The Ten Best Ways To Make More Space In Your Bathroom

Written by bprescottFebruary 7, 2012
A very spacious bathroom

Ten Ways to Increase Storage Space in a Bathroom

For being one of the smallest rooms in the house, a bathroom is expected to have a whole lot of stuff. It’s no wonder storage is always at a premium. Consider using these ideas to help declutter and take advantage of every inch of space you have.

Putting a Corner to Good Use with a Cabinet

You may have thought that corner cabinets were only for the dining room, but they’re just as attractive and functional in the bathroom. Use them for storing toiletries and linens. You can find new ones at unfinished furniture stores and discount department stores and used ones at antique stores and architectural salvage suppliers. Either way, they expand the storage capacity of a bathroom while adding a custom built-in touch. The installation is easy; just attach the cabinet to wall studs and finish the floor with molding, if needed.

Using Ready-Made Storage Units

Bathroom storage units are available in many shapes, sizes, and materials. You'll find them made of plastic, wicker, chrome, brass, wood, and veneers in several wood finishes. They come as space savers and floor and wall cabinets, and many have coordinating hampers and wastebaskets. A space saver, designed to fit over a toilet to make use of the area above it, is usually about 25 inches wide, 10 inches deep, and less than 6 feet high. It has one open shelf above the toilet, a nice place for a decorative accent, and enclosed cabinets above the shelf for storing toiletries, tissues, and other less-attractive but necessary items. These units are installed as a free-standing piece of furniture, but many require some assembly.

You can also find wall-hung storage units that are designed to fit over the toilet and that you bolt to the wall studs. These items, sold in catalogs and at home, bath, and discount centers, are available in a range of prices.

Building Cubbyhole Shelves

You can use the empty space between wall studs as a cubbyhole for shelves. The depth of the shelves depends on what's behind the wall. For example, the space will be shallow, about 3 1/2 inches deep, for a standard wall. Walls with plumbing are usually deeper, up to 6 inches thick. If the other side of the wall is in a closet and you’re willing to give up some of this space, you can build a deeper storage area that goes completely through the wall.

The ideal time to build a wall cubbyhole is when you're remodeling and before new wallboard is installed. When you're planning a new bathroom, think about wall space that's not being used and incorporate a cubbyhole in your design. The wall cavity should be empty, without any plumbing or electrical lines, so framing won't interfere with them. You can build and paint the cubbyhole frame out of ordinary wood, but consider using a better grade of wood if you plan a natural finish for the shelves. If you're using wall tile in the bathroom, use it inside the cubbyhole and use decorative edge tiles for trim.

Showing Off Towels Like a Designer

The addition of a small wicker chair with a stack of fluffy towels gives even the most modest bathroom an elegant look. In addition, putting the towels on display brings color and texture to the hard surfaces of the room. Or instead of a wicker chair, how about reinventing a small wrought-iron table or footstool that you find at a yard sale as a place to display the towels? Choose a small piece of furniture you can tuck in a corner, where it’s out of the way.

Getting a Peg Up

Add a row of Shaker pegs on the wall in a family bathroom to create space for towels for everyone in the house. The pegs take up less space than towel bars or rings, and they assure that everyone's towel has a place to hang. The inexpensive pegs are easy to install and create a clean, stylish look.

If you want more storage that looks good with the pegs, get a metal storage locker- yes, just like the ones you see in locker rooms- and paint it to complement the room. The straight lines and utility of the Shaker pegs and locker go together nicely to make a family bathroom both practical and stylish without breaking the bank.

Customizing the Vanity Interior

Plastic-coated wire shelving components, designed to fit inside cabinets, come in a variety of styles and sizes, so no matter how small or large your bathroom vanity is, one is sure to fit your space. With the plumbing lines of the sink concealed in the interior of a vanity, the space can be awkward, but adding a two-shelf storage bin doubles the space. These bins are easy to install with screws in the floor or on the sides of the cabinet, but either way, the components offer handy pull-out bins just right for storing extra soaps, toothpaste, and shampoo.

Make a rough sketch and measure the interior of your vanity and take it along when you're shopping for a storage component. A key measurement is the space below the plumbing lines because the new unit has to clear it.

Boosting Hanging Space with a Coat Tree

Reinvent a hall coat tree as a bathroom tree, and you'll have plenty of room to store towels, bathrobes, and clothes that find their way into the bathroom. Wood and metal ones are available for as little as $25 at discount stores, and you can find elaborate old-fashioned brass trees for $100. The floor space a coat tree requires is very small when compared to its holding power, so it's an especially good choice in a small bathroom.

Going High Tech for Low Price

For about $20, you can buy a metal utility shelf and put it to good use in a bathroom. Play off its bare-bones industrial look and add inexpensive plastic dishwashing tubs as drawers to store toiletries and supplies. It may not be pretty, but it's clean, basic storage at a bargain price.

You'll need to assemble the shelf, so don't be intimidated when you open the box and find what looks like hundreds of screws. An electric screwdriver will come in mighty handy and so will a helper when it's time to hold the shelves in alignment with the legs and rails.

If you want, finish the shelf with a couple cans of spray paint that will liven up the original gray industrial finish. Or get some restaurant-style heavy-gauge wire shelves that come in chrome or black. No assembly required and they're not that much more expensive. You can find them at home centers and kitchen stores.

Getting Bulky Stuff Out

Just because it's toilet paper doesn't mean you have to store a jumbo 12-pack in the bathroom. Keep a few rolls handy in the bathroom, but find somewhere outside the bathroom to stow most of your supply. The same is true for extra towels, bath mats, and holiday linens that you use only once a year.

Ideally, you can find a storage place near the bathroom so that when you need something, it's an easy trek to retrieve it. The goal is to have what you need in the bathroom, but eliminate what you don't regularly need to make room for the necessities.

Corralling the Kids’ Stuff

Rubber duckies, bath sponges, and toys for kids’ bath time can take up a lot of space. Keep them in tow in a mesh laundry bag that you can hang from a hook, or stash them in a colorful storage bin.


From ‘Bathroom Remodeling For Dummies’
Copyright © 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



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