Bathroom Dilemma: Rectangular or Oval Sink? Yay or Nay


via Traditional Home

So last year at this time I said I would renovate my bathrooms in the Spring but then it didn’t happen. I got busy, did not have a contractor and that was the end of that plan.

It was a client living here in Chilliwack (who I’ll tell you about very soon) that jolted me into action. I corralled my dear friend Jan Romanuk (who designed my kitchen when we first moved into this house 3 1/2 years ago) to come out and help design the millwork for my clients renovation and at the same time I had her drop by the house to look at my bathrooms. Again.


Jan Romanuk (here she is in my main bathroom)

So here’s my first dilemma. Jan and I are in a debate about whether you should install a rectangular sink in the same bathroom with an oval bathtub.

She is more of a tradionalist than me and she prefers the coordinated look of an oval tub with an oval sink.

I am sooooo bored of oval sinks since I’ve never lived in a house with a new bathroom in my life. Until we bought this house in April 2012, I rented.

Before I continue with my sink saga, a few things about my master bathroom:


See that small bulkhead on the left corner of the above image? Clearly it’s covering up some kind of pipe but Jan said they should have built the wall out originally because the bathroom is big enough where you didn’t really need the 4 or 5 extra inches. This way you wouldn’t have to deal with a bulkhead at all.

Now, so that it doesn’t get too expensive, we will simply extend it to the end of the wall.

I’m showing you the original photo from when we took possession. I’ve since painted this bathroom turquoise and replaced the light fixture but that’s all I’ve done, so I there’s nothing new to see.


The stained glass windows have to be replaced and I want an oval free standing tub here. A rectangular tub would NOT work in front of the angled walls.

So here are a few images to ponder my lovelies. . .


image via Bloglovin

Here is a square top mounted sink with a built in oval bathtub.


Image via Pinterest

Another contemporary bathroom with a rectangular sink and an oval bathtub (above).


via Atlanta Homes Mag

Here the sink is square and the tub is oval. What I don’t love about this bathroom is that the drain pipe seems to be on the wrong side of the tub. Must have been too expensive to move.



via the Enchanted Home

And here both are oval again.


This is my favourite tub (above) but Jan says it’s expensive. And it probably would look too high end in front of my little windows which will be higher than the tub 🙁

Installing larger windows would be completely over-renovating.


image via Lonny Magazine

It will most likely be something more simple, similar to this one (above).

I’ll post about bathtubs when I start sourcing them.

So what do you say? Yay or Nay to mixing and matching rectangular and oval?

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  1. My preference is the Atlanta home’s. I noticed that one of the bad things of square sinks is the fact that they have to be small because it is no easy to keep them clean if is to big you will see spots of the toothpaste all around the sink. The water won’t drain throughout all the corners of your sink, and therefore the under mount sink is better.
    About the tub I prefer the loony magazine for your size of your bathroom. It will look really nice with your windows, it also makes your bathroom look much bigger. Cheers!!!!

  2. By the time you get to my comment, you probably made up your mind….but—the choice is simple:
    the first “square” sink has rounded corners.
    That should make everybody happy! I say go with THAT one 🙂 (It’s the prettiest one anyway!)

  3. That bulkhead could be your new best friend! Instead of just moving the wall out, create a wall full of narrow-depth storage and hopefully you will be extremely glad that you did. I have two very long sections of very narrow-depth storage in my home and it’s wonderful because you can see everything quickly as it’s just one item deep.

    You could have a wall of cabinet doors or a combination of open shelving with lower cabinet doors. You could do your beautiful staging on the open shelving as well.

    As for the countertops, please don’t forget about porcelain – I would never opt for anything else going forward.

    Final word – definitely a rectangular undermount sink. The insides can be rounded so cleanup is a breeze. The porcelain folks here on the island supply a beautiful product.

    • Lynn-do you have a link for porcelain counter tops? I’ve never heard of them other than floor tiles but it sounds like a good option.

      Thanks for this post Maria- I LOVE the comments section too..people are so thoughtful to share and I learn a lot from that as well as you!

  4. Re: grab bars and aging in place, as mentioned in above comments — the September 2015 Consumer Reports magazine has an interesting article on bathroom design ‘for the ages’ that includes mention of bars that serve dual functions, e.g. as shelves and paper holders, so are useful without being obvious.

  5. How the heck can the shape of a bathroom sink be dated? We’re definitely starting to overanalyze this stuff. Oval tub, rectangular sink are all great so long as the rest of the stuff in the room (especially plumbing fixtures) ties it together. But seriously, people, the shape of a sink alone does not make something dated. How often are people changing out their bathroom sinks?

  6. What does Terreeia think? I’m sure she has an opinion.
    Other than that, I would say oval and not too high. What happens if you want to wash your feet? Because I am short, bending over at the chest to wash my face and brush my teeth hurts my back.
    The Atlanta bathroom is drop dead gorgeous, but I am not a fan of free standing bathtubs. Love a good shower!!

  7. I like repeating shapes so wouldn’t mix oval and rectangle. I feel circular shapes are more feminine whereas straight line shapes feel masculine. I would also get someone to checkout what the bulkhead is covering. To determine if it could be moved into the roof cavity and be totally eliminated.

  8. Love idea of oval tub and square under mount sink w/rounded inside corners to ‘work w/tub’ & easier clean. Square sinks offer a contemporary edge w/refreshing ‘zing’ you can love for years. An oval sink is outdated and too much oval. Toilet fixture is oval. Vanity, doors and windows are rectangular – balance size/shape of tub perfectly. Believe tub you like too high and straight for comfort and window proportions. Simple, stylish, more gradual. Heated floors if doable. Happy redesign!

