Design Small bathroom layout
The overflowing medicine cabinet. The stingy towel bar that accommodates precisely half of your family’s needs. The tub that’s overrun with bath toys. Sound familiar? At some point we’ve all had to live within the confines of the tiny bathroom. Fortunately, there are easy ways to make a boxy space work better–and feel bigger. The key is to get organized, edit out the excess, and consider these storage tips.
Ditch the Towel Bar
Above L: In today’s Steal This Look: The Compact Beach House Family Bath, designer Jenny Wolf uses hooks to create extra storage and emphasize the verticality of the room. Above R: Jennifer Morla and her architect husband, Nilus de Matran, use pegs instead of towel bars in their San Francisco bath.
First and foremost, when maximizing the minimal bath, you need to take advantage of available wall space. In tight quarters, towel bars are space sucks. In my last apartment, a single three-foot towel bar on the one exposed wall was supposed to accommodate the towel needs of two adults and two tots. Replacing it with a row of Shaker hooks not only quadrupled our hanging capacity but also created a nice-to-look-at detail. Another bright idea: Hang collections of antique hooks at varying heights to create a wall installation. (True, hooks don’t allow towels to dry as readily as bars, but in most climates, the trade-off feels worth it.)
Add even more storage to your hooks by introducing hanging bags. See Marine Canvas Water Buckets as Bathroom Storage and Design Sleuth: Mesh Market Bag as Bath Toy Storage.
Above: An en suite bath at the High Road House in London uses Shaker pegs to maximize storage. Read Christine’s summer-house discovery in How Shaker Peg Rails Saved My Sanity, and find Shaker storage sources in Objects Lessons.
Deploy the S Hook
Say your landlord is so unimaginative that he or she will not let you remove the towel bar–or your bar is built into the tiles on the wall. Then it’s time to invest in some S hooks. (Or you could try a Q Hook.) Hang them over the bar, and in an instant you’ve created a much-more-useful row of hooks.
Above L: S Hooks lend a towel bar new hanging possibilities. Above R: With the help of S hooks, Sally Schneider of An Improvised Life turns the dead space at the end of her shower bar into extra towel storage.
Install a Running Shelf
Above: A ledge in Sheila’s own master bath on Cape Cod–modest-sized but big enough for towel bars. (See more in the Remodelista book, and explore her Streamlined Eat-In Kitchen, too.)
A characteristic feature of any bath designed by my Aunt Sheila is a shallow ledge that runs the length of the wall, usually around the entire bathroom. This Shaker-style architectural detail is relatively simple in construction and easy to install yourself.
Blessed with a prewar style bath with high ceilings? Take advantage by installing a running shelf toward the top of your wall. (Read on.)
Soar to New Heights
Above: In her tiny San Francisco bath, Alexa Hotz used the higher reaches for a small shelf and wall-mounted mirror.
When it comes to maximizing storage, many people forget to look up. Consider installing an open shelf over the door (it’s so much less cluttered looking than hanging one of those shoe caddies). Attractive boxes and a few artful objects lend a minimalist appeal.
Above L and R: Shelves on high create much-needed storage in these wee bathrooms.
Edit Right Down to the Toothpaste
Organization expert Marie Kondo, author of the much buzzed-about manual, advises doing away with anything that does not “spark joy.” This small-living maxim can be applied to everything, toiletries included. First, buy only what you need. Second, ignore the marketing blare. Separate his and hers body wash? Select an unscented neutral. Hair gels, mousse, straighteners, and leave-in conditioners? Narrow your products to one favorite. And so on.
Then invest in beautiful things that you actually like to look at. Toothpastes (see 10 Toothpastes for the Style Obsessed) and creams in lovely containers can be collected together and displayed (or stowed in a displayable box). Swap out bad packaging for good; my grandmother used to store rubbing alcohol in an antique apothecary bottle.
Above: Erin Boyle employs vintage glassware to artfully store utilitarian things like cotton balls and Q-tips in the open. Of course, a lively bit of green in an old tin will also make your minimal bath feel more fresh and open: See DIY Maidenhair Fern for Bathroom Greenery.
Climb the Walls
Another way to take advantage of available wall space? Discover the charms of mounted boxes and baskets.