So first off, thank you so much for all the positive comments I received on my little bathroom refresh! I’m so happy so many of you seemed to love it (and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can catch up here). I had a comment about it on Instagram from someone basically saying, ‘Sure, it looks nice but where is all your stuff?!’ and (probably rightly) went on to say how interior designers don’t share enough practical help for ‘real-life’ situations.
Now, if you have been following my blog for any length of time or you’ve had a bit of a poke around my ‘Advice’ section, you know I’m all about the practicalities here and I have always wanted to show the ‘real-life’ goings-on. After all, it’s important to me that you know I’m a normal person and I don’t live in a show home. Yes, I love a pretty inspirational image just like anyone else but I also want it all to be attainable to the average person. The comment, did, however, make me think that in my reveal post, I hadn’t talked about the practicalities of our little bathroom and where I’ve managed to squeeze some storage into a relatively small space.
So if there was anyone else asking themselves if I’d hidden everything out of shot to take the photos and then dumped it back in there after the pictures were taken, I want to assure you that I have, in fact, thought about where stuff actually goes. ;)
I do want to start with a bit of a disclaimer. This is a bathroom that’s shared by two adults and no children. If you did have children, I’d be recommending a vanity with closed storage beneath it rather than a pedestal sink. In fact, when we did our full renovation of the (even tinier) bathroom in our previous house, I swapped the pedestal sink for a vanity unit and it was a lifesaver. I have no doubt that when we finally come to renovate this space, I’ll be including more closed storage. In fact, I don’t think a pedestal sink is a great choice in anything other than a cloakroom/powder room or perhaps a bathroom that’s only used by guests – that area under the sink is just wasted otherwise.
But I digress. We have a pedestal sink and we weren’t about to change it out at this point (it was a budget refresh, not a full-blown renovation). I also want to state that I have a small linen closet just outside this room where I store (more) clean towels and cleaning supplies. I’m aware not everyone has this so that does help just a bit as I don’t have to find extra space for this stuff in the room itself.
So, with that all in mind, I wanted to share how I worked in storage throughout my bathroom which I thought I’d share with you today.
We have four areas for towels – that’s a lot of towel spaces in one small bathroom now that I think about it. A small towel ring holds the handtowel next to the sink. Then we have a wood ladder that holds the bathmat when its not in use and the bath towel that I use to wrap around my wet hair. On the back of the door, we have a series of hooks which hold our bath sheets (they are huge so hanging them like this means they dry pretty quickly).
And then extra/clean/guest towels are rolled up and stored in a belly basket on the floor.
You’ll note, there’s no traditional towel rail holders in here but I always advise people – especially if you have kids using the bathroom – hooks are far easier and can be placed just about anywhere. While my towels are neatly folded and hanging on the ladder, I know Wayne wouldn’t in a thousand years take the time to fold his towel neatly (it’d probably just be shoved on there and go all musty because it won’t dry properly) so hooks are your best friend for those short on time or patience. ;)
I love displaying toiletries but – this is important – only the pretty stuff. If you have face creams, makeup remover, masks, perfumes etc in lovely packaging that works with your colours? Leave them out.* In my bathroom, those shelves hold two face cleansing products, an eye serum, a moisturiser, face mask and body lotion. I also have some pretty storage for things like cotton buds (Q-tips) and cotton wool (cotton balls). There are so many pretty jars and bottles readily available on the High Street that you can decant things into.
*Side point: If you have a larger vanity space that you can find space for a small pretty tray, the same exact rules apply – these shelves are basically acting as pretty display storage, they are just hung on a wall rather than on a surface. A tray will do a similar job if you’ve got the surface space for it.
If you can put some wall shelves up, its a great way to add extra storage space without using precious floorspace but resist the urge to throw anything on there. Here’s the point I’m trying to make: No one wants to see the 2 bottles of deoderant, the big blue bottle of mouthwash, sanitary pads, dental floss, a bottle of perscription meds to take care of that rash you have or a tube of Bonjela on display. I’m not saying you can’t have that stuff – of course you can, we all have stuff like that. But this is not the stuff to put out on display. Which brings me to my next point…
Ahhh yes, our medicine cabinet seen just at the top left above. It’s not all that pretty to be honest – it was in the bathroom when we moved in but it’s incredibly useful in a small space so it’s stayed right where it is. But the important thing is that it’s closed storage. Yes, all the stuff I just mentioned above that is useful but not pretty enough to be on display goes right here. In fact, this is exactly what should be going into any closed storage solution in a bathroom, whether that’s in your vanity unit or medicine cabinet or in a pinch, a covered (but pretty) storage box tucked into a corner.
Do you see it? Hidden there behind the towels on the lower right? That’s my little washbag. I was actually considering getting a new one for the reveal because I’ve had this one for years but I figured it’s still doing its job pretty well. This can also be considered closed storage in a bathroom and in mine is all my sanitary products – it’s close by when I need it but its contents are not something I (or anyone else) actually need to look at every day.
Now I have a vanity in my home where all my makeup is stored but there are so many cute washbags on the market that would be perfect for storing your makeup if you use your bathroom to get yourself ready. Get yourself a cute bag and it can easily be left out on display with its contents quietly hidden inside.
I touched on the basket I use to store extra clean towels but I do have another smaller one right next to the toilet which holds a few extra rolls of toilet paper. No one needs to be caught out so why not make them accessible AND attractively stored? It’s a very easy win. I do store extra rolls in my linen closet just outside in the hallway but I always have a few extra rolls in the bathroom itself too.
This is not a storage solution but rather a habit you need to get into when you are dealing with a small bathroom and not enough storage. If I’m not using a product or I’ve tried something a few times and decided it’s just not working for me, I get rid of it. I don’t leave it hanging around for ages, gathering dust and taking up room. Do you really need 4 different types of toner and 3 different scents of the same anti-perspirant? I’m going to guess you don’t. Empty bottles get washed out and go right in the recycling and those I’ve only lightly used get passed out to family or friends who might like it more than I did.
Here’s another option. If you have lots of (in-date!) unused or very lightly used toiletries, check out Toiletries Amnesty. It’s a directory that tells you where you can donate toiletries you don’t need to organisations that do – from women and children refugees to homeless shelters, food banks and community centres. So you can clear the clutter and do some good at the same time! Win-win.
I know my particular situation isn’t everyone’s situation but regardless, I hope you found some of the tips here today helpful. With some clever thinking and some attractive storage pieces, just about any small bathroom can work for you. How do you tackle storage in your own bathroom or is it a constant losing battle? Let me know in the comments!