4 Steps to Better Bathroom Storage

Is your bathroom cluttered and hard to clean? You’re not alone! People today have more stuff than ever, and bathrooms have been slow to reflect this reality. Without enough storage, items pile up. Clutter invites more clutter. No matter what a bathroom’s size, it can feel too small and be difficult to keep clean. If you can’t speed-clean the bathroom in 5 minutes or less, it’s time to act! (If you are unfamiliar with speed-cleaning, see my blog at NEXT Kitchen and Bath.com.)

Step 1. Clutter-cleanse.

Yes, this is not what you were hoping to read. Sorting and removing stuff isn’t even half as exciting as undertaking a renovation. However, it’s the most important initial step you can take.

The sink countertop is prime bathroom real estate – Have you or family members allowed it to become catch-all space? Stand in front of your vanity and go through the motions of your morning and evening routines. Set aside each item you use. For now, just put them aside.

What about items crammed into drawers or hidden under the sink? On the window ledge? In the shower? Inside any free-standing “storage units”? When did any of these undergo serious scrutiny?

It’s easy to fall into a trap of believing that the answer to too much stuff is to buy or make containers to hold all that stuff. Up to a point, sometimes that answer makes sense. But in reality, how much is really necessary?

Step 2. Don’t continue to store what you don’t use!

Get 4 boxes, bins, or laundry baskets. Label them Yes, Yes-but, No, and Maybe. Go through the stuff you just pulled out. Quickly pick up each item and ask, “Should I keep this?” Move quickly and trust in your snap judgments. (If in doubt, anything that can be easily replaced for less than $20 can probably be tossed, recycled, or donated.)

While doing this, check expiration dates of all medications and cosmetics. Many expire more quickly than you would think. No matter what you paid for them, toss them out. Your continued good health is too important to jeopardize in the name of saving a few dollars.

Whenever you pick up something and decide it should be kept, ask yourself, “Does it really belong in the bathroom?” If the answer is a simple Yes, pop it into that container and move on. By the end of this step, you’ll have a straightforward measure of your actual bathroom storage needs. Knowledge is power.

You’ll probably be surprised at how often the answer is “I want it, but it doesn’t need to be in the bathroom.” Put those items into the Yes-but container. Don’t get side-tracked now putting those misplaced things where they belong. That will involve an entire new set of decisions, best done at another time as a fresh project.

Instead, turn your attention to the condition of the current bathroom storage space. Start with the sink and vanity. Because they are so heavily used on a regular basis, the sink and vanity are often the first place a bathroom shows its age. Before putting any of your belongings back, take a hard, critical look at their condition. Are they worn out, outdated, or simply ugly?

4 Steps to Better Bathroom Storage

Step 3. Clean, upgrade, or replace.

Unlike costly major renovations such as replacing a bathtub or shower, a sink and vanity replacement is usually quick and relatively inexpensive. (This task also brings an excellent return on investment if you want to sell your home.) Even if you do nothing else to renovate the bathroom, replacing the vanity makes good sense. As a practical matter, it’s also one of the easiest places to gain additional storage.

Do you have a pedestal sink? Replace it with a quality vanity that has doors and shelves. Many mid-range vanities come with a solid-surface countertop which will also add value. Choose easy-care materials – no marble, no particleboard! First and foremost, a bathroom is about water. Porous materials and water don’t play well together.

If you have a solid-wood sink cabinet and it’s still in relatively good shape, keep it. Solid wood is almost always preferable to any manmade material that might replace it. While the cabinet is still empty, take the time to thoroughly clean it. Then lightly sand and paint it and replace the dated hardware.

Are the countertop and sink also showing their age? Consider replacing them with single integrated unit. They are beautiful, and most are made of newer materials that are easier to clean.

While you’re at it, toss out any flimsy over-the-toilet towers or cabinets. They are ugly and quick to wear out. If you still feel the need for more bathroom storage, invest in quality wall-hung cabinets above the toilet or countertop. Extend them all the way up to the ceiling. You’ll be able to use the upper most shelves for extra supplies and the seldom used but essential items.

Step 4. Move back into fresh space with great storage.

Finally, the newly renovated vanity unit is finished, and belongings can be moved back in. It’s the step you’ve been waiting for, isn’t it? At last, both the daily essentials and the items from the Yes box can rest in their new, logical, expanded homes in the bathroom.

Because you designed the storage space around your actual storage needs, the results of your hard work should make you smile. Your newly organized bathroom storage should be fresh, logical, and easy for family members and guests to understand.

Consolidate similar items in clear, open containers so the contents will be self-evident without needing labels. Place your daily essentials from step 1 on a tray so that the whole collection will be within arm’s reach. It will be prettier and more convenient, and the entire cluster can be moved aside for a quick cleaning swipe of the counter.

One inescapable law of the universe is that left to its own devices, order moves toward chaos. The more complex your bathroom storage becomes, the harder it will be to maintain. Despite the temptations of crafty ideas on Pinterest and TikTok, don’t try to be highly creative or clever. Buying and/or making all sorts of special storage containers can create its own sort of clutter. For the best long-term results, keep things simple.

Want more details? Like me on TikTok or follow me on Pinterest for a list of 7 specific bathroom and kitchen storage ideas I’ve tried and a review of how well they worked for me.

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