Tips for organizing a small bathroom

The trick to coping with a small bathroom is to organize it well. This is a real challenge if you’re dealing with a tiny space that contains a shower stall, a toilet, a small sink without a cabinet around it, and enough room for you to turn around and meet yourself. I’m going to start with the really hardcore tips for a bathroom that size, then move up to tips that make a less painfully small bathroom seem more livable.

Tips for organizing a small bathroom

Organizing a small bathroom

I’ve lived with some miserably small bathrooms in my time, and I always have my fair share of personal care, cosmetic and cleaning supplies to store in them. I don’t know what builders are thinking, but I think they should be stuffed into the bathrooms they build for about a week to see what it’s like. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. Get rid of all but necessities. The first step is pretty obvious: only keep stuff in your bathroom that you use every day. Everything else should be disposed of or moved to the bedroom or a closet.
  2. Use caddies. Utility caddies are inexpensive. You can stick them under a sink (even if there’s no cabinet) or put them in the bedroom or a closet (see step 1), and only carry them into the bathroom when you’re using them. These are great for toting cleaning supplies, cosmetics you don’t use daily, etc. If you want to save money, convert any boxy container into your caddy. It might not be quite as spiffy, but it’ll do the trick.
  3. Take advantage of wall space by using shower caddies that hang from the shower head or shower curtains with pockets. You can also buy shelves that install with simple tape or hang on a tension rod that extends from the tub rim to the ceiling.
  4. Use tension curtain rods. I put up an extra tension rod right beside my shower curtain tension rod (you could also do this next to a glass shower door), and that gave me a much-needed additional out-of-the-way towel/laundry drying rack. I could also have hung some lightweight personal care items from it. But not only can you hang towels from them, you can also hang mesh bags and store some items in them. (Save a few bucks by rigging doubled or tripled plastic grocery bags from the tension rod, and stowing supplies in them.) You don’t have to hang your tension rod anywhere near the shower – put it above the sink, wall to wall, or on an empty wall. Hang it high enough to things aren’t hanging in your face, but low enough that you can reach them. It may take some work to make this option look pretty, but it can be done. And if you don’t care about pretty as much as utility, then you’re good to go.
  5. Install shelves. If possible, install some small shelves on empty walls. Right above the towel rack is a good place. If this isn’t an option, you can also get small shelves that fit over the faucet on the sink (if you have a sink cabinet to brace them on). This may block off some of your mirror (if your mirror goes all the way down to the sink), but that shouldn’t be a problem.
  6. Freestanding toilet paper holders let you keep keep some toilet rolls in easy reach without taking up any counter space. These are typically chrome, so they look nice enough. Plus, you can stuff them into a narrow space between the toilet and the shower or something like that, where they’re nicely out of the way.
  7. Make the most use of any shelves with an under-shelf mesh basket. These baskets can be hooked or installed under a shelf, making use of that space above the stuff on the next shelf down. Most of these won’t hold a lot of weight, but they’re a great place to tuck away some bars of soap or sponges or other items that take up space.
  8. Use the wall above the toilet by putting a medicine cabinet on legs or wall mount there. You can buy some gorgeous cabinet units that stand over your toilet tank and provide shelving above the toilet. Units like this usually run about $90 when they’re not on sale. Shop around for a good deal, and remember to check outlet, discount and closeout stores.


  1. westomoon says

    There’s another practice from the past (when there were a lot fewer bathrooms per person) that has an amazing effect on bathroom crowding — have a dressing table.

    Remember those things in 30’s movies, like shallow desks with mirrors above them? My grandmother’s also had a reversible mirror on a stand, the kind with a magnifying side. They hold your makeup, your lotions, and even your hair-styling stuff, and give you a place to use them that doesn’t take up scarce bathroom real estate. And that magnifying mirror is pretty great for tweezing and applying makeup — plus one’s hands seem steadier when you’re sitting down.

    I have an old IKEA console table with drawers that works great, with a couple of cheap rolling drawer units beneath it. Or you can still find the genuine article where you buy antiques and used furniture.

  2. rusklala says

    I love my vanity ie dressing table have a white wicker one that i have had in every bedroom i have lived in since 17 yrs old. Has a mirror and one drawer (perfect for hair brushes, scunchies, etc.) and the top is covered in a piece of plexi-glass that holds my make bag, a mirrored perfume display and my hair products…So helpful as i have a very small bathroom. My shower liner is clear with pockets and since my shower is small I fold in half and use one side for shower things and the other for tolietries I dont worry about keeping dry. Also on my door, I use a clear shoe caddy to hold other things like extra toliet tissue, containers of cotton balls, swabs, wash cloths, rolled up extra towels.. What a life and space saver..

    • SnappyLiving says

      I really like your solution with folding your shower liner in half! And the shoe caddy – you’re talking about one of those hanging things with pockets to put shoes in, right? And then you just put in it a lot of the stuff that would typically be sitting in little dishes on the counter, right? Brilliant!

      I wish more apartment bedrooms were big enough for vanity tables – I’ve never had room for one since I moved out on my own. I’m sure they’re great, though.

  3. Rachel Wells says

    I got one of those over the door plastic shoe holder things to use on a cruise. Those bathrooms are smaller than anyone in normal life. I read about it on a cruise web site. I filled it with cotton balls, cotton swabs, make up, meds, anything I use in a bathroom including curling irons but no shoes. When I got home, i hung it up in my tiny bathroom and used it in the same manner. It has been a major spacesaver! An incredible idea!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *