The house I grew up in had only one full bathroom, which my parents, sister, brother, and I shared. Somehow, we made it work, as do millions of families today. But almost any bathroom will work better if a little more storage is added to the mix. The best time to maximize a bathroom’s storage capacity is, of course, at the design stage, but you can explore plenty of storage-boosting options while remodeling or simply when updating fixtures and cabinetry.
Whether incorporated into the original design or added after the fact, bathroom-storage expansion its into three categories: (1) increasing the capacity of traditional storage areas like vanity cabinets; (2) maximizing existing floor and wall space with new storage options; and (3) identifying storage possibilities in spaces that are not traditionally used for storage. These approaches are outlined on the next page, and strategies from all three are used in the illustrated examples.
The Full-Function Vanity
It’s not uncommon even for large vanity units to fall short on functional storage. In this example, the space between the sinks is wider than 30 in., allowing a stacked 24-in.-wide butt-door cabinet pair. The double doors and lack of a center stile allow access from both sides. The lower unit is backless and contains a wall outlet, making it useful for housing and charging electric shavers and electric toothbrushes. The 12-in.-deep space above houses daily-use items that are too large for the medicine cabinets.
False panels in the sink bases have been converted to tilt-out trays for toothpaste and dental-floss storage. Doors are equipped with storage racks, including one for hair dryers. If extra storage is needed, U-shaped shelves can double the capacity of the sink cabinets. The center drawer’s functionality is increased with a tiered divider, while the basic linen tower has been made more useful with a quartet of roll-out trays in the lower section.
The Compact Bath
This typical, small master bath offers occupants two sinks and a shared drawer bank but not much more in the way of storage. National Kitchen & Bath Association design guidelines recommend 30 in. of clearance (or a minimum of 21 in.) in front of the vanity and toilet, eliminating the opportunity for floor storage on the opposite wall. However, a 12-in.-deep shelf runs the length of the wall above the entry door to hold occasional-use items. The shelf can be supported by L-brackets or decorative supports, as long as they don’t interfere with the door swing below. Taking advantage of otherwise unusable space behind the in-swing door is a tall, shallow cabinet installed between the wall studs. It holds occasional-use items that might otherwise be stored in a recessed medicine cabinet, freeing that valuable point-of-use space for daily needs. An 8-in.-deep cabinet above and within reach of the toilet offers point-of-use storage for spare rolls of tissue and other items.