Bathroom Storage Strategies

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A nice basket on the vanity makes a great place to keep hand towels and other small items.

Feeling the squeeze in your small bathroom? You’re not alone. Lack of bathroom storage is a problem many people face.

There are steps you can take to increase your storage either in a remodel or your existing space without moving to a home with a bigger bathroom. And clearing your bathroom clutter is worth your time.

A well-ordered bathroom is more conductive to relaxing, bathing and grooming than one that is littered with half-used shampoo bottles and damp towels.

Good storage will bring the clutter under control. Built-in cupboards and vanity units generally provide bathroom storage, but there are also situations where freestanding cabinets, tails, racks and containers are a useful addition or a practical alternative.

Don’t only make it fit, make it beautiful too! The best bathroom storage ideas keep your necessities at hand and add clever decorative elements all on their own.

Bathroom Cabinets and Shelf Units

Tucked away in a corner under the roof rafters, this bathroom features a nice set of storage shelves.

Bathroom storage should combine open shelves or glazed cabinets for display (like perfumes or bath salts), and closed storage items for those items you would prefer to hide. In bathrooms where space is limited, the traditional bathroom cabinet mounted on the wall above the basin closes off the essentials you don’t want on display.

If the cabinet is glass fronted and doubles as a display, aim to arrange your belongings like decorative still-lives. Combine large things with small, such as stacks of towels with a group of perfume bottles. You can also achieve a sense of transparency by using translucent materials such as frosted glass, colored or frosted acrylic, or sheer fabric.

You might prefer storage trolleys (a cart with casters, a flat top and storage shelves or cabinets built in) which are designed to be manoeuvrable and may be fitted with brakes so they can be parked wherever they are needed. These mobile units range in style from mesh or polished metal trolleys to contemporary wooden designs and rustic painted cupboards.

Freestanding shelves are efficient space savers. Wall space is even more valuable with the popularity of pedestal and wall-mounted sinks without cabinets. Fit narrow shelves in preference to wider ones. They take up less space, look sleek and the contents can be seen at a glance. You can also cut your shelves to fit any space, great for oddly shaped bathrooms.

A nook for storage shelving, cabinets or a medicine cabinet placed between wall studs can greatly increase storage in your bathroom design.

For bathroom storage shelving and cabinetry, you have choices in many materials:

  • Glass shelves must be made from special toughened glass and have polished edges. They are ideal for small bathroom spaces since they allow light to pass through.
  • Painted shelves are practical and easy to refresh with a new coat of paint when they begin to look shabby.
  • Wire mesh is well suited to shelves, but the mesh will not contain spilt liquids.
  • Naturally finished wood shelving can be an attractive option

Towel Racks and Storage

Obviously towel racks are essential for storage in your bathroom, but also for your health. A humid atmosphere makes textiles musty, so a well-placed, ventilated towel rack will keep bad smells at bay. You can choose unheated, heated, or rails made of wood, plastic or metal, and either wall-mounted or floor-standing.

The wall-mounted types take the form of a ring or a single or double straight rail supported on brackets. Keep rings for hand towels handy by the basin. You need at least one bar to accommodate a large wet towel, attach to the back of the door to save extra space.

A small free-standing table or rack such as this ironbar stand can add style and a bit of extra storage space in the bathroom.

Floor-standing racks usually have more that one bar to allow several towels to air at once. This is great for a large family with a pile up of towels. We know how teens dump piles of wet towels on each other so they never dry.
Handy racks and holders to store the little essentials

It’s the small amenities in the bathroom, the soaps, sponges, shaving equipment, toothbrushes and toilet rolls that spread the biggest mess. These racks and holders are essential to decrease the clutter and increase the order in your bathroom.

Without a doubt, you will need some wall-mounted holders to keep the soaps, sponges and shampoos within easy reach in the shower. Typically they come in wire baskets or with suction pads for tiled or glass walls.

The bridge-like bath racks are a great investment for a long soak. Along with storing the necessary bathing equipment, you also have a book rest, candleholder and spot for your shaving mirror.

