Bathrooms are notoriously tight on storage. These tools and tips will help keep your bathroom organized without sacrificing style.
By Rose Kennedy
Paper products and bottles of bowl cleaner definitely detract from your bathroom’s decor and no amount of finagling will make them appealing. That leaves under the sink as one of the last spots for “essential but ugly” storage in the bath. Lucky for us, there are a bevy of fashionable vanities that offer ample storage and lots of nifty gadgets to make the interiors more storage efficient, too.
For the traditionalist, there are companies like Artisan Specialists of South Carolina that craft built-in vanity cabinets with French White finish or raised panel doors. When you deal with someone locally, see if they offer any of the neat custom features that make storage more convenient. Artisan Specialists, for example, has done designs with double split door cabinets so there’s no middle stile under the sinks, a standard design double sink vanity separated by a 9-foot-high laundry cabinet and others with flip-out drawers just below the counter lip to hold small items.
If free-standing’s more your style, you won’t have as much storage space but there are strong design options to make up for it. Everything Furniture’s Contemporary Vanity Sink Cabinet in Rich Merlot Finish, for example, has a stylish indents across its entire front and a black marble top and would be at home in a warm tone or elegant bathroom.
Lacava Design, the Chicago company of Italian descent, also makes snazzy vanities in striking styles, beginning with the all-enclosed Flou Freestanding Cabinet, a curvaceous, modern Italian model that comes in cherry or walnut. More angular is Lacava’s Plaza Wall Mounted Vanity, a scaled-down version that resembles something you might house a stereo in.
A third approach, cleaner and lighter, is their Free Standing White Cabinet with chrome legs and a glass shelf that mounts below the cabinet. It’s a nice choice for anyone with a metro decor who needs hidden storage but would also like some open bathroom shelving.
No matter how far-out or conservative your vanity selection, one cautionary tip from organizing expert Monica Ricci will help the storage spaces help you. “Avoid storing anything in the bathroom you don’t use in the bathroom,” says Monica, owner and founder of Catalyst, based in Atlanta. “It’s real easy to think, ‘I have all this brand-new vanity space, yay! Let’s see how much I can cram in there.'”
And when you choose inappropriate items to stash in the cabinets, other items that rightfully should be making the vanity their home will migrate to clutter the counters or toilet tank.
Along with sound thinking, there are a number of products that aren’t dependent on custom-design to help you organize within cabinets. One such is Home Focus’s Under-Shelf Drawer, 8-inch wide, 3-inch high and 1-inch deep and similar to a custom-built, flip-out drawer. It attaches to a shelf with double-stick mounting tape and hangs down and slides out to provide hideaway storage for combs, dental floss, loose Band-Aids and other small essentials.
Other under cabinet organizers are particularly helpful for making the “dead” spaces more efficient. Under-Sink Adjustable Shelves from Home Focus, for example, provide a free-standing unit designed to fit around plumbing pipes and similar obstructions. The set of two shelves are 11 inches front to back but adjust from 18 to 33 inches widthwise and have five segments each that slide on rails, which is all good when you need to rearrange your stuff and require different storage options.
The Chrome Shelf & Basket Set from the Improvements Catalog is a variation on the same theme, with a sliding drawer basket below its adjustable shelf. It’s a clear winner for a collection of cleaning supplies because you can lift the basket out by a handle and carry it around.
Other times it makes more sense to subdivide cabinet shelves and products from The Container Store get the job done. Their White Grid Stacking Shelves are just as handy for dividing tall bathroom cabinets as they are in the laundry or garage. Its translucent Polypropylene Stack Baskets are contemporary and sporty, with translucent shallow sides that let you see what you’ve placed there.
If you’re really pressed for space, consider the Skinny Stand. Actually a separate standalone cabinet, though not particularly fancy, it slips right into that unusable space between toilet and wall and has spots for magazines and rolls of toilet paper.
And once you have everything neatly sorted and stashed? Keep it that way with periodic pitching sessions, says organizing expert Ricci, who’s also the author of Organize Your Office in No Time (Que Publishing, 2006). Regularly take everything out of one cabinet at a time, restoring misplaced items to their rightful homes and tossing or giving away things you haven’t used in a year.
“Be especially conscientious about going through cosmetics and other toiletries to cull out what you don’t need or the stuff that’s too old to be using,” she says. “And be on the look out for expiration dates on products like sunscreen — once they’re out of date, they don’t work and they don’t need to be taking up space in the cabinet.”
HGTV. Under-Sink Storage Options, [Online]. Web address: http://www.hgtv.com/bathrooms/under-sink-storage-options/index.html (Page consulted on May 25 2011)