When you have a small bathroom, storage space is at a premium. In fact, in a really small bathroom, it might seem like there’s no space to spare for additional storage at all; once the basics are taken care of, there isn’t always much room left for storage carts or cabinets or even shelves. But the real trick to making the most of a small bathroom is not to fight with the space you have, but to make more space where you need it by recessing your storage directly into the wall.
Traditional shelves mount on the surface of a wall, securing to studs and jutting out maybe three or six inches into the room, offering you a little extra room to put things down, but also visually and physically crowding the space. Recessed shelves are essentially holes cut into your wall that are framed in, dry walled over, and painted or tiled so you get the same amount of shelf space, but without anything sticking out into the room. These shelves can be small squares, large rectangles, or even full cabinets with doors, and all offer added shelf space you won’t bump into.
If you like the idea of turning the space inside your bathroom walls into free storage space, but you aren’t extremely confident in your ability to do it yourself, you might want to look instead for wall mounted storage cabinets that are designed to be recessed into the walls. These offer the same benefits but require a lot less finishing work, so they’re a bit more forgiving. Wall hung cabinets can be either fully or partially recessed, depending on how much storage space you need (or how much room you can spare for them to take up in your bathroom), but can be mounted just about anywhere in the bathroom you need them.
You can also get medicine cabinets that can be either fully or partially recessed, and if yours isn’t, you’re wasting space, period. Since the area above your vanity is going to have a mirror either way, and recessed medicine cabinets don’t take up any more space than a plain mirror, there’s really no reason not to make the swap. Even a basic medicine cabinet will significantly increase the space you have to store small toiletries without getting in the way or taking up space you could use for something else.
Wall Mounted Toilets
Even toilets can be recessed into your walls, and for a really small bathroom, this can be a surprisingly big space saver. Rather than having a standard toilet and tank, the tank is installed directly into the wall, and the toilet bowl mounted beneath it. This trick will require a fairly extensive renovation, since you’ll need to tear out a chunk of wall and play around with your plumbing to pull it off, but because you don’t have to have clearance for the tank (which is wider than the bowl), you can place the toilet closer to other fixtures, like the vanity or tub, freeing up space that can be used for another purpose, not to mention adding a decent amount of floor space.
If you have an odd-shaped bathroom, one with a small section of wall that juts out, or just an awkward, thin stretch of wall you can’t do much else with, you can hollow that space out and use it as a sort of open shelf, cubby-style storage. Unlike more conventional recessed shelves, these are small stacked squares that go up and down the length of the wall, each one about the right size to store a roll of toilet paper or a rolled up towel. Not only does this type of recessed shelf make it possible to store a lot of necessities without taking up any extra space, it also makes them feel like decorations.
Building into your walls rather than onto them is one of the best ways to maximize your storage space in a small bathroom. If you do it right, it can add a nice artistic touch to your space, and will make your bathroom look and feel more finished and polished.