Get More Room in the Bathroom

Toilet room too tiny? Try these space-finding ideas

Question: Which room in your home is typically the smallest, the busiest and the most cluttered?

Answer: The bathroom, of course.

Whether you have your own bathroom or share it with several family members, there never seems to be enough room for everything you need. No matter whether it's comparatively small or large, the bathroom almost inevitably feels like one tiny room.

Modern architects know that there's more to a bathroom than just functionality. Bathrooms (at least master baths) have become the private retreat from the hassles of everyday life. This is where you want peace and quiet to enjoy a relaxing bath or a long, hot shower. Clutter is the absolute antithesis of relaxation which is why spa design always emphasizes clean lines and open spaces. To achieve this look, you must reduce the visual clutter in your bathroom.

To accomplish this, your bathroom absolutely requires organization, planning and carefully orchestrated storage space. Like living on a boat or a spaceship, you must learn to adapt to whatever space you have and make optimum use of your limited resources.

The basic rule of bathroom storage is to store objects near where they are used. This means placing frequently used items in the front of wall cabinets between waist and eye level. Store bulkier items on lower shelves. Unsightly items such as blow dryers, curling irons, plungers and cleaning products should always be hidden from view.

Here are some suggestions that will help:

Go Vertical!
If your floor space is limited, then look to your walls for help. Wall-mounted cabinets and shelves come in hundreds of different sizes, shapes, styles and materials. With so many products available on the market, you are certain to find one that will work with your space. Remember that the area around and above the toilet is often unused (and perfect for storing towels or baskets.) Measure the available space very carefully before shopping. Be sure to factor in such things as door swing, amount of space above the toilet and the position of any hanging fixtures. In addition, look at decorative towel racks and hooks for hanging towels and bathrobes.

If you have the floor space for a free-standing unit, there are hundreds of options. Pick a tall skinny tower if space is really limited and go short and broad in a larger space. Some of these units have shelves that are perfect for baskets; others have frosted glass or solid doors. If you are storing towels, go for the shelves or glass doors. Unsightly items should be concealed behind solid doors.

If there are children in your life, look for durable materials like plastic. Wheeled bathroom trolleys are versatile, have bins that can be used to store many different items and, because they move around easily, they can be tucked into the smallest spaces. When looking for a free-standing unit, chose a material that fits into the decor and style of your bathroom and remember to shop around. With so many choices available, a little research can save you buckets of cash.

Medicine Man (and Woman!)
Nothing is more useful in a bathroom than the ubiquitous medicine cabinet. If your home came with a tiny medicine cabinet, consider replacing it with a larger, surface-mounted one. This will give you a lot more storage space and the bigger mirror will help make the bathroom look larger.

The medicine cabinet is the ideal place for storing small everyday items. To avoid excess clutter, make it a habit to go through the cabinet every six months and discard prescription and over-the-counter medicines that are past their expiration dates. Throw away empty containers, old make-up and anything you no longer use on a regular basis. Organize everything that remains by type of product (all dental supplies on the same shelf) or by assigning a separate shelf to each member of the family.

Under the Sink
Storage space under the sink can often be awkward due to the position of pipes but whatever area you have is perfect for storing anything from personal products to cleaning supplies. This is also the place to store unsightly items like the plunger or toilet brush. The most effective way to use this space is to measure it carefully and then find dividers, plastic shelves or stacking bins at your local container store to fit the space. Without these organizational tools, the space will most likely turn into a cluttered mess.

Behind the Door
The back of the bathroom door can provide the perfect place for hanging bathrobes or towels to dry. If the door is hollow and won't take a screw, there are many over-the-door hooks that attach to the top of the door and do not require any kind of hardware. As long as an organizer will not interfere with your door swing, you can consider choosing one for extra storage. You can also mount storage units inside vanity doors to hold magazines or personal care products.

Hampers and Wastebaskets
If you have the space, the bathroom is the perfect place for a clothes hamper, an item that also comes in many different styles from wicker baskets to a steel-tube frame with a hanging fabric bag. If space is really at a premium, hang a laundry bag from a hook on the back of the door or consider putting the hamper in a bedroom.

As for your wastebasket: the smaller the better. A smaller basket gets emptied more often and takes up less space.

Hang it!
Three tiered hanging baskets are usually relegated to the kitchen but they can do double duty in the bathroom. If you have an available corner, here is a creative and inexpensive way to make storage. Hanging baskets are perfect for holding rolled washcloths, beauty supplies and toiletries. Stacked rolls of toilet paper will look fine if you remove the pre-printed packaging. You can make the baskets more decorative by spray painting them or threading the edges with colorful ribbons.

Babes in Toyland
If you have small children, then your bathroom is most likely filled with bath toys which make bath time a happy time but also add to the general clutter. Today there are fun shower curtains that come with expansive pockets to hold these toys. Or get a big plastic bucket and cut some holes in the bottom to drain out the water after playtime. Keep the bucket on a mat. If you don't mind looking at the toys, store them in a mesh bag that hangs from a hook.

These are only a few of the ways for eliminating clutter from your bathroom and creating a luxurious spa environment for yourself. With a little research you can find dozens of new products and ideas at your local home improvement store or online. Any product that helps get you organized and reduces clutter will ultimately get you closer to your spa goal.

Before buying anything, make sure you remember to measure, measure, measure and then measure again. The only thing more stressful than clutter is buying the perfect space saver, getting it home and then discovering it does not fit into your space.

Related articles:
Update a Bathroom Cabinet
Bring the Spa Experience to your Bathroom
Install a Showerhead

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