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Share to PinterestBrighten Up a Small Bathroom with Open Shelves
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Brighten Up a Small Bathroom with Open Shelves

By Jo Marshall
Share to PinterestBrighten Up a Small Bathroom with Open Shelves

The biggest challenge that comes with redecorating small bathrooms is providing enough storage for the necessities and a few conveniences. Adding bulky fixtures or furniture can crowd an already-restricted space, but open shelving provides versatility and creative storage opportunities. Natural materials and textures can create a relaxing powder room, while modern metals lend a contemporary air to a half-bath. Whether you're looking for temporary solutions or total renovation inspiration, adding storage to your bathroom and creating a more functional space doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style.


A minimalist approach

Even in the smallest of restrooms, a little bit of space to move is required. Traditional shelves protrude from the wall and take up valuable space, but recessed shelving ensures that the additional storage doesn't interfere with bathroom traffic. Keep the design monochromatic for minimalist bathrooms, or add custom tile and a pop of color for personality. Of course, this option can take extra work and is often not possible for rental units unless they are lucky enough to have a cut-out already. Spruce up an existing recessed shelf by installing custom-cut live edge wood or affixing temporary wallpaper to the set back wall.

Share to PinterestRecessed shelves conserve floor space
Onzeg / Getty Images


A streamlined silhouette

Floating shelves mount discretely to the wall without the bulky or gaudy hardware to match. Not only does the design present a modern, streamlined silhouette, but it also creates more visual space by relieving the wall of clutter. Use floating shelves to fill an awkward niche above the toilet or to maximize the area underneath your sink.

Share to PinterestFloating shelves are streamlined
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No shelf too small

If your small bathroom doesn't have much counter space, you can still provide convenient storage places where you need them the most. Install a slender glass shelf beneath the bathroom mirror to keep razors and makeup handy or a discreet corner ledge for guests to place their bags. A tiny floating shelf over the toilet paper roll makes a great spot for stashing an air freshener, sanitary products, or your cell phone when your hands aren't free.

Share to PinterestA small shelf is handy
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The versatility of mesh

Make the most of your wall space by mounting a metal grid, then using hooks for hanging towels and storage bins. For modern industrial decor, secure wire mesh baskets or metal buckets to an oversize grid with large screws or gaskets. Soften the look with potted plants in mason jars or paint the wall a bright color for contrast.

Share to PinterestWire racks are customizable
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Modern and discreet

If you prefer your toiletries to stay out of sight, you can still create storage without adding bulky furniture and losing floor space. Invest in a modern medicine cabinet that opens from the side. Shelves pull out horizontally along the wall, unlike traditional cabinets that swing out on hinges. If you prefer taking the DIY route, fabricate your own cabinet with a custom picture frame and an open shelf on each side. You still get the benefits of a medicine cabinet but in a more discreet design.

Share to PinterestCreate a custom medicine cabinet
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Go high (or low)

To maximize storage space, don't just take advantage of areas at eye level. Look upward for inspiration, and you may find enough wall space above the bathroom door for a surplus toilet paper shelf. Display air fresheners and decorative bottles on a ledge above the mirror, or hang a shelf across the window for plants. For more convenient storage, invest in a bamboo shower stool. The water-resistant bench keeps you organized in the shower but also looks stylish as a toiletry and towel shelf.

Share to PinterestA shower bench provides storage
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Keep your design on a roll

If you've got a narrow section of floor space available, a rolling bar cart could be the perfect fit for your storage needs. No construction or drilling is required, making it a reasonable choice for renters. Repurpose a vintage model from your local thrift store, or build your own design with wood and acrylic or wire mesh to match your design aesthetic.

Share to PinterestA bar cart is portable
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Gravity-defying storage baskets

Wire and wicker baskets add a country charm to your bathroom decor, but too many can clutter your countertops. Rather than loading a shelf with baskets, try mounting them directly to the wall. Use regular screws and anchors to secure wood boxes in place, or find decorative hooks for hanging dainty wire baskets. Store extra toilet paper above the toilet, or hang multiple boxes in a grid pattern with spaces for greenery.

Share to PinterestBaskets have a soft appearance
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Cave to the leaning ladder trend

Storage ladders are trendy, and with the right design, they can provide ample storage in a stylish package. Whether you decide to shop online or DIY, a leaning ladder shelf lets you maintain a low profile in narrow spaces. Use it near the shower for towels and toiletries, or mount a shorter version on the wall to free up floor space.

Share to PinterestA leaning ladder is chic
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A hotel bath vibe

If your cabinetry and shelving lack the space needed for extra linens, don't let your houseguests pay the price. Invest in a hotel-style towel rack, which easily mounts to the wall above your toilet or bathtub. Pair it with a stained wood housing for a built-in look. The attractive metal structure is durable and sleek and adds a feeling of luxury to your bathroom.

Share to PinterestHotel-style racks add linen storage
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