Small Bathroom, Big Storage

Written by Linda Braden
Updated December 14, 2021
before and after shower remodel

Blogger Linda Braden describes how she tackled the age-old problem of storage in a small bathroom.

HGTV showcases gorgeous spa-like bathrooms equipped with soaker tubs and standalone, multi-head showers. But this world imagined by design stars is not my life. In my corner of the universe, bathroom space is at a premium — a 6-foot-by 5-foot premium space, to be precise. 

I recently gave this room a minor remodel and my biggest challenge involved figuring out how to squeeze storage into such a minimal space. Here are some of the solutions I used; they might help you, too.

Go Vertical with Shelves

When floor space in the bathroom is limited, you only have one place to go: up! The unused area above the toilet offers a blank slate to add a storage system. I opted for three floating shelves, which are both functional and stylish – and an easy DIY installation.

When installing your shelves, make sure they can handle the weight of toiletries, towels, makeup and, of course, a few decorative accessories to add personality to your space. Chances are, the shelf hardware won’t line up perfectly with the wall studs, so use anchors to keep those shelves stable. All you need is a drill, hammer and a screwdriver.

Baskets, Baskets, Baskets

You can never have too many baskets! They’re perfect for stashing away shampoo bottles, washcloths, toilet paper rolls and makeup. They keep everything in their place, and keep clutter out of view. They also add texture and warmth to a traditionally cold space.

Hook Those Towels

Rethink the towel bar and consider hooks for your small bathroom. Hooks save space. Where one or two towels might hang on a towel bar, you can easily add three or four hooks behind a bathroom door, more than doubling your bathroom's towel-hanging capacity. Plus, hooks are easy for kids to use. Maybe it won't take so much work to get your teens to hang up their wet towels. 

Finally, hooks look cute. Really, really cute. And they're a small financial investment. Find interesting, decorative hooks at any large home improvement store.

Corral Products with a Caddy

Chances are, if you’re like me, your small bathroom storage woes extend right into the shower enclosure, leaving you to precariously balance shampoo and soap bottles along narrow edges and in corners of the shower floor. 

before and after shower remodel

If you feel uncomfortable with the idea of drilling into tile or fiber glass surround, there are no-drill shower caddy options that will get those bottles off of the floor. Over-the-shower head caddies work with a traditional shower head design, but pose a problem if you have a hand-held shower or shower head-hand shower combo. 

I installed a no-drill (rustproof, solid brass, two-tier, corner) shower shelf system from Draad. It holds 30 pounds, won't fall off the wall and it's removable if I ever decide I need a different solution.

Maximize the Space Behind the Mirror

A flush-mount or recessed-mount medicine cabinet creates a place to stash toothpaste, moisturizers, hair clips and contact lens solution (at least, that’s what’s in my medicine cabinet). An inexpensive builder-grade cabinet can be updated with coat of paint and a change of hardware.

Opt for Function

A pedestal sink may seem like a good choice for a space-challenged bathroom. But it's not the most functional choice for a storage-challenged bathroom. We opted for a small and affordable all-in-one base cabinet with sink. The under-cabinet storage – while limited – offers a space to store cleaning supplies and a small waste bin. And to give it a touch of fashion, a coat of paint and new hardware created a new, clean look. Remember you can easily upgrade your sink with a more fashionable faucet.

Hang the Toilet Paper from the Cabinet

Small bathroom spaces aren’t only lacking in floor space. Wall space is hard to come by as well. Rather than taking wall or floor space for the toilet paper, drill through the base cabinet and attach the toilet paper holder to the cabinet. 

Indulge with a Practical Bath Caddy

While it may seem like an indulgence at first, a bath caddy can be a valuable storage addition — especially if you’re a bath enthusiast. It provides a useful surface to balance your bath salts, book, candles, and that glass of wine without the worry they’ll fall into the tub. 

before and after shower remodel

This bath caddy is an easy DIY. Simply measure the span of your tub and have a piece of pine cut down to size at the home improvement store. My original piece measured 12-inches-by-6-inches-by-1 inch. Add stain in the color of your choice and attach two utility handles with a drill. When not in use, simple lean against the wall behind the door.

Live large in your small bathroom! One perk of a tiny bathroom: There's much less space to clean. 

Linda Braden is a Chicago-based wife, mother, homeowner and blogger at It All Started With Paint.