Goto Bathroom Pictures
One of those things that's just better that way - a medicine cabinet that's recessed into or flush the wall looks much more elegant and gives a much cleaner, more luxurious feel to any bathroom.
A common theme among contractors was the difficulty and cost involved - not because some wall joists need to be cut and framed in to fit the cabinet, but because there is often sewage venting and/or wires or conduits running up the wall directly behind the sink and vanity.
We wanted our bathroom remodel to have a recessed the medicine cabinet desperately. But we had to keep cost vs benefit in mind. Having spoken to 3 contractors by now, and narrowed our choice down, it was time to get a definitive answer on the feasibility of a recessed medicine cabinet for our bathroom remodeling project.
The plan was to remove the old mirror / medicine cabinet, cut a hole in the drywall to see what's behind there. Even if recessing the medicine vanity cabinet were not feasible, the drywall repair for this hole would be simple enough, and we were planning on having the walls floated with a new light stimple texture anyway.
We removed the old mirror cabinet to expose the bare wall pictures. As you can see from the pictures, we're not the first to go down this road. You can see a large patch where a previous owner had cut in, presumably to find out if a vanity could be recessed flush, and then opting against it. Or it could be a previous owner converting a recessed to wall mount.
What we also see here is what I call, a Frank-ism. Frank was the previous owner of the home and he fancied himself quite the competent handy man. Well let me tell you, Frank was no handyman, and his excuse for handy-work have cost plenty in to repair, mostly from electricians who are shocked (no pun intended) at the dangerous abortions done by Frank and hidden away inside the wall.
Notice the silver space above the power outlet - that's high temperature tape placed over the original outlet box before wires were extended down to the current position. There doesn't seem to be a single spot in the house that Frank didn't booby trap with one of his abortion jobs like high temperature tape covering and electrical box.
Anyway, back to the story - the venting and other obstructions. In this case, we see that the vent pipes come up at an angle before heading up through the roof. This is starting to look do-able. In the worst case, our medicine cabinet vanity would need to be about 8 inches narrower than the cabinet.
Next step is to have our contractor stop by to take a look and see what he thinks. Then we'll have everything we need to know before deciding to go with a recessed, or flush vanity or not.