Bathroom Space Savers

By Bruce Meller

Bathrooms all need more storage space (even the big ones.) Yes, that’s a generalization, but it’s a fairly safe one to make. Whole corporations have been built on this need-the selection of over-the-toilet étagères on the market is staggering. Even if the bathroom is large, chances are the space it has could be better organized to provide more storage. Organizing every single inch (even those inside the walls between rooms!) available will give you four critical components of a really practical bathroom: maximum storage; ease of access; ease of cleaning; and a coherent, finished look.

Maximum Storage

Did you know there’s an average of 5 inches between your bathroom and the room next to it? That’s how the medicine cabinet above the vanity can be recessed so that the mirror is flat to the wall. Make that space available for other shallow shelving needs. Using ceiling space, upper wall space for items not often needed or for decorative touches to pull the bathroom together visually, and unconventional space (inside the bath enclosure, or on the shower curtain) ensures you can store all the items you really need in the bathroom itself, without having to make a trip down the hall.

Ease of Access
As important as having all your stuff available, is actually being able to get to your stuff. Mornings tend to be hurried. No-one wants to be late to work because the electric razor is way up on the back of the top shelf, or the mascara is buried in the vanity drawer with hair accessories, bath toys and toothbrushes and takes twenty minutes to find.

Ease of Cleaning
You not only need to get to your stuff, you need to be able to pick things up quickly and put them in a place they actually belong-somewhere you can find them again. Having compartments, shelves, cubbies, hammocks, drawers and hampers for your necessary items eliminates the “where do I put this?” step of cleanup when you’re in a hurry (or even if you aren’t.)

Coherent Design
Ever been in a bathroom that had a slew of little, mismatched baskets and plexiglass cups full of cosmetics, hair accessories, toothbrushes and cleaning supplies? Organizing the storage space with permanent fixtures as well as coordinated additions (like baskets or “bookend” jars for the shelving units, treasured photos or artwork) will pull the bathroom together for a spacious, uncluttered feel-something that will welcome a visitor as well as making you feel at home.

There are a lot of solutions to the storage question. Which are right for your bathroom? Here is a list of ways to create storage space in a bathroom.


  • Put shelves over the back of the toilet for soaps and other daily necessities that are pretty on display. If the bathroom is small, use glass (or Plexiglas) as it lets light through and is less imposing.
  • Use baskets on those shelves for hard-to-organize items like cosmetics. The texture of the baskets adds visual interest to the items on the shelf, and they can act as bookends for items which need bracing.
  • Build shallow shelves into the wall space between rooms (they end up about 4″ deep) to store extra rolls of toilet paper, boxes of tissue or other small items.
  • Suspend shelves or baskets from the ceiling to make small items accessible.


  • Reduce clothing clutter with a built-in, tilt-out hamper cabinet.
  • Install a stackable mini-washer and dryer to reduce the need for hamper and linen closet space. Simply wash the bathroom linens and rehang them.
  • Use multi-level towel racks (some versions will heat your towels!)
  • Tuck a corner cabinet, either a hamper for linens, or a shelving unit for towels or toys, into a small bathroom. Larger baths may benefit from an antique chest of drawers, hope chest, or even secretary that reflects personal style as well as offering creative storage.


  • Install corner toilets designed to fit on an angle, creating more space for the toilet paper dispenser and floor space for baskets of necessities.
  • Build pass-through shelves into the top third of one of the walls in a water closet to create a “honeycomb” for towels.
  • Replace the traditional wall shower in your claw-foot tub with a European-style shower wand to free up space for wall shelves around the tub itself and to eliminate the need for a shower curtain.
  • Place a traditional tub in a bath deck to obtain extra surface space for bath salts, lotions, candles (maybe a beverage or two?!).

Bath Enclosures

  • Put up toy hammocks that suction cup to the wall of the enclosure. Children’s toys can drain into the tub instead of onto the floor, and the rubber duck stays where he can be found for the next bath.
  • Use sheer window drapes with pockets as a shower curtain over a traditional liner for easy access to loofahs or shampoos.

Any bathroom can be made more practical, more presentable, easier to clean and more spacious with an innovative eye to creating storage. These are just a few of the ways to create a space that makes the transition from leave-me-alone-I’m-asleep to wide-awake-and-ready-to-face-the-day!

Bruce Meller is president of Home Forge Remodeling LLC., a full-service kitchen and bath residential remodeling company headquartered in Decatur, Georgia.