  9. Fascinating to hear the responses. For those in or close to the design world, oval looks dated and rectangular looks fresh. I’m not in the design world, and rectangular reminds me of bathrooms from the 20s and 30s, so in my eye IT looks dated. 😉 Make yourself happy Maria, because in the end, only you and Jan will notice or care.

  10. I think it is more important to keep modern vs. classic style in mind – if the free standing tub reads modern and crisp, then you might prefer rectangular; if tub is more traditional, then a classic oval is called for. I am especially fond of sinks that have a rectangular perimeter and oval interior. A blend of both and easy to clean!

  11. Sandy and Heather, thanks for mentioning ageing in place and the alert to the Invisia collection. We have recently downsized to what will be our retirement home and I love to see useful options for this type of design. I am only 56 but as long as those grab bars are there, I use them! They are not just useful for the infirm :}
    I came to the party late, but thanks for this post Maria! I think an oval tub and a rectangular sink will be beautiful…but I do hate to see the windows go, they are ethereal and would look elegant with marble.
    I know your will both love your new bathroom. Thanks for being so generous and sharing part of this process with us!

  12. In your current configuration your tub is both shapes. The outer edge is rectangular and the recessed portion is oval.

  13. maria, i vote either/or or both. we’re talking about geometric shapes and you see a mix of them in many paintings by the masters. i decorate rooms as i compose a painting and i wouldn’t hesitate to do what you’re considering. i’d keep each a simple shape and i’ll bet it will look great. if you click on this link, you’ll see yet another example of using both: good luck!

  14. it’s about composition & context…

    your second inspo photo from pinterest works because the composition is clean lined and linear; the change of shape is suble, just a geometric variance, but with a continuation of line.

    same with the atl homes pic below…the sink shape is tempered with an ogee edge on the countertop and transitional cabinetry. the cut out shape alone does not make it more modern or traditional, but the sum of the parts will. context!

  15. Rectangular vessel for now. You can remove and change to oval later, when you are tired of it.

    Oval is timeless, not sure I would consider anything else for more than 4 mins.

    The pattern of water splashing in the sink is important — oval sinks splash around less or not at all. Rectangular ones can and do.

    I am quite sure Maria would say 1) go with timeless 2) make sure if you vary, to ensure it relates to something else in the room

    Other thought, does anyone want the sink to be of notice? Unless it is amazing mosaic or gold, you probably do not want it to draw attention. It is part of a vignette, not a focal point. The eye would have too many things to take in — drop dead tub, jaw-dropping shower… oh and that sink that is vying for your attention…..

    When people use both shapes, i bet they did so without thinking it through, just as some designers do not think through their color choices.

    Fun post as always.

    And at the end of the day, you all are the only ones who will see it in a master bath, so follow your bliss, as Campbell says.

  16. By all means, Maria. Rectangle under mount and the freestanding, oval tub of your dreams! Look forward to the updates.

  17. I love the look of rectangle undermount sinks and for self would want the same shape tub, but You can go either way as evident from some of the bathroom pics you posted.
    I don’t think oval sinks are dated. What’s dated are the hideous above counter vessel sinks. They are waaaay past their expiration date, including powder room.
    Glad you aren’t considering that!

    I love the look of the freestanding tub, but agree with those that say not not a good choice when aging. Heck if I’ve been relaxing in a deep soak for a long time, I too prefer having a tub deck to help hoist myself out and I”m not ancient nor have mobility problems….yet. Also like having the deck to put things my glass of wine. :-). Or to sit on the edge of.
    I like function along with form.

    Will you have a seperate shower?
    Can’t wait to see what you come up with and of course what paint color you’ll go with!

  18. Wow, you have enough advice here, but I have been remembering the scallop shaped pink and cream marbled sink I grew up with and want to advise you to take your own advice of timeless over trendy.

  19. I think I have the bathtub from the last photo if it is Victoria & Albert tub. I have rectangular sinks from Duravit. Our Duravit toilet is also oval 🙂 to be honest I never thought about matching the sink and tub shapes. I love how my bathroom looks and no one has commented negatively (I usually here how cool my tub is and how fabulous my bathroom is) about the different shapes.I will echo the masses and say go with whatever tub and sink make you happy!

  20. Who really wants to keep those inside corners of a rectangle sink clean ? Not I. ! Pretty to the eye now, but a trend most will tire of and it will look dated in the future.

  21. i bought & installed your favorite tub this year! I bought it from Interior Gallery out of Texas…idk if it would be too expensive to pay duty to Canada, but you should check. It is a copy of the waterworks one, but it’s spot on and it was NOT expensive. Good luck!!

  22. Unrelated to your question but my friend works with two design conscious, well-off home owners who installed new, elegant-looking, clawfoot freestanding tubs. Old clawfoot tubs were iron, which holds heat. Whatever they are making these new ones out of, they do not hold heat. Both of her clients say they do not take baths in their lovely new tubs because the water does not stay hot at all. Sad but true.

  23. wow, interesting ideas just above! I’m starting to plan a bathroom reno (maybe two if the budget allows) so I’m looking forward to following this project. I know it will be wonderful when you’re done! It seems like you should have flexibility in the shapes of the tub and sink as long as the finishes are well coordinated? We just did some traveling and used several vessel sinks which I found to be awkward every time, so no to that idea for me!

  24. If you are aiming for a timeless bathroom you will love in 10 or 20 years, I think an undermounted oval sink is the only way to go. I think the rectangle will read trendy in a few years. Plus, regardless of slope of the bottom of the sink- the vertical corners of the sides of rectangle sinks collect gunk and are a gross hassle to clean.

  25. I’m wondering the “pipe on the wrong side” was done so the home owners wouldn’t have to reach over the tub to turn the water on/off. I agree that it doesn’t look good, but it might be intentional.