This is one of our favorite times of the year for going on a purge-and-organize binge. Not only is organizing a great indoor project when the weather is less than awesome, but there’s also something deeply satisfying about the act of tossing old and unused stuff and putting the rest in order—it never fails to lend us a sense of accomplishment, and our homes a feeling of serenity. Today we’re tackling a bunch of easy bathroom organization tips, plus a few tips for prettying up the loo, which should put you on the path to the neat-and-tidies all year long.
It might go without saying—but we’re going to say it anyway—that the first step in organizing the bathroom is to comb through it and get rid of anything you don’t need or use, or that doesn’t belong in the room. This includes discarded clothes, expired prescription and over-the-counter meds, ratty towels, broken grooming appliances, eyeliner that dates back to Cleopatra’s dynasty, miniscule shards of bar soap, and copies of Reader’s Digest that have been hanging around since, well, Reader’s Digest was a thing. This is the really fun part—trust us on this one—so fire up your iPod, grab a big trash bag, and enjoy the heck out of clearing out the non-necessities.
Once you’re done purging, take out as many freestanding items as you can, and give the bathroom a thorough cleaning. Before you start loading the room back up, take a moment to decide where you want items to go, based on convenience and available space. We use the following guidelines whenever we’re planning how to organize a bathroom.
Bathroom Sink, Toilet, and Tub Ideas
Unless you’re ready to renovate, there’s not much you can do about past-their-prime or outdated fixtures, like the tub, toilet, and sink. These tend to make even a clean bathroom look messier than it is, but there are some options for improvement.
First, replace that cracked, aging toilet seat and lid with a new set; this will cost as little as $20 in Home Depot or Lowe’s, or even on Amazon. Next, look into replacing the sink countertop, or at least replacing the faucet and refinishing the cabinet around your sink; a fresh paint job and some new door pulls can work wonders, and all for under $50. Then pick up a new shower curtain—Annie loves these hotel-style curtains —and a new set of stainless-steel curtain rings.
If you have a freestanding sink that you wish wasn’t quite so free, don’t despair. Instead, try a rolling organizer, like this one, or this mini cabinet, which has a handy cutout that fits around the largest parts of the plumbing. For sinks with a truly challenging shape, you can always tuck a leafy plant or two underneath to hide the pipes and give the illusion of order.
A bright rug goes a long way toward jazzing up what can often be a small or dark space and provide the illusion of a larger room…which can, in turn, make a small space look less cluttered. Fun color and/or pattern, a bigger space, and camouflage for less-than-pretty floors? Win-win-win. Long, narrow runner rugs give a sense of one long space, while a coordinated bath mat and rug will help break up the room into more defined areas.
Save the blockier items—poufs, squat storage tables, and planters, for example—for spacious bathrooms. Solid objects will visually reduce the size of a space, so opt for tall, narrow-legged furniture and storage units for petite bathrooms.
Bath Towel Storage Ideas
For towel storage, you have two options: dedicate a single shelf to each size bath, hand towel, and washcloth, or to each color of towel (so bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths all in blue, for example).
If shelf space is at a premium or you don’t like the look or loose linens, you can use canvas bins for towel storage. Because they’re available in tons of patterns and colors, they can also be a great decorative element for a bathroom.
For the neatest presentation in a square or rectangular storage bin, fold the towels as you would normally, and then arrange them first by size and then by color, with the folded edge facing up and the open end on the bottom—a towel Rolodex, if you will. In a round bin, your best bet is to first fold the towels in half lengthwise and then roll them into cylinders, and arrange them standing on end inside the bin.
Cabinet Storage Ideas
Simply taking items out and rearranging them every now and then is bound to cause frustration; they’re only going to get messy again, and probably a lot sooner than you think. Instead, install sliding drawer units inside cabinets. Not only will they make it easy for you to access stuff at the back without pulling out everything in front of it, but they’ll contain items and keep them from falling into a hopeless jumble on a shelf. Maximize your storage space with double-decker units and units that have dividers, so you can corral like items together.
Once you’ve got the sliding drawers in place, organize them by item—for example, first aid products, hair products, makeup, soap and deodorant. If your hair dryer or flat iron are too long or wide to fit in a drawer, Annie feels your pain. She loves this styling station, which can be hung over a towel bar or hook, or over the edge of a cabinet door. Amazon has a bunch of options for this, so try searching for hair dryer storage to find the best bet for your space.
Medicine Cabinet Storage Tips
You’ve already purged your medicine cabinet of expired stuff, so now you can get down to the business of putting it in order. While we love the idea of adhering a magnetic spice rack to the back of the cabinet (see below), with hooks and containers to corral small items, the best advice we have for the medicine cabinet is amazingly simple: if the item is large or if you don’t use it every day or during emergencies, don’t store it in the medicine cabinet.
Instead, limit the medicine cabinet to prescription medication, frequently used over-the-counter meds, basic first-aid supplies that you might need quick access to (think: Band-Aids, gauze, and scissors), and small daily-use items, like bottles of facial moisturizer and toner. Resist the urge to create multiple rows of items, where you have to move the products in front out of the way to get to what’s in back. Store like items on the same shelf to create a more consistent look and feel.
Countertop Storage Tips
As with the medicine cabinet, less—and we mean way less—is more. Use the countertop only for storing bathroom necessities like soap, facial tissue, and a pretty bottle of hand moisturizer. Everything else should be stored out of sight in cabinets, drawers, or closets.
What to do in the case of a tiny bathroom with less-than-generous cabinet or closet space? A Single stacking organizer, like this one, can keep a bunch of small items safely corralled with minimal visual clutter.