Use the amenities to your display advantage. Create symmetry and order by organizing small, loose items into matching containers. Decanting liquid soaps, shampoos, and bubble bath into clear bottles or putting packaged items into clear containers results in clear presentation, with the added benefit of banishing labels.

Even the laundry basket can be considered in a creative twist. Baskets don’t have to be made of wicker, choose another moisture-resistant, washable material like plywood. Attach a lid, and it can double function as a seat.

Double Up Your Furnishings as Storage Units

Hooks attached to the wall or under shelving will make a great way to hang bath towels.

In most bathrooms, furnishings are limited to the essentials, but if you add a chair the atmosphere immediately becomes more relaxed and inviting. In a large, well-ventilated bathroom decorated in traditional or country style, an upholstered armchair brings comfort and a touch of luxury, but in a smaller space, light, moisture-resistant wicker or loom is a better choice. Bathrooms that are too small for a chair may still have room for a stool or folding café chair.

The extra surfaces and storage provided by a small table, chest of drawers or small cupboards are not, essential in a bathroom, but if you are aiming for a softer, more lived-in look, they are a worthwhile addition.

A small table or cabinet drawn alongside the tub makes a suitable place to put your book, a drink and the radio while you indulge in a relaxing bath, and a chest of drawers with a mirror hung above it will visually open the room.

Unify Your Bathroom with Color

Whatever storage solutions you choose for your bathroom, for them to be effective they must give the bathroom an overall feeling of calm and order. Repeating your bathroom scheme in your storage will work to unite the room and give and overall sense of calm and order:

One trick to unifying storage vessels with a bathroom’s design scheme is to keep everything pale or white. White storage makes a space look neat and fresh, and integrates especially well if the moldings and fixtures in the room are also white.
If white isn’t your style, polished metal containers (silver, nickel and stainless steel are always elegant) reflect the palette of the room, while clear or translucent containers let the colors of the provisions inside shine through.

A Few More Bathroom Storage Tips

  • Hang things on the walls, build in storage, or add a piece of furniture. An effective storage scheme usually combines all three approaches, but you’ll want to consider the amount of available floor space; the placement of fixtures, doors, and windows; and the style of the room.
  • Remember the common-sense rule; always store objects near where you plan to use them.
  • Using wall space for storage has become more important with the popularity of pedestal and wall-mounted sinks, which eliminate the cabinets normally found under the sink. One often unused wall space is the area above the toilet.
  • Consider bolting a shallow cabinet to the studs here (be sure it’s above the head level of a seated person). You can also purchase shelving that fits over the tank of the toilet and provides storage space for towels, shampoos, and the like.
  • If there’s space beside the toilet, a wall-mounted cabinet can screen the toilet somewhat from the rest of the room without taking up as much space as a floor-mounted cabinet. Or use this space for towel rods or hooks.
  • When you add a cabinet to a wall, use open shelves to showcase decorative items like perfume or bath salt bottles, and enclosed shelves and drawers to hide workaday items.
  • For a coordinated, well-planned look, built-ins can’t be beat. If you have limited floor space, look for places to recess storage; for example, there might be room for niches between wall studs. You may also be able to borrow space from an adjacent garage or guest bedroom to provide more bath storage.
  • Niches inserted between the studs in the shower wall or above the tub are especially helpful. If built-ins are not possible, consider units specifically designed to suspend from the showerhead or affix to the wall. Racks on corner poles are another option for the shower.
  • A tall freestanding cabinet set alongside the sink or toilet may allow you to put a large wall mirror above the sink, visually opening the room.
  • Baskets, boxes, or other covered containers work well on counters or open shelves.
  • A row of hooks or hooks with multiple arms will accommodate more towels than a single towel rod. Towel bars that swing back against the wall and stacking units attached to the wall are other space savers. But you’ll probably want at least one rod or bar for letting a wet towel dry out-for instance, on the back of the door.
  • If you think about what you need for your bathroom storage, and think of the ways to create the additional storage space, you are certain to come up with some great looking (and functional) bathroom storage ideas!

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