The main difference between a pedestal sink and a regular basin is that a pedestal sink does not have any cabinet or vanity that it is set into. A pedestal sink is literally a sink/basin partially mounted to the wall and usually supported by a column, aka the pedestal, underneath the basin.
Because the vanity section is removed, it's possible to reduce the amount of space that the sink occupies in the room, making pedestal sinks a great choice for a half bath. However, there are a few things you should consider before deciding to install a pedestal sink in your half bathroom.
There are numerous options when it comes to pedestal sinks, including size, shape, color and build. Some pedestal sinks come only as a basin, without the pedestal, so it's important to make sure the wall you're mounting it to can securely support the weight of the sink (see below).
Some of the more popular brands of pedestal sinks currently on the market are Kohler, Toto and American Standard. The Kohler "Memoirs" range in particular is very popular at the moment and offers crisp, clean lines and rich detailing, reminiscent of historic architectural designs. In the Toto "Pacifica" range, the pedestal sink (pictured) offers a sculpted vitreous china build with an attractive stylistic design for a modern look.
Often your pedestal sink selection will be limited by the color of other fixtures in your half bathroom. Sometimes a darker colored sink can work well to contrast light colored walls and vice versa. It's often cheaper to consider repainting your walls to make the pedestal sink you choose, allowing yourself much more freedom of choice.
One common grip when installing a small pedestal sink is the reduction in storage available in comparison to that offered by a standard vanity. If your half bath is heavily used as a second bathroom, or as a guest bathroom you may want to reconsider your options. Pedestal sinks aren't designed for their storage space, which is often limited to just enough space for a soap dispenser and a toothbrush holder.
There are some additional storage options you can consider though such as a shelf above the sink or over the toilet.
Another idea is to get a small set of drawers, or storage unit and decorate the top with granite or glass tiles. Then attach some castor wheels, ideally heavy duty, to the bottom of the drawers so that you can move them around to suit.
It's not necessarily difficult to install a pedestal sink, but for those not so DIY inclined it may be a better option to hire a professional to perform the installation. Sometimes the decision to install a small sink is to save money and using a professional can increase the cost of the sink, but compared to the repair costs if you attempt the install yourself and stuff it up, it can be well worth it.
There are plenty of online guides and tutorials that can help you install a pedestal sink, however these are sometimes overly simplistic, i.e. "Just rip out the old sink, throw the new one in and connected up the pipes". They often neglect to mention things such as if the height of the pedestal sink is not the same height as the old sink, you'll need to do some wall repairs!
It's important that your pedestal sink is securely mounted to the wall, especially if you are installing a sink without a supporting pedestal. If you're mounting solely to the wall make sure you use lag bolts screwed securely into the studs. If that's not an option consider using a mounting board, e.g. a 2 inch piece of timber screwed to the studs, then mount the sink to that.
A while back, pedestal sinks were considered outdated, but these days they're making a comeback as a viable space-saving option that can add to the minimalist look often desired for a half bath.
Before you make your final decision on installing a pedestal sink in your half bath, consider where it's going to go (usually limited to where the old sink is), try drawing it out on paper and get as many color chips as possible so you can compare colors against any existing fixtures you're going to keep. If you can't live without the storage space, or the half bath is going to be used regularly for guests, consider sticking to a traditional cabinet vanity.
Finally, if you're unsure about installing the pedestal sink yourself - don't take any risks! Hire a professional to install it - it's a small price to pay for peace of mind.