70s-style dressing table with tapered legs? You're sure to find an old model to suit your needs!
When it comes to dressing table materials, there are no limits. In shops, the most commonly found materials are:
- MDF (medium density fibreboard);
- solid wood (pine, oak etc.);
- metal (for the legs).
As far as finish is concerned, wooden dressing tables can be left untreated or can be painted, varnished or waxed. The uniqueness of a dressing table will come from the designs engraved into the wood (floral motifs, raised patterns, garlands) around the mirrors and the type of handles.
In order to customise a dressing table, there is nothing simpler than changing out ordinary handles for gold metal knobs, for example.
Finding the right size and features for your dressing table
A dressing table is a relatively small piece of furniture. Generally uneven in height, the tallest part of the unit will be determined by the largest mirror. This can be as high as 140 cm.
The depth can vary but these units are generally narrow (40 cm approx.). In order to fit well in your room, your dressing table should ideally not take up a lot of room in terms of depth to help compensate for its height.
The length of the dressing table will depend on its features, the number of drawers it has and the size of the surface designed to place products and decoration. A dressing table can vary in length, but will generally measure between 80 and 90 cm (for more compact spaces).
Here's something you might not know: the stool that accompanies the dressing table has a maximum load weight, so don't forget to check this before buying.
Quick tip: do you no longer use your dressing table? Models with a folding mirror can easily be transformed into a side table or spare desk.
Revolving mirror, shelves, hooks: handy extra options
A dressing table can be used to help you create hairstyles as you will be able to see yourself from the front, rear and sides. Generally speaking, these pieces of furniture are made with beauty and style in mind. As such, there are many different options designed to make them more efficient to use:
- necklace / pendant hooks;
- drawers for small pieces of jewellery;
- long drawers under the main shelf organised into compartments;
- brush stands;
- trays for perfume bottles and other products.
The more compartments there are, the more you can store away in order to organise your dressing table and reduce mess.
Quick tip: in order to protect items stored in the dressing table, opt for make-up tables with mirrors which fold and store away under the shelf. Alternatively, some mirrors are designed to swivel 360° and can be fitted with hooks for jewellery.
Here are some useful questions to ask yourself before purchase:
Extra accessories (brush stand, necklace hook, drawers, etc.)
Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 89 guides
With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.